Science & Technology Libraries
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Physicists in academic institutions utilize a variety of resources and strategies to seek, find, and use scholarly information and news. Using a sample of physicists, researchers surveyed 182 students and faculty at seven Canadian university institutions to explore self-perceived success rates, resources consulted, databases used, and use of social media and citation management systems. To complement the survey, 11 follow up interviews/focus groups were completed with participants to further uncover information-seeking behaviors, choices, strategies, and feelings around keeping up to date with information needs. According to survey results, a minority of physicists (15.4%) acknowledged that they were successfully keeping up to date. However, a significant number of physicists (28.6%) indicated that they were unsuccessful and could do better in remaining current with information needs. Co-investigators, using qualitative analyses, identified four emergent themes: (1) There are “too many papers – and not enough time” to effectively search, evaluate and read scholarly papers of interest; (2) Staying up to date is important especially in competitive research areas; (3) Graduate students seek information differently than faculty and experienced researchers; and (4) The arXiv database is important to many physicists. Additional minor themes included physics-related publishing is constantly evolving; physicists use a variety of information-seeking behaviors; and, information-seeking methods can differ between physics subdisciplines. This study aims to shed light on opportunities for academic librarians to identify and meet physicists’ evolving information behaviors, attitudes, choices, and needs.
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