The development of legal capability through information use: Empirical findings, along with methodological and practical challenges in a mixed methods study

Fiona Brown, Kirsty Williamson

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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Legal capability includes knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to deal effectively with the law. Paper explores whether legal information use can develop legal capability of legal self-helpers, using concepts emerging from Kuhlthau’s research and the dialogic approach, mixed methods lite, while considering theoretical and practical challenges.
Method. Within an interpretivist/constructivist framework, an online questionnaire collected quantitative and qualitative data from 90 legal self-helpers. Sixteen semi-structured interviews collected qualitative data from a purposive sample selected from questionnaire respondents.
Quantitative data were analysed in Survey Monkey. Qualitative survey data were analysed with the interview data, using constructivist grounded analysis techniques to identify codes and themes, and undertake within-case and cross-case analysis, assisted by NVivo software.
Sixty percent found the information easy to understand, flagging a problem with content. Only six interviewees were satisfied with their information. Most pointed to inadequacies: of detail to enable decision making, a clear process to follow, and content to address fears and stress, and to develop confidence.
Presently, legal information is of limited assistance to legal self-helpers. Information use research, using mixed methods lite, proved effective for evaluating development of legal capability. Power of social media, in meeting challenges of attracting research participants, was notable.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of ISIC, The Information Behaviour Conference, Krakow, Poland, 9-11 October: Part 1.
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
EventISIC: The Information Behaviour Conference 2018 - The Jagiellonian University , Krakow, Poland
Duration: 09 Oct 201811 Oct 2018

Publication series

NameInformation Research: an international electronic journal
PublisherThomas Daniel Wilson
ISSN (Print)1368-1613


OtherThe ISIC conferences have a reputation for being an arena for discussing challenging work concerning people’s contextualised interactions with information of various kinds. Already the first conference 1996 in Tampere, Finland, constructed a platform for development within the field and community for researchers. The history of the ISIC conferences includes high quality papers, theoretical developments as well as a wide range of interesting empirical phenomena in all possible contexts.
The history of the ISIC conferences has reflected the multidisciplinary and ever-evolving scope: researchers from information science, information studies, library studies, communication studies, information management, education, management science, psychology, social psychology, sociology, STS, information systems, computer science, and other disciplines contribute to the research field. A common thread is the focus on contextualised information activities, expressed in different framings such as ‘information behaviour’, ‘information practice’, ‘information seeking’, ‘information experience’ and others.
ISIC 2018 intends to reflect and engage with the interdisciplinary character of information research and seeks to attract papers from all of these areas. ISIC is a conference for research papers exploring information as a rich site of study, going beyond the sole focus on technological aspects and exploring a wide variety of contexts. This legacy is borne out in the publication of the conference proceedings since the first conference in the series over 20 years ago.
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