Graves Krishnaswami: Critical Information Theory: A New Foundation for Teaching Regulatory Research

Julie Graves Krishnaswami, JD, MLIS, of the Yale Law School Library has published Critical Information Theory: A New Foundation for Teaching Regulatory Research, in Susan Nevelow Mart (Ed.), The Boulder Statements on Legal Research Education: The Intersection of Intellectual and Practical Skills (2014), p. 175-202.

Here is the abstract:

Legal scholars frequently look to other disciplines for theoretical perspectives and frameworks, and interdisciplinary legal scholarship is widely accepted in the academy. Yet, in legal research instruction, students are rarely exposed to interdisciplinary research methods or perspectives that will help them consider the more profound and complex aspects of legal information sources. Exposing students to a deeper analysis, structured by critical information theory, can help students fully comprehend the legal structure being researched. This chapter uses regulatory research as an exemplar, and illustrates how the use of critical information theory can be a pathway to the consideration of regulatory transparency, agency action, and other complex questions implicated in regulatory work. Ultimately, this pathway can help students construct new arguments, deal with information overload, and understand the complexities inherent in our legal and regulatory systems. Using critical information theory as framework for teaching regulatory research is one attempt to “construct the bridge between the pedagogical theories…and the many and varied methods employed to teach” research. When mindful of regulatory transparency, agency action, and complex administrative practice concerns, regulatory research instruction embodies the Boulder Statements on Legal Research Education which recommends that students “experience a cognitive apprenticeship…[so as to] synthesize information about legal systems and resources” as well as “identify the “ethical responsibilities, the avoidance of plagiarism, and the fulfillment of the ethical duty to conduct adequate and thorough research.” Incorporating critical information theory additionally supports the Boulder Statements’ focus on the development of the theoretical foundation of a signature pedagogy for legal research education.” Finally, regulatory research skills framed by critical information theory “teach[es] an intellectual process for the application of methods for legal research by…[s]howing the relationship of legal structure to legal tools and evaluating the appropriate use of those tools.”

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