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Zoekopdracht: faculteit: "UvA" en publicatiejaar: "2007"

AuteurR.L. Hunsucker
TitelMore appropriate information systems and services for the social scientist: time to put our findings to work
TijdschriftEvidence Based Library and Information Practice
Jaargang2
Jaar2007
Nummer4
Pagina's95-103
ISSN1715720X
FaculteitUvA
Instituut/afd.UvA: Universiteitsbibliotheek
SamenvattingA review of:
Line, Maurice B. “The Information Uses and Needs of Social Scientists: An Overview of INFROSS.” Aslib Proceedings 23.8 (1971): 412-34. Rpt. in Lines of Thought: Selected Papers. Ed. L.J. Anthony. London: Bingley, 1988. 45-66.

Objective – The study reported in this article was conceived in order to answer a question of very large scope: What are the information systems and services requirements of social scientists? Inherent in this question was the correlative question: How do social scientists tend to use such systems and services, and what resources and information access approaches do they by choice employ? The choice for such an approach was well-considered, given that 1) there were at the time almost no research results available in this area; 2) the investigators feared that approaches developed earlier for the natural sciences and technology would be uncritically adopted for the social sciences as well; and 3) “the social science information system was developing anyway, and if it was to develop in appropriate ways, some guidance had to be provided quickly” (412). The Investigation into Information Requirements of the Social Sciences (INFROSS) project team believed that there was “no point” (412) in embarking first on a series of more narrowly focused studies. The express intention was to derive findings that would be usable “for the improvement of information systems, or for the design of new ones” (414). For more on the project's conceptual underpinnings, see Line’s “Information Requirements.”

Design – Exploratory study employing both quantitative and qualitative approaches over a period of three and a half years, beginning in the autumn of 1967.

Setting – The whole of the United Kingdom. The project was funded by that country’s Office for Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), which had been established in 1965.

Subjects – Almost 1,100 randomly selected academic social science researchers, plus a substantial number of government social science researchers and social science “practitioners” (“college of education lecturers, schoolteachers, and individuals in social work and welfare” [413]). For the purposes of the study, the social sciences included anthropology, economics, education, geography, political science, psychology and sociology, but numerous historians and statisticians ultimately participated.

Methods – Three methods were employed: surveys, interviews, and direct observation. A “very long” (413) questionnaire was sent to 2,602 of the identified ca. 9,100 social science researchers in the United Kingdom, with 1,089 (41.8%) completed questionnaires returned. Two pilots were conducted with the questionnaire before a definitive version was finalized for the study. Seventy-five interviews were conducted (individually or in groups) with researchers, some of whom had received but not responded to the questionnaire, and some of whom were not included in the questionnaire sample. The interviews with non-responding persons in the sample were for purposes of determining “whether they were non-typical” (413). Fifty additional interviews were conducted (individually or in groups) with practitioners. Day-to-day observation of a small number of social scientists was undertaken in the context of a two and a half year-long experimental information service at Bath University – the first time any UK university had employed information officers for the social sciences.

Main results – The results showed a pronounced perception among social scientists that informal “methods of locating references to relevant published information” (416-8, 426-7, 431) are more useful than formal methods (such as consulting the library catalogue, searching library shelves, or searching in indexing and abstracting publication
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