n Mousaion - Information ethics education in Library and Information Science Departments / Schools in South Africa

Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



This paper investigates the nature and level of information ethics education in library and information science (LIS) departments in South Africa. The study entailed both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in that a survey and content analysis were conducted. The study involved all 12 LIS departments in South Africa. Within these departments, the heads of department, lecturers teaching the module, and the course outlines / study guides for information ethics modules formed the target population. Data was collected via questionnaires that were emailed to the heads of the various LIS departments, who were also requested to forward a separate questionnaire to the lecturers teaching an information ethics module. Responses were received from 7 of the 12 LIS departments to which questionnaires were sent. The study revealed that in most LIS departments, information ethics is incorporated into the content of other modules and is not taught as a stand-alone course. In the LIS departments that offer a stand-alone information ethics module, the module is offered for the first time in second year, the rationale being that at this level students are sufficiently mature to appreciate information ethics. With the exception of one lecturer, who had a background in both LIS and Philosophy, all the lecturers had backgrounds in LIS only. In light of the ethical dilemmas facing information professionals, it is recommended that information ethics be made a significant component of LIS education and training, in which case it would be offered as a full stand-alone module.

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