The benefits and limitations of using key informants in library and information studies research

Amanda Cossham, Graeme Johanson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


    Introduction. Library and information studies research has made use of key informants to gather useful background data, but the role of the key informants has been under-acknowledged, under-reported, and under-rated. This study aims to rectify this lack by identifying the value of key informants, proposing systematisation of their input, and describing their potential research contributions.
    Method. The data derived from the literature, the PhD project of one of the authors, and discussions by email with five researchers who had used (and been) key informants themselves. The main benefits and limitations of use of key informants in research were distilled from these sources, and core themes identified.
    Analysis. Analysis involved exegesis of the literature, evidence from the PhD researcher, and analysis of the structured questionnaires.
    Results.There were many advantages to using key informants in research projects along with other participant groups and sources of data. Advantages and disadvantages are identified and described systematically.
    Conclusion. There is a noticeable gap in the library and information studies literature about how to best use the inside knowledge and extensive experience of key informants, and lack of explicit elucidation about the potential value which they offer researchers at every stage of projects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages15
    JournalInformation Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

    Cite this