New research into the information experiences of Syrian refugees in Scotland and impact of mis-information on young people

New Syrian Scots girls graphic

Two significant new research projects have been approved under the CILIP Information Literacy Group Research Bursary scheme. One will look at the information practices and experiences of New Syrian Scots refugees who are resettling in Scotland; and the second seeks to understand how mis-information influences young people’s psychological, physical, and behavioural reactions to functioning with a person with perceived extremist views - and whether there is a link between these reactions and people's level of ability to make sound judgements about information they are presented.

Lost in information? New Syrian Scots’ information literacy way-finding practices

This is a scoping study that aims to examine the information related experiences and information literacy practices of Syrian New Scots (the Syrian refugees in Scotland) during their resettlement and integration.

More specifically, the research aims to explore the following areas:

  • New Syrian Scots’ ‘ways of knowing’ for addressing critical social inclusion needs (e.g. housing, welfare, education, benefits, employability, rights and entitlements) within their new socio-cultural setting and via their interaction with people, tools and processes, including community contacts and regional support organizations, formal and informal information sources (the internet, social media and mobile technologies, books, guides, non-textual/visual sources) and interpersonal communication (with friends and family or other social connections);
  • the barriers (e.g. English language, socio-cultural differences) and enablers (local community support, new technologies and media) they  encounter in the process of addressing their key information needs;
  • how Syrian New Scots could be further supported to adapt to their local communities, feel a sense of belongingness and successfully establish their identity into the Scottish society.

The project will be conducted through interviews with Scottish Refugee Council representatives and focus groups with New Syrian Scots families in Aberdeen and Glasgow. The duration of this project is from October 2016 to February 2017.

The outcomes will help towards making recommendations on how to best aid Syrian newcomers in their social inclusion and community engagement and how to support their habitual and emerging information landscapes for their resettlement and adaptation. 

The findings will be of interest to local and regional support organizations and community volunteer groups who contribute to the social wellbeing and social integration of Syrian New Scots, as well as public libraries as centres for educational and cultural orientation sessions and support for newly settled refugees and for the communities that welcome them.

Information literacy and wellbeing

Worldwide, people engage with a variety of information outlets to gain insight into world events. To this end, it is not known how mis-information (e.g. websites promoting religious or racist extremism) affects young people’s well-being (including psychological and physical responses). What is also uncertain is how young peoples’ level of ability to make judgments about the online information they encounter is a protecting factor against the ill-being (i.e. negative stress responses) that mis-information may cause.

This project seeks to understand how such mis-information influences young people’s psychological, physical, and behavioural reactions to functioning with a person with perceived extremist views. We also wish to find out whether there is a link between these reactions and peoples level of ability to make sound judgements about information they are presented. We expect that young people who are good at making judgements about information will be less affected by people perceived to have extremist views. We will be working with participants aged 16-24 because they are the most likely users of the Internet and therefore exposed to mis-information on a regular basis, which may result in the development of ill-being, especially through prolonged social media use.

This multidisciplinary project brings together experts across information literacy, user experience, applied psychology and psychophysiological stress reactivity. The team believes that the way that people make judgements about information moderates the relationship between mis-information and cardiovascular responses in stressful social situations. This research has wide implications for policy makers, educationalists and governments, indicating for the first time that information literacy may have social and physical, as well as educational benefits, and that it should be added to current preventative measures against mis-information.

This is a new multidisciplinary collaboration between Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University, and Staffordshire University. The team brings together expertise from the fields of Information Science, Psychology, and Sport & Exercise Science.