Information behaviour of humanities PhDs on an information literacy course

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Madden, Ronan
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Purpose – The aim of this paper is to examine whether an information literacy course/module is an appropriate intervention during the initial months of a humanities PhD, and if there is more that can be learned from the course participants that might provide a better understanding of their information behaviour. Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire was distributed to new humanities PhD students prior to their attending the course. A second questionnaire was distributed to those who had completed the course in full. Interviews were conducted with six participants to gain a richer understanding of how their information-seeking needs had evolved. Findings – Despite the relatively generic nature of the module, and the diversity of humanities research, the course had clear benefits for the participants. In their first year, scoping their topic and finding quality information can pose a challenge. The participants reported that the most appropriate time to attend the course is during the initial months. Some preferred to attend (or repeat) particular units later as workshops. The most valued elements were those that helped them bridge initial gaps. Face-to-face delivery is preferred. There is some potential for further one-to-one contact with librarians and additional follow-up workshops. Practical implications – This study can inform how librarians can better support PhD researchers in the humanities. Originality/value – The study is based around an established and accredited humanities PhD course that has already been adapted in various ways in terms of content and timing of delivery. Drawing on Kuhlthau's "Information Search Process", the study seeks a deeper understanding of a specific humanities group during the initial months of their PhD research.
Generic skills , Graduate students , Humanities , Information behaviour , Information literacy , Information seeking , Kuhlthau , PhD students , Research support , Sense-making
Ronan Madden, (2014) "Information behaviour of humanities PhDs on an information literacy course", Reference Services Review, Vol. 42 Iss: 1, pp.90 - 107
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