Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Knowledge and Use of Electronic Information Resources by Medical Students at Al-Jouf University in Saudi Arabia

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Knowledge and Use of Electronic Information Resources by Medical Students at Al-Jouf University in Saudi Arabia

Article excerpt


Students in Medical Sciences today need current and evidence-based information applicable to their problem-based learning (PBL) and clinical problems. Effective information searching and access to the most nascent and relevant information are critical for healthcare professionals. These problems were tried to be solved by implementing the latest technologies on sources and services of medical libraries. Electronic databases, as one of the significant scientific information resources, have provided access to the qualitative and quantitative information more precisely and more quickly (Nemati Anaraki and Babalhavaeji 2013).

E-Databases containing journal articles, e-books, reference sources and conference papers, among others, have become an established component of many academic libraries' collection. Access to resources is now considered more important than mere collection building. These e-resources are convenient to use, available at an affordable cost and can be accessed from anywhere and by many users simultaneously (Baro, Endouware, and Ubogu 2011). Academic libraries in all countries spend huge amounts of money on these resources to satisfy the teaching, learning and research needs of its clientele. It is therefore imperative from the part of the university to ensure that these databases are optimally utilized to contribute to the academic excellence and achievement of its user community.

However, in spite of the value and importance of e-databases, it is widely held view that these resources are not fully utilized. Reasons for this inability to effectively exploit these resources are generally attributed to lack of competence (Gruppen 1990, Zondi 1992), awareness (Adams and Bonk 1995, Majid and Mansor 1996, Roberts 1995), and adequate ICT infrastructure (Dukić 2013, Zabed Ahmed 2013), among others. The manifestation of these reasons may differ from place to place or from situation to situation. The failure of health professionals in making effective use of electronic resources has been a cause of concern to librarians worldwide. It is against this background that we have attempted to investigate the awareness and use of available e-resources by the students of Faculty of Medical Sciences in Al-Jouf University.


In order to find and use the current best information in any discipline, the literature must be searched, selected and appraised. The literature search in this study indicates that many studies have so far been done on electronic databases with regard to awareness, usage, access, relevance, orientations and training, preference and evaluation among others. It is observed that sometimes there is a gap between awareness and usage of electronic resources. Users are either aware of the resources and use them, or aware, but do not use them, or sometimes they are unaware and therefore do not use them. Studies, such as Atakan et al. (2008), Chirra and Madhusudhan (2009), Dee and Stanley (2005), Eskola (2005), Haines (2010) all found that users were aware of the digital information resources and used them. For example, Haines (2010) in a survey on the use of electronic resources by undergraduate and post-graduate students of basic sciences at the University of Vermont, United States, revealed that all the respondents (100%) were aware of the digital information resources of the university and accessed them. However, studies like Dadzie (2005), Ercegovac (2009), Manda (2005), Okello-Obura (2010) reported that users were not aware of most of the resources available to them by their respective institutions and therefore affected their usage. Manda (2005) for example, revealed that electronic resources available through the Program for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI) at the research institutions in Tanzania were underutilized as the potential users were not aware due to lack of publicity.

Nemati Anaraki and Babalhavaeji (2013) in their survey result of three Iranian universities pinpointed that when students were not aware of the availability of e-resources in their institutions, they tend to use general search engines in order to fulfill their information needs. …

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