Information seeking and communicating behavior of social science faculty in an academic environment with special reference to the use of electronic journals: A field study
Hossam Eldin Mohamed Refaat Abouserie, University of Pittsburgh, United States
University of Pittsburgh . Awarded
The study explores the ways Social Science faculty at one academic institution, the University of Pittsburgh, obtain information to support their tasks. The various information sources faculty use, traditional and nontraditional, for different activities or tasks they perform are investigated. The study asked the following questions: (1) What are the types of information sources, electronic or traditional, the faculty consult to support their activities/tasks? and (2) To what degree does each faculty member depend on different information sources? Does the faculty depend on all sources of information at the same level or degree for different tasks, or does the faculty depend on different sources for different tasks in different degrees?
The basic tasks of Social Science faculty were matched with different information sources to determine what sources are used for different tasks, and to what degree faculty depend on each source. The basic non-administrative tasks of the faculty are summarized in the following points: (1) Teaching that includes: Teaching courses; Advising students; etc. (2) Research that includes: Writing grant proposals; Conducting research; Writing research results for publication; etc. (3) Service that includes: Consulting with organizations outside the university; Providing service to the university; Providing service to professional organizations; etc. Two types of sources were covered, basic information sources or traditional sources, and electronic sources. The data were also analyzed by whether sources used were primary or secondary.
Data were collected through a questionnaire distributed electronically through the Web in Spring 2003. A pilot study was conducted at the School of Business, and with a few faculty members at the School of Information Sciences before distributing the final version of the questionnaire. The Hypotheses underlying the study were: (1) There will be a difference in the sources used to perform the basic tasks or activities, teaching, research, and service, according to the school, faculty rank, years spent in the university, and gender. (2) The degree to which faculty depend on electronic sources will differ across tasks/activities, as follows: (A) They will depend more on electronic sources for research tasks than for teaching tasks or services tasks. (B) They will depend more on electronic sources for teaching tasks than for service tasks. (3) E-journals will be accessed from offices more than any other location such as departmental libraries, central libraries and home.
The first hypothesis was accepted, in that the study showed a difference in the sources used according to school, gender, academic ranks, and years spent in the university. The second hypothesis was also accepted, in that the study found: (1) Research depends more on electronic sources than the other two tasks, teaching and service. (2) Teaching depends more on electronic sources than service. It was also found that research depends more on traditional materials than teaching and service. And teaching depends more on traditional library materials than service. The third hypothesis was also accepted, in that the study showed a high percentage of faculty members read from their offices, while a low percentage of them read from home, and a very low percentage read from the central library and department libraries.
Abouserie, H.E.M.R. Information seeking and communicating behavior of social science faculty in an academic environment with special reference to the use of electronic journals: A field study. Ph.D. thesis, University of Pittsburgh.
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