Information‐seeking behaviour of undergraduate biology students

Joanne E. Callinan (St Vincent's Centre, Dublin, Ireland)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Publication date: 1 February 2005



To understand what differences exist between first year biology and final year biochemistry students in University College Dublin so that measures can be taken to address those needs. It examines student's awareness and use of different sources of information for their course‐work, their use of the (E‐) library, why they visited the university library, the type of assistance they had received in using the library as well as the type of instruction they would like to receive in the future.


A questionnaire was designed and administered to both sample groups to investigate the information‐seeking behaviour of these students in different years of their studies.


The study highlights the positive aspects of seeking information from the student's perspective as well as the barriers they encountered when seeking course‐related information. The findings show that there are differences in the extent to which sources of information are used by students in different years of their studies. Apart from web sites and web‐based lecture notes, lack of awareness is the primary reason why undergraduate biology students did not use the library's electronic databases.

Research limitations/implications

The study does not distinguish between third and fourth year students in the final year sample.

Practical implications

One of the key recommendations is that bibliographic instruction should meet the specific information needs of first year biology and final year biochemistry students as well as greater liaison between faculty and librarians in the area of collection development and information literacy.


This paper establishes the importance of a cross‐sectional study in understanding the difference in students' information needs in different years of their studies.



Joanne E. Callinan (2005) "Information‐seeking behaviour of undergraduate biology students", Library Review, Vol. 54 No. 2, pp. 86-99

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