Rebekah (Becky) Willson

Proposed title

Information in transition: Examining information behaviour of university faculty as they transition in academe.


My research will examine academics who are transitioning from doctoral education programs to academic positions within universities in Australia and Canada. This research will focus on academics' lived experience with information during transition.

Transitions are characterized by change; they are periods between states of relative stability requiring adaptation to regain equilibrium. They occur simultaneously with major life events (e.g. starting school, changing jobs, birth of a child, death of a loved one). Whether positive or negative, voluntary or involuntary, transitions are times of stress and upheaval. As such, transitions are difficult to study but a vital part of people's lived experience. They are important to the economy; organizations spend time and money on easing transitions to improve workplace productivity. Transitions are important to health and well-being; undergoing transition is a part of developing as a person and creating one's identity. Transitions are important to individuals; successful transitions are necessary to achieving goals. Transitions have been the subject of much attention fields such as education. nursing and psychology, but have received less study in library and information science (LIS).

To date, much of the study of transitions in library and information science (LIS) has examined the transfer of information literacy skills between different life stages or in workplace learning. What has been less examined is information practices during transition. As transitions are complex periods, many different aspects of those transitions must be taken into account. Personal and social contexts need to be examined, including the individual (everyday life, both personal and work-related), the workplace (work roles and job tasks in the university) and the academic (roles within academe). There is also the physical environment to consider, the office, the unit, the faculty, the university and the home in which they work. In examining individuals' experiences with and use of information, information behaviour, information literacy, information needs, affect, expectations, skills, prior training and social networks must also be included.

Currently the main research questions for this project are:

  • What are the academic and everyday lived experiences of academics as they transition from doctoral education to academic positions in universities? and
  • How do academics' information practices change as they transition from doctoral education to academic positions in universities?


Willson, R., & Given, L. M. (2014). Student search behaviour in an online public access catalogue: An examination of searching mental models and searcher self-concept. Information Research, 19(3). Retrieved from

Willson, R. (2012). Independent searching during one-shot information literacy instruction sessions: Is it an effective use of time? Evidence Based Library & Information Practice, 7(4), 52–67. Retrieved from

Julien, H., Detlor, B., Serenko, A., Willson, R., & Lavalee, M. (2011). Preparing tomorrow's decision makers: Learning environments and outcomes of information literacy instruction in business schools. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 16(4), 348-367. doi:10.1080/08963568.2011.605669

Detlor, B., Julien, H., Willson, R., Serenko, A., & Lavallee, M. (2011). Learning outcomes of information literacy instruction at business schools. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(3), 572-585. doi:10.1002/asi.21474

Willson, R., & Given, L. M. (2010). The effect of spelling and retrieval system familiarity on search behavior in online public access catalogs: A mixed methods study. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(21), 2461–2476. doi:10.1002/asi.21433

Current candidate profiles