The use of information sources and services and its effect on the research output of social scientists in Nigerian universities.

Author:Popoola, S.O.


In the last ten years, the demand for higher education in Nigeria, especially in core social science disciplines (geography, economics, political science, psychology and sociology) has been increasing. This is partly due to the nature of Nigerian economy, which is highly import-dependent, consumer-oriented, and thrives on distributive trade. In a nutshell, it is a nation that is service-oriented. Consequently, the Nigerian economy has a high demand for university graduates specializing in these core social science subjects. The universities are saddled with the responsibility of producing highly-skilled people to produce value-added goods and services for national development. Beside this statutory function, they are must also teach, do research and render community service.

The quality of teaching, research, and community service of social scientists in any university system depends on information sources and services. Information availability, accessibility, and use are essential to the teaching, research, and service activities of social scientists in the Nigerian university system. One of the critical factors used in determining productivity is research output. Local and international recognition and respect are partly determined by published works. Some highly productive scholars in the social science disciplines have been found to be more information rich than their counterparts. Meadow and Yuan (1997) view information as a message that changes the recipient's knowledge base. This implies that information adds significantly to the existing knowledge of the user. The information resources and services available in institutional information systems (library, archives, records offices, documentation centers, and data centers) must be capable of supporting research activities. Shokeen and Kaushik (2002) report that social scientists of Haryana universities in India most frequently used current journals, textbooks, and reference books. Agba, Kigongo-Bukenya, and Nyumba (2004) state that the shift from print to electronic information means that both academic staff and students in a university system must use these resources for better quality, efficient, and effective research more than ever. Milne (1999) submits that CD-ROMs had become more important to social scientists than scientists and academic humanities. This may be due to broad spectrum of information in social science available in CD-ROM databases. Line (2000) states that social science researchers also tend to consult experts, abstracts, or indexes and discuss matters with their colleagues. Meho and Tibbo (2003) studied the information-seeking behaviour of social scientists in stateless nations, and reported that they relied heavily on personal collections, field work data, and grey literature as major information sources. Very little new research or even replication of older studies has been done in Africa or elsewhere on social science information sources and systems. Past studies on information seeking behaviour by social scientists did not relate it to their research productivity. This paper focuses on the effect the use of information sources and services on the research productivity of social scientists in Nigerian universities.

Objectives of the Study

This study aims at achieving the following objectives:

* To determine the major information sources and services used by the respondents when conducting research.

* To ascertain the criteria used by the respondents in evaluating information resources available to them when embarking on research.

* To investigate any significant difference between male and female use of information sources in social science research in Nigerian universities.

* To determine if there is a significant relationship between research output and age of the respondents.

* To find out if there are main and interaction effects of information sources and services use on research output of social scientists in the Nigerian universities.

Literature Review

Buckland (1991) defines information as a process which occurs in the mind when a problem is united with data that can help solve it. Information is part of a process of converting messages received into knowledge. Aiyepeku (1992) views information as something that reduces uncertainty in decision-making. The survival of a social scientist in any university system depends on the ability to exploit available information resources. Line (1971) observes that social scientists do not use formal information tools like bibliographies or reference databases, but rely on personal collections, browsing journals, and citations in other publications. Stoan (1991) and Hurych (1986) agree with this finding by submitting that only a small percentage of social sciences...

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