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Whitfield, Christopher (2008) Information gathering behaviour among academic researchers in different disciplines: ancient historians and research chemists. Masters dissertation. Thames Valley University.

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Since the mid-1990s the use of electronic resources has transformed information gathering for academic research, but has affected subjects in different ways and to different degrees. Where previously finding information in all subjects was based around libraries, researchers in many subjects do not now physically go to libraries, but have convenient access to vast amounts of information from their desktops. In other subjects electronic resources have been embraced, but visits to libraries are as important as ever and continue to form the basis of research projects with researchers regularly travelling abroad to use particular collections. For this study in depth investigations were conducted in two substantially dissimilar subjects, chemistry and ancient history, so that differences between them could be highlighted and light shed on developments in academia generally. Surveys were conducted with groups of six researchers from each subject, using detailed semi-structured interviews. All interviewees were asked the same set of questions and were encouraged to give their opinions on relevant issues so as to yield qualitative information about their behaviour and attitudes. The investigation found that the information gathering behaviour of chemists and ancient historians has become more different, rather than more similar, with the explosion of the use of electronic resources. Reasons for this include different methodologies, finances, the composition of research groups, working patterns and cultures within each subject. Searching techniques are significant because without them electronic information would not be retrievable and because they illustrate differences in information needs. There are important continuities in information behaviour, such as the importance of personal contacts.

Item Type: Theses (Masters)
Keywords: Information gathering behaviour, electronic journals, e-journals, SciFinder, ancient historians, research chemists, Imperial College London, University of Manchester
SOAS Departments & Centres: Administration and Professional Services > Library and Information Services
Supervisors Name: Anthony Olden
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2009 09:23

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