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Library Philosophy and Practice 2009

ISSN 1522-0222

The Relationship of Academic Role and Information Use by Engineering Faculty

M. Doraswamy
Librarian
V R Siddhartha Engineering College
Andhra Pradesh, India

 

Introduction

The user is the key person in any library. All the luxuries of information revolution and problems of information explosion center on the user and his convenience. Understanding the user is half the battle in providing information services. The success of any library depends considerably on how best the system design is based on a close and accurate understanding of the users. The user is not only the most important aspect, but also, a dynamic component of the library paradoxically. As such, understanding user is an important and a continuous activity. ‘Know thy customer' is a cardinal rule of any business enterprise. Accordingly, extensive market research, customer behaviour studies and demand forecasting are carried out in business. A formal information centre or library is yet to pick up these activities in the same spirit. Hence it is necessary to know the information needs, information use, the motives and purposes of seeking information, ways and means of gathering information and the entire user-attitudes and practices in relation to information.

Information seeking behavioural studies is one of the important areas in user studies. The motives and purposes of users give rise to information use and requirements. To satisfy such needs and requirements, users adopt many ways and means of accessing and searching sources of information. Then they try to acquire necessary information both regularly and in an ad hoc way as necessary from these sources. In the act of acquiring information, the user uses or calls upon the predetermined, which may thus leading to satisfaction or dissatisfaction in relation to purposes and needs.

The users may seek information in a number of ways such as reading books, browsing periodicals, consulting, abstracting and indexing periodicals, contacting colleagues and friends, seeking information from guides and senior co-workers, gathering information from library and information centers and attending seminars, conferences etc.

This study is designed to go beyond the description of the investigation of the relationship between academic role and information seeking bahaviour of engineering faculty members and proceeding on to assess the levels of frequency of information use of the faculties from different forms of their teaching and research purposes

Objectives

The objectives of the study are:

  • Identifying the roles that the engineering faculty members execute in their academic positions.
  • Identifying faculty members perceptions of the level of frequency of information use of printed form such as books, journals, thesis, dissertations, government publications, conference proceedings, and reference sources.
  • Analyzing the relationship between roles and information importance.

Hypotheses

  • Professors use books more in their teaching than in their research.
  • Professors use journals more in their research than in their teaching.
  • Professors use theses and dissertations more in their research than in their teaching.
  • Professors use government publications more in their teaching than in their research.
  • Professors use conference proceedings more in their research than in their teaching.
  • Professors use reference sources higher in their teaching than in their research.

Methodology

The methodology used in the present study is clearly described in the following paragraphs.

Sample Selection

In order to study “an investigation of the relationship between academic role and the importance of information of Engineering faculty members of Acharya Nagarjuna University ”, Günter, a city in the state of Andhra Pradesh has been chosen. There are 19 Universities and 280 engineering colleges affiliated to different Universities. Among them 5 Engineering Colleges are Velagapudi Ramakrishna Siddhartha Engineering College, Vijayawada, R V R and J C College of Engineering, Guntur, K.L. College of Engineering, Vaddeswaram, Guntur, Baptla engineering College, Baptla and S V H College of Engineering, Machilipatnam were affiliated to Acharya Nagarjuna University.

At present there are 50 Professors, 76 Associate Professors, and 481 Assistant Professors in the above five engineering colleges. A sample of 126 (50 Professors + 76 Associate Professors) faculty members is considered in the study. Out of 126 faculty members, 77 faculty members responded to the questionnaire (61.11%).

Collection of data

It consists of the questions related to the background information of the professors. It also consists of the questions, ascertaining the level of frequency of information use of the printed sources, for their teaching and research roles.

A questionnaire was administered to the selected population of professors who were currently involved in teaching and research. Considering the constraints of time and funds, a self administered questionnaire was considered feasible for collecting data for this research. There are several user studies which have found that the questionnaire method can provide not only the necessary data, but can also cover a wider range of the population. The questionnaire was distributed to the professors personally and was collected from them by giving sufficient time to fill up the questionnaire. Every effort was made by the researcher to get reliable and accurate data from Professors.

After collecting the data from the Professors, the data was checked and anlaysed according to the objectives and hypotheses stated. First the data was recorded on the data sheets and then fed into the computer. The data had been tested with the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test by using the SPSS – 7.5 version.

Statistical Test

The matched pairs Wilcoxon signed ranks test is nonparametric statistical test that does not assume normality of the distribution of the population from which the sample is drawn. The test is applicable to the repeated measures experiment when the researcher wishes to compare two conditions in order to find out if they are different or if one condition is greater than the other. The null hypothesis of the Wilcoxon test is that the distributions of scores in two matched samples are equivalent. The alternative hypothesis is either that they are different or that the score of one sample is greater than the others. For the present study, this particular statistical test is employed because the interest here is in comparing the information seeking behaviour of one population as it is displayed under two different roles (research and teaching).

The data for the Wilcoxon test consists of the difference between values from the two-matched samples. The test requires that these differences be ranked from smallest to largest in terms of their absolute value. Secondly, the ranked values should be separated into two groups those associated with positive differences and those associated with negative differences. The sum of the ranks for each group should then be determined. The smaller of these two sums is the test statistic for the Wilcoxon test. The determination of the significance of the observed value of this test statistic depends on the size of N. If N is larger than 25 then the value Z should be computed and the sum of the smaller ranks is assumed to be normally distributed with:

 

Thus, the value of Z obtained by the application of this formula may be considered to be normally distributed with zero mean and unit variance. The output from the statistical analysis shows the mean rank for each variable, the number of positive, negative, and tied ranks, and the statistic z with its observed level of significance.

Variables

The independent variable of this study (academic role) consists of two values, teaching and research. The dependent variables are related to information use on different printed form.

Data analysis

The level of frequency of information use of faculties on different printed forms namely books, journals, thesis and dissertations, government publications, conference proceedings, and reference sources for their teaching and research roles. This variable class was defined as respondent's rating of the perceived preference for a given item from a list of information media. This rating was done on a five point scale. The scale of rating the degree of preference ranged from 1 to 5, with “1” being not preferable and “5” being highly preferable.

Books

Frequency distributions of the frequency use of books for teaching and research roles are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Frequency use of books as a form of information

=
Role Not used ... Very frequently used
  1 2345
 Percentage
Teaching2.63.99.129.954.5
Research10.422.127.324.715.6

From Table 1, it can be seen that professors rely on books for their teaching and research roles. Books were rated as 5 by 54.5 percent of the faculties for their teaching role and by 15.6 percent of their research role.

To determine whether there was a statistically significant difference among the faculties on the use they placed on books, the scores on the two role categories were compared using the Wilcoxon test. The results of the data analysis are displayed in Table 1b.

Table 1A. The relationship between role and the frequency of use of books

Direction of DifferencesNumber of CasesMeanZ ValueTwo-Tail Probability
Research > Teaching151.55.87p < 0.05
Research < Teaching5226.53  
Research = Teaching24   
 77   

On the basis of the statistical test, it is obvious that the direction of books use was significantly toward teaching. This finding confirms the research hypothesis that “Professorsuse books higher in their teaching than in their research”.

Journals

Frequency distributions of the frequency use of journals for teaching and research roles are presented in Table 2.

Table 2. Frequency of use of journals

Role Not used ... Very frequently used
  1 2345
 Percentage
Teaching3.92.616.932.544.2
Research3.91.36.520.867.5

From Table 2, it can be seen that professors use journals for their teaching and research roles. Journals were rated as 5 by 67.5 percent of the faculties for their research role and by 44.2 percent of their teaching role.

To determine whether there was a statistically significant difference among the faculties on the use they placed on journals, the scores on the two role categories were compared using the wilcoxon test. The results of the data analysis are displayed in Table 2A.

Table 2A. Relationship between Role and Use of Journals

Direction of DifferencesNumber of CasesMeanZ ValueTwo-Tail Probability
Research > Teaching2817.553.31p < 0.05
Research < Teaching617.25  
Research = Teaching43   
 77   

On the basis of the statistical test, it is obvious that the direction of journals use was significantly toward research. This finding confirms the research hypothesis that “Professorsuse journals higher in their research than in their teaching”.

Theses and Dissertations

Frequency distributions of the frequency use of theses and dissertations for teaching and research roles are presented in Table 4.13.a.

Table 3. Use of Theses and Dissertations

Role Not used ... Very frequently used
  1 2345
 Percentage
Teaching14.327.336.415.66.5
Research11.79.122.126.031.2

From Table3, it can be seen that faculties use theses and dissertations for their teaching and research roles. heses and dissertations were rated as 5 by 31.2 percent of the faculties for their research role and by 6.5 percent of their teaching role.

To determine whether there was a statistically significant difference among the faculties on the use they placed on theses and dissertations, the scores on the two role categories were compared using the wilcoxon test. The results of the data analysis are displayed in Table3A.

Table 3A. Relationship between Role and Use of Theses and Dissertations

Direction of DifferencesNumber of CasesMeanZ ValueTwo-Tail Probability
Research > Teaching4224.234.79p < 0.05
Research < Teaching522.1  
Research = Teaching30   
 77   

On the basis of the statistical test, it is obvious that the direction of theses and dissertations use was significantly toward research. This finding confirms the research hypothesis that “Professorsuse theses and dissertations higher in their research than in their teaching”.

Government publications

Frequency distributions of the frequency use of government publications for teaching and research roles are presented in Table 4.

Table 4. Use of Government Publications

Role Not used ... Very frequently used
  1 2345
 Percentage
Teaching 22.1 27.3 33.8 11.7 5.2
Research 15.6 28.6 24.7 20.8 10.4

It is clear from Table 4, that government publications were not considered by the respondents in this study to be very frequently used in serving their professional roles. There was, however, more frequent use of such forms in research than in teaching. The variable rates were scoring 4 and 5 better by 16.9 percent of the faculties in their teaching role, and by 31.2 percent in their research role.

To determine whether there was a statistically significant difference among the faculties on the use they placed on government publications, the scores on the two role categories were compared using the wilcoxon test. The results of the data analysis are displayed in Table 4B.

Table 4B. Relationship between Role and Use of Government Publications

Direction of DifferencesNumber of CasesMeanZ ValueTwo-Tail Probability
Research > Teaching 28 20.18 2.44 p < 0.05
Research < Teaching 11 19.55   
Research = Teaching 38    
 77   

On the basis of these findings, it can be observed that the research hypotheses that “Professorsuse government publications higher in their teaching than in their research” could not be supported. An inspection of frequencies in Table 4.14.b indicated that the faculties much more used on government publications for their research than teaching.

Conference proceedings

Frequency distributions of the frequency use of conference proceedings for teaching and research roles are presented in Table 5.

Table 5. Use of Conference Proceedings

Role Not used ... Very frequently used
  1 2345
 Percentage
Teaching 16.9 18.2 24.7 27.3 13.0
Research 9.1 18.2 14.3 31.2 27.3

It is evident from Table 5, that clearly sufficient variance on the use of this form of information, and it was rated as more frequently used for research than for teaching. This form was rated as scoring 4 and 5 better by 40.3 percent of the faculties in their teaching, and by 58.5 percent in their research.

To determine whether there was a statistically significant difference among the faculties on the use they placed on conference proceedings, the scores on the two role categories were compared using the wilcoxon test. The results of the data analysis are displayed in Table 5B.

Table 5B. Relationship between Role and Use of Conference Proceedings

Direction of DifferencesNumber of CasesMeanZ ValueTwo-Tail Probability
Research > Teaching 36 22.78 3.41 p < 0.05
Research < Teaching 9 12.89   
Research = Teaching 32    
 77   

On the basis of these findings, it can be observed that much of the quantity of use of conference proceedings occurred in the research role while little use occurred in the teaching role, as expected. This finding supports the research hypothesis that “Professorsuse use of conference proceedings higher in their research than in their teaching”.

Reference Sources

Frequency distributions of the frequency use of reference sources for teaching and research roles are presented in Table 6.

Table 6. Use of Reference Sources

Role Not used ... Very frequently used
  1 2345
 Percentage
Teaching 22.1 32.5 28.6 13.0 3.9
Research 15.6 20.8 32.5 19.5 11.7

It is evident from Table 6, that clearly shows reference books were used more frequently for research than for teaching. This form was rated as scoring 5 by 11.7 percent of the faculties in their research, and by 3.9 percent in their teaching.

To determine whether there was a statistically significant difference among the faculties on the use they placed on reference sources, the scores on the two role categories were compared using the wilcoxon test. The results of the data analysis are displayed in Table 6B.

Table 6B. Relationship between Role and Use of Reference Sources

Direction of DifferencesNumber of CasesMeanZ ValueTwo-Tail Probability
Research > Teaching 26 20.79 3.41 p < 0.05
Research < Teaching 10 12.55   
Research = Teaching 41    
 77   

On the basis these findings, it can be observed that the research hypotheses that “Professorsuse reference sources higher in their teaching than in their research” could not be supported.

Findings

  • Subjects use books more in their teaching than in their research.
  • Subjects use journals more in their research than in their teaching.
  • Subjects use theses and dissertations more in their research than in their teaching.
  • Subjects use government publications more in their research than in their teaching.
  • Subjects use conference proceedings more in their research than in their teaching.
  • Subjects use reference sources more in their research than in their teaching.

Conclusion

Of the six printed form of information measured under the dimensions of frequency of information use it was expected that subjects would score the frequency of use of books, government publications, and reference sources higher in their teaching than in their research; and that they would score the frequency of use of journals, theses and dissertations, and conference proceedings more in their research than in their teaching.

The result confirmed the expectations in four of the six cases. It can be concluded that it is for research that journals, theses and dissertations, and conference proceedings are used very frequently; and it is in the role of teaching that books are used very frequently. It two of the six cases, government publications, and reference sources, the form produced result that did not support the direction of the hypotheses.

References

John, J. (1997). Information needs, use pattern, and use behaviour of social science researchers. Indian Journal of Library Science 10 (2): 79-80.

Marcella, R., & Baxter, G. (1999). The information need, information seeking behavior, and participation with special reference to needs related to citizenship: Results of a national survey. Journal of Documentation 56 (2): 136-160.

Millson, M. C., & Menon, V. (1995). Customer expectations: Concepts and reality for academic library services. College and Research Libraries 56 : 37-47.

Sasikala, C. (1994). Information seeking behaviour of managers in industry. IASLIC Bulletin 39 : 27-31.

Sridhar, M. S.(1995). Information seeking behaviour of scientists and engineers: A case study of Indian space technologists . New Delhi: Concept Publishing.

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