Information science and the phenomenon of information

Nicholas J. Belkin, Stephen E. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


This paper aims to deduce the fundamental phenomena of information science, starting from two premises: that information science is a problem‐oriented discipline concerned with the effective transfer of desired information from human generator to human user, and that the single notion common to all concepts of information now extant is that of change of structure. From these premises, a spectrum of information concepts is derived, and a partition of that spectrum particular to the purposes of information science is described. From this partition, the terms text and information (both in information science) are defined, and the fundamental phenomena of information science are deduced: the text and its structure, the structure of the recipient and changes in that structure, and the structure of the sender and the structuring of the text. These phenomena are seen as the basic components of the mechanisms of the channel, which have been the traditional area of interest to information science. Some implications of this approach for research in information science are discussed in this paper. And, finally, the question of the ethics of theoretical research in information science is raised, and a restrictive condition is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1976
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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