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“Not for Casual Readers:” An Evaluation of Digital Data from Virginia Archaeological Websites

Author: 
Mark Anthony Freeman
Major Professor: 
Awa Zhu
Committee Members: 
Carolyn Hank,
Suzie Allard
Date: 
August 2015

Abstract: 

Archaeological data dissemination is complicated by the need to serve disparate audiences, each of which has different data needs. This study examined the websites of 148 Virginia institutions identified as having archaeological collections or data, and used content analysis to see how they supported characteristics of scholarly publishing, open data and public outreach. Archaeologists are increasingly looking for comparative data sets for research needs, with professional ethics and a desire for public engagement encouraging data sharing. However this analysis suggests that, while there are some exemplary websites, much of the archaeological record remains publicly inaccessible. The majority of websites examined provided no reference to archaeology and, of the remainder, a third did not provide archaeological data. These websites did provide many supporting characteristics for public outreach, but concerns about preservation, data “openness,” and limited datasets remain.

Potential Effects of Institutional Repositories on Nursing Research Dissemination

Author: 
Sarah Jane McClung
Major Professor: 
Suzie Allard
Committee Members: 
Vandana Singh,
Martha F. Earl
Date: 
May 2012

Abstract: Institutional repositories (IRs) might be important tools for nursing faculty to utilize as they have the potential to improve research dissemination on a timely basis to the nursing community at large. This topic is worth investigating because the field of nursing has been struggling for many decades to facilitate the relationship between theory and methods by transferring the knowledge gained from nursing research to the approaches used in nursing practice. The recent focus on evidence-based practice in nursing education is proof of the field’s attempts at shrinking the information gap between nurse researcher and nurse clinician. Methods for dissemination have mainly focused on oral presentations, traditional publication routes, and poster sessions. IRs are a little researched approach to dissemination for nursing research that could prove to be effective in circulating research in a more timely and less formal way.

By comparing the nursing faculty from a university that has an IR, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a university that does not, Virginia Commonwealth University, one can investigate if the presence of an IR helps to influence the nursing faculty’s attitudes and behaviors regarding the dissemination of their research. The presence of an IR could cause nursing faculty to be more likely to consider alternative methods of dissemination, such as open access journals, Web 2.0 applications, and submissions to the IR itself, when constructing their research dissemination strategy. These discovered attitudes and behaviors could help academic health sciences librarians evaluate how to better promote IR usage for nursing or advocate for the creation of an IR.

While the research results of this exploratory study provided many approaches for health sciences librarians to improve IR use by and promotion for nursing faculty, including providing a reminder system, educational sessions, and technical support, the results suggested that the research culture a university possesses could be the influencing factor for faculty to be more inclined to disseminate their research using open access and alternative dissemination methods rather than the presence of an IR specifically.

Lawyers and Their Books: The Augusta County Law Library Association, 1853-1883

Author: 
Gregory Harkcom Stoner
Major Professor: 
Rachel Fleming-May
Committee Members: 
Kimberly Douglass
Cindy Welch
Date: 
May 2012

Abstract: 

During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, law books of various types contained the vital information needed by Virginia’s practicing attorneys and judges. Access to these resources, however, was generally limited to personal collections and a handful of libraries. Despite numerous calls for the creation of libraries by theVirginiagovernment, state legislators took little action of note.

This study explores the history and origins of law libraries in Virginia by focusing on the formation and evolution of the Augusta County Law Library Association, one of the first libraries organized in Virginia under state legislation enacted in 1853 that authorized the creation of law libraries by local bar associations. The commitment to action and understanding of their profession exhibited by the Augusta bar association represents a singular example of professional awareness and unity during this period. The successes of this and other emerging libraries of the era also lead to the development of library forms and practices that persist to the present day. In examining the activities of the library association between 1853 and 1883, this study interprets and explains how this unique library and its unified organizers constitute a noteworthy development in both the history of libraries and the practice of law.

 

The Information Landscape of a Wicked Problem: An Evaluation of Web-Based Information on Colony Collapse Disorder for a Spectrum of Citizen Information Seekers

Author: 
Reid Boehm
Major Professor: 
Vandana Singh
Committee Members: 
Suzie Allard,
Kimberly Douglass
Date: 
May 2012

Abstract: The following research takes a mixed method approach to understanding the information landscape of a wicked problem. Wicked problems are defined as being uncertain in cause, having many stakeholders with conflicting interests, and inevitably have no foreseeable solution. Through the study a framework is implemented that assesses a portion of the landscape of colony collapse disorder information from the federal government via the web. Using a government information valuation framework that takes into account a spectrum of citizen user needs, the research was able to look at the information content within the context of the public sphere and to apply the lens of post- normal science theory to understand the essential nature of public participation to the provision of equitable information. This study contributed to the research in the field of information science and e-government studies by making several observations and strengthening perspectives on specific issues. The social network analysis component of the study shows how the USGSs’ now cancelled NBII played a role as a bridge between the web 2.0 collaborative aspects of Wikipedia and the government entities that provide information. These entities include the EPA, the USDA, and the US FWS. The content analysis of these five entities shows that Wikipedia has the most comprehensive amount of information in comparison with the government entities, but the USDA has more consistent quality measures.

Overall the research shows that citizen user groups are in need of public engagement applications to facilitate a two-way flow of information. The research framework provides a starting point and a tool for use in future studies that examine the network of e-government information available about specific complex and wicked problems.

Content Analysis of Social Tags on Intersectionality for Works on Asian Women: An Exploratory Study of LibraryThing

Author: 
Sheetija Kaur Kathuria
Major Professor: 
Bharat Mehra
Committee Members: 
Suzie Allard,
Kimberly Black
Date: 
August 2011

Abstract: This study explores how the social tags are employed by users of LibraryThing, a popular web 2.0 social networking site for cataloging books, to describe works on Asian women in representing themes within the context of intersectionality. Background literature in the domain of subject description of works has focused on race and gender representation within traditional controlled vocabularies such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). This study explores themes related to intersectionality in order to analyze how users construct meaning in their social tags. The collection of works used to search for social tags came from the Association of College and Research Libraries’ list on East Asian, South and Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern women. A pilot study was conducted comprising of a limited sample in each of the three domains, which helped generate a framework of analysis that was used in application for the larger sample of works on Asian women. The full study analyzed 1231 social tags collected from 122 works on Asian women. Findings from this study showed that users construct a variety of intersections relating to gender and ethnicity for works on Asian women. Overall findings from this showed that gender and gender-related constructs were the most common subject of tags employed for works on Asian women. Users more often referred to geography rather than ethnicity when describing the materials on Asian women. Interesting themes to emerge involved how gender and other constructs differed among the three domains. Tags describing the majority of East Asia, such as Chinese and Japanese were most common in the East Asian dataset. Countries not considered the “majority” in South and Southeast Asia were often used, such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Themes of sexuality and religion were much more prevalent in the Middle Eastern set of tags. Social tags act as a mechanism for social commentary. Researchers have access to a plethora of constructions available to them through these social tags; such abundance of information is a valuable resource to understanding how the general populace understands intersections and constructs identity.

Geospatial data accessibility in Web 2.0 environments

Author: 
Sara Helen McNamee
Major Professor: 
Suzie Allard
Committee Members: 
Lorraine F. Normore,
Bruce Wilson
Date: 
May 2011

Abstract: Geographically referenced data is becoming a robust source of information because the use of place-based relevance searching is being employed as a popular form of information access and dispersal. To address this trend, the researcher conducted a study on the usability of the USA National Phenology Network (http://www.usanpn.org/), engaging 6 volunteer participants structured usability test of the USANPN mapping application. The participants were asked to complete two tasks, and data was collected both during (in the form of a think aloud exercise) and after the test (in the form of an exit interview). From the data collected, the researcher aimed to identify common and serious usability issues using both quantitative usability metrics and the qualitative think aloud and interview data. This study was primarily directed at assessing the usability of a geospatial Web 2.0 application and identifying common user problems. The researcher concluded that the search functionality and general navigation options were the most pressing usability issues associated with using the USA National Phenology Website to contribute geospatial data.

RSS feeds, browsing and end-user engagement

Author: 
Mary Elizabeth Ross West
Major Professor: 
Carol Tenopir
Committee Members: 
Suzie Allard,
Kimberly Douglass
Date: 
April 2011

Abstract: Despite the vast amount of research that has been devoted separately to the topics of browsing and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) aggregation architecture, little is known about how end-users engage with RSS feeds and how they browse while using a feed aggregate. This study explores the browsing behaviors end-users exhibit when using RSS and Atom feeds. The researcher analyzed end-users’ browsing experiences and discusses browsing variations. The researcher observed, tested, and interviewed eighteen (N=18) undergraduate students at the University of Tennessee to determine how end-users engage with RSS feeds.

This study evaluates browsing using two variations of tasks, (1) an implicit task with no final goal and (2) an explicit task with a final goal. The researcher observed the participants complete the two tasks and conducted exit interviews, which addressed the end-users’ experiences with Google Reader and provided further explanation of browsing behaviors. The researcher analyzed the browsing behaviors based upon Bates’ (2007) definitions and characteristics of browsing. The results of this exploratory research provide insights into end-user interaction with RSS feeds.

Developing comic book and graphic novel collections in libraries

Author: 
Sara Dianne Ray
Major Professor: 
Ed Cortez
Committee Members: 
Kimberly L. Black-Parker,
Cindy C. Welch
Date: 
December 2010

Abstract: This research study has several objectives. The first is to research graphic novels and comic books, their history and the issues this visual and literary medium has had with censorship, with preconceived notions that the medium is only meant for a juvenile audience, and with the development of rating standards. The second objective is to study current literature that has been written by scholars and librarians on this medium. This exploration of graphic novels and comic books and the scholarship and collection development efforts related to them provides a foundation for considering the issues and challenges which current and future librarians may have to face, in maintaining this literary form in library collections. The third objective is to conduct a focus group and to survey librarians in Tennessee from a range of backgrounds in order to consider a number of questions, including: if these librarians have encountered patrons who challenged having these books included in their institutions’ collections, what age range the surveyed librarians believe this medium is meant to appeal to, and how the librarians would rate content in comic books and graphic novels; such as, violence, language, sexual activity, etc.; including terms used by publishers in their rating standards to describe different levels of content. The results from this study showed there was quite a difference between what librarians feel is appropriate for the levels they were given and the types of content; with there being usually at least a 2 - 3 year age difference between the top two to three options chosen or there being a difference between the participants selecting an age range and selecting either “All Ages” or “None” as appropriate. The literature research and the data obtained from the survey along with the responses received from the focus group indicate that, since the majority of participants stated they “sometimes” experienced selection difficulties and problems with cataloging and shelving these books, picking an appropriate age range for a comic book or graphic novel is very subjective and librarians and publishers are still a long way away from agreeing on the appropriateness of the content.

Perceptions of Digital Libraries with Indigenous Knowledge: An Exploratory Study

Author: 
Debra Lynn Capponi
Major Professor: 
Bharat Mehra
Committee Members: 
Suzie Allard,
Peiling Wang
Date: 
May 2010

Abstract: Interest in indigenous knowledge (IK) research has grown since the 1980s, and more recently the topic has drawn attention in information sciences research. At the same time, the evolution of electronic information and communication technologies (ICTS), most notably development of the Internet, has profoundly influenced information sciences research. This study explores perceptions of community members involved in the creation, development, and use of digital libraries with indigenous knowledge materials. Research methods used in data collection include a quantitative survey distributed to community members involved in the creation, development, and use of digital libraries with indigenous knowledge materials and quantitative analysis of the research process. The study proposes a framework of guidelines to conduct future research on digital libraries with indigenous knowledge that includes: acknowledging the reality of the community involved in creating, developing and using digital libraries with indigenous knowledge materials; developing appropriate research methods for this community; and identifying specific actions for such research.

Enterprise Users and Web Search Behavior

Author: 
April Ann Lewis
Major Professor: 
Peiling Wang
Date: 
May 2010

Abstract: This thesis describes analysis of user web query behavior associated with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's (ORNL) Enterprise Search System (Hereafter, ORNL Intranet). The ORNL Intranet provides users a means to search all kinds of data stores for relevant business and research information using a single query. The Global Intranet Trends for 2010 Report suggests the biggest current obstacle for corporate intranets is "findability and Siloed content". Intranets differ from internets in the way they create, control, and share content which can make it often difficult and sometimes impossible for users to find information. Stenmark (2006) first noted studies of corporate internal search behavior is lacking and so appealed for more published research on the subject. This study employs mature scientific internet web query transaction log analysis (TLA) to examine how corporate intranet users at ORNL search for information. The focus of the study is to better understand general search behaviors and to identify unique trends associated with query composition and vocabulary. The results are compared to published Intranet studies. A literature review suggests only a handful of intranet based web search studies exist and each focus largely on a single aspect of intranet search. This implies that the ORNL study is the first to comprehensively analyze a corporate intranet user web query corpus, providing results to the public. This study analyzes over 65,000 user queries submitted to the ORNL intranet from September 17, 2007 through December 31, 2007. A granular relational data model first introduced by Wang, Berry, and Yang (2003) for Web query analysis was adopted and modified for data mining and analysis of the ORNL query corpus. The ORNL query corpus is characterized using Zipf Distributions, descriptive word statistics, and Mutual Information. User search vocabulary is analyzed using frequency distribution and probability statistics. 

The results showed that ORNL users searched for unique types of information. ORNL users are uncertain of how to best formulate queries and don't use search interface tools to narrow search scope. Special domain language comprised 38% of the queries. The average results returned per query for ORNL were too high and no hits occurred 16.34%. 

The Subject Representation of Core Works in Women’s Studies: A Critical Analysis of the Library of Congress Subject Headings

Author: 
Susan Wood
Major Professor: 
Bharat Mehra
Date: 
May 2010

Abstract: The system of Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) has been the subject of feminist, critical examinations since the 1970's. Subject headings pertaining both to feminist literature and to women in general have been analyzed to determine how LCSH represents these topics. In this study, I contribute to this body of scholarship by analyzing and reporting on the nature of the LCSH subject representation of 52 core works published from 1986-1998 in the areas of feminist theory and women's movements. These monographs were selected from the 3rd edition of Women's Studies: A Recomminded Bibliography  (Krikos and Ingold, 2004). The analysis of works of/on feminist theory and on women's movements is preceded by a pilot study of 24 core works on the topics of Communications, Fim, Television, Media, and Journalism.

I utilize the abstracts of these works in Krikos & Ingold (2004), as well as the works themselves, to establish the nature of each monograph's perspective and scope. To this information I compare the LC subject headings employed in the bibliographic records representing these works in the Library of Congress Online Catalog in order to assess the headings' usefulness as surrogate representations of these monographs in terms of accuracy, relevance, specificity, and currency.

I present my findings as sets of problems and solutions illustrated with specific examples. Overall, LCSH is not able to represent adequately the 24 works in the pilot study sample or the 52 core works in the main study based on its current application. I conclude with a proposed set of subject headings as suggested by the abstracts of these works.

Information privacy: a quantitative study of citizen awareness, concern and information seeking behavior related to the use of the social security number as a personal identifier

Author: 
Rhonda Marisa Clossum
Major Professor: 
Suzie Allard
Date: 
May 2010

Abstract: Information technology has transformed the manner in which personal identifying information is collected, stored and shared in government agencies and private businesses. The social security number has become the de facto identifier for individuals due to its notable qualities: a nine-digit number assigned to one person by the United States government. As individuals are increasingly asked to disclose personal information, the question arises: How does the lack of awareness of social security number laws contribute to the loss of privacy, loss of control of personal information and the threat of identity theft? This study examines awareness levels of social security number laws and policies that affect individuals’ daily lives from the perspective of the information science profession. This study also examines concerns relative to widespread usage of the social security number. A quantitative research method using an online survey was employed using convenience and snowball sampling of adult university students and other community members. Survey results were analyzed by age, gender, educational achievement and student status. Awareness levels were shown to differ significantly by age. There were no differences in overall concern found to exist by any demographic. Survey results showed libraries were consulted for privacy information less often than search engines. Study findings support increasing awareness levels of privacy laws by encouraging use of library resources.

Cooperation in the Commonwealth: perceptions of partnership initiatives between Virginia’s academic health sciences libraries and select (contiguous) public library systems for the provision of consumer health information services

Author: 
Jessica L. Waugh
Major Professor: 
Suzie Allard
Date: 
December 2009

Abstract: Increasing numbers of Americans are seeking information about health and medicine. The advent of the Internet has ushered in an explosion of resources, but no mediating device to help lay people discern between authoritative current data, opinion pieces or unsubstantiated anecdotes. The field of consumer health is ripe with programs and initiatives designed to address the issue of access and education, but those are often scattered, spottily coordinated, poorly advertised and, in some cases, needlessly duplicated. The formation of robust partnerships between two major entities attempting to provide consumer health information (public libraries and academic health sciences libraries) seems logical and timely, especially during this time of increased focus on all aspects of American healthcare. This thesis examines what, if any, partnership activities exist between the three academic health science libraries and three contiguous public library systems in the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide consumer health information services to the community. Partnership experiences with any entity are discussed as well as specific partnership initiatives to provide consumer health information. Brief electronic survey results and follow-up telephone interviews revealed that all six libraries embraced various partnerships with other entities to reach different audiences and experienced largely positive results; however, when consumer health partnerships were examined, the research indicated only one formalized program with tenuous partnership features that originated at an academic health sciences library. Based on these results, the recommendation to shift the coordination of consumer health information partnership activity to an overseeing state entity familiar with both types of libraries is discussed.

Factors affecting the use of Appalachian Children’s Literature titles in libraries located in the Central Appalachian region, as offered by librarians in the Central Appalachian region

Author: 
Jamie Lynn Osborn
Major Professor: 
Kimberly Black
Date: 
August 2008

Abstract: The purpose of this research is to describe, with the aid of a survey, the factors Library and Information Science professionals working in the Central Appalachian region believe influence the use of Appalachian Children’s Literature titles in Central Appalachian libraries. Primarily, what do librarians in the region feel affects the use of these titles to their library patrons? To thoroughly examine this issue the following research questions will be explored: Specifically, at what point in their lives, if at all, were librarians in this study exposed to Appalachian Children’s Literature? Did this exposure take place in a K-12 setting or public library during this time period, in a college setting, a library environment, or some other type of setting, if at all and does this level of exposure affect the promotion and use of Appalachian Children’s Literature in their libraries? Do librarians in the region actively promote Appalachian Children’s Literature to their patrons? If so, what methods do they use to promote these titles and can these participants name three or more authors or titles that fall within the genre of Appalachian Children’s Literature? Librarians participating in this study will be asked to provide estimations on the use of Appalachian Children’s Literature titles. Specifically, what factors may be affecting the use of these titles and how often do librarians feel these titles are being used? 

Perspectives of rural library managers/directors regarding professional education : a qualitative study in Northwest Georgia

Author: 
Christina Tracy
Major Professor: 
Bharat Mehra
Date: 
May 2008

Abstract: Attempts have been made by several organizations, including the American Library Association (ALA) to provide greater access to professional education for library managers/directors; however the rural environment presents unique challenges to education not addressed by many of the policies and programs currently in place. This study examined the perspectives of library managers/directors in rural Northwest Georgia about the factors that impede or facilitate professional degree attainment. The principal findings include: the difference in the experience and perspectives of degreed and non-degreed participants, regarding professional degree attainment, and the degree to which multiple financial, geographical, and cultural factors are affected by demographic characteristics of participants. The results of this study can be used by organizations and agencies who seek to improve the education of rural library managers/directors. 

The Primary Source: Issues in the Usability of Genealogical Records

Author: 
Patrick O'Daniel
Major Professor: 
William C. Robinson
Date: 
May 2007

Abstract: This thesis examines genealogists’ information needs and discusses how librarians can accommodate them by providing access to essential primary sources as well as making those materials user-friendly. It includes a review of relevant literature and the results of a survey of experienced genealogists that shed light on the information seeking behavior of genealogists. It identifies problems experienced by genealogists in their search for information and recommends solutions by explaining what librarians can do to make primary sources more accessible and usable for genealogists. In doing so, it also illuminates the goals of genealogists, how they search for information, and what they expect of libraries. This study indicates that secondary sources cannot completely satisfy the information needs of genealogists.

Therefore, genealogists must use primary sources, including original manuscripts and/or their facsimiles of community historical court documents, vital records, and non-governmental records. This presents a problem since publishing companies rarely supply the local primary source records needed by genealogists. Furthermore, primary sources were not created with genealogists in mind. These historical documents originally served specific governmental or legal functions, so they often lack indexes or a clear sense of organization. The results of the study indicate that genealogists research a family’s lineage beginning with the present and work to discover the identity of each subsequent generation of ancestors. Their tools consist of historical documents containing relevant evidence of the identities and kinship of ancestors. They may use place names or dates, but more frequently, they search by names of individuals or by surnames.

Ideally, librarians should gather and arrange primary sources pertaining to their communities in order to accommodate genealogists’ goals and methods. Creating collections of primary sources for genealogical research attract many new library users. In addition, it presents the library with the opportunity to document its community’s uniqueness while satisfying its customer’s desire to find his or her place in it.

State Libraries in the United States: Identifying and Meeting the Challenges of the Twenty-First Century

Author: 
Sandra Gioia Treadway
Major Professor: 
William C. Robinson
Date: 
May 2007

Abstract: Summary-State libraries are important organizations within the library community in the United States, yet little has been written about them and students learn almost nothing about them in the course of graduate study in library and information sciences. State libraries’ contributions to their profession and the citizens they serve are not as well known as they should be nor are they appropriately acknowledged beyond their immediate constituencies. This study examines a sample of nine state libraries during the past twenty years - three that are highly successful (the California State Library, the New York State Library, and the Library of Michigan), three that are typical of the majority of state libraries (the Georgia Public Library Service, the State Library of Kansas, and the Tennessee State Library and Archives), and three whose survival was placed in jeopardy in the recent past (the Florida State Library and Archives, the Minnesota State Library, and the Washington State Library) - to highlight their role within the greater library community and to analyze their successes and challenges. Research was conducted in primary and secondary sources such as annual reports, strategic plans, newspapers, newsletters, library association periodicals, web sites, and other similar material produced by or written about the nine state libraries to determine what conditions or combination of conditions are conducive to state libraries flourishing and what other factors or combinations of factors might contribute to the weakening or decline of state libraries. Based on this research, this study offers recommendations concerning what state libraries might do in the future to make themselves more visible within their states and within the larger library community.

Health Information Need and Seeking of Older Adults Residing in an Independent-Living Retirement Community: A Qualitative Study

Author: 
Sheri L. Edwards
Major Professor: 
Peiling Wang
Date: 
May 2006

Abstract: Among the information needs experienced by older adults, health information needs consistently achieve a high ranking. The purpose of this study was to examine the health information needs of older adults residing in an independent-living retirement community, as well as the information channels they use for information. Additionally, this study explored whether information channels satisfied older adults’ health information needs. Face-to-face in-depth interviews revealed that older adults experience a variety of health information needs; the emergence of those needs is attributed to varying circumstances. While the older adults in this study often use one or more information channels to satisfy their health information needs, face-to-face contact overwhelmingly is their preferred method of obtaining health information. The circumstances under which older adults’ health information needs arise are significant to the outcome of need satisfaction. These circumstances reveal the relationship between a health information need and the information channel used to satisfy it, as well as the degree of reliability of an information channel. Satisfactory outcomes of the use of information channels were perceived by these older adults to be a direct result of successful channel interaction, although more research is needed to determine if these findings are typical.

Art in the Archives: A Survey of Artists’ Papers in Tennessee

Author: 
Celia Walker
Major Professor: 
William C. Robinson
Date: 
May 2005

Abstract: This study is the first known survey of visual art materials housed in Tennessee's repositories. Little has been written about the arts materials in the state's repositories and no overview exists for art scholars. The purpose of the study was to create a profile of collecting in Tennessee of visual art materials in relation to policies, funding levels, and collection accessibility. It was determined that almost one-half of responding repositories in Tennessee maintain some visual art primary resource in their vertical files. The presence of collection policies and missions that speak directly to the need to collect art resources was not seen to be a critical factor in the presence of art files.

Another goal of this report was to raise awareness of the value of arts materials to artists and arts repositories. A survey was conducted of the types of materials that artists in Tennessee collect as by-products of their art making. The results show the broad range of items that archivists and museum registrars should consider when accepting artists' materials. As importantly, the survey of artists' understanding of estate planning shows that few artists in the state consider estate planning for their primary arts materials, and the state's artists, who have little or no information about estate planning, is wide and needs to be addressed in further studies. 

Information-Seeking Behavior of Social Sciences and Humanities Researchers in the Internet Age

Author: 
Ge Xuemei
Major Professor: 
Peiling Wang
Date: 
May 2005

Abstract: This study focuses on how Internet technology influences and contributes to the information-seeking process in the social sciences and humanities. The study examines the information-seeking behavior of faculty and doctoral students in these fields and observes and extends Ellis’s model of information-seeking behavior for social scientists which includes six characteristics: starting, chaining, browsing, differentiating, monitoring, and extracting. The study was conducted at Tennessee State University. Thirty active social sciences and humanities faculty and doctoral students were interviewed about their use of Internet resources, their perception of electronic and print materials, and their opinions concerning the Ellis model and how it might be applicable to them. The research confirmed all the continuing relevance of all characteristics of the Ellis model, and theorized that an extended model could potentially include two additional characteristics: preparation and planning and information management. Based on the interview results, the researcher provides suggestions on how current information services and products can be improved to better serve social sciences and humanities researchers, discusses the implications of these new characteristics for information-searching needs, and makes recommendations for improving library services and technologies that will meet the needs of future social sciences and humanities scholars.

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