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Information encountering and sharing behaviour of research students in an online environment

Waqar Ahmad Awan (Department of Information Management, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan) (Department of Library and Information Science, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan)
Kanwal Ameen (Department of Information Management, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan)
Saira Hanif Soroya (Department of Information Management, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 15 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Information behaviour exists in two forms: first when information is sought with a clear purpose and second, when we encounter it accidentally or serendipitiously. The purpose of this paper is to estimate the information encountering (IE) and encountered information sharing (EIS) behaviour of research students in an online environment.

Design/methodology/approach

The quantitative research approach was applied to carry out this research. The authors selected 120 MPhil and PhD research students (who research information as a part of their assignments) from six departments as sample for the study. Out of 120 research students, 93 returned the filled questionnaires. The collected data were analysed in SPSS version 22. First, descriptive statistics to estimate the IE and sharing behaviour; and later one-way ANOVA and post hoc comparisons using the Tukey HSD tests were applied to investigate the EIS based on the frequency of internet usage.

Findings

The findings indicate that the mean scores of the responses remain between “sometimes” and “often”, in all the behavioural sub-constructs of the model of IE, i.e. noticing, stopping, examining, capturing, storing (keeping), sharing and returning. The extended model proved to be valid in an online environment in the context of Pakistani culture. While estimating EIS, the results indicated significantly higher sharing and large effect size among the research students who used the internet from 11 to 15 h a week than those who used it between 6 and 10 h.

Practical implications

Keeping in view the results the research students and parent organisations (universities) working for the improvement of research ranking and research students’ better performance, should know that research information is not only actively acquired but also huge amount of information is accidentally encountered and shared. Therefore, the universities should train their research students to enhance the information sharing of encountered information. That will promote the research culture and may enhance the speed of learning, research work and ultimately result in competitive advantage, without any extra effort.

Originality/value

This is the first study of its type in Pakistan to measure the IE behaviour of research students in an online environment. Moreover, it is the first study which investigates the extended model of IE using a quantitative approach in the Pakistani research environment, which originated in Japan via qualitative research approach.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Kevin Wise, Sanda Erdelez and Shaheen Majid for the permission to use their survey instruments.

Citation

Awan, W.A., Ameen, K. and Soroya, S.H. (2019), "Information encountering and sharing behaviour of research students in an online environment", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 71 No. 4, pp. 500-517. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-10-2018-0232

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited