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In the discipline of library and information science (LIS), a qualitative analysis of the meaningful use of theory in contemporary scholarly literature is critical to helping scholars expand their repertoire of knowledge about various theories and helping them make informed decisions about how to skillfully integrate theory in their research. This study explored how theory was presented and talked about in seven prominent library science-focused journals from 2009 to 2011. Through a process of analytic induction, categories representing a continuum of theory talk were identified and their relationships examined. Three main types of theory talk in library research are defined, ranging from minimal (theory dropping), moderate (theory conversation), to major (theory generation). The categories and their relationships generate a rich discussion about the intensity and degree to which theory is being discussed and used in a less-examined subset of library and information science research journals. This research contributes both an explanatory structure and substantive discussion regarding theory use in library science to the professional literature.


Library and Information Science | Scholarly Publishing