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Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future

I think we’re finally starting to approach a critical mass of research to solve some of our common problems. This is good. I try to post to the good ones on this blog.
The British Library and JISC have done a study, (released Jan. 11, 2008 – 35 page PDF) Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future, to identify how researchers of the future are likely to access and interact with digital resources in five to ten years. They hope to help libraries anticipate new behaviors in the `Google generation’.
Here’s the table of contents:
– setting the scene
– what are the aims of this study?
– how was this study carried out?
– what is the `google generation’?
– what is the `digital transition; and how does it affect libraries?
– how do people currently behave in `virtual libraries’?
the google generation
– what do we know about young people’s information behaviour?
– how do young people currently behave in virtual libraries?
– the social networking phenomenon: is it important?
google generation: myth or reality?
– what do we really know about the google generation?
– where are the skills gaps?
– information behaviour of the researcher of the future
looking to the future
– what are might the information environment be like in 2017?
looking to the future
– what are the implications for `information experts’?
– what are the implications for research libraries?
– what are the implications for policy makers?
– challenges for us all
– notes and endnotes
Some teaser content:
“Research into how children and young people become competent in using the internet and other research tools is patchy but some consistent themes are beginning to emerge:
• the information literacy of young people, has not improved with the widening access to technology: in fact, their apparent facility with computers disguises some worrying problems
• internet research shows that the speed of young people’s web searching means that little time is spent in evaluating information, either for relevance, accuracy or authority
• young people have a poor understanding of their information needs and thus find it difficult to
develop effective search strategies
• as a result, they exhibit a strong preference for expressing themselves in natural language rather than analysing which key words might be more effective
• faced with a long list of search hits, young people find it difficult to assess the relevance of the
materials presented and often print off pages with no more than a perfunctory glance at them
These points relate both to the current use of the internet by young people and, a technology
generation earlier, to their use of early online systems and CDROMs. There is little direct evidence that young people’s information literacy is any better or worse than before. However, the ubiquitous use of highly branded search engines raises other issues:
• young people have unsophisticated mental maps of what the internet is, often failing to appreciate that it is a collection of networked resources from different providers
• as a result, the search engine, be that Yahoo or Google, becomes the primary brand that they
associate with the internet
• many young people do not find library-sponsored resources intuitive and therefore prefer to use
Google or Yahoo instead: these offer a familiar, if simplistic solution, for their study needs”
Well worth reading.

Posted on: January 16, 2008, 9:00 pm Category: Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Donald Bidd said

    Steven, thanks for bringing this to our attention.. this indeed is good stuff worth reading right through…what is your take on its prognostic:
    “CIBER’s considered view is that the real issue that the library community should be concerned about is the riseof the e-book, not social networking.”

  2. Great reading, will be referencing some of this myself.
    For CIBER or anyone to believe that any single facet of rising technology capabilities adoption is the ONE to focus on, is insanity. Any flavour of the 2.0-movement is on the convergence of multiple aspects of technology, culture, personal habits, etc..
    From a library perspective, they certainly need to prepare more adequately for e-books and their impact on physical space, borrowing habits, accessibility (for those without digital access, who are sight or otherwise impaired, etc.), and searchability/findability.
    No reason why social networking couldn’t help to impact all of that, help to drive usage of library resources, and ultimately, the end goal of more knowledgeable and effective researchers.

  3. Pam Enrici said

    I ran across this last week. I thought they did a great job on this. However, one thing that truly concerns me is the statement that by college/university it is too late to intervene in information seeking.
    Does this mean library B.I. (you can supply your own words for B.I.) classes are worthless?
    I’m in the process of developing an Information Literacy class for my library (to be offered for credit) – will my work be in vain? I don’t think so but …
    Pam Enrici
    I don’t think so either.