Use of formal and informal methods to gain information among faculty at an Australian regional university
Sansnee, J & Wallin, M 2002, 'Use of formal and informal methods to gain information among faculty at an Australian regional university', Journal of Academic Librarianship, vol. 18, no. 1/2, pp. 68-73.
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Faculty members use formal methods, searching traditional print sources along with the newer electronic resources of gaining information for various purposes including research and teaching activities. A number of studies have shown that faculty also use informal methods of information gathering, such as personal contact and personal communications, more frequently because of the ease of using such sources and because the resulting information meets their needs.( n1, n2) The informal method of information gathering has helped faculty in the same field to compare and share information.( n3-n7) Many studies focused on the use of personal contact and personal communications among faculty for their research activities including conducting their own research projects and having their research articles published. In the past two decades, electronic sources of information have been increasingly widely available. These sources include online databases, online public access catalogs (OPACs), e-conference, e-mail discussion, full-text databases, books, scholarly Web sites and pre-print archives and bulletin boards. The advancements in technology continue to facilitate this formal information gathering method through the availability of electronic resources. Little research publication was available relating to the use of these ranges of resources by faculty and its frequency for teaching and research activities. Little emphasis has been placed on the use of electronic sources of information among faculty of regional universities. This study compared the use of formal and informal methods of information gathering by faculty for teaching and research activities. The study explored the use of electronic sources by the faculty of an Australian regional university and the frequency of their use of these electronic sources. The study also aimed to assess characteristics of the faculty who used informal methods of information gathering and determine if there are relationships between the faculty's characteristics and their use of the informal method to gain information. Demographic data, ongoing research activities, and competence to use electronic sources of information were used to form these characteristic profiles.