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Information behaviour of the researcher of the future

Authors:
  • CIBER Research Ltd., Westwood Farm, Newbury, UK
Information behaviour of the researcher of the future
Search and Report: Two Sides of Information Literacy, Arets NIK-konferens, Stockholm
20 November 2009
Ian Rowlands
CIBER at University College London
| Slide 1
|
Three eras of human communication
ORAL COMMUNICATION
PRINT LITERACY
ELECTRONIC INFORMATION FLOWS
|
Picture it. Nineteenth-century man with his
horses, dogs, carts, slow motion. Then in the
twentieth century, speed up your camera. Books
cut shorter. Condensations. Digests. Tabloids.
Everything boils down to the gap, the snap
ending. Classics cut down to fifteen minute radio
shows, then cut again to fill a two-page book
review, winding up as a ten- or twelve-line
dictionary resume. Politics? One column, two
sentences and a headline.
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, 1953.
The Google Generation
The research challenge
| Slide 4
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Googlegen: Aims
To examine:
Whether or not as a result of the digital transition and the vast range of information being
digitally created , young people, the ‘Google Generation’, are searching for and researching
content in new ways
Whether such ‘new ways’ of researching content will prove to be any different from the
ways that existing researchers and scholars carry out their work?
And to …
To inform and stimulate discussion about the future of libraries in the internet era.
|
The research problem
We were having some salad for lunch one day …
|
A virtual longitudinal study
for the virtual age!
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Different generations at the same point in their development
Is there a real difference between the Google
and earlier generations at the same point in
their development?
A critical review of published research over the
past 30 years (and several generations of new
technology)
This work focused on reported differences with
earlier studies
|
The same generation at different points in time
How have earlier generations coped with change?
A re-analysis of Tenopir & King longitudinal survey data
Are they catching up with or falling behind with technology?
|
Different generations at the same point in time
How do people from different
generations use the same content
platforms, now?
Deep log analyses of two live
platforms aimed at a range of age
groups:
JISC Intute
British Library Learning
Google Generation
Key findings: the literature
| Slide 11
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Assumptions are rife!
Today’s youngsters constitute an homogenous
body (Google Generation).
They are all equipped with the latest gadgetry:
iPod, laptop, mobile phone connected to the
Internet etc.
and ….
Implications
| Slide 12
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The biggest assumption of them all
“[they] are so different today. I bet every adult says that
about the young people of their time, but kids today really
are different from the kids of any other age.”
Long SA (2005): Digital natives: if you aren't one, get to know one, New Library World, 106, (3-4), pp.
187-189
Are they really different from earlier generations??
… and are they different from adults (in terms of IT skills, online
behaviour)?
And what does any difference mean for the future??
Google Generation
These assumptions resulted in a series of myths…
| Slide 14
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GG are always online (e.g. Windham, 2005, Prenski 2001).
Study by Synovate found:
Only 27% of young people live up to image of IT immersion
For most (57%) ‘technology was not a badge to be worn, but something
that had value’ once its functional usefulness had been demonstrated
20% are ‘digital dissidents’ (Synovate, 2007).
Also…
The over-65s spend four hours a week longer online than 18-24s
(Ofcom, 2007).
|
GG are naturally good at technology
(Gardner & Eng, 2005)
Also,
Little empirical evidence that young people are better at technology. And
don’t forget, they have:
Greater exposure
More time
No preconceived ideas
Less concern about monetary value (!)
Also …
It’s in manufacturers’ interests to make us feel inadequate
(Thimbly 1995)
|
GG are: good at finding information
Baird & Fisher (2005) Hay (2006)
.
BUT: Research over 15 years consistently shows young people:
Have difficulties formulating appropriate terms, due to use of natural
language (how to build bird’s nests);
Assume search engines understand sentences and questions.
Do not use advanced search facilities or navigation aids.
Have trouble generating alternative search terms / synonyms.
Often repeat the same search several times.
Soloman (1993); Hirsh (1999); Chen (2003); Valenza (2006)
|
GG are: good at finding information (2)
Baird and Fisher (2005) Hay (2006)
Also…
speed of young people’s web searching shows little time is spent in
evaluating information.
information-seeking stops at the point where articles were simply found,
rather than perused,
Little regard is made to the text itself – only the presence/ absence of
words exactly matching search terms or a word in the title
An appropriate accompanying image also enough to confirm relevance.
Schacter et al (1998) Williams (1999) Chen, (2003) Oblinger and Hawkins,
(2006)
|
GG Have zero tolerance for delays
Johnson, 2006; Shih and Allen, 2006
Seems to be happening for email. ‘New users’ more likely to say
email should be checked as often as possible
Not appropriate to wait >3 days to respond
BUT
Log analyses tell us that EVERYONE – students, professors, lecturers and
practitioners – exhibits ‘instant gratification’ behaviour online:
Promiscuous, bouncing/flicking behaviour, searching horizontally
Leads to findings from other elements of the project ….
|
The Google Generation is an unhelpful concept
Implications
| Slide 20
The key messages from our
research are continuity and
complex demographics around the
use of information
"Stereotype means to cast a person
in a preset mold -- to deny them
individuality.”
Google Generation
Findings from log analyses
| Slide 21
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The real issue: virtual information behaviour
CIBER’s Virtual Scholar programme
has been looking in detail at
scholarly information behaviour for
five years.
The gap between generations has
closed and their behaviour is not
what many librarians, publishers and
system vendors might expect …
|
The real issue: virtual information behaviour
Skimming (1-2 pages at a time)
Navigating (looking around the
electronic sweet shop)
Power browsing (reading abstracts
and titles, even indexing terms,
rather than full text)
Squirrelling (downloading material
to `read’ later)
Cross-checking (collecting
information from different sites)
|
The real issue: virtual information behaviour
I am not thinking the way I used to
think. I can eel it most strongly
when I am reading. Immersing
myself in a book used to be easy
… deep reading that used to come
naturally has become a struggle.
Once I was a scuba diver in a sea
of words. Now I zip along like a
guy on a jet ski.
Nicholas Carr
|
In summary
Information skills have not improved with widening access to technology
Little time is spent evaluating content for relevance, accuracy or authority
Searching is simple – often one word terms or full phrases
Young people lack mental map of libraries, resources and (possibly)
informational structure of subject disciplines
BUT
These problems have always been around, and …
Many of them are not unique to young people!
We are all Google Generation!
Google Generation
Implications for the future
| Slide 26
|
Implications for libraries
How can we provide users with
clearer mental maps of the digital
library?
How do we make library systems as
convenient, intuitive and predictable
as Google?
Should we re-design library systems
around user behaviour (or re-design
our users?)
How do we avoid becoming un-
coupled from users as publishers
march into our space?
|
We need to take information literacy more seriously
Information literacy needs to be
inculcated at an early age or coping
strategies (e.g. over-reliance on
Google) become deeply ingrained.
This is a big public policy issue …
... Information literacy in online environments is more complex than in offline environments and includes navigating through vast amounts of information, evaluating the usefulness and integrity of information, and integrating multiple sources of information. Research is challenging the myth of technology-savvy youth and pointing to the pressing need for strategic instruction in these new literacies as well as more effective and meaningful integration of the Internet in learning (Bilal, 2000;Chung & Neumann, 2007;Coiro, 2003;Coiro & Dobler, 2007;Rowlands & Nicholas, 2008). In particular, research shows that today's youth need support in how to effectively search and locate information on the Internet, comprehend hypermediated text, critically evaluate online information, and use information in socially and ethically responsible ways (Coiro, 2003;Rowlands & Nicholson, 2008;Lawless, Shrader & Mayall, 2007;Shenton, 2007). ...
... In their study of post-secondary students' use of digital resources, Rowlands and Nicholas (2008), concluded that there is "a desperate need for . . . educational research and inquiry into the information and digital literacy skills of our young people" (p. ...
... Like that of Lenhart, Madden, and Hitlin (2005) and Lewis and Fabos (2005), our study found that students are using the Internet for a variety of purposes; however, participants still lacked skills in many areas of Internet literacy especially where learning was concerned. These results concur with findings of Coiro and Dobler, 2007;Guinee, Eagleton and Hall, 2003;Henry, 2006;Rowlands and Nicholas, 2008;Shenton, 2007. Students need to know how to effectively and efficiently locate and select information for their purposes. ...
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... (Duncan-Howell y Lee, 2007), "Generación Instant Message (IM) o SMS" (Lenhart, Rainie y Lewis, 2001), "Homo Zappiens" (Veen, 2003), "Gamer Generation" (Carstens y Beck, 2005), "Google Generation" (Rowlands y Nicholas, 2008), o "i-Generation" (Rosen et al., 2010), para dar cuenta de rasgos característicos de estas generaciones, tales como su marcada alfabetización digital. ...
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