Development of information search expertise: research students' knowledge of databases

Samuel Kai‐Wah Chu (Division of Information and Technology Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Nancy Law (Division of Information and Technology Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Publication date: 1 December 2005

Abstract

Purpose

This paper sets out to report on a study of 12 postgraduate research students' development of information search expertise. It focuses on students' perceived importance and growth of knowledge of different databases as they progress through their studies.

Design/methodology/approach

Taking an in‐depth longitudinal approach, this study makes use of surveys, direct observations of students' searching of various databases, students' verbalization of their thoughts while searching databases and interviews during a one‐year period. The paper focuses on analyzing the data from surveying and interviewing the students with regard to their use of databases.

Findings

It was found that many students were initially unfamiliar with many of the databases important to them and that the familiarity developed during the year contributed importantly to their development of information search expertise. This suggests that much work has to be done to inform and instruct students about these “treasures”.

Research limitations/implications

This study adopted an in‐depth longitudinal approach to study 12 students. Although it reveals various interesting observations and findings, it lacks the power of generalization due to its small sample size. Based on the results of this study, it would be meaningful to carry out further studies with a bigger sample to see whether the findings identified in this study will still hold true.

Originality/value

Based on the findings, this paper further identifies features that may increase the usefulness of a journal database and makes suggestions on ways to improve library support for the effective use of databases.

Keywords

Citation

Kai‐Wah Chu, S. and Law, N. (2005), "Development of information search expertise: research students' knowledge of databases", Online Information Review, Vol. 29 No. 6, pp. 621-642. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684520510638070

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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