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HAL: hprints-00599034, version 1

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Information behaviour and practices of PhD students
Thea Marie Drachen ( ) 1, Asger Væring Larsen 1, Eystein Gullbekk 2, Hilde Westbye 2, Karin Lach 3
(2011-06-01)

This report addresses the information behaviour and practices of PhD students and its implications for library services. Academic libraries and their services are part of the information network of PhD students. Therefore libraries should pay special attention to the needs and practices of this important academic subgroup. The University Librarian at Copenhagen University Library and Information Service (CULIS) commissioned this study. It was conducted by representatives from CULIS, University of Oslo Library and from Vienna University Library. The study consisted of a survey and interviews targeting the PhD students at the three involved universities. The most important findings * Services are requested which are already in existence but are not communicated effectively enough to the target audience. * Journal articles were identified as the most important information source. * Convenience of access is key, material not easily available is often disregarded. This is probably due to time pressure. * Google is widely used during all stages but especially in the beginning of the search process. * Online library services are very much in use, physical buildings very much less so. * Reference management software is not as widely used as could be expected. * A great variety of methods are in use for searching and keeping informed, this is something that develops significantly during the PhD. * Information research habits are often established long before the PhD studies. They further develop during the PhD process but mostly without library support. * Supervision and courses are requested from the library but need to be efficient, effective, and tailored. The most important recommendations * Take drastic steps to improve marketing and branding. * Offer ad hoc specialised rather than general support. * Offer short, specialised and to the point courses at the beginning of the PhD * Libraries should teach PhD students the most efficient methods for searching early in their studies. * Expand the number of electronic resources and offer online support and online courses to accomodate needs of PhD students working and/or not giving time to attend courses in person. * Library catalogue and search tools should be made as intuitive to use as possible. * The library should maintain and update knowledge about local research workflows to facilitate knowledge based library development aimed at the local research communities. * The libraries should offer dedicated PhD workspace, which is a particular desideratum by Vienna and Oslo PhD students. We found differences in the PhD workflow which might be disciplinary, local, or individual. These need to be taken into account when developing, improving, or marketing library services for this target group and researchers in general. Failure to do so will lead to services being overlooked, disregarded, or considered irrelevant.
1:  The Royal Library / Copenhagen University Library and Information Service (CULIS)
University of Copenhagen
2:  University of Oslo Library
University of Oslo Library
3:  Vienna University Library
Vienna University Library
Humanities and Social Sciences/Library and information sciences
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