#citylis Student Perspectives: Tess Stackley on Researching Information Behaviour During Pregnancy

Student Perspectives is our series of guest posts written by current #citylis students.

This post is by #citylis student Tess Stackley, who is currently working on her dissertation.

#citylis student Tess Stackley with her baby.

#citylis student Tess Stackley with her baby. Tess is looking to understand what causes women to search for information during their pregnancy.


I’m Tess, a part-time MSc student here at City studying Information Science. At the start of my second year I returned to class five months pregnant, and before the end of the term I gave birth to my beautiful little boy.

From the point of learning I was pregnant I became a voracious information seeker and gatherer. I usually like to be well-informed, and this new state of being seemed to turn that aspect of my personality into overdrive; the more my body changed and became less familiar to me, the more questions I had about what was happening to me and my baby. Sometimes it was born out of curiosity, sometimes out of anxiety, sometimes out of necessity. Some answers were concrete, but often there was a gradient scale of certainty.

A few months after having my baby I began to reflect on this and wonder how other women felt about seeking information during their pregnancy(ies). Research shows this is a time with a heightened need for information (Papen 2013), and the information they receive – or do not receive – can have a huge impact on the positive health outcomes for them and their baby (Shieh, McDaniel & Ke 2009).

I kept circling around what drives their information searches – is it physiological changes that sparks a need? The introduction to new information that leaves more questions than answers? Fears and paranoia from hearing other people’s own pregnancy/birth/parenting stories? Curiosity? Excitement? A way to feel in control during a time that is largely out of their control? It was these questions and others that I pondered before deciding I wanted to look into this more.

My study will look to understand what causes women to search for information during their pregnancy, and to see if their information behaviour evolves over the course of their pregnancy. I plan to look at their responses in the framework of Brenda Dervin’s Sense-Making information behaviour theory (Dervin, 1998). As each woman’s experience of pregnancy can be both markedly the same in some areas and vastly different in others, Dervin’s model of Sense-making helps to focus instead on the socio-cognitive aspects of information seeking behaviour and allow for concepts such as maternal instinct, hormonal emotions and societal pressures that can all have huge influences on women’s behaviour throughout their pregnancy.

At the moment I’m immersed in the literature review, I’ve interviewed my midwife friend, and I’m starting to formulate the questions for my survey. Juggling a masters dissertation and looking after a bouncy, giggly, wriggly six-month-old certainly is a challenge at times, but as the inspiration to my work, he is a wonderful daily reminder of why I chose this topic in the first place.

If you had a baby in the last five years in the UK, I’d love to have your input in my research. You can visit my site to signup and take part, and follow my research journey on my blog.



Dervin, B., 1998, “Sense-making theory and practice: an overview of user interests in knowledge seeking and use”, Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 36-46.

Papen, U., 2013, “Conceptualising information literacy as social practice: a study of pregnant women’s information practices”, Information Research, 18, 2, pp. 1-13, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 3 May 2015.

Shieh, C., McDaniel, A. & Ke, I., 2009, “Information–Seeking and its Predictors in Low-Income Pregnant Women”, Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, vol. 54, no. 5, pp. 364-372.

Tess is on Twitter @tstackley. Follow her research journey on her blog, Point of Conception.

If you are a current #citylis student or alumni and would like to contribute a post, please contact Ernesto Priego at ernesto.priego.1@city.ac.uk.

Find out more about postgraduate study in Library and Information Science at #citylis on our web pages. Keep an eye on our Postgraduate Open Evenings, where you can learn about the course directly from alumni, current students and staff in a friendly and fun atmosphere.


About Ernesto Priego

A lecturer at City, University of London. My research interests include digital humanities, library and information science, human computer interaction design, comics scholarship, scholarly communications, open access, open data and open educational resources.
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