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The information‐seeking problems of English high schoolers responding to academic information need

Andrew K. Shenton (Division of Information and Communication Studies, School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 18 April 2008




The problems experienced by young people when looking for information are significantly under‐researched and this paper aims to attempt to expand the fragmented knowledge base. It concentrates on action taken by English high schoolers to meet academic information needs.


The work draws on qualitative data elicited via an online questionnaire administered in October and November 2006. Thirty‐five participants contributed data on the problems they had encountered.


Inductive coding of the data revealed that over 20 individual problems were apparent. The most frequently mentioned was an inability to locate the desired information. Some of the other issues related to information use, rather than information‐seeking.

Research limitations/implications

The project was small scale, with data collected from pupils in only one school. It relied solely on self‐reported data and insight into information‐seeking problems was gained purely in terms of behaviour to satisfy academic information needs. A future project may consider issues that develop when youngsters are intent on meeting leisure‐oriented needs.

Practical implications

The findings have implications for the improvement of Web filters and the teaching of information skills, especially with respect to the effective use of search engines and the training of learners in information‐seeking methods beyond the use of the Internet.


The paper is unusual in exploring information‐seeking problems entirely from the perspective of information users. It is envisaged that the research will be of use to academics interested in information behaviour, teachers in secondary schools and information professionals who work with young people.



Shenton, A.K. (2008), "The information‐seeking problems of English high schoolers responding to academic information need", Library Review, Vol. 57 No. 4, pp. 276-288.



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