Appoaches in the studies of reference process and its integration: Focusing on the studies of reference interviews

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The word 'reference process' is used to refer to the entire process of reference transaction. Included in the process, but not always, is a conversation called 'reference interview.' In this article, the studies of reference process are reviewed, focusing on reference interviews reviewed. The studies can be divided into three groups. The first group deals with practical knowledge extracted from librarians' experiences ('the empirical studies'). The second group looks at the process from an interactional point of view ('the studies from the interactional point of view'). The third group of studies deals with the knowledge used by librarians during the process, and tries to build cognitive models ('the studies from the cognitive point of view'). Through critically reviewing the studies in each group, this article argues that in order to deal with some of the issues involved in the reference process, it is necessary to integrate these three different approaches. Furthermore, several areas which might benefit from research into 'reference process' are also discussed, i.e. the theoretical and practical foundation of reference service, the development of interface of information retrival systems, theories of information seeking, and theories of social interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-58
Number of pages16
JournalLibrary and Information Science
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 1992 Dec 1


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences

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