information behavior

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How to cite this article: Jamali, H. R. and Nicholas, D. (2008), "Information-seeking behaviour of physicists and astronomers", Aslib Proceedings, 60, (5), 444-462.
Article DOI: 10.1108/00012530810908184

Information-seeking behaviour of physicists and astronomers
Hamid R. Jamali
CIBER, Department of Educational Technology, Faculty of Psychology and
Education, Tarbiat Moallem University, No 49, Mofateh Ave, P.O.Box: 15614,
Tehran, Iran
h.jamali at gmail.com

David Nicholas
CIBER, School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, University College
London, Henry Morley Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Abstract
Purpose – The study examines two aspects of information seeking behaviour of physicists and astronomers including methods applied for keeping up-to-date and methods used for finding articles. The relationship between academic status and research field of users with their information seeking behaviour was investigated.
Methodology/approach – Data were gathered using a questionnaire survey of PhD students and staff of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University College
London; 114 people (47.1 per cent response rate) participated in the survey.
Findings – The study reveals differences among subfields of physics and astronomy in terms of information-seeking behaviour, highlights the need for and the value of looking at narrower subject communities within disciplines for a deeper understanding of the information behaviour of scientists.
Originality/value – The study is the first study to deeply investigate intradisciplinary dissimilarities of information-seeking behaviour of scientists in a discipline. It is also an up-to-date account of information seeking behaviour of physicists and astronomers.
Keywords – Physics, Astronomy, Information-seeking behaviour, User studies,
Information behaviour
Paper Type – Research paper

Introduction
How do scientists really discover, select and use the countless information



References: Brown, C.M. (1999a), “Information literacy of physical science graduate students in the information age”, College and Research Libraries, Vol Brown, C.M. (1999b), “Information seeking behavior of scientists in the electronic information age: astronomers, chemists, mathematicians, and physicists”, Journal Cho, A. (2000), “Distorted galaxies point to dark matter”, Science, Vol. 287 No. 5460, pp Ellis, D., Cox, D. and Hall, K. (1993), “A comparison of the information seeking patterns of researchers in the physical and social sciences”, Journal of Fry, J. (2003), The Cultural Shaping of Scholarly Communication within Academic Specialisms, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Brighton, Brighton. Gobo, G. (2004), “Sampling, representativeness and generalizability”, in Seale, C., Gobo, G., Gubrium, J.F Gould, C.C. and Pearce, K. (1991), Information Needs in the Sciences: An Assessment, Research Library Group, Mountain View, California. Hemminger, B.M., Lu, D., Vaughan, K.T.L. and Adams, S.J. (2007), “Information seeking behavior of academic scientists”, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 54 No. 14, pp. 2205-2225. Huntington, P., Nicholas, D., Jamali, H.R. and Tenopir, C. (2006), “Article decay in the digital environment: a usage analysis by date of publication employing deep log Jamali, H.R. (2008), Information-seeking behaviour of physicists and astronomers: an intradisciplinary study, unpublished PhD thesis, University College London, Kling, R. and McKim, G. (2000), “Not just a matter of time: field differences in the shaping of electronic media in supporting scientific communication”, Journal of Lawal, I. (2002), “Scholarly communication: the use and non-use of e-print archives for the dissemination of scientific information, Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Vol. 36, available at: http://www.istl.org/02-fall/index.html (accessed 25 November 2007). Nicholas, D., Huntington, P. and Jamali, H.R. (2006), “Authors as users: a deep log analysis linking demographic and attitudinal data obtained from scholarly authors [end of page 461] Royal Society (1948), Royal Society Scientific Information Conference, London. Tenopir, C. and King, D.W. (2002), “Reading behaviour and electronic journals”, Learned Publishing, Vol Wertman, E.R. (1999), Electronic Preprint Distribution: A Case Study of Physicists and Chemists at the University of Maryland, unpublished MSc thesis, Virginia

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