Information Studies


Forum on Information Literacy

Founded at UCL in 2019, the Forum on Information Literacy is a researchers' alliance with an interest in groundbreaking and disruptive research into information literacy in all its forms

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Current research

Research areas


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The Forum for Information literacy (FOIL) represents a space for  academic researchers who are active in the field of information literacy research in the UK, to discuss and challenge ideas, and to engage in critical reflection on theory, practice and praxis oriented research. FOIL is charged with the following mission:

  • Establish and nurture a research environment in which information literacy researchers in UK universities will discuss theoretical and methodological issues related to information literacy.
  • Develop and advance a research agenda and programme of works that addresses the theoretical and methodological issues of IL in academic and applied contexts.
  • Continue to build a UK centered discussion about IL in national and international contexts, referencing points of agreement with other IL research communities, but also highlighting differences.


We have different disciplinary and personal backgrounds which shape our position in, and view of, the world. However we share the goal of creating a more relevant and effective research agenda, which we think is important for the future of IL in the UK and internationally. Our shared perspective on information is that it is embodied, and embedded in our physical world and socio-cultural practices, as well as being recorded and shared in various media. Through our research, we have discovered the richness and variety of IL practice in different contexts. 


Professor Annemaree Lloyd

Dr Alison Hicks

Dr Charles Inskip

Other members of FOIL: 

University of Sheffield: Sheila WebberDr Pam McKinney; Manchester Metropolitan University: Dr Geoff Walton; University of Manchester: Dr Drew Whitworth

Visiting researcher (UCL): 

Rebecca Noone (SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship): Project title: Like a local (guide): Google Maps and the information practice of placemaking 

Current research

Identify, Explore, Address, Challenge

To achieve its mission, FOIL researchers will:

  • Identify the critical challenges that information literacy addresses and produce research, evidence and ideas that move the IL agenda forward nationally and globally 
  • Explore new theoretical and methodological approaches to deepen understanding of IL practice
  • Address real world problems, encouraging and extending  collaboration in, & co-production of, IL research via disciplinary, interdisciplinary and practitioner contexts  
  • Challenge and interrogate the discourse communities around IL research and contribute to deeper understanding of IL as a social practice. 

UCL Research Areas

Workplace information literacy

Our research leads the way in examining information use within professional, semi-professional and vocational workplace environments, including related to employability and transition.

Extract from research

“An alternative view is derived from the workplace, where information literacy is viewed holistically as a constituent part of learning to work collectively and of developing a socially constructed understanding of the workplace, which is understood intersubjectively by all those involved in the discourse. In this context information literacy enables embodiment and transformation by facilitating a connection with institutional, social and physical information through a range of knowledge sites."

Lloyd, A. (2005). Information literacy: different contexts, different concepts, different truths?. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 37(2), 82-88.

Selected publications
Funding / funders
Masters dissertations
  • 2021: Maud Cooper: Emerging artists in transition: What roles does information play in understanding success and failure? 
  • 2020: Tsveta Rafaylova: The place and role of workplace information literacy in a corporate environment: exploring the information literacy capabilities of knowledge workers in a professional services film.
  • 2018: Anne Binsfeld: New barristers' information literacy during their transition from education to the workplace. 
  • 2018: Lucy Royle: Workplace information literacy on the frontline: an analysis of paraprofessional staff information practice and professional development in a UK academic library.

Academic, school and critical information literacy

Research in this area critically interrogates the many spaces in which academic information literacy practices are enacted, including institutional guidelines, the classroom, instructional design and beyond. A particular area of interest is transition between secondary education, tertiary education and the workplace.

Extract from research:

“This account suggests that if the practice of information literacy is to remain sustainable within higher educational contexts, authors (of texts, preamble, standards and guidelines) must recognise that current positioning creates specific epistemological conditions that have the potential to marginalise rather than to empower learners and the myriad ways of knowing that reflect learning in the 21st century. They must also acknowledge that these contrasting narratives limit the capacity of a practice that is, after all, fundamental to formal and informal learning as well as a socially inclusive global citizenry.”

Hicks, A. & Lloyd, A. (2021). Deconstructing information literacy discourse: Peeling back the layers in higher education. Journal of Library and Information Science 53(4), 559-571.

Selected publications
Funding / funders
Masters dissertations
  • 2021: Eva Pickersgill: “Lonely, academically”: to what extent has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the information literacy of first year undergraduates and their transition to higher education? 
  • 2021: Antony Njuguna: They are essential workers: how the information literacy librarians kept international students engaged during the pandemic lockdown.
  • 2020: Frankie Marsh: Unsettling IL: critical information literacy and decolonisation
  • 2019: Rosaline Love: Expanding the information landscape: materials library collections as haptic sites to rethink information literacy
  • 2019: Erin Mullarney: Information literacy and the public historian
  • 2018: Ellen Haggar: Fighting fake news: exploring George Orwell's relationship to information literacy
  • 2018: Kristabelle Williams Pearce: The role of the school librarian in the delivery of the Extended Project Qualification in schools in England
  • 2016: Keith Hanson: Information literacy models and pedagogy: Assessing the skill- set and support mechanisms for teaching librarians within academic institutions
  • 2015: Kathryn Hyde: School libraries and teacher-librarians: a look at the differences in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA
  • 2015: C. Yogeswaran: Embracing technology - how mobile computing technologies inform information literacy instruction
PhD research
  • Reham Alhuraiti: Information literacy at Kuwaiti schools and the role of the school librarian.

Everyday information literacy

Research in this area explores information literacy within everyday community settings, including in relation to legal, political and governmental issues, finances, leisure and travel. An area of specialisation relates to forced migration and refugee resettlement, including broader questions of social inclusion.

Extract from research:

“The theory of mitigating risk also develops understanding about the means through which local social mediators shape information literacy practices. The recognition that social mediators help students to assess their own performance within a new situation, as illustrated by calibrating, illustrates how information literacy centres on the alignment of activity as well as the building of connection to local sources of knowledge. The support that students receive from friends and family whilst they are overseas further illustrates how information literacy is shaped in relation to the emotional assistance that helps students to maintain their engagement overseas, as both Lloyd et al (2014) and Veinot (2009) found in their studies of chronically ill patients.” 

Hicks, A. (2019). Mitigating risk: Mediating transition through the enactment of information literacy practices. Journal of Documentation 75(5), 1190-1210.

Selected publications
Masters dissertations
  • 2021: Kate McKean-Tinker. How have the Network for Justice’s stakeholders’ information rights been ensured by the UK’s official approach to information dissemination during the COVID-19 pandemic and how has this approach impacted them?
  • 2019: Simon Cloudesley: How is information literacy understood and enacted from the perspective of UK citizenship in 2019?
  • 2019: Katrina Georgiades. An investigation into how a sample of librarians have understood and applied social justice and information literacy within a carceral environment
  • 2016: Diana Hackett: The position of information literacy in the narrative of UK public libraries
  • 2015: Martha Bellingham: Does the censorship of online resources in prison libraries contradict the ethics of information literacy?
PhD research
  • Helena Hollis: The influence of reading fiction upon critical thinking

Health information literacy

    Research in this area centres decision-making in a health context, including in relation to both chronic and acute illness.  

    Extract from research

    The information literacy practice that underpins becoming informed about risks of COVID-19 and establishes people’s information landscapes emphasises communal and corporeal acts to situate people in relation to:   

    • Forms of power expressed through governmental and instrumental construction of the COVID-19 environments
    • Societal interpretations and mediations, which enable, constrain and contest COVID-19 knowledge
    • Physical constructions, which alter the performance of self (Charmaz, 1991)”

    Lloyd, A., & Hicks, A. (2021). Contextualising Risk: The unfolding information work and practices of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Documentation, 77(3). 

    Selected publications
    Funding / funders
    • Hicks, A. & Lloyd, A. (2021). Risk and resilience in radically redefined information environments. British Academy/Leverhulme.
    Masters dissertations
    • 2021: David Smith: Developing a mental health literacy programme for the support of UK undergraduate students with bipolar disorder.

    Theoretical and methodological work

    Our research pushes the boundaries of information literacy scholarship through the work we have done to develop the field's first theory of information literacy and advance the use of photographic and participatory research methods.

    Extract from research

    “In presenting this theory and model, a set of ideas have been introduced to explain IL as a practice that is shaped by the social site, promoting certain knowledges and enactments. The model does not highlight specific features, activities, competencies, behaviour, or skills, arguing that these aspects are context-dependent. Instead, it focuses on the abstract features of the practice, regardless of context, which are foundational to understanding its enactment, no matter what position or emphasis is adopted. The model privileges neither scholarly nor practitioner spaces, but views them as part of the same landscape of IL.”

    Lloyd, A. (2017). Information literacy and literacies of information: a mid-range theory and model. Journal of Information Literacy, 11(1), 91-105.

    Selected publications