Artificial intelligence and changes in information practices in higher education

An exploratory study




artificial intelligence, information practices, writing tools


Searching, evaluating, using, sharing and organizing information are central activities in writing and research processes. These activities are carried out by students who participate in the communities of practice they share with fellow students, teachers and supervisors. In today's changing landscape, the infrastructures surrounding the research process are changing, and both students and researchers make use of new aids that challenge established practices and open up innovative ways of thinking, researching and studying.

In this poster, we examine how the introduction of artificial intelligence-based technology affects information practices in the context of learning and research in higher education, as well as how university libraries can be partners in this change. We base ourselves on an exploratory study that looks at a group of master's students and their use of AI-based tools in the writing process, and in particular on a tool for recommending literature called Keenious.

The study involved interviews with the students in their last semester before submitting the master's thesis. We found that the students use different tools in the writing process and that in searching for literature they particularly used Google and Google Scholar, as well as recommendations from supervisors and fellow students. They adopted the Keenious tool to some extent, in creative ways, as part of the larger ecology of human and technological resources. Tutors' use of tools is a role model for the students, and tools the tutors use that prove useful have a greater potential to be used than other random tools. It also matters if the tools are easily accessible in the infrastructure they already have access to and if the results can be confirmed with people or tools they already have confidence in.

The larger infrastructure the students use includes fellow students, tutors, teachers, Google, Google Scholar, Zotero, text-to-speech, and speech-to-text software. Keenious was used together with other literature search tools in some parts of the writing process but was not used systematically by any of the students. The reason for this may be that it was a new tool that the students had not started using in previous studies or writing processes and was not part of the established habits.

Students found creative ways to combine the tools throughout the writing process. Our findings provide an opportunity to discuss whether the students develop practices that are not necessarily shared with the wider academic community of practice, and whether their use of the technology enables them to participate more competently in the community.

With such changes in the students' information practices, where they explore AI-based aids and approaches, those who support the students in their information-related activities, such as tutors and library staff, will have to deal with the technology as a new type of actor. Library staff must not only provide introductions and guidance to the tools, but also help students understand the interaction with technology as an active participant in the writing process.


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Author Biographies

Hilde Westbye, University of Oslo

Hilde Westbye is Library Director of the Law Library, University of Oslo. She is Academic coordinator for Centre on experiential legal learning (CELL) at the Law Faculty, University of Oslo. She is a lawyer and also holds a degree in IT. She is currently working with projects on how artificial intelligence will affect education, research and libraries.

Andrea Alessandro Gasparini, University of Oslo

Andrea Gasparini finished in February 2020 his Ph.D. at the Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, Norway. His Ph.D. is about the use of Design Thinking and Service Design in academic libraries. Right after, he had a part-time position in the same department as a senior lecturer for one year. In March 2022, he started in the same position, and from August 2022, he is also acting leader of the Regenerative technologies research group. Those are in the context of energy and Artificial Intelligence. He has also worked for more than 20 years as a chief engineer at the University of Oslo Library.

Eystein Gullbekk, University of Oslo

Eystein Gullbekk is the Head of Teaching and Learning Services at the University of Oslo Library and holds a PhD in Library and Information Science. He is also temporarily in charge of the library's Academic Writing Centre. His areas of interest include information literacy, interdisciplinary scholarly communication, and practices. Currently, Eystein is involved in several initiatives and projects related to AI in higher education.




How to Cite

Westbye, H., Gasparini, A. A., & Gullbekk, E. . (2023). Artificial intelligence and changes in information practices in higher education: An exploratory study. Septentrio Conference Series, (1).