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Google Scholar or University Digital Libraries: A comparison of student perceptions and intention to use

Alotaibi, Faiz, Johnson, Frances and Rowley, Jenny (2022) Google Scholar or University Digital Libraries: A comparison of student perceptions and intention to use. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. ISSN 0961-0006

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Abstract

Google Scholar has become an important search platform for students in higher education, and, as such, can be regarded as a competitor to university libraries. Previous research has explored students’ intention to use Google Scholar (GS) and University Digital Libraries (UDLs), but there is a lack of comparative studies that explore students’ preferences between these two platforms. Therefore, this study seeks to explore the search behaviour of a select group of users, international postgraduate students, and more specifically compares the factors that influence their use of Google Scholar and University Digital Libraries (UDLs). A questionnaire-based survey, based on the factors in the UTAUT model (unified theory of acceptance and use of technology) was conducted to collect data on acceptance and use of technology of GS and UDL’s respectively. Data was collected from 400 international postgraduate students studying in the United Kingdom. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to establish the contextual influencing factors, whilst structural equation modelling examined the predicted model. The results suggest some differences between the influence of various factors between the UDL dataset and the GS datasets. They suggest that social influence (SI) did not affect behavioural intention (BI) for either data set, but that for the UDL dataset, effort expectancy did not affect BI, whereas for the GS dataset facilitating conditions did not influence BI. The approach taken in this study further facilitates research into the use of search tools to progress beyond ease of use as a main driver and to explore the relationship between internal and external influences of use. Recommendations for further research are suggested and the value of the insights gained for UDLs and their provision and support for all students is discussed.

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