Transformative Research

Our goal is to advance information sciences research that transforms our communities and the world.

In support of the University's goal to "Foster Scholarship, Discovery, and Innovation," the iSchool strives to be a role model for researchers in the information sciences across the globe. Our leadership is demonstrated through impactful research and the ways in which we conduct that research. We have a long tradition of research excellence of which we are extremely proud. Beginning in 1948 with the founding of the School's doctoral program, doctoral students joined faculty in advancing research in new directions.

We conduct cutting-edge research in managing data, communicating the implications of data, and applying data for the improvement of society. We conduct innovative research in the digital humanities. We have extraordinary strength in research that deploys age as a category of analysis. We study scholars and how they do their work, with the goal of making that work better. These are just a few of our areas of current research expertise.

Moving forward, the iSchool at Illinois is uniquely positioned to catalyze new thinking and break new ground in emerging areas of societal and global importance, such as information policy, quantum information management, data literate citizenry, and the role of libraries as community agents.

We will collaborate across our diverse research areas to solve complex social problems. We will be the research leaders in areas in which we have strengths and facilitate partnerships in areas outside our expertise. In addition, the iSchool will continue to prepare and nurture future scholars who excel in the information sciences and related areas.

Communicating the value of our work

To establish our leadership in research and its application, we must ensure that the world knows what we are doing. Since 1952, we have curated and promoted the best of library and information sciences research and innovation in practice in Library Trends. We need to continue this work and expand it to other fields of information science. We need to explain what we do to different audiences in appropriate and innovative ways. Through our interdisciplinary approach, we will use our strengths in explaining and storytelling—as well as data visualization and the creation and communication of digital scholarship—to help people understand how issues of information use (and misuse) pervade all of science, the economy, health, politics, and all of life.

The general applicability of our theories and methods is apparent in the sheer range of settings where we can use them to help ourselves and others gain insight. Outsiders may need help in seeing these recurrent themes unless we help them. We will benefit from a broader range of venues and media for communicating our work and the value of its application.

The iSchool, and higher education in general, needs to examine its definition of "impact." Conventionally understood scholarly outputs are critical. At the same time, we must also work with those whom we hope benefit from our research to define meaningful impact. We are human centered and sociotechnical, and our definitions of impact reflect those qualities and values. As experts in bibliometrics, we also recognize how certain metrics can be misused, and we should not be afraid to explain the nature of such misuse—and what to do instead.

Pursuing key initiatives

key technology

Moving forward, the iSchool will pursue key initiatives to:

  • Increase sources, quantity, and size of external research grants.
  • Lead in multi-partner and multi-institutional grants.
  • Increase the visibility of our research output.
  • Leverage the research centers to strengthen and emphasize the School's ability to span disciplinary boundaries in research.

Research Centers

open book with Center for Children's Books

The 75-year-old Center for Children's Books is internationally recognized for expertise on youth literature. It is central to the iSchool's ranking as the number one graduate school for library and information studies and number one ranking in the specialty area of services for children and youth (U.S. News & World Report). It is home to The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, a review journal, and Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, an interdisciplinary, open-access scholarly journal.

CU Community Fab Lab logo

The Champaign-Urbana (CU) Community Fab Lab supports on- and off-campus community members through research, courses, outreach, programming, K-12 summer camps, open access design, and fabrication support. The lab strives to be the leading research center for makerspace and design thinking in libraries and education. Leveraging a robust community engagement program, the emphasis is on community-engaged participatory research and design-based research, which aims to advance both theory and practice in the real world in collaboration with stakeholders.

CIRSS logo

The Center for Informatics Research in Science & Scholarship (CIRSS) brings together multidisciplinary researchers in support of science and scholarly inquiry. As a nexus of informatics research, CIRSS engages with local, national, and global partners. Focus areas include scientific and scholarly practices/workflows and the development of tools and cyberinfrastructure, benefiting areas such as data curation and reuse, transparent and reproducible scientific workflows, knowledge graphs, and responsible data science. Through the development of computational tools and cyberinfrastructure, CIRSS contributes to the growth of the iSchool's technical expertise and research capabilities.

HathiTrust Research Center

The HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) facilitates computational analysis of the HathiTrust Digital Library, a collection of over 17.5 million digitized volumes. HTRC engages in R&D for text analysis of massive digital libraries, creating and maintaining tools, services, training, and data for text-based, data-driven research. It is committed to innovation in copyright-compliant, non-consumptive text mining, allowing interdisciplinary scholars to fully utilize content of the HathiTrust corpus. It promotes diversity, equity, and inclusivity in HathiTrust Digital Library collections and its worldwide user communities. HTRC is jointly hosted and managed by the iSchool and the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, & Engineering at Indiana University.