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Exploring the use of electronic resources by humanities scholars during the research process

Shih-Chuan Chen (Department of Library and Information Science, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan)

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 3 June 2019

Issue publication date: 3 June 2019




This study aims to examine the types of documents that humanities scholars use in their publications, how humanities scholars use electronic resources during their research, and their opinions are regarding their library’s acquisition policy for electronic and printed resources.


A total of 13 university faculty members from the fields of Chinese literature, history and philosophy participated in this study. The documents cited in their publications were analyzed and in-depth interviews were conducted.


The results showed that books were the dominant document type cited by the participants. They frequently used electronic resources during the stages of idea generation; document search and collection; and interpretation and writing. If they used an ancient book in an electronic format, they cross-checked it with its printed version to verify the accuracy of the text. Although the participants anticipated that the university library would favour e-journals instead of printed journals, they expected the university library to continue purchasing printed books.


Many university libraries encounter difficulties in choosing between materials in electronic and printed formats, particularly in the humanities field. The study findings provide a clear understanding of how humanities scholars use electronic resources in the digital age.



Chen, S.-C. (2019), "Exploring the use of electronic resources by humanities scholars during the research process", The Electronic Library, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 240-254.



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