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Researching Latin America, part two: A survey of how the new generation is doing its research

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Los estudiantes dependen cada vez más de Google para realizar sus investigaciones y simultáneamente demuestran una alarmante falta de conocimientos acerca de los recursos de la biblioteca. Esto es especialmente desconcertante con los estudiantes de posgrado, de quienes se esperaría que estuvieran familiarizados con los recursos de investigación en su campo. En este artículo se trata de evaluar el comportamiento de búsqueda de información de los estudiantes latinoamericanistas de posgrado en la región, continuando las investigaciones anteriores realizadas con estudiantes latinoamericanistas estadounidenses. Los miembros estudiantiles de la Asociación de Estudios Latinoamericanos con direcciones en América Latina fueron contactados por correo y dirigidos a una encuesta en línea con preguntas sobre sus estrategias de investigación, sus experiencias con la instrucción bibliográfica y su nivel de comodidad hacia la búsqueda de información sobre América Latina. Se emplearon estadísticas descriptivas para describir la muestra y las pruebas del Chi-cuadrado fueron utilizadas para comparar estos resultados con los de la encuesta anterior. Los encuestados se sienten cómodos y seguros hacia la búsqueda de información, preferían la conveniencia de los medios electrónicos, no estaban familiarizados con los útiles mencionados en la encuesta y la mayoría no había recibido instrucción bibliográfica. Se necesita que los profesores y los bibliotecarios trabajen juntos para asegurar que estos estudiantes estén conscientes de lo
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INV ESTI GAC IÓN BIBLIOTECOLÓGI CA, Vol. 28, Núm. 63, mayo/ag osto, 2014, México,
ISSN: 0187-358X. pp. 163-192
Artículo recibido:
7 de noviembre de 2013.
Artículo aceptado:
7 de febrero de 2014.
* Universi ty of California, L os Angeles, CA . USA. orchidm @ucla.edu
** Americ an River College, Sa cramento, CA, US A. sturmt@ arc.losrios.ed u
Researching Latin America,
part two: A survey of how the
new generation is doing its
research
Orchid Mazurkiewicz *
Tim Sturm **
Abstract
Students too often rely on Google for research, while
demonstrating an alarming lack of awareness of oth-
er library resources. This is especially disconcerting
to observe in graduate students who are expected to
be experienced searchers and familiar with the re-
sources in their fields. Following up on previous re-
search done on US-based students, this paper seeks
to assess the information-seeking behavior of Latin
American graduate students. Student members of the
Latin American Studies Association with mailing ad-
dresses in Latin America were contacted via mail and
invited to respond to an online survey of their research
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strategies, including experience with bibliographic
instruction and comfort level finding information on
Latin America. Descriptive statistics were used to in-
terpret the sample and Chi-squared tests to compare
these results against those obtained in the previous
survey. Respondents were found to feel comfortable
and confident finding information using the preferred
convenience of electronic media. They were also
found to be unfamiliar with the research tools men-
tioned in the survey, and the majority had not received
bibliographic instruction. There is clearly a need for
faculty and librarians to work together to ensure these
students are aware of the many available resources and
to develop the information search skills they need to
become effective researchers, scholars, or working
professionals.
Keywords: Graduate Students; Information Seek-
ing Behavior; Latin American Studies.
Resumen
La investigación sobre América Latina, segunda par-
te: un estudio acerca de cómo investiga la nueva ge-
neración
Orchid Mazurkiewicz y Tim Sturm
Los estudiantes dependen cada vez más de Google pa-
ra realizar sus investigaciones y simultáneamente de-
muestran una alarmante falta de conocimientos acerca
de los recursos de la biblioteca. Esto es especialmente
desconcertante con los estudiantes de posgrado, de
quienes se esperaría que estuvieran familiarizados
con los recursos de investigación en su campo. En este
artículo se trata de evaluar el comportamiento de bús-
queda de información de los estudiantes latinoame-
ricanistas de posgrado en la región, continuando las
investigaciones anteriores realizadas con estudiantes
latinoamericanistas estadounidenses. Los miembros
estudiantiles de la Asociación de Estudios Latinoa-
mericanos con direcciones en América Latina fueron
contactados por correo y dirigidos a una encuesta en
línea con preguntas sobre sus estrategias de investiga-
ción, sus experiencias con la instrucción bibliográfica
y su nivel de comodidad hacia la búsqueda de informa-
ción sobre América Latina. Se emplearon estadísticas
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RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
1. Introduction
This article reports on the second part of a two-part survey project inves-
tigating the information-seeking behavior and attitudes of Latin Ameri-
canist graduate students. The first part surveyed student members of the Lat-
in American Studies Association (LASA) with mailing addresses in the United
States and Puerto Rico (Mazurkiewicz & Potts 2007). This second part sur-
veys student members with mailing addresses in Latin America.
The authors of the first survey, both of whom had worked as Latin Amer-
ican studies librarians at Arizona State University, often found themselves
frustrated with students’ lack of awareness of the library’s resources. Too of-
ten it seemed that if students could not find what they were looking for with
a quick Google search they would assume that the information could not be
found. This was particularly frustrating with graduate students since the na-
ture of their studies requires a broad awareness of the literature of their field
as well as in-depth research into their particular topic. While there is often
an abundance of information resources available, both print and electronic,
too much of it seems unknown or underutilized by students and researchers.
The project was designed to help test the veracity of our assumptions and
to develop a clearer picture of these students’ information-seeking behavior,
descriptivas para describir la muestra y las pruebas del
Chi-cuadrado fueron utilizadas para comparar estos
resultados con los de la encuesta anterior. Los encues-
tados se sienten cómodos y seguros hacia la búsqueda
de información, preferían la conveniencia de los me-
dios electrónicos, no estaban familiarizados con los
útiles mencionados en la encuesta y la mayoría no ha-
bía recibido instrucción bibliográfica. Se necesita que
los profesores y los bibliotecarios trabajen juntos para
asegurar que estos estudiantes estén conscientes de los
muchos recursos disponibles y desarrollen las habili-
dades de búsqueda de información que son necesarias
como investigadores, académicos o profesionales.
Palabras clave: Estudiantes de Posgrado; Com-
portamiento sobre la Búsqueda de Información;
Estudios Latinoamericanos.
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their awareness of research tools specific to Latin America, and their com-
fort level with research.
The hope is that the results of these surveys will be used by faculty, li-
brarians, and the new generation of Latin Americanist researchers as start-
ing points in assessing the ever-changing needs and research patterns of this
sophisticated group of cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary scholars.
Literature Review
Departing from where the original literature review concluded we find
that students’ information-seeking behavior continues as a popular area
of research. While there have been no other studies that specifically target
students in the field of Latin American studies, research into the informa-
tion-seeking behavior of graduate students continues apace. While much of
this research originates in the United States, there is a growing body of litera-
ture that addresses the information-seeking behavior and information needs
of graduate students around the world.
Catalano’s recent (2013) meta-analysis of forty-eight English-language
studies of the information-seeking behavior of graduate students is a useful
guide to trends in the literature. One recurrent finding in her analysis is that
graduate students do not use advanced search techniques; although they be-
come more adept at finding what they need, there is little evidence that they
use the search strategies that librarians often promote. She cited both Perrett
(in Australia) who found that 59 % of students assessed needed search train-
ing and Hoffman (in Canada) who concluded that the most common difficul-
ties for students were choosing keywords, refining searches, and dealing with
information overload (266). In Hong Kong, Chu and Law studied postgradu-
ates’ research expertise and found that even at the PhD level students were not
able to use advanced techniques effectively, although they did show improve-
ment over time with some instruction (2007: 314). Earp’s survey of gradu-
ate-level education students at Kent State University found that those surveyed
“were not as advanced in their searching abilities as the faculty would have
liked” (2008: 83). Korobili, Malliari, and Zapounidous survey of graduate stu-
dents at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki found that students displayed
low to medium level information-seeking skills and that Boolean operators,
truncation, and proximity operators were seldom used (2011: 161-62). Mal-
liari, Korobili, and Zapounidou, in a similar study at the University of Mace-
donia, found that most of the graduate students surveyed “used the simplest
techniqueswhen seeking relevant information (2011: 85).
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RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
Catalano cited multiple studies that found that graduate students over-
rate their ability to find information (2013: 266). Perrett found that 56 of the
107 graduate students surveyed overestimated their skill level (2004: 163).
Malliari, Korobili, and Zapounidou found that more than half of the re-
spondents considered themselves experts at searching the web and compe-
tent and proficient in searching databases and ejournals. (2011: 85) Korobili,
Malliari, and Zapounidou found that students were more confident in their
skills with search engines than databases or ejournals (2011: 157-158).
Assessing the benefits of bibliographic instruction, Rempel’s longitudinal
study concluded that Oregon State University graduate students who attended
a library literature review workshop demonstrated an increased sophistication
in their searching (2010: 538). Malliari, Korobili, and Zapounidou also found
a relationship between advanced search techniques and attending a library in-
struction workshop, although use of these techniques remained low (2011: 83-
85). Damasio’s study of graduate-level pharmacy students at the Universidade
Estadual de Maringá found that they benefited from librarian intermediation
in their effective use of online resources (2010: 379). As mentioned above, PhD
students demonstrated a better understanding of search techniques after train-
ing in Chu and Law’s study (2007: 314). Formal information literacy training
also significantly improved undergraduate and graduate finance students’ in-
formation-seeking behavior at Rutgers University (Long & Shrikhande, 2005).
Librarians recognize that many students begin their research on the In-
ternet. While there might be some expectation that this would be less prev-
alent with graduate students with their more complex information needs the
research suggests otherwise. Catalano concluded in her meta-analysis that
“both masters and doctoral students are inclined to begin their research on
the Internet” even though the unreliability of many sources on the Internet
is recognized (2013: 260). Vezzosi’s survey of doctoral students in biology at
the University of Parma found that nearly all reported starting their research
on the Internet, although they seemed aware of its shortcomings (2009: 69).
Earp reported in her survey of graduate-level education students that the ma-
jority reported beginning their research on the Internet (2008: 82). Malliari,
Korobili, and Zapounidou also found that the most common method used
to find information was searching the web (2011: 82). Garcia and Silva, in
their study from the Universidade Estadual Paulista, noted the appeal of the
simple interfaces of Internet search tools in comparison to the various barri-
ers to maximizing the use of a library’s resources such as database selection,
advanced search techniques, and controlled vocabularies (2005).
Recent literature also describes the predominance of ejournals and the
importance of electronic availability in a student’s choice of information. A
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comprehensive study of Generation Y doctoral students in the UK found that
ejournals dominated the types of sources normally used to find information
(Researchers of tomorrow, 2012: 19). Furthermore, if students could not find
the fulltext, almost half said they would make do with the abstract (Research-
ers of tomorrow, 2012: 19). Catalano also noted rising ejournal use as a trend
(2013: 261). Earp found that “electronic availability” was the most important
factor in students choosing a journal and noted that many students would
not use an article if unavailable in fulltext (2008: 81, 84). Kayongo and
Helm’s survey of library use among graduate students at the University of
Notre Dame found that 62.8 % of respondents preferred the electronic ver-
sion of a book or article (2010: 343). Vezzosi reported that all students had a
preference for electronic resources over print (2009: 70). Ge found that stu-
dents used free ejournals on the web because they did not fully understand
what was available through library subscription databases (2010: 441-442).
Faculty expectations and the importance of their role in the training of
graduate students is also a recurring topic in the literature. Fleming-May and
Yuro study from the University of Alabama noted that faculty expect stu-
dents to arrive in their graduate programs as competent researchers and ac-
cordingly do not provide research instruction from faculty (2009: 210). They
also suggested that a faculty member’s endorsement of a librarian’s ability
may be one of the most important factors in shaping how a student views
the library (2009: 215). Catalano described research showing that faculty
themselves are not always expert searchers and are sometimes unaware of
the training available at their institutions (2013: 264). She concludes that it
is faculty who should receive bibliographic instruction, particularly gradu-
ate student advisors (2013: 268). Monroe-Gulick and Petr concluded that the
“important role of teaching faculty in delivering information literacy guid-
ance emerged as a dominant finding” in their research on incoming social
science graduate students at the University of Kansas (2012: 327).
Catalano found that students prefer to ask faculty for research guidance
and rarely ask librarians (2013: 263). Fleming-May and Yuro reported that
students sought “negligible assistance from librarians,” although they al-
so noted students’ reluctance to ask for help at all, even from faculty (2009:
211). Earp found that 84.9 % of her respondents rarely or never sought
help from a librarian (2008: 83). Similarly, 86 % of the graduate students
in Santos’s study reported not making use of the bibliographic instruction
programs offered at their Brazilian universities (2008: 76). The UK study
Researchers of Tomorrow found that over 50 % of respondents indicated
that they had never sought advice from subject-specialist librarians and on-
ly about 5% used their services regularly (2012: 58). Similarly, only 50 % of
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RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
respondents in Garcia and Silva’s (2005) study turned to a librarian for re-
search assistance. Korobili, Malliari, and Zapounidou (2011), Malliari, Koro-
bili, and Zapounidou (2011), and Kayongo and Helm (2010) all reported on
the under-use of librarians as an information-seeking resource. Monroe-Gu-
lick and Petr noted that “students seemed not to consider librarian assistance
during the research process” (2012: 328). Rempel found that students mostly
rely on self-taught research skills and thought that the complexity of their re-
search was too advanced for librarians to understand (2010: 541). Du and Ev-
ans found that 40 % of participants doubted the effectiveness of assistance
from librarians (2011: 111). Although Vezzosi found that students valued
library services, research assistance from reference librarians was not men-
tioned as being one of these services (2009: 72-73).
Considering the high use of the Internet and electronic sources for re-
search, it is not surprising that similar trends are found in studies from vari-
ous regions around the globe. Nevertheless, only minimal research has been
done to assess the generalizability of results on information-seeking behav-
ior between countries. Romanos de Tiratel (2000) considered the question
of whether UK- and US-based research on libraries and librarianship could
be applied to countries without the same level of access to library systems
and services. Comparing the results of her study of Argentine scholars to
the literature from abroad, she concluded that researchers share common
traits in their information needs and the same manner of accessing resources
“despite the quality and quantity of resources and dissimilar working envi-
ronments” (353). Cortés (2006) noted that while there are many studies on
US students and their information needs and library use, there are far fewer
on Mexican students and even less that make comparisons between the two
groups (11). In their study of the applicability of the ACRL information litera-
cy competency standards for Mexican universities, they found that Mexican
and US students shared as many similarities as differences, but that Mexi-
can students had a longer road to travel to meet these standards. In addi-
tion to more limited access to library resources and information technology
and deficiencies in teacher training that helped to explain these differences,
the authors also noted ethnopsychological differences in students’ research
behavior. Nevertheless, Cortés described a Mexican student population
that includes many who have studied in the US and brought back research
practices and expectations from their experiences north of the border (21-
23). Francis also mentioned training abroad as a possible explanation for the
similarities she found in the information-seeking behavior of social science
faculty at the University of the West Indies to those described in studies of
scholars from more developed countries (2005: 71). Al-Suqri (2011) studied
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the scholars at the Sultan Qaboos University in Oman to determine whether
a model of information-seeking behavior based on studies in Western coun-
tries could be applied to other regions of the world. He found that, in gener-
al, this could be done, but that the model might not be sufficient without the
incorporation of additional contextual factors such as the limited availability
of resources, poor Internet connectivity, and language constraints.
Method
Based on the original project’s literature review and personal experience,
the initial assumptions concerning the research and information-seeking
behavior of Latin Americanist graduate students were: 1) students would
not have a high level of awareness of the core tools in the field, 2) students
who had received bibliographic instruction would be more likely to be famil-
iar with the field’s core tools, 3) medium or format would be an important
determinant in the choice of research tools, and 4) the Internet would be a
prominent tool for research. A three-part survey (owing much to Marcum
and George’s 2003 study) was designed to test these assumptions, as well
as to gather some additional data on information-seeking behavior, and on
students’ perceptions of their ability to successfully carry out Latin Ameri-
can-related research. The first section (“How you do your research”) includ-
ed general questions related to the use of print versus electronic and library
versus Internet resources when conducting Latin America-related research.
A combination of Likert scale and multiple-choice questions allowed us to
approximate and compare students’ comfort levels with locating and using
different kinds of research materials and search strategies.
The second section (“The tools you use for Latin America-related re-
search”) included questions on preferred tools for research and questions
related to awareness and use of four Latin America-specific research tools.
The tools were chosen based on the original authors’ professional experience
and training as US-based librarians, and on a review of a variety of librarians’
online research guides. The four tools were:
1) The Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS) (http://lcweb2.
loc.gov/hlas/) is a selective, annotated bibliography produced by the
Hispanic Division of the US Library of Congress. Published since
1936, it covers both the social sciences and humanities and is avail-
able in both a print volume and in a free online database. One of
the oldest and most esteemed resources of its kind, HLAS is the “…
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RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
principal ongoing bibliography of publications on Latin America.”
(Covington, 1992: 3, 72; see also McNeil & Valk, 1990) It does not
provide the fulltext of cited sources.
2) The Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI) (http://hapi.ucla.
edu), previously available in print and now exclusively online, in-
cludes citations to more than six hundred periodicals from the field
of Latin American studies dating back to 1970. It is the only one of the
four tools that requires a paid subscription. Historically, it has had a
limited subscriber base in Latin America but this has grown in recent
years as HAPI developed a tiered pricing structure for Latin American
institutions and eventually became free to institutions in the region as
of 2009. It is considered a “principal index to journals on Latin Amer-
ican themes” (Covington, 1992: 53, 71; see also McNeil & Valk, 1990:
216). While it does not include fulltext, it does include links to full-
text when available online–including links to widely-used subscrip-
tion services such as JSTOR as well as to the freely available content
on individual journal websites and Latin American aggregators such
as Redalyc and SciELO. Over 75 % of the journals published in Latin
America that are currently indexed in HAPI are freely available online.
3) The Latin American Periodicals Table of Contents (LAPTOC)
(http://laptoc.library.vanderbilt.edu) was a product of the Latin
Americanist Research Resources Project (LARRP), which itself is a
project of the US-based Center for Research Libraries. LAPTOC was
a searchable database of the tables of contents of more than eight
hundred scholarly periodicals published in Latin America. Founded
in 1997, it was created to fill the gaps in access to the region’s vast
periodical literature left by HLAS and HAPI and was freely available
online. Funding and content was provided by the LARRP member in-
stitutions. Unfortunately, it is now defunct and no new content is be-
ing added but it is still searchable via a database hosted by Vanderbilt
University. While LAPTOC was a relatively young resource compared
to the others, the authors were curious about its use as it was freely
available and many US academic libraries had invested in its produc-
tion.
4) The Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC) (http://
lanic.utexas.edu) is one of the largest organized gateways to Latin
American content on the Internet. It is affiliated with the Universi-
ty of Texas at Austin and includes editorially reviewed directories
to relevant Internet sources, as well as hosting a variety of fulltext
projects, such as a database of presidential messages. It is generally
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recognized among US-based Latin Americanist librarians as an im-
portant starting point for organized access to Latin America-related
websites, although funding cuts in the last few years have limited its
maintenance.
The final section of the survey (“Information about you”) asked respon-
dents about the degree they were working on, year of study, majors, languag-
es used in research, the country in which they were studying, and whether
they had received bibliographic instruction from librarians and/or class in-
structors.
The Latin American Studies Association student members were seen as
an ideal target population as they identify themselves, at least to the extent of
becoming LASA members, as Latin Americanists. They are also unlikely to
“have built up the same information reserves as more established academics:
rich personal collections of publications and a network of personal contact
with expert colleagues, which can short cut the need for extensive infor-
mation seeking” (Barry, 1997: 229). These students are also likely to be the
next generation of instructors in the field of Latin American studies, passing
along their own knowledge of research tools and strategies to the following
generation of students.
LASA sells lists of their members’ mailing addresses but not of their email
addresses. Cost and logistical constraints limited the first stage of the sur-
vey to LASA student members with postal addresses in the United States and
Puerto Rico. In part one of the project, the survey was mailed to 667 Latin
American Studies Association student members with mailing addresses in
the United States and Puerto Rico and 211 surveys (31.6 %) were returned.
Nevertheless, the researchers believed that the results would be incomplete
without data from students based in the region itself. Disparities in access
to resources between the US and Latin America impact the research process
and the nature of scholarly communication. Scholars in Latin America (and
the global South in general) often work in libraries with limited funds for
the acquisition of print and digital materials, the preservation of archival and
special collections, and the library personnel essential for accessing these
resources. For example, in an issue of the Latin American Studies Associ-
ation’s newsletter, Tinker-Salas (2009) described a panel on research prac-
tices at a LASA meeting in Rio de Janeiro. The panel quickly shifted from
the expected focus on good research practices to a discussion dominated
by the Latin American participants’ frustrations with lack of access to jour-
nals. “The economic requirements of the [Northern] publishing world cre-
ate barriers that limit the full democratization of knowledge and aggravate
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RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
structural differences between the North and the South. Invariably, many
resource-strapped universities in Latin America are unable to purchase these
services; thus colleagues in the region confront a structural disadvantage in
gaining access to these materials” (Tinker- Salas, 2009: 6). Ground-breaking
Open Access initiatives in Latin America have been one response to these
structural differences (see Poynder, 2013; http://www.scielo.org; http://
www.redalyc.org; http://www.clacso.org.ar). The second stage of this project
was seen as an essential step in creating a more inclusive understanding of
the LASA student scholars’ information seeking behavior.
By the time funding was secured for the second stage, we were able to
take advantage of inexpensive online survey tools. Spanish and Portuguese
versions of the original request to participate in the survey were mailed to
the 201 LASA student members with addresses in Latin America (Portuguese
for Brazilian addresses and Spanish for the remainder). The letter directed
recipients to an online version–either Spanish or Portuguese–of the survey.
In early 2010, fifty-six online surveys (27.8 %) were submitted.
Survey results
e respondents
Two of the respondents had completed their doctorate, forty-three were
working toward a doctorate, four were in master’s programs, and one was an
undergraduate (not all 56 respondents answered this question). This closely
mirrors the proportions among the US-based respondents in the first survey
(hereafter referred to as Group One).
The LA-based survey respondents were asked which countries they study
in (hereafter referred to as Group Two). The largest numbers of respondents
studied in Brazil (eighteen) and Argentina (twelve), followed by the Unit-
ed States (seven) and Mexico (six). Three respondents reported studying
in France and one respondent studied in each of Canada, Cuba, Ecuador,
Guatemala, Peru, and Spain. Of those listed above, one respondent report-
ed studying in both Argentina and France, and another in both Peru and
France.
Similar to Group One, anthropology, history, political science, sociology,
and literature were the top areas of study. Art/art history, economics, educa-
tion, geography, languages/linguistics, music, and the sciences were each se-
lected by two to three respondents. Just under 30% of respondents selected
multiple disciplines. This, along with the write-in subjects of social memory,
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urbanism, and agro-ecology, might suggest the increasingly interdisciplinary
nature of scholarship on the region, a trend also suggested by Group One.
Languages of research
The survey asked Group Two respondents to write in, from most-used to
least-used, the top three languages they use to conduct their Latin Ameri-
ca-related research. As expected, considering the population surveyed,
73 % of respondents listed Spanish or Portuguese as their top language, and
42 % listed one of these as their second language of research. English was
listed as the top language for 16 % of respondents. Three of these nine re-
spondents reported studying in the United States. English, Portuguese, or
Spanish were listed by 48 % of the respondents as their third language of
research. French was the only other language listed, with two respondents
citing it as their second language of research and nine as their third. Interest-
ingly, when all three choices are considered, English was the most commonly
listed language. Only three of the forty-nine respondents who answered the
question did not include English as one of their languages of research. Nine
of the respondents did not list Spanish among their top three languages and
twenty-seven did not list Portuguese. Perhaps this reflects the dominance of
English in the “geopolitics of academic writing,” as Canagarajah (2002) calls
it, and the need for English proficiency as “a career-defining issue for many
scientists and researchers around the world” (Cronin, 2009: 433).
Research and information-seeking behaviour
As we had assumed, the majority of Group Two respondents reported that the
medium of information was an important factor in deciding to use that infor-
mation. Over 60 % of respondents reported that the medium was either ex-
tremely important or very important in their decision. This is a change from
the results of Group One where 60 % reported that the medium of the infor-
mation was either somewhat or not at all important. This shift might reflect the
passing of a few years between surveys–as the availability of full text grows so
too does the preference for it. As described in the literature review, current re-
search overwhelmingly reports that students prefer electronic media to print.
Nevertheless, the growing availability of electronic resources has not
yet eliminated the use of print resources. Exactly as in Group One, 73 % of
Group Two respondents reported that they use print resources when doing
their Latin America-related research either all of the time or most of the time.
Up from 62 % of the Group One respondents, 79 % reported that the same
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RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
was true regarding electronic resources. Despite a preference for digital ma-
terials, online sources do not yet meet all these students’ research needs.
Figure 1. How students find books and journal articles with lines showing responses from Group One.
Generally, both groups of students report similar strategies for finding
books and journal articles for their Latin America-related research (see Fig-
ure 1; see also Group One responses in the Appendix, Figure 5). Neverthe-
less, there is a highly significant statistical difference in the use of print and
library e-resources to find books and journal articles between the two groups
( 2 = 6.1, df = 1, .02 > p > .01). This difference seems understandable when
considering that many Latin American academic institutions do not have the
same abundance of electronic resources commonly found in US institutions–
where the greater challenges are information overload and choosing among
the many databases available via institutional subscription (Monroe-Gulick
& Petr, 2012: 329). For example, the University of California, Los Angeles li-
braries provide access to over one thousand databases. Mexico’s largest pub-
lic university, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, has just over
two hundred according to their online catalog of databases. In 2006 Cortés
reported that US university library expenditures on electronic resources had
already equaled that spent on print materials–a trend that has continued–
and that Mexican academic libraries had only begun their efforts to build the
digital library (61; The 2012 State of America’s Libraries: 29). Nevertheless,
the library’s electronic resources are still the most popular source for finding
books and journal articles. Consistent with the literature, these graduate stu-
dents look to their instructors and, less so, their peers for assistance in their
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research. Also consistent with the literature is the dishearteningly low use of
librarian expertise as part of a search strategy.
Respondents were asked their level of agreement with the statement,
“Browsing the stacks or journal shelves in a library is an important way for
me to get information when doing Latin America-related research. This
traditional method of finding resources remains popular–66.6 % of Group
Two students agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. As well, 87.5 %
of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that “Using citations from
bibliographies is an important way for me to get information when doing re-
search on Latin America-related topics.” This supports the findings in Vez-
zosi’s survey where students stressed the importance of citation chaining as a
method of finding information (2009: 71).
Despite the continued popularity of these search strategies, the library
is losing its traditional role as the place where research is conducted. Only
32 % of Group Two respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the state-
ment “My institution’s library (physical and/or virtual) is where I conduct
most of my research on Latin America-related topics” and 52 % disagreed
or strongly disagreed. Compare this with the results in Group One, where
67 % of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with this statement.
This might reflect the passing of time between the surveys and the growing
availability of materials outside of the traditional repositories of scholarly in-
formation. It might also reflect the growing invisibility of the library’s role
in providing subscriptions to Internet-based information. Providing seam-
less, easy access to subscription-based electronic resources has been a goal
for academic libraries for many years, as seen in the use of IP authentication,
proxy servers, and openurl linking as well as the growth of federated search
tools and now discovery services. This can make it difficult for students to
recognize that the information they are accessing has been provided by the
university library’s subscription. Nevertheless, students in Latin America
may be driven to the open Internet out of necessity due to the limitations of
library budgets, as mentioned above. The enthusiastic embrace of Open Ac-
cess in scholarly communication and the extraordinary achievements of Lat-
in American Open Access initiatives provide free alternatives for students of
Latin American studies–both North and South.
Use of research tools
One might expect that graduate students would be among the heaviest users
of the four tools mentioned in the survey. They have sophisticated research
needs, often exploring their topics both in depth and breadth. However,
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RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
consistent with the pre-survey assumptions, results for use levels were low.
When asked whether they had ever used these research tools, 19.6 % of
Group Two chose yes for LANIC, 12.5 % for HLAS, 10.7 % for HAPI, and
only 5.3 % for LAPTOC. The results from Group One of the study were also
disappointingly low but were substantially higher than these, with the ex-
ception of LAPTOC (63.3 % for LANIC, 43.9 % for HLAS, 46.4 % for HAPI,
and just 2.8 % for LAPTOC). Despite these modest sample sizes, we can be
98 to 99 % confident that use of the four databases varies between the two
study groups ( 2 = 11, df = 3, .02 > p > .01). When asked the reason for not
using each tool, lack of awareness of the existence of the tools was the most
cited reason, as seen in Figure 2 (see also Appendix, Figure 6). Clearly, out-
reach to promote the greater use of these freely available tools remains to be
done–both to Latin American students and the faculty who are so critical in
shaping students’ perceptions of the importance of a resource.
Figure 2. Reasons for non-use of tools.
Group Two respondents were asked what they considered the three most
useful tools when doing Latin America-related research. Since this was an
open-ended question, a wide variety of tools were listed and, not surprising-
ly, electronic resources predominated (see Table 1). A number of important
Open Access regional initiatives were among the results: SciELO, CLACSO,
and Redalyc were each cited by multiple respondents. Surprisingly, in a time
when “google” has become a verb, neither Google nor Google Scholar were
as popular as might be expected. One interesting contrast is the almost com-
plete absence of discipline-specific tools (such as EconLit, PsycINFO, Popline,
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Sociological Abstracts), which were heavily represented in Group One’s re-
sponses (see Appendix, Table 3). We also see the presence of vendors (EBS-
CO, Sage, Springer, and Taylor) who package collections of research tools and
make them available to libraries via subscription. They clearly do a good job
of branding their products, although perhaps at the expense of researchers’
awareness of what is actually being searched within that package.
Table 1. Most useful tools for Latin America-related research in order of number of respondents.
JSTOR 14 Cairn 1
SciELO 7 Casa de las Américas 1
CLA CSO 4 ebrary 1
Libraries 4 HAPI 1
Google 3 Jornal Independente 1
Google Scholar 3 LATIN DE X 1
Redalyc 3 Notre Dame University website 1
Amazon 2 Print resources 1
Databases 2 Sage 1
EBSC O 2 Scopus 1
Journals (specialized) 2 Springer 1
Online sources 2 Taylor 1
Portal CA PES 2 Web of Science 1
Anthroplus 1 Wikipedia 1
Biblioteca Digital UNAM 1
The most obvious similarity between the two groups of respondents is
the selection of JSTOR as the most popular research tool. It received six-
ty-one votes in Group One (31 % of respondents) compared to fourteen
votes (25 % of respondents) in Group Two. They both significantly out-
distanced the next runner-up in popularity: OCLC WorldCat/FirstSearch
with forty-two votes in Group One, and SciELO with seven votes in Group
Two. JSTOR (http://www.jstor.org) is an online full text archive of over two
thousand scholarly journals covering both the arts and social sciences, in-
cluding a Latin American Studies collection of sixty-one titles. It is an in-
credible resource–it is well-designed and easy to use, access to its contents
is typically quick and reliable, and the full text of journals starts with the
first issue of a journal onward, although often with a moving wall limiting
access to the most recent issues. It is widely held in academic libraries. How-
ever, within the Latin American Studies collection, approximately 20 % of
the titles are published in Latin America and the Caribbean, the remainder
primarily published in the United States and Western Europe. While there
is Latin American content in JSTOR’s other subject journals (anthropology,
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RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
psychology, history, etc.), it is surprising that such a relatively small universe
of mainly US publications would be so popular among both groups of grad-
uate students. Students may see it as a good starting place for their research–
and few of us can resist the appeal of instant full text gratification. However,
as researchers become more accustomed to the availability of full text online,
there is a growing concern that a “full-text-fixated generation of research-
ers…will readily pass up valuable information…simply because full-text con-
tent is not instantaneously available” (Bell, 2003: 44).
Bibliographic instruction
The Group Two survey respondents were also asked about their experienc-
es with bibliographic instruction on how to conduct Latin America-related
research: 16 % responded that they had received research instruction from a
course or instructor, only 7 % reported that they had received research instruc-
tion from a librarian–compared to 44.5 % and 34.5 % respectively for Group
One–and no–one reported receiving instruction from both. (The concept of
bibliographic instruction was used loosely in the survey, and the authors ac-
knowledge that there are different approaches to promoting the use of library
resources, ranging from one-shot librarian-taught sessions to credit-bearing
research methods courses.) This is consistent with research suggesting a gap
between faculty assumptions about the research skills of graduate students,
and what the students actually know. Faculty assume that graduate students are
skilled in using the library and so perhaps do not include bibliographic instruc-
tion (provided either by themselves or a librarian) in their graduate courses. The
survey shows that respondents have developed strategies for carrying out their
research, despite a lack of formal instruction–although the question remains as
to whether these are the most efficient or effective strategies. As the literature
suggests, there is room for improvement in graduate studentssearch skills and
instruction from librarians can make a difference. Nevertheless, as Uribe saw
in Venezuela, not all academic libraries are offering bibliographic instruction,
or at least arent actively promoting it as a library service, despite recognizing
its significance in their educational mission (2012: 82; see also Pinheiro et al.,
2008). This is not surprising considering that the same resource limitations that
restrict libraries’ access to print and electronic acquisitions can also restrict the
staffing levels necessary to support outreach and instruction programs.
In the results from Group One, the pre-survey assumption that students
who had received bibliographic instruction would be more likely to be familiar
with the four tools got only moderate support from the survey results (see Ap-
pendix, Figure 7). There was no statistical correlation between those who had
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received one type of instruction (instructor or librarian) and those who had re-
ceived none and their use of HLAS, HAPI, or LANIC. However, there was a pos-
itive correlation for all three when the student had received instruction from
both an instructor and a librarian. Unfortunately, chi-square tests revealed that
responses from the second survey were too few to run viable linear regression
models. Of the seven Group Two respondents who had used HLAS, five had no
instruction and two had instruction from a librarian; for the six who had used
HAPI, one had no instruction, three received instruction from an instructor,
and two from a librarian; two of the three LAPTOC users had received instruc-
tion from a librarian and the third did not answer this question; and seven of
the eleven LANIC users received no instruction, one received instruction from
an instructor, and the remaining two received instruction from a librarian (see
Table 2). Nevertheless, the importance of librarian-faculty collaboration is in-
creasingly seen as critical to the success of developing students’ information
literacy skills, in both the North and South (Romanos de Tiratel, 2002: 305;
Monroe-Gulick, 2012; Lau, 2001).
Table 2. Bibliographic instruction and use of the four tools.
HLAS HAPI LAPTOC LANIC
No instruction 5 1 0 7
From Instructor 0 3 0 1
From librarian 2 2 2 2
Total 7 6 2* 10*
*One laptoc and lanic user did not answer this question.
Assessing comfort/confidence levels with library resources
Several Likert scale questions on the survey prompted students to assess
their own comfort levels with identifying and using library resources. Stu-
dents were asked how much they agreed with the statements “I am comfort-
able locating and using print resources when doing Latin America-related
research” and “I am comfortable locating and using information electroni-
cally when doing Latin America-related research.” Figure 3 shows that 75 %
and 89.2 % respectively either agreed or strongly agreed with these state-
ments (see also Appendix, Figure 8). Chi-square tests reveal that the differ-
ences between Group One and Two in this regard are not statistically signif-
icant.
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RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
Figure 3. Self-assessed comfort levels with lines showing responses from Group One.
There was a more tempered agreement among Group Two respondents
with the general statement “I can find the information I need on Latin Amer-
ica-related topics.Figure 3 shows a similar level of agreement (48 %) with
this statement as with the previous two statements, but a low level of strong
agreement (just 7 %). This also had the highest level of disagreement among
the three questions with 16 % of respondents disagreeing. No respondents
strongly disagreed with any of the three statements. Group One respondents
also expressed lower levels of strong agreement with this statement than
with the previous two statements, but at 25 % it is still higher than we see
here. Indeed, we see highly significant differences between the two groups’
levels of agreement and strong agreement with this statement ( 2 = 5.2, df
= 1, .05 > p > .02, Yates = .5). The level of disagreement among Group One
was slightly less than half that (7.5 %) of the Group Two respondents. With
almost 36 % of these LA-based students responding neutrally or disagreeing
with this statement it seems there are still challenges to face in assisting them
in meeting their research needs.
In Group One, respondents who had received research instruction from
an instructor or from both an instructor and a librarian (although not solely
from a librarian) had statistically significant higher levels of agreement with
this statement than did other respondents (see Appendix, Figure 9). A Pear-
son’s r correlation was run for the Group Two respondents but only a very
weak positive correlation was found between levels of bibliographic instruc-
tion and the ability to find the information needed on Latin American topics
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(r = 0.110296571). Figure 4 shows the percentage of Group Two respondents
by type of instruction for each level of agreement with the general statement.
Lack of instruction does not seem to be hampering respondents’ sense of ef-
ficacy in their research as two thirds of the thirty-seven respondents who re-
ceived no instruction report either agreement or strong agreement with the
statement.
Figure 4. Agreement with “I can find the information I need on Latin America-related topics”
and bibliographic instruction.
In Group One, there was evidence of higher levels of agreement and
strong agreement with the statement “I can find the information I need on
Latin America-related topics” among users of two or more of the tools. Nev-
ertheless, 62.5 % of those who either agreed or strongly agreed had not used
any of the four tools. Unfortunately, the sample size in Group Two is too
small to show a clear relationship between dependent and independent vari-
ables when assessing levels of agreement with the statement and use of the
tools but, similar to Group One, 65.5 % of respondents who had used none
of the tools either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement.
Conclusions
Together, the two sets of survey results provide an overview of the informa-
tion-seeking behavior and attitudes of the LASA student members–almost all
183
RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
PhD students, many of whom are likely to become part of the next genera-
tion of researchers and professors studying Latin America. Comparing the re-
sults provides a glimpse into the similarities and differences between the two
groups of students–those based in the US and those based in Latin America.
The results of our survey do not stray far from what is found in the current re-
search on the information-seeking behavior of graduate students. Both groups
of survey respondents generally feel comfortable and confident finding infor-
mation, both in print and electronic form; they prefer the convenience of elec-
tronic media; and the majority are not receiving bibliographic instruction.
Compared to their peers in Group One, the LA–based respondents of
Group Two have a stronger preference for electronic resources and yet are even
less likely than the former to be familiar with the four online tools for which
use was measured. While sharing a fondness for JSTOR and electronic resourc-
es, the two groups of respondents show differences in their choice of the most
useful tools for research. While librarians might be disappointed in the num-
bers of students in the Group One who had received some kind of bibliograph-
ic instruction for Latin America-related research, even fewer of the Group Two
respondents received this training. Group Two respondents were less confident
that they could find the information they needed than Group One. With a quar-
ter responding neutrally or disagreeing, there is clearly a need for faculty and
librarians to work together to ensure these students are aware of the many avail-
able resources (print and electronic) and to develop the information-seeking
skills they will need as researchers, scholars, or working professionals.
Nevertheless, some structural barriers in information access will not be
overcome by greater faculty-librarian collaboration and outreach to students.
These barriers must be considered as we continue to investigate the informa-
tion-seeking behavior of graduate students and to assess the generalizabil-
ity of this research beyond national borders–even beyond national borders
within the region. Future research might consider the impact of disparities
among Latin America-based students as well. While the Group Two respon-
dents all had addresses in Latin America and the Caribbean, two thirds of
those were in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina–the three wealthiest nations
in the region. Latin America is often studied as a whole, but historical and
socio-economic differences hinder easy generalizations among the region’s
countries. The second survey results might have been significantly different
had the respondents included more students from the poorer Andean na-
tions or Central America. Future research might consider the possible im-
pact of Open Access resources and the shrinking digital divide on the re-
search behavior of Latin Americanist students (North and South).
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Acknowledgements
The authors wish to thank the Librarians’ Association of the University
of California for their generous financial support of this project. Thanks
also to Paloma Celis Cabajal, Alison Hicks, and Andrea Saladino for
their feedback; and a special thanks to Bruce Bachand for his invaluable
assistance with our statistical tests. We are also grateful to all LASA stu-
dent members who took part in this survey.
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189
RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
Figure 5. How Group One students find books and journal articles.
Figure 6. Group One reasons for non-use of tools.
APPEN DIX:
Group One Survey Results
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INVES TIGA CIÓN BIBLIOTECOLÓGICA, Vol. 28, Núm. 63, mayo/agosto, 2014, México, ISSN: 0187-358X, pp. 163-192
Table 3. Group One’s most useful tools for Latin America-related
research in order of number of respondents.
JSTOR 6 6 Sociological Abstracts 2
OCLC WorldCat /FirstSearch 42 A A Index 1
LAN IC 28 AB I Inform 1
MLA 27 Brasil.gov 1
HAPI 26 Cambridge Abstracts 1
Libraries’ Catalog/ Web Site 25 C EPAL 1
Bibliographies/ Research Guides 23 CIRM A Guatemala 1
Google /Internet 17 Current Contents 1
HLA S 14 Dissertation Abstracts 1
EBSC Ohost 12 eHRAF 1
Academic Search Elite /Premier 10 EndNote 1
LexisNexis 10 Ethnic NewsWatch 1
Web of Science/Knowledge (SSCI ) 9 Famsi.org 1
Colleagues and Professors 8 Field Contacts 1
Latin American Research Review 8 Gender Watch 1
Project Muse 8 HOBC O 1
ERIC 7 Humanities Abstracts 1
ProQuest 7 Latin American Abstracts 1
Melvyl (Universit y of California) 6 Latin American Studies 1
Anthropological Literature/Index 5 Latindex 1
Electronic Journals 5 Library of Congress Web Site 1
ECO 4 Medline 1
InfoTrac 4 New Left Review 1
Archives in Latin America 3 OV ID 1
Online Newspapers 3 Popline 1
Political Database of the Americas 3 PsycINFO 1
ArticleFirst 2 PUC Rio Web Site 1
ATLA 2R LIN 1
EconLit 2 S ciELO 1
Expanded Academic Index 2 U.S. Census 1
Ingenta 2 WilsonWeb 1
PAIS International 2 World Bank Publications 1
Publishers’ Web Sites 2 Worldwide Political Science
Abstracts
1
191
RESEARCHING LATIN AMERICA, PART TWO:...
Figure 7. Group One’s use of the tools and bibliographic instruction.
Figure 8. Group One’s self-assessed comfort levels.
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INVES TIGA CIÓN BIBLIOTECOLÓGICA, Vol. 28, Núm. 63, mayo/agosto, 2014, México, ISSN: 0187-358X, pp. 163-192
Figure 9. Group One’s agreement with “I can find the information I need on Latin America-related topics”
and bibliographic instruction.
... Debe ser políticas públicas educativas de buen uso del material en el proceso de enseñanzaaprendizaje desde el más alto nivel hasta el salón de clases (Cárdenas, 2012;Carter, Hussey y Forehand, 2019). El comportamiento y actitudes de los estudiantes de post grado de Latino América y Estados Unidos, muestran comodidad y confianza al encontrar información, tanto en forma impresa como electrónica, pero, los segundos prefieren la electrónica por la facilidad (Mazurkiewicz y Sturm, 2014). En ese panorama es importante formar estudiantes con ética y valores en la elaboración de sus trabajos académicos, respetando los derechos del autor y garantizar un producto original que tenga su inicio desde la lectura, análisis crítico y reflexión sobre el tema de estudio. ...
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