The use of electronic information resources for academic research by postgraduate students at Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria.
The Library NEWS | Journal | The use of electronic information resources for academic research by postgraduate students at Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria.
This study used a structured questionnaire to investigate the usage of Electronic Information Resources (EIR) for academic research by 150 postgraduate students at Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria. Interviews with some students and selected individuals at the institution were also conducted. The study looked into whether postgraduate students had access to EIR; whether they knew how to use computers in order to have access to EIR; the extent to which they knew and were aware of EIR; the current status of EIR at their institution; how often they used these resources for academic research purposes; and the challenges that they encountered in using these resources. The findings of the study show that postgraduate students at Delta State University are aware of the existence of EIR, but the optimal use of these resources is hampered by limited access to some EIR due to lack of information searching skills, limited space, low bandwidth and erratic power supply. It is, therefore, recommended that the institution should provide adequate space, enough power supply and should address some of the issues hindering equitable access to these resources. The development of an institutional repository and the use of open access resources will also improve access to scientific and electronic information by postgraduate students at the institution.
Keywords: Electronic Information Resources, EIR, electronic databases, academic research, postgraduate students, tertiary institutions, university libraries, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria.
In the past, postgraduate research in tertiary institutions was dominated by the use of printed materials as primary sources of information. But today, advances in Information Technology (IT) have changed the way in which information for academic research is accessed and disseminated (Ndinoshiho 2010). The academic world has reached an era where printed materials for research are being replaced by electronic materials that can be accessed via the internet. Tella, Owolabi and Attama (2009) state that it is no longer surprising that, in this digital age, many libraries in tertiary institutions are connected to the internet or have plans to get connected soon. Academic libraries are increasingly taking advantage of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to provide improved access to EIR to their users. The availability of information in electronic media has, as such, created opportunities for global access to information, enhanced the speed of service, increased the number of users served, increased the quantity and exhaustiveness of information provided, and offered new and exciting opportunities for postgraduate students to find information related to their research areas (Varghese 2008).
There is no doubt that the development of EIR in university libraries in Nigeria will facilitate access to vast collections of digital books and electronic journals for postgraduate students (Afolabi 2007). According to Okon (2010), although the internet has, in the past decade, been integrated into major academic sectors in Nigerian universities, there still exists a digital divide or inequitable access to electronic information in the system. Most university libraries in Nigeria have yet to adopt a policy of providing equitable internet access to their postgraduate students. Postgraduate students have, in fact, mostly been affected by the inequitable access to the internet at these universities.
The adoption and diffusion of EIR in university libraries in Nigeria has not been as rapid and smooth as in advanced information societies, where EIR are seen as key to information access and use. Afolabi (2007) notes that the dearth of current and up-to-date information for postgraduate research in Nigerian university libraries has been a major source of concern to both the library management and the research community in the country. The aim of this study is to investigate the use of EIR for academic research by postgraduate students at Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria. The study demonstrates the extent to which postgraduate students at Delta State University, Abraka, utilise EIR to pursue their academic research.