Luanne Silvia Sinnamon

Associate Professor

Research Interests

human information interaction
Information Systems
information retrieval
New Technology and Social Impacts

Relevant Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters



I have been a faculty member at the iSchool at the University of British Columbia since 2007. I completed my phd in 2008 at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto.

Research Methodology

user studies and experiments
genre analysis


Doctoral students

Design and use of Internet search engines; online information interaction and information design

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Becoming engineers: how students leverage relationships between documents and learning activities (2021)

Learners participate in complex environments that are comprised of diverse and distributed people, information, and tools. To better understand why this situation presents challenges for learners, and to examine how they seek to overcome these challenges, a two-part study was conducted. This research explores undergraduate engineers’ information interactions through a mixed methods study. Questionnaire responses and interviews with students were analyzed to investigate how undergraduate engineers seek, manage, and interact with discipline-specific information and how they share documents with their peers. This work included questionnaire responses from 103 students enrolled in undergraduate engineering programs at a large university in Canada. Follow-up interviews with 18 of these respondents extended accounts of students' experiences.The findings contribute to understandings of how undergraduate engineers navigate complex information environments. Given that students have access to a substantial amount of information communicated in many ways, their ability to select and apply information was found to be integral to their participation in these environments. Results identified and described the latent relationship between learning tasks and document genres. It was also found that students regularly collaborate through social media and other backchannels to sidestep their instructors’ efforts to monitor and control how and what information they share.Findings suggest implications for understanding how students develop awareness about pairing documents with the learning activities in which they are engaged. While students are coping with complex information environments, they are not necessarily using the expected document genres, suggesting areas for adjustments in curriculum, information literacy instruction, and theoretical synthesis.

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Motivations for participating in online initiatives: exploring motivations across initiative types (2018)

No abstract available.

The issue of avoidance: information avoidance in the context of personal health concerns (2017)

Information is increasingly available at the touch of a button, and yet limits are still present in the ability and willingness of individuals to access that information. These limits can result in information avoidance, a phenomenon in which individuals prefer not to seek or be exposed to information. Nowhere is this phenomenon more evident and more problematic than in health, where information has been linked to better health outcomes, and where the consumer health movement has shifted the responsibility of health information seeking from healthcare professionals to patients. This dissertation examines such health information avoidance, looking in particular at the mechanisms that constitute this phenomenon, and the affective, personality, and information source factors that influence it. Two studies were performed, the first an online survey using the crowdsourcing platform Mechanical Turk for recruitment, and the second a user study in which participants interacted with health information and were then interviewed. Both studies also employed scales such as the Need for Cognition scale, the Threatening Medical Situations Inventory (examining monitoring and blunting styles), and the Positive and Negative Affect short scale. Results indicate that very few people are willing to report practising complete information avoidance. However, numerous participants reported avoiding some information, often through filtering mechanisms such as self-regulation and delegation. This evidence of partial avoidance suggests that information avoidance can be located on a continuum of information seeking behaviours, rather than existing as a simple negation of information seeking. Significant factors that influence the practice of information avoidance were found to include affect such as fear, disgust, and disinterest, all factors that can indicate a threat to the participant. While the personality and information source factors tested were also influential, this work found that for these participants, affective factors often functioned as a primary influence. This work indicates that health information avoidance is a situation-dependent information behaviour, rather than primarily a personality trait as previously claimed. As such, it should be included in models that depict people’s general behavioural patterns with regard to information, such as Wilson’s (1999) General Model of Information Seeking and Johnson’s (1997) Comprehensive Model of Information Seeking.

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Reading the landscape of public libraries as place: Experiences of homeless men in public libraries in Vancouver, BC (2013)

Some homeless men are very frequent public library users, but are rarely asked by librarians for their opinions about libraries. Semi-structured individual interviews of 23 homeless men investigated how they used libraries and explored their understanding of the library as a place in downtown Vancouver, BC. Despite not being eligible for regular library membership privileges, often due to simply not having an address, 14 participants were still very frequent Central Library users. Homelessness is a high risk lifestyle and 4 participants who purposely avoided street danger in the Downtown Eastside found a safer niche within the Central Library, while 15 participants purposely chose to physically distance themselves from the stigma of homelessness and mostly kept to themselves while they were at the Central Library, which was often daily from opening until closing. Public space in libraries is especially valuable to homeless people who have no private space of their own. Amenities such as washrooms, comfortable seating and access to the Internet, which are not as freely available elsewhere as they are at libraries, made the Central Library the preferred library among all participants. Just like many of the other library users at the Central Library, participants enjoyed very ordinary library experiences, such as reading for pleasure, learning, playing online games, searching the Internet and sending and receiving emails, and some of the most frequent users created a new social identity for themselves as library users, which is far more socially acceptable than the stigmatized social identity of homelessness. Being a frequent library user gave some participants a routine and stability and the anonymity of being an ordinary library user at the Central Library gave participants an opportunity to be treated respectfully by other library users. Seventeen participants believed that using public libraries had greatly improved their lives and used libraries as transition spaces to improve their circumstances. Some participants who were frequent library users said they would like to have their own library membership for the Central Library, perhaps as much to give them a sense of belonging in their own community as for borrowing library materials.

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The role of editorial boards of scholarly journals on the green and gold road to open access (2010)

The traditional subscription-based publishing system of scholarly journals is in crisis, and open access has been suggested as an alternative model. However, participants in the traditional publishing system are engaged in a debate on its feasibility as a replacement for subscription-based journals. As the gatekeepers who determine what is published in scholarly journals, editorial boards play an important role in scholarly communication. However, although there are some studies of their role in scholarly publishing no major study has focused on their role in influencing journal access polices, and in particular, their role in influencing journal policies to make some or all articles free or to allow self-archiving by authors.Through a survey of editors and editorial board members of major scholarly journals, this study explores their role in the open access movement. It examines the positions of the major publishers of scholarly journals (categorized as commercial, scholarly society and university publishers) to open access. In addition, it examines the awareness of journals’ editorial boards of their publisher’s access polices and whether their own attitudes to open access were consistent with those of their publishers. Editorial boards’ behaviour as a force for change in setting open access policies is explored. The study also considers how their level of responsibility at the journal and their own open access publishing behaviour are related to their perception and promotion of open access.The findings of this study show no clear-cut difference between categories of journal publisher in term of offering some or all of their articles free to users, and in allowing authors to self-archive. The respondents in this study demonstrated some awareness about journal access policies, with higher awareness of policies regarding offering free articles than of those on self-archiving. The majority of the respondents are satisfied with subscription-based journals although their opinion on offering free articles and on self-archiving is generally positive. They were not willing to take strong measures to influence journal access policies such as resigning from the editorial board. The level of responsibility at the journal, gender, and publishing behaviour influenced the respondent’s answers to the questionnaire.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

A comparative user study of misinformation intervention techniques on search engines (2021)

No abstract available.

Exploring learning opportunities in open data use across data literacy levels (2020)

No abstract available.

Interest matters? The relationships between interest and common interactive information retrieval experiment measures (2020)

No abstract available.

Design of a geographical visualization-based interface for a community academic knowledge exchange (2019)

No abstract available.

Let's map it out : the everyday health information seeking behaviours of LGBTQ youth in Prince George, BC (2017)

No abstract available.

Open data portals in northern New England states (2017)

No abstract available.



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