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Does the student's love of the search engine mean that high quality online academic resources are being missed?

Margaret Markland (The Centre for Research in Library and Information Management (CERLIM), Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 1 April 2005




To compare the resource discovery network (RDN) hubs and Google as search tools within an academic context, taking into account well documented user information seeking behaviours. To find out whether the students' apparent preference for search engines as an information retrieval tool means that they might miss quality online resources to support their academic work.


With key factors about user behaviour and service provision in mind, to conduct a small study to see what students are actually presented with when they search for online information for their academic studies, by comparing search results from the RDN hubs and Google.


Analysis of results suggests that the exclusive use of search engines will lead to users missing the high quality resources provided by the RDN hubs, that if users use subject gateways in the same way that they use search engines they are likely to miss much that the hubs' sophisticated structures and search options have to offer them, and that search engines do provide access to quality resources.

Research limitations/implications

A larger scale investigation of the level of sophistication of searching behaviour among hubs users is called for.

Practical implications

The study emphasizes the need for online information service developers to take into account well documented user behaviours when designing new services.


The paper will be of value to researchers in the fields of information retrieval and information seeking behaviour, and to developers and providers of online information services to the academic community.



Markland, M. (2005), "Does the student's love of the search engine mean that high quality online academic resources are being missed?", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 19-31.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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