The information practices of business PhD students


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New Library World;116(3/4)



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Purpose – The purpose of this paper was to investigate how PhD students discover, choose and use information and literature for their research. Design/methodology/approach – Eight PhD students at the Norwegian Business School (BI) were interviewed. The interviews were based on a phenomenological approach. Findings – The use of both library databases and Google Scholar is frequent and contextual. The informants ranked the library databases as more useful than Google Scholar. Methods for keeping up to date varied and were contextual. Although formal information seeking in library databases was seen as more academic than the tracking of references, this latter method was more widespread. Students felt they mastered the tools associated with formal information seeking, which constituted a continuous activity in their research practices. Wilson’s (1983) theory on cognitive authority may give a better understanding of the findings. Practical implications – Acquiring knowledge about the information practices of PhD students in a specific discipline will help libraries to improve their services and acquire relevant resources for their users. Originality/value – This paper examines PhD students’ ranking of information resources, identifies preferred methods for keeping up to date and reveals in which contexts the informants use either formal or social information-seeking practices.



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