Information use patterns by scientists: a case study of NEIST, Jorhat, North East India.

Author:Mishra, Rabinarayan
Position:Case study


Proper and adequate information is indispensable for scientific and economic progress of a nation. A scientist in the broadest sense refers to any person who is engaged in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge or an individual who is engaged in such practices and that are linked to schools of thought or philosophy. Scientists are those individuals who use the scientific method in acquiring information and organize, analyze, and implement it in the area of research.

Scientists depend on communication with fellow scientists, specialists, and experts to keep abreast of current developments. Research workers almost always rely on the work of others scientists working the same field. Scientists frequently search for information on the latest trends and developments. They also acquaint themselves with innovations in their fields. Thus, information helps the scientists be well-informed. Science and technology in India can be visualized from the following figure


Science & Technology (S&T) under the auspices of Central Government of India comprises the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Department of Space (DoS), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and Department of Ocean Development (DOD). However, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), with its 40 institutes dedicated to research and development in well-defined areas and around 100 field stations, is the major organization under DSIR, including the institutions like National Information System for Science and Technology (NISSAT), and Department of Ocean Development (DOD). There are about 200 national laboratories and an equal number of research & development (R&D) institutes in the Central Sector, with about 1,300 R&D units in the industrial sector and thousands of employees. In addition to R&D establishments, the other major body pursuing S&T activities in India is the country's vast university system comprising 162 universities, 32 institutions deemed universities, and 10 institutes of national importance which are considered to be major sources of S&T, producing around 200,000 S&T personnel every year.

North East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST)

North East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST), situated at Jorhat in North East India. It was previously known as Regional Research Laboratory, Jorhat, and it was instituted as a wing of CSIR for research and development in the fields of oil field chemicals, agrochemical, agro technologies for medicinal & aromatic plants, drug & drug intermediates, specialty papers & boards, organic & inorganic chemicals, biochemistry & biotechnology, chemical engineering, geo science & seismicity and building materials. The major thrust of Research and Development (R&D) activities of NEIST has been to develop indigenous technologies and knowledge by utilizing immense natural wealth of the North Eastern Regions of India.

Knowledge Resource Centre

As a policy decision of Government of India, all CSIR laboratories in India were converted to Knowledge Resource Centers (KRC) in 2008 including NEIST Library. Library and Documentation Division, the earlier name of NEIST, Jorhat was established in 1961 to cater to the needs of R&D staff, research fellows, outside students, and universities of North East Region and other R&D and Industrial institutes such as Institute of Biotechnology and Geotechnic studies, ONGC-Jorhat, Cinnamara ONGC complex, Central Muga & Eri Research & Training Institute, Lahdoigarh, Jorhat, etc. The library provided extensive services to the NEIST branch laboratories, which are situated in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh and Imphal, Manipur. The KRC of NEIST, Jorhat has rich and outstanding collections of national and international journals, books, Indian and foreign patents, standards, reports, annoted bibliography on Dioscorea composita and D. floribunda, Solanum khasianum, Artemisinin, Genus Artemisia, Zanthoxylum Species, Genus Clerodendron, Cinnamomum Species, natural dyes from plants, Zeolites, Zeolite analogue and Zeotype, Hydrotalcites, Anticancer Agents, Taxol, etc. The library as of 2008 has collection strength of 25,000 back volumes of journals, and 23,000 books, 6,000 Indian and foreign standards, 1.5 lakhs of Indian patents, and 6,000 reports of various national and international organizations, a good quantum of e-sources such as CD-ROMs, DVDs, etc. The library subscribes to 79 foreign and 86 Indian journals. Apart from the information provided by the library under study, it also provides a wide range of facilities such as document delivery service, Internet access, photocopying, electronic mail, etc.

Statement of the Problem

Information has a pragmatic value for scientists during research activities. It is obligatory on the part of the research libraries attached to the R& D institutes to provide information services to scientists. The study focuses on information use patterns by scientists engaged in various research and development programs at NEIST, it is mandatory to ascertain whether the scientists are being provided with the pertinent and genuine information by the libraries. The problems associated with libraries are that scientists are not provided with legitimate information due to multiple factors. Scientists are not being provided with subject gateways in their fields. Hence, it is essential to discover the information needs of scientists.

Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study are to :

* Determine the information use patterns of the scientists in North-East Institute of Science & Technology, Jorhat.

* Discover the purpose of use of information, and the nature and type of information required by NEIST scientists.

* Investigate the channels through which information is accessed by the scientists of


* Ascertain the extent of current information needs and their uses by the scientists; and

* Correlate the frequency of information needs and habit of library use by the scientists;

Significance of the Study

A research library is the nucleus of an information/knowledge center, which apart from supporting learning, teaching, and research needs of scientists, also acts as a platform for access to scholarly resources in electronic form. Growth and change have always been prominent characteristics of libraries. These characteristics give rise to the development of collections and services within the library system. The research library responds both to changes in the needs of scientists and within the field of information technology. Information and communication technologies have revolutionized in collection development, which mainly focuses on digital materials acquired through gateways, portals, consortia, etc., on an Internet platform. The significance of the present study is that it aims at evaluate the flexibility of these libraries in this fluid environment as well as their capabilities in developing a process to integrate these changes into standard library practice in order to meet the current and future needs of the scientists, research associates, and research fellows.

Scope of the Study

NEIST, Jorhat comprises 175 Science & Technology staff, 16 Junior Research Fellow/Senior Research Fellow/Research Associates, and 34 Project Assistants, a total of 225. This laboratory comprises five major disciplines, including chemistry, biology, engineering, materials science, and geoscience. The present study is not limited to any specific discipline.


The present study is based on the literature available in the library of NEIST. A structured questionnaire was distributed among the scientists of all the disciplines of NEIST. Data obtained through the questionnaire were tabulated sequentially and supplemented with graphs and analyzed. Interviews were also used for primary data collection. Further, URL site of RRL i.e., NEIST, was...

To continue reading