Mar 15, 2000
Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
This article reports a study of 45 Ph.D. history students and the effect of a technique of information seeking on their role as experts in training. It is assumed that the primary task of these students is to prove in their thesis that they have crossed over the line separating novice and expert, which they do by producing a thesis that makes both a substantial and original contribution to knowledge. Their information‐seeking behavior, therefore, is a function of this primary task. It was observed that many of the Ph.D. students collected “names” of people, places, and things and assembled data about these names on 3 × 5 inch index cards. The “names” were used as access points to the primary and secondary source material they had to read for their thesis. Besides using name collection as an information accessing technique, the larger importance of collecting “names” is what it does for the Ph.D. student in terms of their primary task (to produce a thesis that proves they have become experts in their field). The article's thesis is that by inducing certain characteristics of expert thinking, the name collection technique's primary purpose is to push the student across the line into expert thinking.