The 2016 John Wiley Best Paper in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) is “Liberating Interdisciplinarity from Myth: An Exploration of the Discursive Construction of Identities in Information Studies” by Dr. Dorte Madsen of the Copenhagen Business School. The purpose of this award is to recognize the best refereed paper published in the volume year of JASIST preceding the ASIS&T annual meeting. Papers are evaluated on professional merit (40%), contribution (40%) and presentation quality (20%).
This conceptual paper uses Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to shed brighter light on interdisciplinarity in Information Studies, rigorously applying wide literatures about interdisciplinarity in science studies, education, and beyond. Use of CDA in Information Studies is uncommon, and this method particularly makes the paper thought-provoking and innovative.
Madsen provides a well-reasoned critique of the widely shared assumption (a long-standing “’historical anxiety’” in Ron Day’s words) in Information Studies that the field must erect strong boundaries around a theoretically stable and unitary core. Madsen shows how this purported need is “premised on an ideal,” mistaken in its foundation and its application to the fragmentation of the discipline. Using CDA and the vigorous, if distinguishable, iSchool movement as counterarguments, the paper illustrates the necessity of overcoming this “discourse of the weak discipline” [emphasis in the original]. The paper provides a strong tonic against self-imposed doubt and calls for more conceptually focused research in interdisciplinarity in the field, for an affirmation of the openness of Information Studies, and for the epistemological strength of such openness.