An Investigation of Use of Information Sources by Social Scientists

By Kumar, Ajay; Singh, S. N. et al. | Library Philosophy and Practice, October 2011 | Go to article overview
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An Investigation of Use of Information Sources by Social Scientists

Kumar, Ajay, Singh, S. N., Yadav, Akhilesh K. S., Library Philosophy and Practice


Information resources, library and information personnel, and users are important components of modern libraries. For proper and systematic planning and development of information resources and services, the user studies are the first step in the development of need-based collections in libraries. A large number of user studies have been reported in the literature from the west. There are only a few studies of users in India, and there are no in-depth studies in science and technology, social science, and humanities in India. In the present paper, an attempt has been made to study the use of information sources by the social scientists of Mizoram University.

Social Science Information

Research in social science depends heavily on availability of information. Access to the right information is a difficult task because information is abundant, but users do not know whether it is available and where to locate it. Unless mechanisms for the organization of information are evolved to send information to the target user, all expenditure and efforts on its generation become wasteful. Information is a required commodity in any research activity because of its potential value in policy formation and decision-making. Social science research has become diversified, giving birth to a number of new research areas. Information needs of social scientists have become both discipline-oriented and mission-oriented. Information in the form of data, both raw and processed, is heavily relied upon by social science information users.

Title dispersion, or the variety of information sources in social science, is greater than in the sciences. Social scientists increasingly use official records, archival materials, files, committee/commission reports, addresses and proceedings of political parties, legislative proceedings, rules, databases, newspapers and bulletins, etc., apart from conventional documents like books, journals, research papers, conference proceedings, theses, and statistical serials.

Objectives of the Study

The specific objectives of the study are:

* To determine the use of formal and informal sources of information by social scientists of Mizoram University.

* To determine the degree to which social scientists make use of various types of information sources.

* To identify the methods followed by them to keep in touch with the latest developments in their fields.

* The availability of information sources and services in Mizoram University.

Scope and Methodology of the Study

A social scientist is a person who is involved in teaching and research activities in any of the following area: Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Psychology, History, Public Administration, and Social Work. Mizoram University, a central university in India was selected for the survey. Various social scientists were included in this survey.

There are number of methods that can be used to study each technique. There is a trend toward using a combination of two or more methods. Parker and Paisley (1966) recognize three types of methods in studying the users of information. These are (i) by asking people; (ii) by observing its occurrence; and, (iii) by examining the resultant products. In the present study, the investigators have adopted the first method for the study of information-seeking patterns of social scientists i.e., questionnaire method.

A total of 100 questionnaires was distributed randomly to the participants. Seventy were returned and these data were tabulated and analysed.

Review of Literature

Although information use is a fundamental concept, there are no definitional or methodological approaches that are broadly accepted or applied. The classic work of Taylor (1991) identifies the following eight classes of information use: 1) Enlightenment; 2) Problem Understanding; 3) Instrumental; 4) Factual; 5) Conformational; 6) Projective; 7) Motivational; 8) Personal or Political.

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