Questionnaire Design in the Context of Information Research
T. D. WILSONPROJECT INISS:
A STUDY OFINFORMATION-SEEKING BEHAVIOUR INSOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENTS
The work reported here was part of a 5-year action research project to identify theinformation needs and information-seeking behaviours of social workers and their managers, with a view to introducing evaluated innovations in organizational informationsystems.The project had three phases:1. An observational study of staffs of social services departments, covering all aspects of information transfer and communication. Twenty-two members of staff, ranging fromBasic Grade Social Worker to Director of Social Services, were each observed for 1working week.2. Interviews of 151 members of staff, stratified by work role and randomly sampled fromstaff lists using random number tables. The work-role categories used were: Directorate,for the Assistant Director level and above; Middle Management, for managerial levelsdown to Area Director;Specialist, for Advisors, Training Officers, and Research Officers; Fieldworkers, for Senior Social Workers and Social Workers; and Administrative Support Staff, for Clerks, etc.3. An innovation phase in which a number of ideas for improving information transfer weretested in seven departments. The innovations were the direct result of the field-work experience, and were introduced in the departments through negotiation, not only at the topof the organization, but also with the levels of staff most directly affected. Consequently,the innovations adopted were those perceived by the staff to be the most likely to make acontribution to their daily work.The project as a whole has been widely discussed in the professional social-work press andin the information-science literature, and has led to occasional short courses in informationhandling and communication under the auspices of the National Institute for Social Work.