An exploration into the information seeking behaviours of engineers and scientists

Susan Wellings, Biddy Casselden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

This article considers findings from master’s research that investigated the information seeking behaviours of engineers and scientists in the workplace. The objectives of this research were to establish where engineers and scientists look for information, consider their search preferences and determine the understanding they have of online search engine operation. There is limited current research in these areas looking at engineers and scientists in the workplace.

The research was undertaken using a mixed methods research methodology. A survey was conducted with engineers and scientists working in the UK, using an online questionnaire and interviews to obtain quantitative and qualitative data. Due to the small sample size (115: 58 engineers, 57 scientists) this research does not make generalisations about the wider population.

The research showed both similarities and differences between engineers’ and scientists’ information seeking behaviours. The most popular resources used by both engineers and scientists were online search engines, specialist databases and scholar search engines; and the most used sources were from within their own organisation (colleagues and documents). Electronic versions of sources were preferred over print because of their searchability, however when an item was found it was often printed out to read.

Although the main focus of this research was not information literacy it is suggested that there are significant gaps in the understanding of search engine functionality by both engineers and scientists, even though it is the most heavily used resource for information seeking.

Whilst this research does not make generalisations about the wider engineer and scientist populations, potential implications for information professionals working with these groups are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-800
JournalJournal of Librarianship and Information Science
Volume51
Issue number3
Early online date26 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Nov 2017

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