The self-tracking information literacy practices of LGBTQ+ students

Empowerment through self-knowledge




health information, information behaviour, information literacy, LGBTQ+, privacy, qualitative research


This paper explores the self-tracking information literacy practices of LGBTQ+ students, how the practices connect to LGBTQ+ identities, and whether these practices are perceived as empowering. Six semi-structured interviews were conducted with students who identified as LGBTQ+ self-trackers. Four previously discovered dimensions of IL in self-tracking framed the design. Collaborative thematic analysis revealed participants find it useful to monitor their physical health and tracking supports mental health, which is experienced as empowering. The heteronormative assumptions of apps influenced their perceived usefulness. There was some distrust about how apps used data, but this risk was accepted, typically because the convenience of the app outweighed privacy concerns. Data sharing took place—restricted due to self-consciousness or fear of judgement—and embraced when there was a feeling of working towards a shared goal. IL in this landscape is related to developing critical awareness of when and how self-tracking can support health goals; the limitations of apps and devices, particularly for those undergoing transition; privacy implications; and the nuances of social sharing.

Author Biographies

Pamela McKinney, University of Sheffield

Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield Information School

Corin Peacock, Arts University Bournemouth

Subject Librarian

Andrew Cox, University of Sheffield

Senior Lecturer, university of Sheffield Information School






Research articles (peer-reviewed articles)