The information behaviour of Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers: an autoethnographic pilot study

Ed Hyatt

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

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Introduction. This work-in-progress study considers if the models of Savolainen, Kuhlthau, and Wilson are congruent with the dynamics of information seeking and sharing behaviour amongst long-distance hikers as they undertake a journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, USA; this approach is largely unexplored in academic literature. Initial insights stemming from a pilot study are examined. Expected outcomes from the research include contributing to advancing knowledge in these areas and creating worth for the thru-hiking community with regard to their safety, time, navigation, efficiencies, and overall quality of experience.
Method. The study uses autoethnography as outlined by Ellis, Adams, and Bochner to investigate the information seeking behaviour associated with hikers.
Analysis and results. A preliminary pilot-study generated, amongst other materials, audio field notes that were informed by the works of Savolainen, Kuhlthau, and Wilson. Comments are made on the fieldwork process and difficulties in data collection are explored. The pilot-study confirmed that the autoethnographic method was suitable for this research and that a loose adherence to the elements that comprise models of information seeking behaviour gives some necessary structure to data collection.
Initial insights and next steps. The consideration of information behaviour during the pilot study was both interesting and informative, contributing to a cementation of ideas on the environment for fieldwork data collection, models of information seeking behaviour, and the autoethnographic method. The main data collection phase of the work is (literally) the next step in the research process: a three-month period whilst walking the Pacific Crest Trail.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1607
JournalInformation Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
EventISIC: The information behaviour conference - Zadar, Croatia
Duration: 20 Sept 201623 Sept 2016


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