Studying the Information Needs of Students and Professors of Birjand University and the Efficacy of the University’s Information Resources

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Birjand University of Medical Sciences, Birjand, Iran

2 Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, Birjand University of Medical Sciences, Birjand, Iran

Abstract

Background: Awareness about the actual information needs is a necessity in correct decision making for developing or improvement of information centers. This study aimed on investigating the information needs of students and university professors of Birjand University of Medical sciences.
Methods: In this descriptive-analytical study conducted in 2009, 422 students were selected based on systematic random sampling and the university professors were chosen by studied by the census method using a designed questionnaire. Data analysis was done using the Chi-square test and SPSS software.
Results: Among the 422 cases, 82.7% were students and 17.3 professors. 39.8% of the latter group considered the most important reason for searching the scientific resources, educational and research purposes. 47.6% of the students also mentioned educational purposes. 81.8% of the professors used English language resources while 91.5% of the students used Persian language literature. 53% considered the library resources useful in overcoming their needs. Among the official resources books with 86.4% and from unofficial resources taking part in scientific congresses with 53.4% were the most needed resources among the studied professors showing a significant difference between them and the students.
Conclusions: The university professors and students required information databases, journals and books more than other resources. Students used the English resources to a much lower degree for their educational and research activities while the resources available in the university library fulfilled their needs mild to moderately.

Keywords


INTRODUCTION

 

important role in providing their required services and resources. In fact, with exact assessment and identification of individual needs, we can chose the resources which relate to their interests and needs.

The knowledge which is gained from the study of users leads to system development and information service. Information needs and information are two major research fields which complete each other and are affected by different factors. Information need type and information seeking behavior of the researchers and university instructors depend on their major. These behaviors help us to plan the services in a way that they can way information needs and knowledge achievement more effectively. Such needs may cause service providing. (1)

In such a society (information society) where everything is highly dependent on information and everybody is looking for fast and easy access to information, it can be said that the first principle in information providing process, is “information need assessment”. Studying the information needs of the users is one of the most important responsibilities of the librarians and information providers (2).

Information need assessment is using the patterns and techniques which can help us identify appropriate and necessary information for an individual or a group and plan for preparing and providing them. In information providing field, information need assessment, is a complicated process which requires high care and accuracy (3).

Being aware of information needs is essential for correct decision making for establishing or developing information centers. Such centers have to study the needs of referees and provide the required resources for study and research. According to day by day development of information and variety in the form of the resources providing them, these studies should be constant by followed, so that information centers can be aware of the needs of the users. Achieving the above mentioned goals is only possible by studying the information needs of the society. Therefore getting information from the users can be affective in the identification of information needs and planning an information providing system. (4)

The study of information getting behavior of faculty members of industrial and scientific researches of Iran showed that the main motivation of faculty members in information search, is doing research and tthey use two formal and informal methods for information search (5). The study of information needs of researchers in Shiraz University showed that the most important resource users by researchers is foreign and internal journals and then books. Abstracts, reviews, and technical bibliography are the tools used for information search. The major abstacles in getting access to information are unavailability of the required sources in library, time limitation and being busy, spread of libraries and not being aware of the availability of the resources. The most important motivation of information search, is mentioned as achieving information in the field of research and teaching (6).

The study of information needs of medical students of Mazanderan University of Medical Sciences showed that 70% of members of society search in Persian and 30% in

 

 

English. 64% of the students use complete information and 34% abstract. The major goal and motivation of students for using information is educational improvement and only 6% of the student’s are pleased with getting library sources and 55% are pleased less (7).

This study has been done with the purpose of studying information needs of students and faculty members of Birjand University of Medical Sciences and determining the rate of meeting these needs with using the available resources in libraries and information providing centers of the university.

 

 

METHODS

 

 

In this descriptive-analytical study in 1388, 422 students were chosen by systematic random sampling and faculty members by census. Out of 110 full-time faculty members of Birjand University of Medical Sciences 88 people helped us by fill questionnaires. For data collection a questionnaire was used which included: demographic specifications of faculty members and students (12 questions), resource using purpose (1 question), requiring English and Persian resources (1 question), requiring formal information resources (7 questions), informal information resources (4 questions), the rate of using data centers and electronic publication (10 questions). The rate of fulfilling needs through data centers and electronic publications (10 questions). The questionnaire was planned based on 6 rank Likert scale from not at all to very much and for each choice 0 to 5 scores were allocated respectively and the total scores of each field were considered as the total score of that field. The people who had got less then percentile 30 were considered as having little need, percentile 30 to 60 average need, and higher than 30 a lot of need. The reliability of this questionnaire was confirmed by 4 experts and for determining the validity of the questionnaire test-retest was used.

Data was collected through the questionnaire and SPSS and qui-square were used to analyze the data, in case where the result of the test was meaningful Followed Tukey Range test was used and the meaningfulness range was considered as P≤0.05.

 

 

RESULTS

 

 

Out of 510 participants, 82.7% were students and 17.3% were faculty members. Among students 50% had associate degree, 27.5% had M.S., and 22.5% had PhD, and among faculty members 56% were associate professors, and 44% trainers. The results of the study showed faculty members had mentioned the main purpose of search as doing educational and research activities (39.8%) and student (47.6%) doing educational activities (table 1).

81.8% of faculty members use English resources and 91.5% of students use Persian resources for achieving information.

Among formal information resources from the viewpoint of faculty members and students, book, electronic information resources and Internet, and among informal information resources from the view point of faculty members, participation in conferences, congresses and from the viewpoint of students, consultation, and retraining are of prime importance. In this case in most of the fields, a meaningful difference was observed between the two

 

 

groups (P>0.001). (table 2)

Faculty members mostly used databases such as Pubmed (52.3%), Elsevier (51.1%), Ian Medex (46.6%), and students mostly referred to Iran Medex (19.7%), Pubmed (17.3%), and Elsevier (13%).

On average 53% of faculty members and students had mentioned that media, journals, and library books were

 

 

effective in meeting their information needs. Also in comparison with students a higher percent of faculty members had mentioned that bases and university electronic resources can highly meet their needs. There was not a meaningful difference between the two groups in this case (P=0.01, table 3).

 

 

Table 1: the expressed goals by faculty members and students of Birjand University of Medical Sciences for using information resources

Goals

Educational

Research

Therapeutic

Educational research

Educational therapeutic

Research therapeutic

Educational research therapeutic

Total

Job

n (%)

n (%)

n (%)

n (%)

n (%)

n (%)

n (%)

n (%)

Faculty member

12 (13.6)

12 (13.6)

2 (2.3)

35 (39.8)

6 (6.8)

5 (5.7)

16 (18.2)

88 (100)

Student

201 (47.6)

75 (17.8)

44 (10.4)

36 (8.5)

42 (10)

6 (1.4)

18 (4.3)

422 (100)

Total

213 (41.8)

87 (17.1)

46 (9)

71 (13.9)

48 (9.4)

11 (2.2)

34 (6.7)

510 (100)

Table 2: the comparison of the rate of the need to formal and informal information resources among faculty members

Resources

Job

Low

Average

A lot

Total

Significances level

n (%)

n (%)

n (%)

n (%)

Formal information resources

Book

Faculty

2 (2.3)

10 (11.4)

76 (86.4)

88 (100)

P=0.60

Student

19 (4.5)

52 (12.3)

351 (83.2)

422 (100)

Periodicals

Faculty

16 (18.2)

28 (31.8)

44 (50)

88 (100)

P<0.001

Student

243 (57.6)

136 (32.2)

43 (10.2)

422 (100)

Actual reports

Faculty

19 (21.6)

48 (54.5)

21 (23.9)

88 (100)

P<0.001

Student

211 (50)

147 (34.8)

64 (15.2)

422 (100)

Thesis

Faculty

37 (42)

40 (45.5)

11 (12.5)

88 (100)

P<0.001

Student

257 (60.9)

103 (24.4)

62 (14.7)

422 (100)

Articles

Faculty

4 (4.5)

28 (31.8)

56 (63.6)

88 (100)

P<0.001

Student

168 (39.8)

126 (29.9)

128 (30.3)

422 (100)

Audio & visual resource

Faculty

17 (19.3)

48 (54.5)

23 (26.1)

88 (100)

P=0.003

Student

116 (27.5)

149 (35.3)

157 (37.2)

422 (100)

Electronic and internet information resources

Faculty

1 (1.1)

23 (26.1)

64 (72.7)

88 (100)

P<0.001

Student

61 (14.5)

70 (16.6)

291 (69)

422 (100)

Informal information resources

Participation in conferences

Faculty

10(11.4)

31 (35.2)

47 (53.4)

88 (100)

P<0.001

Student

170 (40.3)

158 (37.4)

94 (22.3)

422 (100)

Attendance in congresses and meetings

Faculty

10 (11.4)

49 (55.7)

29 (33)

88 (100)

P<0.001

Student

173 (41)

146 (34.6)

103 (24.4)

422 (100)

Consultation

Faculty

14 (15.9)

48 (54.5)

26 (29.5)

88 (100)

P<0.001

Student

115 (27.3)

141 (33.4)

166 (39.3)

422 (100)

Retraining

Faculty

18 (20.5)

42 (47.7)

28 (31.8)

88 (100)

P=0.041

Student

141 (33.4)

154 (36.5)

127 (30.1)

422 (100)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 3: the comparison of the viewpoint of faculty members and students to the efficiency of different resources in meeting their needs

Resources

Job

Not efficient

A little efficient

Averagely efficient

Much efficient

Total

Significances level

n(%)

n(%)

n(%)

n(%)

n(%)

Resources bases and electronic resources

Faculty

15(17)

11(12.5)

20(22.7)

42(47.7)

88(100)

P=0.009

Student

121(28.7)

83(19.7)

86(20.4)

132(31.3)

422(100)

Total

136(26.7)

94(18.4)

106(20.8)

174(34.1)

510(100)

Library books

Faculty

34(39.5)

13(15.1)

17(19.8)

22(25.6)

86(100)

P=0.091

Student

166(39.4)

79(18.8)

44(10.5)

132(31.4)

421(100)

Total

200(39.4)

92(18.1)

61(12)

154(30.4)

507(100)

Library journals

Faculty

41(47.7)

19(22.1)

15(17.4)

11(12.8)

86(100)

P<0.001

Student

214(50.8)

115(27.3)

57(13.5)

35(8.3)

421(100)

Total

255(50.3)

134(26.4)

72(14.2)

46(9.1)

507(100)

Library media

Faculty

49(56.3)

21(24.1)

12(13.8)

5(5.7)

87(100)

P<0.001

Student

218(51.8)

108(25.7)

45(10.7)

50(11.9)

421(100)

Total

267(52.6)

129(25.4)

 

55(10.8)

 

 

DISCUSSION

This study shows that faculty members have mentioned their major goal of doing research as doing educational and research activities (39.8%) and students have announced that their major goal has been doing educational activities (47.6%). According to the fact that motivation and goal can affect the type of needed resources, it is essential that people in charge of libraries and information centers pay attention to professional needs of the people who refer in the case of providing materials and information resources. But faculty members and students haven’t announced any need for treatment usage of information resources, while medicine is based on proofs of using information resources for treatment and clinically which leads to health system development.

In a study with the title of “the information needs of faculting members of banking institute related to Central Bank” in 1379 by Khoshnood 48% of faculty members used information resources for increasing the efficiency of teaching and 36% for putting research proposals in to practice (8).

In a study titled as “the study of information needs of graduate students of agriculture and natural resource faculties of Tehran University and the rate of satisfying these needs through the library of the mentioned faculties “done by Malekian, 36% said the main motivation of search among students is related to updating technical and professional information and 81.4% of the students used results of experimental researches for fulfilling their information needs (9).

On the basic of the results achieved from Radmehr’s study named as “the study of information seeking behavior of researchers of engineering research center of Jahad Keshavarzi”, the main motivation of information search (22.8%) is doing research studies and updating technical

information which matches the results of the present study (10).

In Noormohammadi’s study “the study of information seeking behaviors of expert’s of engineering research centers of Jahad Sazandegi ministry in achieving scientific and technical information”, the main motivation of information search (81.9%) of most experts, is doing investigation (11). In Hayati’s study” the study of information seeking behavior of faculty members of scientific and industrial research organization of Iran” (32.9%) the main motivation of faculty members from information search is doing research activities.

In Bazvand’s study “Evaluating the information needs of faculty members of Lorestan University” (33.76%) the first goal and main  motivation of faculty member is doing research activities. (12).

The results of this study showed that 81.8% of faculties use English resources and 91.5% of students Persian resources and this shows the extreme tendency of students for using Persian resources than English ones. This issue proves the necessity of holding English language classes as an obligatory course.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Authors are grateful to the faculty members and students of Birjand University of Medical Sciences for their sincere help.

Conflict of interest: none declared.

Research committee approval and financial support: This study has been approved and financially supported by the research committee of Birjand University of Medical Sciences; code 273.

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