A Comparative Analysis of the Impact of Electronic Information Resources Use Towards Research Productivity of Academic Staff in Nigerian Universities.

Author:Iroaganachi, Mercy Ariomerebi
Position:Report
 
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Introduction

The university is an institution of higher learning that provides facilities for teaching/learning, research, community service/application and is authorized to grant academic degrees; specifically, one made up of an undergraduate division which confers bachelor's degrees and a graduate division which comprises a graduate school and professional schools each of which may confer master's degrees and doctorates (Webster, 2010). However, it is important to understand that universities are not set up simply as degree mills to produce students in learning centers, but primarily to do research, and disseminate outcomes and propagate innovation through the society (Ibidapo-Obe 2012). Thus, the university is dedicated to providing academic, staff, and students with an environment and infrastructure that help them develop potentials for scholarship, creative work, professional realization, and services that culminate in its objectives of building a total man, by impacting knowledge, skills and capacity to identify problems in the society and proffer solutions to them (Obayan, Awonuga, & Ekeayanwu, 2012). To achieve the enormous objectives of the university therefore, different category of staff are recruited and retained to discharge required assignments. Basically, the entire staff make-up in the university system can be categorized into four major groups which include: administrative, Lab-technologists/attendants, security and academic staff--who form the crux of this study.

Academic staff are solely responsible for activities such as teaching and research, teaching and scholarship or research and innovation which represent their career pathways (Kulno, 2016). Academic staff are adept scholars thus very knowledgeable in their subject areas, has personality attributes that promote rapport with students, they are organized, deliver well prepared lectures, humane, give out handouts and extra reading materials, fair and actively engage students in the learning process (Kamla, 2011). Madu (2012) asserted that academic staff are evaluated for promotion every three and four years for both junior and senior levels based on their research productivity (output) especially in the form of publications made in referred works and patents. In this way, academic staff generate knowledge and information classified and packaged into different mediums for onward dissemination.

Information resources occupy a prominent place in promoting academic staff research activities. As such, a university library must not only be well equipped with relevant resources but see to its responsibility of ensuring that the use of such information sources are maximized to the benefit of its patrons. This will be attained by providing not just printed resources but having a stake in the provision of the electronic version commonly referred to as Electronic Information Resources (EIRs). As the name suggests, they are resources in electronic format that can only be accessed with the use of a computer/network technology while some must be accessed through the internet. Owolabi, Ajiboye, Lawal and Okpeh (2012) observed that EIRs have increasingly become an invaluable asset in education, research, teaching and learning. They noted that EIRs have transformed the conduct of research and teaching in universities by allowing Academic staff opportunity for accessing a wide range of accurate and timely information on various subjects. EIRs are highly important teaching and research tools, which complement print-based resources and enhance the learning and research processes in any academic institution (Iroaganachi, 2016; Dadzie, 2005). They comprise digital learning objects selected and organized to facilitate their discovery, access, and use (National Information Standards Organisation, 2008).

EIRs are those resources that were either digitized or created electronically (born digitally) and can only be accessed with the aid of electronic systems and networks (Haridasan and Khan, (2009). They also consists of data (information representing numbers, text, graphics, images, maps, moving images, music, sounds etc.), programs (instructions etc., that process the data for use), or combinations of data and programs in a digital format (Jewel, 2010). More comprehensively, EIRs include: e-journals, e-books, online public access catalogues (OPAC), Web public access catalogues (WebPAC), CD-ROM, electronic mails, E-Data archives, E-Manuscripts, E-Maps, E-Magazines, E-Thesis, E-Newspaper, E-Research Reports, E-Bibliographic Databases, E-Reference sources and other educational sources that are valuable to scholars and researchers. The research potentials of these sources, when effectively utilized, impact the research productivity of academic staff in no small way (Uhegbu, 2007).

Electronic information resources use depends absolutely on relevance to the academic or research need at hand. Therefore utilization of electronic information is a way of using the information on the varied field which has been accessed for meeting the desired need of academic staff beneficially. Uhegbu (2007) defined information use as the actual putting of the acquired information into appropriate context. For any electronic information to be utilized, it must be relevant to the need of the user thus, utilization of information by any clientele is influenced by the kind of job done, profession or function one performs. The advent of EIRs has not only influenced the way students and scholars conduct research, it has also changed their perception and use of the library and its resources. EIRs have become popular and "must use" among academic staff and research scholars due to their ability to report research findings more timely and allow remote access without geographical limitations. Despite the acclaimed advantages, individuals' views and perception about their research potentials vary greatly, thereby determining the impact of their usage on research output.

Statement of the Problem

Research is a critical and creative investigation that is carried out systematically and rigorously with the aim of extending the frontiers of knowledge or solving specific practical or theoretical problems. Thus, it is one of the basic activities required for an academic staff to be regarded as such because the quality and quantity of his/her research productivity determines his or her worth. Their career progression, appointments and tenure promotions, local and international recognition including institutional assessments and rankings is also dependent on their research productivity. Consequently, they needs to conduct research regularly in other to meet the requirement for their desired progress as there can be no successful academic career without significant progress in their research endeavors.

In Nigeria, universities are broadly categorized into three clusters by ownership--federal, state and private. A further classification could be public and private. The general objective of providing high level education/manpower of these universities notwithstanding, the rationale underpinning their establishment differs significantly--while that of private universities cannot be divorced from profit, those of federal and state are not. Evidence therefore abounds that the level of financial attention given to Nigerian universities hinges on their parent institution's financial status, which in turn, determines the attention given to teaching equipment, learning aids as well as investment in research activities and resources. Thus, the quality of academic and research productivity of academic staff is greatly dependent on availability of fund and facilities/resources provided to support such activities.

Obviously, several studies within the Nigerian universities context have been carried out to examine the impact of EIRs use on the research productivity of academic scholars from different standpoints. While some of these undertakings focused on federal and or state universities (e.g. Madu, 2012; Popoola, 2008; Egberongbe, 2011; Owolabi, 2012; Oduwole & Sowole, 2006.), others x-rayed the scenario from the private universities perspective (e.g. Izuagbe, Hamzat and Joseph, 2016; Aregbesola & Oguntayo, 2014; Fasola, 2013). However, very serious effort has not been made to empirically survey this phenomenon across federal, state and private universities. It is against this backdrop that this study sets out to comparatively analyze the effect of electronic information resources use on academic staff research productivity in selected federal, state and private universities in South-west Nigeria.

Objective of the Study

The objectives of the study are to:

  1. ascertain academic staff motivation for using EIRs for research in South-west Nigeria;

  2. determine the most utilized EIRs databases for research among academic staff in Southwest Nigeria; and

  3. identify ways EIRs use have impacted academic staff research productivity in South-west Nigeria.

    Research questions

  4. What is academic staff motivation for using EIRs for research in South-west Nigeria?

  5. Which are the most utilize EIRs databases for research among academic staff in Southwest Nigeria?

  6. Which ways have EIRs use impacted the research productivity of academic staff in South-west Nigeria?

    Literature Review

    Academic staff and research productivity

    Academic staff refers to lecturers or faculty of a university, not precluding librarians. The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) (2009) defined academic staff as academic professionals who are responsible for planning, directing and undertaking teaching and research within the higher institutions of learning. They also include vice-chancellors, medical practitioners, dentists, veterinarians and other health care professionals who undertake lecturing or research activities as well as Librarians. They are most resourceful for the realization of the teaching, learning, research, and community services...

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