Attitude of research scholars towards usage of electronic information resources: a survey of university libraries in Karnataka

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1 Annals of Library and Information Studies 184 ANN. LIB. INF. STU., SEPTEMBER 2009 Vol. 56, September 2009, pp Attitude of research scholars towards usage of electronic information resources: a survey of university libraries in Karnataka Vasappa Gowda 1 and D. Shivalingaiah 2 1 Selection Grade Librarian, Besant Evening College, Mangalore, Karnakaka, 2 Professor, Department of Library and Information Science, Mangalore University, Mangalagangothri, Karnataka, Questionnaire method was employed to gather data from researchers of humanities, social science and science disciplines in six universities in Karnataka. Responses received from 845 research scholars shows that in general the research scholars prefer print resources and there exists significant differences in the preference of print and electronic resources among various disciplines. Identifies the gaps in the need and availability of electronic resources like online journals and databases in the university libraries. Reveals that the electronic resources have created a positive hope among the research community in searching the information. Introduction Research is an intellectual activity of gathering information needed to solve a problem, which in turn contributes significantly towards innovation, technical change and nation s progress. The universities are the centers of higher education, training and research. The university libraries play an important role for promoting research in universities and the researchers are the users of pinpointed, exhaustive and up to date information. The electronic or digital information resources are increasingly becoming available due to application of information and communication technologies. As a result, the use of electronic resources particularly, the use of back issues of scholarly journals in electronic format is growing more rapidly indicating a shift in user s preferences towards electronic resources. Herman 1 points out that the integration of electronic media into academic work is progressively harnessing the new technologies to scholarly information gathering endeavors and characterizes the information activity of university faculty in an increasingly electronic environment. A study by Research Support Library Group 2 indicates that the migration of information from paper to electronic media promises to change the whole nature of resources. Within the changing information environment, university libraries need to understand clients information seeking behavior and service demands more keenly than before. In the research environment, most researchers use digital finding aids to locate both digital and print-based resources. Print finding aids are used by very few researchers and these are mainly in the arts and humanities. As users of digital information, researchers place a very high value on electronic journals, but a much lower value on other kinds of digital resources. Woo 3 observed that while respondents prefer to use journals online compared to print journals, they prefer print books than e-books. Houghton, Steele and Henty 4 also opine that electronic publication alternatives were supplementing print, not replacing it. It is thus evident that the doctoral students may benefit most from using electronic resources. Databases will enable them to cover the literature comprehensively in their fields; electronic communication can help them to build up a network of contacts; online mailing lists will alert them about useful seminars and conferences in their field and bibliographic databases will assist in management of large literature base. At the same time, it is also important to note that the print resources will not

2 GOWDA & SHIVALINGAIAH : USAGE OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES 185 disappear and continue to play an important role in supplementing or complementing electronic resources. So, in this changing information environment, it is necessary to know the researchers information requirements in different formats to satisfy their needs. In order to understand the preferences towards electronic resources and usage patterns, the first author conducted a research study 5 leading to doctoral degree covering the research scholars of humanities, social science and science disciplines who are engaged in research in six universities in Karnataka State. The universities included in the study were Karnatak University, Dharwad; University of Mysore, Mysore; Bangalore University, Bangalore; Mangalore University, Mangalore; Kuvempu University, Shimoga; and Gulbarga University, Gulbarga. All these universities receive financial aid from University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi and are the members of UGC s electronic consortium called INFONET. Some of the results of the study have been discussed in the following sections. Objectives of the study The objectives of the study are to find out the: preferences of the research scholars towards print and electronic resources; the effectiveness of usage of e-resources among researchers of various disciplines; the impact of electronic resources on the quality of research; and usage pattern of resources accessible through UGC-Infonet. Methodology Six Karnataka state universities that receive UGC financial grant and that are also members of UGC-Infonet e-consortium were considered for the study. The target respondents were research scholars of these universities. The questionnaire was the primary survey instrument for data collection. The study covered the entire population for comprehensive coverage and meaningful interpretations. The respondents spanned across humanities, social sciences and sciences disciplines. The respondent libraries had the total population of 1413 research scholars across three disciplines. Of 1413 target respondents, the study received 845 responses resulting No. of Respondents in a response rate of 59.80%. The distribution of responses across three disciplines is illustrated in Fig.1. The distribution of responses was in the ratio of 20.95%, 25.32% and 53.73% in humanities, social science and science disciplines. Similar distribution pattern was found in total population too (22.65%, 24.84%, 52.51% respectively). However, the responses received from science discipline were more as compared to humanities and social science disciplines. Analysis Distribution of Responses by Disciplines % % % Humanities Social Sciences Sciences Fig. 1 Discipline-wise distribution of responses Electronic resources in university libraries in Karnataka An attempt was made to understand the nature of e- resources available in sampled university libraries and the response received from them is presented in Table 1. All the six libraries have indicated the similar kind of databases and e-journals. This could be attributed to the fact that these libraries are the members of UGC-Infonet consortium, and all the e-resources subscribed or available through this consortium are accessible by member libraries. Only Bangalore University library has indicated the presence of one more database in addition the databases accessible through infonet, i.e. EBSCOHosta Full text database of international scholarly journals. It is to be noted that only Kuvempu University and Mangalore University libraries have indicated the presence of micro documents such as microfiche and micro-films. With the emergence of IT products and webpages as major storage media, the micro media has diminished significance as storage media.

3 186 ANN. LIB. INF. STU., SEPTEMBER 2009 Table 1 Non-print and electronic resources in university libraries Types of resources B U G U Ka U Ku U M U My U Audio-cassettes Video-cassettes Films Databases E-Journals 4,453+ 4,453 4,453 4,453 4,453 4,453 Portals Note: BU = Bangalore University, GU = Gulbarga University, KaU = Karnatak University, KuU = Kuvempu University, MU = Mangalore University, MyU = Mysore University Table 2 Electronic resources covered by UGC-INFONET consortia Sl. No. Full text databases No. of journals/databases Discipline 1. American Chemical Society 31 journals Science 2. American Institute of Physics 19 journals Science 3. American Physical Society 8 journals Science 4. Elsevier Science 34 journals Science 5. Institute of Physics 36 journals Science 6. Nature 1 journals Science 7. Royal Society of Chemistry 23 journals/6 databases Science 8. Science Online 1 journals Science 9. Springerlink 1200 journals Science 10. Annual Review 31 journals Humanities & Social Science 11. Cambridge University Press 181 journals Humanities & Social Science 12. Emerald Full Collection 29 journals Humanities & Social Science 13. J-STOR(Archival access) 582 journals Humanities & Social Science 14. Oxford University Press 169 journals Humanities & Social Science 15. Portland Press 4 journals All 16. Project Muse 293 journals All 17. Blackwell Publishing 489 journals All 18. Encyclopedia Britannica National Site License All 19. Project Euclid 18 journals Science 20. Taylor and Francis 1100 journals All Abstracting/Indexing Databases 1 Chemical Abstract Service (1) Database Science 2 Biological Abstracts (1) Database Science 3 MathSciNet (1) Database Science Portals 1 Ingenta- Gateway Portal 5000 journals All 2 J-Gateway Portal journals All

4 GOWDA & SHIVALINGAIAH : USAGE OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES 187 An attempt was made to understand the nature of online information resources available through Infonet consortium and the data collected from its website 6 is given in Table 2. Table 2 provides the list of full text databases, indexing and abstracting databases and portals that are available through UGC-Infonet. Further, the number of e-journals available through these databases and portals are also presented in the table. While looking into the table it is very clear that more than half of the journals/databases are related to science discipline. Further, it is observed that none of the respondent libraries have e-book collection. Researchers preferences of print and electronic resources The respondents were requested to indicate their preferences towards print and electronic resources and their preferences are shown in Table 3. Overall, more than half of the respondents (58.12%) indicated their first preference towards print resources over electronic resources (41.88%). Users choices are dependent on the nature of resources available in the library of their usage. All the respondent libraries have comprehensive collection of print resources. Unlike print resources, usage of electronic resources is dependent on the type of IT infrastructure available in the library. It was observed during the research study that the IT facilities available in the respondent libraries were not commensurate with users population/requirements. Further, preferences towards print and electronic resources across the disciplines clearly indicate that researchers of science prefer to use more electronic resources(53%) as compared to their counterparts in humanities and social science disciplines (20% and 37% respectively). It is surprising to note that even in the age of internet and digital information, humanities and social science researchers prefer print resources to electronic resources. This pattern could be the resultant of electronic resources available in UGC-Infonet for science discipline and their requirement for latest developments in the field. This also depends on the access points provided in the library for browsing e-resources. The inadequacy and lack of awareness of the electronic resources in humanities and social science disciplines could also contribute this trend. Table 3 Users preferences towards print and electronic resources Discipline Print-resources Electronic-resources Total Mean Std Deviation Mean Std Deviation Responses Percentage Percentage Humanities Social Sciences Sciences Over all Table 4 Adequacy of print and electronic resources Disciplines Print resources Electronic resources Total Mean Std. Deviation Mean Std. Deviation Responses Percentage Percentage Humanities Social Sciences Science Total Over all Mean Percentage Std Deviation 27.93

5 188 ANN. LIB. INF. STU., SEPTEMBER 2009 Table 5 Attitudes towards electronic resources Disciplines Electronic Journals Databases Importance Satisfaction Gap Importance Satisfaction Gap (I) (S) (S-I) (I) (S) (S-I) Humanities Social Sciences Science Mean Average Though the science researchers expressed their preferences more towards electronic resources, they also attach equal importance towards print resources (47.07%). Analysis and discussing about the IT facilities available in individual respondent library is beyond the scope of this paper. Adequacy of print and electronic resources It is important to know the adequacy of the available information resources in the respective university libraries. Table 4 shows the mean percentages and standard deviation of the availability of print and electronic resources of various disciplines. The overall mean percentage of available resources is 37.58% whereas the overall mean of available print and electronic resources are 45.75% and 29.34% respectively. The two way ANOVA was performed. There is significant difference in the availability of print and electronic resources. The mean percentage of availability of print resources in humanities is 58.04%, whereas in social science and science disciplines the mean percentages are 52.29% and 37.91% respectively. Humanities researchers show the minimum mean (14.36%) for electronic resources as compared to social science (23.76%) and science (37.83%) disciplines. Further, there is significant difference in the availability of print and electronic resources among the disciplines. The responses show that even though good number of resources are available in the respondent libraries, they are not adequate to meet the research requirements of the research scholars. Perception of research scholars towards electronic resources The researchers were asked to indicate the importance and to what extent they are satisfied with the electronic resources like e-journals and databases including CD- ROM resources that are available in the respondent university libraries. The opinion on importance and satisfaction were measured using Likert s five point rating scale ranging from 1 for least important/satisfied to 5 for most important/satisfied. The Table 5 shows the comparative responses of the researchers towards these resources through mean values. The mean gap score computed as the difference between satisfaction and importance clearly indicates the significant gap in researchers satisfaction level. The researchers of all the three disciplines experienced significant gap indicating the inadequacy of the resources. While the gap is maximum in science discipline (-1.53,- 1.17), it is minimum in humanities (-0.78,-0.93) as compared to other two disciplines. The chi-square/t-test carried out to assess the significance of the gap and the test confirmed that the difference is significant and it cannot be ignored. As mentioned earlier, the inadequacy and lack of awareness of the e-resources available in the library could be the contributing factors for this gap. Research scholars perception on use of e-resources and print resources Littleman and Cannaway 7 have compared the usage of 7880 titles that are available in both print and e-book format at the Duke University libraries provide information on the use of e-books in one academic research library and implications for e-book collection development. The study revealed that the circulation of e-book titles is more compared to print titles. Further the study depicts that there is a tendency of using electronic resources than print resources. The investigator recommended for creating e-book collection strategies and policies that meet users needs better. The availability, convenience and ease of access crossing geographical and time barriers have influenced the researchers to use electronic resources. In the present study, an opinion was sought regarding the usage of

6 GOWDA & SHIVALINGAIAH : USAGE OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES 189 Table 6 Impact of e-resources on the use of print resources Opinion Discipline Total Humanities Social Science Sciences Strongly Agree 1(0.56) 4(1.87) 19(4.19) 24(2.84) Agree 32(18.10) 33(15.42) 77(16.96) 142(16.80) Agree to some extent 40(22.60) 73(34.11) 167(36.78) 280(33.14) Disagree 81(45.76) 84(39.25) 140(30.84) 305(36.10) Strongly Disagree 23(12.99) 20(9.35) 51(11.23) 94(11.12) Total 177(100) 214(100) 454(100) 845(100) Note: Numbers shown in parentheses are percentages electronic resources and whether the electronic resources have affected the use of print resources. The majority of the respondents expressed that the usage of print resources has decreased due to the easy availability of electronic resources. The Table 6 presents the opinion of the respondents by discipline in this regard. It was found that 36.10% of the research scholars disagreed to accept this statement whereas 33.14% have agreed to some extent. About 17% have agreed with the statement, but 11.12% strongly disagreed to the statement and 2.84% have strongly agreed with the statement and opined that it has reduced the use of print resources. It is evident from the table that there is decrease in the use of print resources due to the electronic resources for research. The discipline-wise responses show that humanities (45.76%) and social sciences (39.25%) respondents disagree with the statement, where as the science respondents (36.78%), agreed to some extent and expressed that the use of electronic resources have reduced the use of print resources. While analyzing the overall responses, majority (58.75%) of the humanities respondents either agreed or disagreed with the statement whereas majority of the social science (51.40%) and science (57.93%) respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement. This shows that social science and science respondents are more concerned with the electronic resources than the humanities respondents. The use of electronic resources varies among the respondents of various disciplines but majority of the respondents expressed their concern towards the usage. Research scholars perception of impact of e-resources on information searching Opinion was collected from the respondents, whether the electronic resources have changed their way in Table 7 Influence of e-resources on searching information Discipline Influence Total Yes No Humanities 125(70.60) 52(29.40) 177(100) Social Sciences 193(90.20) 21(9.80) 214(100) Sciences 436(96.00) 18(4.00) 454(100) Total 754(89.23) 91(10.77) 845(100) Note: Numbers shown in the parentheses are percentages searching the information. Majority of the respondents favoured the usefulness of the electronic resources and agreed that electronic resources have changed their way of finding the information. The response is presented in Table 7. It is evident from the Table 7 that a majority (89.23%) of research scholars agree that the resources available in electronic media have facilitated their search for information. They opine that the IT is contributing greatly to this scenario and therefore the electronic resources have changed their way in finding the information. An interview with the cross section of research scholars reinforces that they are aware of impact of technology and the importance of e-resources. But inadequate e- resources and lack of training on their usage might be the reason for low use of the e-resources particularly by the researchers in humanities (70.6%). Research scholars perception on impact of e-resources on quality of research Internet and information and communication technologies provide latest and up to date information, which are essential for research. The respondents were asked to

7 190 ANN. LIB. INF. STU., SEPTEMBER 2009 Table 8 Impact of e-resources on quality of research Opinion Discipline Total Humanities Social Science Sciences Highly improved 14(07.90) 36(16.80) 165(36.30) 215(25.44) Improved 52(29.40) 72(33.60) 148(32.60) 272(32.19) Moderately Improved 58(32.80) 68(31.80) 097(21.40) 223(26.39) Very little Improved 30(16.90) 31(14.50) 36(07.90) 97(11.48) Not at all improved 23(13.00) 7(03.30) 8(01.80) 38(04.50) Total 177(100) 214(100) 454(100) 845(100) Note: Numbers shown in parentheses are percentages indicate to what extent they feel the impact of e-resources on quality of research. The responses were obtained on Likert s 5- point rating scale and their responses are shown in Table 8. It is found that more than half of respondents (57.63%, of which 25.44% strongly agree) agree that the ICT and e-resources have greatly benefited the quality of research in their field. About 1/4 th of them agree that it has moderate impact and negligible percent (4.5%) deny the fact or do not agree that the e-resources have improved quality of research. This last segment includes more researchers from humanities discipline. Usage of UGC-INFONET facility by research scholars The UGC-Infonet e-consortium promotes the use of electronic databases and full text access to electronic journals among the research and academic community in the country. The UGC is promoting research in universities by providing access to e-resources in addition to print resources in those university libraries. This facility enables the research scholars to browse, download and print the relevant articles for their research and academic development. Since the e-resources available through UGC-infonet are common and uniform among the respondent universities, an attempt was made to collect data on its awareness and utility/usage pattern from researchers. The response related to awareness level is presented in the Table 9. It is evident that about 3/4 th of the respondents (71%) are aware of the facility available in their university library. While a majority of science researchers (80.2%) are aware of the facility in their library, about half the Table 9 Awareness of UGC-Infonet Discipline Research Scholars Total Aware Not Aware Humanities 97(54.8) 80(45.2) 177(100) Social Sciences 139(65) 75(35) 214(100) Science 364(80.2) 90(19.8) 454(100) Total 600(71) 245(29) 845(100) Note: Numbers shown in the parentheses are percentages Table 10 Usage pattern of UGC-Infonet Discipline Research Scholars Total Users Non-users Humanities 37(38.10) 60(61.90) 97(100) Social Sciences 82(59.00) 57(41.00) 139(100) Science 286(78.60) 78(21.40) 364(100) Total 405(67.50) 195(32.50) 600(100) Note: Numbers shown in the parentheses are percentages researchers in humanities (54.8%) are aware of the same. About 2/3 rd of social science researchers are also aware of this facility in their library. It was also attempted to obtain the data on level of utilization the facility by the research scholars who are aware of the existence of UGC- Infonet in their university library. Table 10 provides the information on the users of UGC-Infonet consortium. Table 10 highlights that overall, about 2/3 rd of respondents (67.50%) who are aware of the facility are using the facility for their research purpose. The discipline wise responses show that the science researchers use the facility most (78.60%) and their counterparts in humanities use least (38.10%). More than half (59.0%) of the social science discipline respondents are using the

8 GOWDA & SHIVALINGAIAH : USAGE OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES 191 Table 11 Information modules used in UGC-Infonet Modules of Discipline Total Information Humanities Social Sciences Science (n=845) (n= 177) (n=214) (n=454) Bibliographical databases 19(10.73) 31(14.49) 69(15.20) 119(14.08) Full text Journals 31(17.51) 68(31.76) 273(60.13) 373(44.14) Portals 4(0.47) 9(1.07) 22(4.85) 35(4.14) Note: Numbers shown in the parentheses are percentages facilities. The availability of e-resources in science subjects may be the reason for more number of users in the discipline. The interview with the respondents proved that the inadequacy of electronic resources in the UGC- Infonet consortia in the humanities and social science disciplines is the reason for the low use of this facility. Further, as discussed earlier, UGC-Infonet e-consortium facilities access to three categories of e-resources namely, bibliographical databases, full text journals and portals. The responses are shown in the Table 11. The figures presented in the above table reveal that full text databases and e-journals are most used resources followed by bibliographical databases and portals. The pattern of ranking remains same across all the disciplines. Conclusion University libraries play an important role in promoting research and development in the country. The electronic resources are directly impacting the nature and quality of research across the globe. The technological developments are also influencing readers information seeking behaviour and tools and techniques of information searching. Though, readers preferences are leaning towards using e-resources, they are constrained by the limited availability of the same. It is the responsibility of the university libraries to provide information to the researchers. They need to maintain information resources both in print and electronic formats. There should be a separate digital section in the library with a trained staff to guide the researchers to access electronic resources. The libraries should venture to provide remote and web-based access to the e-resources available with them and links to other important resources available globally in order to satisfy the research needs. The scope of the electronic collection in UGC Infonet consortium has to be improved; particularly in humanities and social science disciplines. Further the university libraries need to organize effective training and information literacy programmes at regular intervals on how to access and use the electronic information resources and services. The regular introspection on the availability of library facilities and services through feed back from the researcher community is also essential to identify their changing needs. References 1. Herman E, End-user in academia: meeting the information needs of university researchers in an electronic age Part 1, ASLIB Proceedings, 53(9) (2001) Research Support Library Group, JISC Scholarly Communications Group (SCG). (2002). from 3. Woo H, The 2004 use survey at the University of Hong Kong libraries, College and Research Libraries, 66(2) (2005) Houghton J W, Steele C and Henty M, Changing research practices in the digital information and communication environment, (2004) Available at highered/respubs/changing_res_prac/exe_summary.html 5. Gowda V, Use of information resources, facilities and services by the research scholars in the university libraries in Karnataka, PhD thesis, Mangalore University, (2008). 6. http//:www.ugc.ac.in 7. Littleman J and Connaway L S, A circulation analysis of print books and e-books in an academic research library, Library Resources and Technical Services, 48(4) (2003)

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