Introduction. This paper proposes that Wilson’s models of information behaviour constitute a general theory and that this is recognized by other researchers, although the term ‘theory’ has not been used by Wilson.
Method. Wilson’s models are reviewed in the context of their use by other researchers, who use the terms ‘theory’ or ‘theoretical’ in describing the models. The relationship between model and theory is discussed and the characteristics of theories are explored, with a view to identifying the kind of theory embodied in the models.
Results. Wilson’s models are shown to satisfy the requirements of a theory and of theory development, with particular reference to human interaction with information. The theory is categorised as grounded and inductive, being based on fieldwork undertaken for the INISS Project and subsequent analysis of relevant papers from a variety of research areas.
Conclusion. Recognition of Wilson’s models as representations of an underlying theory of human information behaviour provides an opportunity for its further development in theoretical terms rather than simply as a framework to guide the conduct of research.
Keywords: information behaviour, information seeking behaviour, information use
Paper is published in Information Research 21(4): A general theory of information behaviour