Issues, Challenges and Thematic Areas of the Future of Knowledge and Information Science in Iran: An Analysis of Experts' Perspectives

Document Type : Original Article


1 Ph.D. in Knowledge and Information Science, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

2 Professor, Department of Knowledge and Information Science, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

3 Associate Professor, Regional Information Center for Science and Technology, Shiraz, Iran


Purpose: The roots of most shortcomings and problems related to problem-finding, topic selection, and part of the damage of studies in knowledge and information science can be caused by the uncertainty of the basic issues and challenges of this field, and the lack of attention to current and future study needs and fields. This makes obvious the necessity of studying and researching issues and future research needs in this field. In this regard, the current research aims to identify the issues and challenges ahead and future study areas in the field of knowledge and information science from experts' viewpoints.
Method: The approach of the current research is qualitative in terms of the type of data. An electronic interview based on an open-response questionnaire was used to collect data. The studied population included Ph.D. students and graduates, and faculty members of public and private universities affiliated with research institutes in this field in Iran. In order to determine the sample size, the purposeful sampling method was used. The criteria for selecting the samples were willingness to participate in research and having at least 5 years of service experience in educational and research centers related to the field of knowledge and information science. According to the final purpose regarding the study of issues and leading subject areas, it was checked that the people participating in this research have, as much as possible, the research backgrounds related to the study of issues, research areas of knowledge and information science, needs, and problems. At the end of the questionnaire, by using the snowball sampling method, the aforementioned people were requested to introduce other people with experiences and views on the issues, challenges, and subjects of the field, to participate in the study. Until theoretical saturation and reaching repetitive information, sampling was continued. Finally, the opinions of 22 experts in knowledge and information science were used. The interpretive analysis method was used to analyze qualitative data and identify components. Data management and coding were done using MaxQda 2020 software. To ensure the reliability of the results, the retest reliability method (coding stability index) was used, and its value was 83%.
Findings: The analysis of transcripts of interviews led to the identification of 54 problems in this field. According to these findings, many of the challenges identified in the current research are not only specific to knowledge and information science, and some of them are also relevant in other fields, especially humanities and social sciences.
The origin of some of these problems goes back to environmental conditions including social, cultural, economic, technological, etc. factors, and in general, to the policies and conditions governing the society, and some others are affected by the conditions governing the field itself. Among the identified issues and challenges, experts in knowledge and information science put special emphasis on issues related to education and the higher education system. Most of the problems raised by them were related to the state of the scientific outputs of this field. In addition, considering the rapid process of changes today and their continuation in the future, one of the most important concerns of specialists in this field is the ability to accompany and adapt to the process of comprehensive changes and manage them in order to achieve their goals and missions. The subject areas of the future were categorized by the specialists of this field in 10 main areas including education, research and science production, user studies, information organization, information retrieval, virtual libraries, knowledge management, information services, librarians and information specialists, and theoretical and philosophical foundations. According to the results regarding future issues and subject areas in the field of knowledge and information science, it can be acknowledged that, in general, the focus of future studies will be on 6 main axes: Issues related to users and their interaction with information and information systems; Topics related to information science and content management in cyberspace, including big data organization and digital content recovery; Training graduates and information specialists for effective employment in the changing work environments of the future and preparation for entrepreneurship and self-employment; Evaluation and development of science and research; Developing the relationship between information science and epistemology with other related fields including computer science, information technology, artificial intelligence, management; Futuristic studies and the use of their achievements in order to improve and keep pace with future developments; Digitization and virtualization of libraries and information centers, services and activities related to knowledge and information science.
Conclusion: On the one hand, these results can help policymakers and scientific, educational, and research planners in allocating financial resources to basic issues and topics, and on the other hand, they can be a guide for researchers in problem-finding and choosing practical and problem-oriented topics. These results can also provide a basis for the supervisors of this field to pay attention to the upcoming issues and challenges and plan to smooth them out.


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