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Perceptions of University Digital Libraries as information source by international postgraduate student

Alotaibi, Faiz (2020) Perceptions of University Digital Libraries as information source by international postgraduate student. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

University digital libraries (UDLs) have taken the place of the traditional library in the present day. In the university context, in particular, they are the obvious solution to the library needs of students. However, they encounter considerable competition from web-based search engines on the internet, which limits effective usage of the library resources by students. This research set out to identify factors that affect international postgraduate students’ choice to use Google Scholar over their UDL to create an information driven framework that can positively influence and be responsive to dynamic needs and search strategies of the end-user (student). This research utilises two theoretical models: the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) model (Venkatesh et al., 2003), and Wilson’s (1999) model of information-seeking behaviour, in the process of achieving its aim of identifying factors influencing information search strategy by postgraduate students. The research used an extended version of UTAUT to evaluate the factors influencing the adoption and acceptance of UDLs and Google Scholar. The research was designed to use a mixed methodological approach, with a sample-frame of 400 international postgraduate students in two groups: both groups based in a large city in the United Kingdom. The study utilised a questionnaire to survey 400 respondents; it contained questions relating to the UTAUT model, as well as students’ intent to use their UDLs or Google Scholar. The collected data were quantitatively analysed using various statistical tests including regression and Structural Equation Modelling (SEM). Open-ended questions were also conducted to obtain further information examining six aspects of their intention to use– namely spectrum, search and functionality, availability, accessibility, accuracy, and references. The research found that international students preferred to use Google Scholar over UDLs because it was perceived to be faster and easier to use. It was also found that there were myriad factors that influenced the behavioural intent of the information seeker, such as social influence, domain knowledge, perceived outcome, and perceived effort. The research found that international students were not only using Google Scholar on its own, but also found the use of UDLs as the most valuable source of quality information that they could rely on. Based on the above stated findings, the research has contributed to knowledge by proposing a step-wise framework that can be used in UDLs as a means of harnessing the strength in digital libraries and amalgamate it with the technological iv platforms used by students. The framework takes into consideration systems features of information search platforms, behavioural intentions of each individual student as well as the social contextual environment that international students find themselves. Adoption of the proposed framework is recommended for university libraries to establish the ideal intervention point for educating and training students on the use of their digital library.

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