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Hidden and forbidden: conceptualising dark knowledge.

Burnett, Simon; Lloyd, Annemaree


Annemaree Lloyd


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to introduce the concept of Dark Knowledge, an epistemology that acknowledges both alternative knowledge and ways of knowing which are cognizant of the moral and ethical positioning of each. Design/methodology/approach: This is a conceptual paper that uses existing relevant literature to develop the work. The paper uses a four-stage literature search process and draws upon a range of disciplines, including philosophy, computer science and information management, to underpin the evolution of the concept. Findings: As a conceptual paper, no empirical findings are presented. Instead, the paper presents an embryonic model of Dark Knowledge and identifies a number of characteristics, which may be used to explore the concept in more detail. Research limitations/implications: There is a clear need to develop a body of empirical work, adding to the theoretical perspectives presented in this paper. It is anticipated that this paper will provide one of the cornerstones for future studies in this area. Originality/value: The paper makes an original contribution to the study of information behaviours, practices and epistemology.


BURNETT, S. and LLOYD, A. 2020. Hidden and forbidden: conceptualising dark knowledge. Journal of documentation [online], 76(6), pages 1341-1358. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 13, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 23, 2020
Publication Date Dec 31, 2020
Deposit Date Apr 14, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jun 23, 2020
Journal Journal of Documentation
Print ISSN 0022-0418
Electronic ISSN 1758-7379
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 76
Issue 6
Pages 1341-1358
Keywords Knowledge; Morality; Ethics; Epistemology; Refugees
Public URL


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