Evaluation of references in dissertations and theses against the holdings in a university library.

Author:Omoba, Florence Adeola


Library collections are accumulations of published and unpublished materials. A "good" collection for students working on the undergraduate or master's level may be a "bad" collection for students or faculty working at advanced research levels. In all cases the collection has to be judged relative to the academic program. A "good" library collection means that a student or faculty member can locate and gain access to needed resources in a reasonable period of time (George Smathers Library, 2004). Collection evaluation is a lengthy and labor intensive activity. Consequently, the collection manager generally begins a collection review prior to the faculty academic program review initiative.

When the University of Ibadan (then the University College Ibadan) was founded in 1948, the Faculty of Science was one of the three foundation faculties (along with arts and medicine). The faculty was then housed in the laboratory which was converted from the wards of the 56 army general hospital, Eleyele Ibadan. The faculty has been in this present site since 1953. From the start, the faculty watch word has been the attainment and maintenance of a high academic standard. By the 1960s the faculty was already recognised as a centre of excellence for scientific teaching and research. This is the consequence of the deliberate policy of the faculty's founders.

At the beginning, the faculty had six departments, namely, Botany, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and Zoology. Through a process of expansion of old departments and creation of new ones, the faculty currently has ten departments, viz; Archaeology and Anthropology, Botany and Microbiology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, and Zoology.

The Faculty of Science offers courses to students for all the science-based disciplines or faculties such as agriculture and forestry, education, technology, as well as the College of Medicine. The faculty plays an important supervisory role in the management of four service units of the university. These are the Botanical Garden, the University Computing Centre, the Zoological Garden, and the Laboratory Technology Training Scheme (LTTS). The faculty is home to a number of other units, including the federal radiation protection service (FRPS), which is owned by the federal government and the equipment maintenance centre EMC, managed by the university. The purpose of evaluation of library collection research, according to the George Smathers Library (2004), is to determine the qualitative level of collection support for a specific academic program, to identify the collection's maintenance and development needs


To determine the adequacy of the entire collection of Kenneth Dike Library on the Faculty of Science courses in relation to PhD thesis produced between 2000/2001 and 2002/2003 sessions. This means that some limitations of scope are necessary and that criteria of selection have to be imposed on the data. The evaluation of the collection is restricted to a narrow field. Hence the study is limited to the Faculty of Science between 2000/2001 and 2003 sessions. The judgement to be passed on the adequacy or inadequacy of the library collection will be based on the references on the sampled PhD thesis produced in the Faculty of Science 2001/2002 and 2002/2003 sessions found in the Kenneth Dike Library.

To provide the data, Faculty of Science PhD theses produced between 2000/2001 and 2002/2003 sessions were given in the library. The criteria for selection were the availability of the required data and the ready supply of the data, which were met after much stress from the library staff members concerned.

Several authors have contended that mere citing of an item is not enough indication that the item has been used. Brown (1956), for instance holds the views that citation may only reflect scholarly affectation or compliance with tradition. Also, many articles borrowed may not be cited. Another problem is the inordinate use by scientists of initials and their non-adherence to standard rules for punctuation, transliteration, spelling and capitalisation, all of which makes the entries so disguised that they cannot be recognised in the usual source.

Two studies (Beile, Boote, & Killingsworth, 2003, Haycock, 2004) used citation analysis to examine the scholarly nature of education dissertations, while another study (Green & Bowser, 2003) developed a rubric to examine the effect of faculty/librarian collaboration on the quality of literature reviews in education dissertations. Haycock (2004) used citation analysis to examine the scholarly nature of education dissertations, while Hovde (2000) used citation analysis to do quantitative analyses of works cited. Since the citations had been digitized and sorted already, the bibliometric data from journal citations was "mined" for information. Like a number of previous studies using citation analysis (Haycock, 2004).

The issue of the quality of Doctorate of Education (EdD) dissertations became an important topic in the United States in 2005 with the release of a report questioning the quality of EdD Programs (Jacobson, 2005; Levine, 2005). At Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a faculty member in the Fischler School of Education and Human Services and a librarian in the Alvin Sherman Library, Research, and Information Technology Center decided to collaborate to look at the quality of dissertation reference lists. The Sherman Library was preparing for reaffirmation of accreditation in 2007 and was interested in looking at dissertation reference lists for evidence of library research skills. The Fischler School of Education and Human Services were interested in assessing the quality of their dissertations. This effort came at an opportune time.

The true purpose of citation is not to show how learned an author is, nor to look impressive, nor to lend weight to a research work. It is to identify the source of a cited item so that a critical reader can not only easily retrieve the item but also see if he agrees with the interpretation of the citing author. It also has the merit of scientific objectivity. For the element of bias has no place in the checking of citation against public card catalogues and other finding tools. This evaluation procedure can produce quantifiable results that lend themselves to the making of judgements. It is a procedure that can be carried out at low cost.

On the whole, the checking of citations eliminates most of the limitations inherent in other methods of collection evaluation and it would seem to be the most objective procedure.

The major facets of this work that need to be identified are;

* the stated objectives of the University libraries;

* selection method and collection assessment;

* method of collection assessment; and

* Significant of citation analysis.

The functions of Nigeria Universities and the objectives of Universities Libraries are spelt out as follow

Functions of Universities in Nigeria

* To support the mass literacy programmes of government at various levels

* To develop manpower in various fields and professions needed for economic development

* For teaching and research into the various problems confronting Africa, especially the host communities of the university; and

* To provide community service necessary for rapid socio-political and economic development

Objectives of the University Libraries

The following are the objectives of the university libraries:

* Provision of materials in support of learning process i.e. materials for students course work, assigned reading as well as background reading for essays, term paper and project

* Provision of materials to meet the requirements of faculty specialists and postgraduate students who are doing research.

* provision of materials for users to assist in personal self development

* Co-operation with other university libraries with a view to developing a network of academic library resources which are at the disposal, of all students and teaching faculties.

* Meeting the...

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