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Christina's LIS Rant
Friday, December 01, 2006
  A Must Read: RIN's tech report "Researchers and Discovery Services: Behaviour, Perceptions and Needs"
Researchers and Discovery Services: Behaviour, Perceptions and Needs. (2006, November) Research Information Network. http://www.rin.ac.uk/files/Report%20-%20final.pdf. Accessed 12/1/2006.
(via 1, 2, 3 -- yes, 3 people/feeds had to point it out to me before I finally looked at it!)

I've only gotten through the executive summary (and included with the full report) so far, but there are some really interesting points here. The purpose of the study was to "assess the use and the perceptions of resource discovery services by academic researchers in the UK." The researchers are post-docs and beyond. RIN commissioned Rightscom and IRN Research to interview 400 researchers and 50 librarians from all over the UK by telephone.

Some of the points are not surprising: general satisfaction, fee barrier to certain resources, one size doesn't fit all, peers are important, specific gaps in provision (foreign language materials, book chapters, backfiles)

Some points that will encourage me to continue reading:
"Researchers see searching as an integral part of the research process, and they tend to refine down from a large set of results"
"Researchers are concerned about irrelevant search results, but they are more concerned that they might miss important information"
62% have alerts running -- mostly e-mail
Mismatch between librarian perception of researcher search skills and researcher perception of their own skills.

Anyway, I'll put this in the rapidly growing "to read" pile. It's interesting that they are using interview quotes to support their points and that they state that this is a qualitative study. I really appreciate that, but with n=400, it seems like they could have done some quantitative work? I prefer the qualitative now, but I'm interested to see why they went that way.
 
Comments:
Hi Christina,

Thanks for writing about our report - it's very encouraging for us to hear that you find it interesting and useful. You may have seen Lorcan Dempsey disagrees with you!

As you point out, the study is essentially qualitative. We had always had an ambitious view of what we wanted to achieve: an analysis of the needs, aspirations, behaviour and perceptions of the UK research community, and we concluded that only a qualitative approach (based on in-depth, 1/2hr long interviews) could tease out the subtleties of people's behaviour, and the reasoning behind their views. We think that some of the richness of the results (for instance, how researchers use Google in relation to other discovery services) might have been less apparent if we'd used purely quantitative techniques. Having said that, we welcome views and comments on this, as we are keen to learn how we might help to take forward or develop the conclusions from the study.

Apologies for the lengthy comment!

All the best,
James
(rin communications officer)
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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