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Contributions by Iranian library and information science researchers
Article Type: Guest editorial From: Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives, Volume 63, Issue 6
As a developing country, Iran has started to invest heavily in science and tried to become scientifically developed. It is reported that scientific output has grown 11 times faster in Iran than the world average (MacKenzie, 2010). The number of articles in LIS international journals by Iranians has also been steadily increasing in recent years. This special issue of Aslib Proceedings is dedicated to Iranian contributions. The official LIS academic education in Iran started in 1966 when the first library school was established at the University of Tehran with the help of the American Professor Alice Lohrer and the sponsorship of the Fulbright Program. The school offered a Master’s course in Library Sciences (Hayati and Fattahi, 2005). There were seven universities in Iran offering a LIS program on the verge of the 1979 revolution. This number increased to 20 in 1995 (Kiani, 2009) and currently there are about 70 LIS departments across the country offering Bachelor, Master’s and Doctoral programs. The first PhD program in LIS was established in 1990. The LIS faculty members are mainly engaged in teaching. The number of full-time researchers in the field who work in organizations such as the National Library, Iranian Research Institute for Information Science and Technology (IRANDOC), and the Regional Information Center for Science and Technology is not high enough. Therefore, most research studies are basically dissertations and theses done by the large number of postgraduate students. Iran currently publishes nine LIS scholarly journals in Persian and two in English and has an LIS Association and a Medical LIS Association.
The papers in this issue of Aslib Proceedings reflect some current research concentrations in the field of library and information studies in Iran. Although these papers do not represent the totality of the current spectrum of LIS research in Iran, they show some areas in which the Iranian LIS research community is more active.
The first contribution by Dehgani, Afshar, Jamali and Nematbakhsh is a grounded theory study that has developed a model for a multi-layer contextual recommender system for the scholarly digital library environment. The study basically explores the concept of context in scholarly information seeking, especially in a digital library environment and identifies different contextual elements.
The paper by Sedghi, Sanderson, Clough, another grounded theory study, looks at the way health professionals seek and use medical images. They identified the resources used by health professionals for image retrieval which mainly included web-based resources, scholarly articles and personal collections. Some barriers also mentioned for image retrieval included low precision in the image retrieval, lack of domain specific image searching tools, the large number of images in the results set, lack of credibility, and the low quality of retrieved images.
Metadata and its application in information retrieval and in the web environment is one of the subjects that librarians are concerned with. There have been quite a few metadata schemas developed by librarians and some have found their way in to the web environment. Farajpahlou and Tabatabai in their experiment studied the extent to which the XML-based version of two metadata schemas, Dublin Core and MARC 21, are indexed by general search engines and found that Google fully index and retrieve the content of these two metadata schemas in a dynamic online information environment.
Scientometrics and bibliometrics have become very important subjects in Iran during the last decade. Iran now has its own citation index which is quite similar to Web of Knowledge and is called Islamic World Science Citation Center (isc.gov.ir). A large proportion of LIS articles published in Persian journals in recent years are basically scientometric and bibliometric ones. Jowkar, Didegah, Gazni in their contribution have tried to find out about the impact of funding on the citation impact of Iranian research based on a sample of Iranian articles published in IS-ranked journals. Their results showed that the percentage of funded studies is increasing and that the citation impact of funded publications is higher than unfunded ones in almost every subject field.
The next paper in the issue is a comparative study of information therapy (Ix) in Iran and India and the role librarians play in Ix services. This study by Gavgani, which is based on the author’s PhD thesis, shows that Ix services are rendered in hospital/medical libraries of Iran and India, formally and informally; however, there are several obstacles and problems to be resolved to improve Ix services.
The last contribution from Isfandyari-Moghaddam and Kashi-Nahanji investigates the possible impact of IT on the level of the information literacy of high school students and shows that the level of information literacy is higher among those students studying in schools with IT facilities compared to those studying in schools without appropriate IT facilities.
Collectively the papers in this issue illustrate the nature of the research done by the Iranian LIS community. Three of these papers are based on Master’s dissertations, two are based on doctoral theses and one is a piece of research carried out by one lecturer and two researchers. Currently, Iranian researchers in many fields use international articles and research as a source of inspiration for the subject they choose to research. This has led to an increase in the number of international articles Iranian authors publish. However, it has also resulted in an ignorance of local problems. I believe it is very important for the Iranian LIS community to focus more on local problems and respond to the challenges the librarians and information professionals face in their attempts for improving services.
Hamid R. Jamali
Hayati, Z. and Fattahi, R. (2005), “Education for librarianship in Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution: a historical review of American roles and influences”, Library Review, Vol. 54 No. 5, pp. 316–27
Kiani, H. (2009), “Education for library and information science in Iran: current trends”, International Journal of Information, Science, and Technology, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 15–28
MacKenzie, D. (2010), “Iran showing fastest scientific growth of any country”, New Scientist, 18 February, available at: www.newscientist.com/article/dn18546-iran-showing-fastest-scientific-growth-of-any-country.html (accessed 15 May 2011)