The personal information management behaviour of academics: implications for librarians' support

Carol Newton-Smith

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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The aim of this study was to better understand how academics manage their personal information and therefore to have a basis for planning for appropriate support by librarians. There did not appear to be any current relevant research but from a review of previous studies, in which the predominant management strategy included a card personal index, a model was drawn up and validated by a number of academics would be using electronic personal indexes to manage their personal collections. The research methods selected for this study were in-depth interviews and a questionnaire survey. The main findings were that academics do not use a personal index (card or electronic) to manage their personal collections and they also use a language different from that of librarians to describe their activities of personal information management. Academics manage their information by organising their personal collection according to their working subject framework. to expand their collections they work outwards from items of known quality or follow the advice of colleagues to locate such items. To become aware of the new material in the library (or elsewhere), academics prefer to browse new journals and books, rather than use a subject index. Databases are used for confirmation of reference details and citation indexes are used to work outwards from documents of known quality. The output of references is by the use of word processing software with a few academics using bibliographic software just for this function. The conclusion of the study were that academics manage their personal information in a dissimilar way to that expected by librarians. Academics are managing ideas not documents and their methods of personal information management reflect the need to manage these ideas and the associated connective thought process. Librarians can better assist academics by designing library services that facilitate academics' ideas management. Suggestions for improved support include the development of services that enable browsing, the linking of ideas between research publications in different disciplines and the provision of a service to confirm reference details.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2000


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