- Background to the Study
Information is seen in the 21st century as an economic resource. It is a foundation for competitive advantage. No wonder Thanuskodi (2012) in quoting Wasserman (1991), noted that information is the main ingredient possessed by the developed nations that the developing nations lack. Information is a critical resource in the operation and management of organizations. Timely availability of relevant information is vital for effective performance of managerial functions such as planning, organizing, leading, staffing and controlling (Singh and Satija, 2007). Information is very important to every aspect of today’s information society or human being. It is particularly important to medical doctors, as they need right and up-to-date information for their research and medical operations, since they deal directly with lives of human beings.
As important as information is to all in general and medical doctors in particular, information literacy will be a pre-exquisite to effectively utilize the available information. Little wonder Farokhzadian, Khajouei and Ahmadian (2015) opined that “nurses need to develop their information seeking and retrieval skills to be able to attain relevant and accurate information required in their practice”. This too can be said to be true for medical doctors. Paul Zurkowski (a German and the then President of Information Industry Association) in 1974 first used the concept ‘Information literacy”. To him, information literacy was described as the ability to use library research tools and materials (Kirinic, 2012; Kelly, 2013). However, with many modifications as to the definition of the concept, the American library Association (ALA, 1989) came up to state that an information literate person is one who must be able to recognize when information is needed, and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively, the information that is needed .
Information literacy would largely influence the information seeking behaviour of any individual. To Pareek and Rana (2013), information seeking behaviour entails the process of information acquiring, using and implementing information. Information seeking behaviour is also seen as the activities, whether actively or passively undertaken, to identify and satisfy a perceived or felt need (Olalekan, Igbinovia and Solanke, 2015). With advancement in information and communications technologies (ICTs), and with the knowledge of the fact that these ICTs are no longer dispensable, it will be expected that in seeking information, medical doctors should be able to manipulate these ICTs to give the desired information to meet an information need. However, as identified by Farokhzadian, et al. (2015), information overload, which is a concept that deals with having too much information than an individual can handle, is enhanced by ICTs. In such scenario, one not only needs to be information literate, but have basic a literacy on how to manipulate technologies to be able to excel in the 21st century. Other barriers identified by Farokhzadian, et al. (2015), are: Lack of knowledge, skill or experience with the resources or respective technology; complexity of electronic information resources and organizational procedures and policies; lack of value for research in practice; and difficulty in accessing or understanding research materials. Information access varies form one medical doctor to another, according to their needs. Thus, information seeking is a kind of communication behaviour, which may be influenced by many factors: persons, working environment, or zeal to resolve an abnormality (Bhattacharjee, Sinha and Bhattacharjee, 2014).
The library is pivotal and a focal point in the information seeking process of medical doctors. As libraries involve in interlibrary loans and resource sharing with electronic media, it is expected that the medical doctors who use these libraries will also change their behaviour towards information seeking. As libraries subscribe to online databases and have networked information resources that can be accessed via the Internet, library users, and indeed medical doctors, will prefer the online access rather than the physical access (Bhattacharjee, et al., 2014) as the online access makes them able to have remote access to needed information.
Various studies abound on information needs and information seeking behaviour that have helped to understand how various groups seek and use information. Notable among these are: survey of information needs and preferred sources of information of teachers (Aiyebelehin, 2012), information needs of rural dwellers (Stephen and Dauda, 2012), information needs of rural women on family planning (Omoike, 2012), information needs and seeking behaviour of the Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University faculty members (Thanuskodi, 2012), information needs and information seeking behaviour of library users (Bhattacharjee, Sinha and Bhattacharjee, 2014), study of information seeking behaviour and library use pattern of researchers (Pareek and Rana, 2013), information seeking behaviour of mathematicians: scientists and students (Sapa, Krakoswska and Janiak 2014) information seeking behaviour of agricultural scientists with particular reference to their information seeking strategies (Singh and Satija, 2007), information seeking behaviour of the adolescents with reference to sexual information (Fauzi and Kadir, 2015), information seeking and retrieval skills of nurses (Farokhazadian, Khajouei and Abhmadian, 2015, and information needs and information seeking behaviour of undergraduates (Ajiboye and Tella, 2007: Tella, 2009: Olalekan, Igbinovia and Solanke, 2015). This research will however be necessary as medical doctors hold a vital position in the society.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Information is new knowledge which leads to a change in action of people exposed to it (Olalekan et al. 2015). The concept of information seeking behaviour of medical doctors is of great importance to researchers and other stakeholders as medical doctors have a vital role to play in the general well-being of the society. There is no gain saying that a society that is not well cannot talk about good governance, growth or development. But how can the society be well if medical doctors do not seek the right information, using the right channels or access tools as well as the right sources? How can the society be well if medical doctors do not know the appropriate search strategies to use in accessing and retrieving timely information?
However, little or no literature abounds on the information needs and information seeking behaviour of medical doctors in Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, the search strategies they employ, the channels or access tools they use, and the information sources they resort to. This research work will try to fill this gap in knowledge by investigating the information needs of medical doctors in Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, the information sources they use, their search strategies as well as the access tools or channels they use. Furthermore, the study will examine with the keen passion to suggesting recommendations that will better the lots of medical doctors, their patients and the general public and are in line with global best practices.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The overall objective of this research is to study the Information seeking Behaviour of Medical Doctors in Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.
And the specific Objective are:
- To determine the information needs of medical doctors in Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital
- To identify the access tools medical doctors use in seeking information
- To identify the information sources medical doctors use:
- To identify the medical doctor’s preferences of information sources
- To identify the search strategies medical doctors use for information searching
- To find out the preferences of search strategies medical doctors use for information searching.
1.4 Research Questions
In order to achieve the stated objectives, the following research questions were developed to guide the study.
- What are the information needs of medical doctors?
- What access tools do medical doctors use for information searching?
- What information sources do medical doctors use?
- Which information sources do medical doctors prefer using?
- What search strategies do medical doctors use?
- Which search strategies do medical doctors prefer using?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Information seeking behaviour is influenced by one’s information literacy, needs for information, the channels one can use to access available information and the sources as well as the search strategies one employs. This research is very important, as series of deadly viral infections seem to trouble Nigeria in the 21st century. The Ebola and Lassa viruses are significant examples. In times like this, it is important to know how medical doctors seek information, the tools, search strategies and source they use, and also proffer better solutions to solving these perennial problems.
Also, the concept of information needs and information seeking has been a major issue of study in the 21st century, especially in the developing countries. Despite the important role played by information needs and information seeking, no single study has been conducted in the context of Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital on the medical doctors’ information needs and information seeking behaviour since the establishment of the hospital in 1991, and it’s functioning in 1993.
This research work will be of importance to the medical doctors, their patients, the Ministries of Health when making laws, and the general public, as we, at one point or another of our lives, will need the services of medical doctors.
1.6 Scope of the study
This research work is limited to medical doctors in Irrua Specialist teaching Hospital, Irrua, it is to examine their information seeking behaviour.
1.7 Limitation of the study
In the course of carrying out the research, the researcher was faced with some limitations. These limitations are enumerated below.
- The researcher was faced with the constraint of gathering background information from the Institution of the medical doctors.
- Getting the respondents to fill and return the questionnaire was difficult.
- The time frame was short for a more thorough research work.
1.8 Operational definition of terms
- Information: Facts, ideas, symbols signs, pictures, and processed data which when received and understood can improve the knowledge state of the receiver and help in decision making.
- Information Need: This is a gap in the knowledge state of an individual that need to be filled
- Information Seeking: This is the process of finding answers to the information needs of an individuals.
- Information Seeking Behaviour: This is the way people search for and utilizes information to meet their needs
- Information Channels or Access Tools: These are equipment information seekers use to get information to meet their needs.
- Information Sources: This is the place, person or thing where an individual gets information
- Search Strategy: This is the tactics or skills employed by information seekers, in order to get the desired information
- Medical Doctors: A person that is qualified to practice medicine specialized in diagnosis and medical treatment.
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