Researchers R Us

John Law, ProQuest vice president, and Mike Buschman, IEEE client services manager, offered insights in How to Meet Researchers’ Changing Expectations, a SLA Hot Topic. 

Just how are students choosing resources these days? Law was armed with the results from a recent study that illuminated the options students use: library outreach, brand awareness, professional recommendations, and Google, of course. And just what are the top inhibitors to success for researchers? Try lack of awareness, difficulty navigating a library website to locate appropriate eresources, and searching the catalog front and center for articles. In essence, for many of the students, the research process was "frustrating."

Law provided some visuals that presented a sequential trail of screens reflecting individual users and their search for specific information. In one case, a student tried federated search and even popped over to visit a shopping site while the search results were being tabulated.

But many users tap into Google because it’s just easy to use when they are searching for supplemental research (locating a museum), or for handy look ups of terms (definition of the term p16 protein or to complete a citation for an article of interest). But the bottom line is that "researchers still understand the value of content/resources in the library."

For Buschman, the Digital Millennials had no problem going from source to source on their own, although the process of effective and productive search could be better realized by a librarian’s assistance. "They’re adept at looking and finding information," he says. "And never once did they ever ask for help. They consider themselves experts since they’ve been searching since they were 11." Older researchers? Hmm. They’re more likely to call colleague first.

Barbara Brynko
Editor in Chief
Information Today

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