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The Research

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Research in IST is transformative — focusing on systems-level thinking, higher conceptualization of global problems, and having an interdisciplinary connectivity — in order to deal with challenging, complex emerging problems that change the way we think, the way we live, and the way we engage with the world. At the forefront of this cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research are our faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students, representing the best Penn State has to offer, and coming from a rich tapestry of diverse backgrounds – business, computer science, psychology, human factors, sociology, law and medicine, to name a few.

Research Funding

Research Sponsors

  • $70,228,242 total sponsored grants and contracts
  • $43,682,648 federal funding
  • $26,545,594 non-federal funding
  • 619 total awards





At this point in history the acceleration of information in different forms through different venues is creating vast research opportunities that define the information age. IST strives to produce scholarly insights in leading-edge research that facilitate discovery, capture, retrieval, security, privacy, and connectivity of various forms of information as related to human and global challenge problems.

As one of the top i-Schools, it is our purpose to be relevant in:

  • Understanding interdisciplinary science and the nature of information
  • Putting information science knowledge to use in building humanized technologies
  • Assessing how the social/organizational context of use influences and sustains information growth

Together these qualities specify a holistic approach and reinforce the ideal that a scholar needs to be able to see and evaluate a situation from multiple perspectives, utilizing multiple methodological approaches, in order to obtain transformation science that makes a difference in people’s lives.


Information connects people with the culture they exist in and beyond, and comes forth in a variety of forms and media, while informatics looks at computational tools and technology to support human endeavors for a given milieu. Taken together, research in the information sciences and technology covers a broad spectrum of human activities that utilize information vis-à-vis innovative technological means.  However, that is not the whole story.  Research looks at the reciprocal relationships among information-people, people-technology, information-technology in order to afford inter- and transdisciplinary understanding.


The vision of our programs places a great emphasis on research within information sciences that is:

  • relevant
  • cutting edge
  • culturally current
  • socially responsible
  • scientifically grounded

Graduate School Training

IST graduate research training integrates insight, knowledge, skills, and methodologies to generate incisive scholarship and sound research practices. Students will encounter intellectual dive

rsity in a variety of ways emphasizing rigor as well as creativity. We believe that research practice requires breadth and in-depth experience utilizing the interdisciplinary fundaments of multiple perspectives, approaching complex problems through different channels while using appropriate tools.

Many problems, solutions, and methods presented to students involve teamwork that:

  • explores contemporary theory and issues
  • engages analytical and inductive thinking
  • designs and creates innovative systems
  • tests/evaluates information use as related to socio-technical, economic, and global factors