• Ms Word Format
  • 104 Pages
  • ₦5,000
  • 1-5 Chapters




1.1       Background to the Study

Information can be seen as anything that causes some behavioural changes when assimilated by an individual. Information is defined by Reitz (2004) as all conclusions, ideas and creative works of the human intellect and imagination that have been communicated formally and informally in any form. In a similar definition, Aina (2008) defines it as meaningful communication symbols transferred between any two points in human communication or machine networks. Aguolu (1984) asserted that information can increase our awareness and help us educate our people, accelerate progress and provide the source data required for the solution of our increasingly complex economic, social and scientific problems.

In Information Science, the concept of information has been defined in many different ways. In the cognitive view point, it is defined the information associated with a text as the generator’s modified (by purpose, intent, knowledge of the recipient state of knowledge) conceptual structure which underlines the surface structure (e.g. language of that text). This definition is subsequently elaborated by Ingwersen (2008) as information being the result of a transformation of the generator’s cognitive structure (by intentionality, model of the recipients’ state of knowledge and in the form of signs). On the other hand also, it is a structure which when perceived may affect and transform the recipient’s state of knowledge. In this study, therefore, information is conceptualized as something which students need during their studies and in the process of learning.



Relevance of Information to Academics

The importance of information in an academic environment cannot be overemphasized. Online information resources, as asserted by Gbaje (2007) is that which facilitate access to relevant and current information for teaching, learning and research development. Academics in any society are seen as the propellers of knowledge.

Higher education is changing rapidly with the advent of technology. According to Shuling (2007), in recent years, electronic information has gradually become a major resource in every university library. Majid et al (1999) argued that technological advancements opened up new horizons for the creation, storage, access, distribution and presentation of information. Brophy (1993) noted that the advantages of electronic information resources over print ones include the following: speed, ease of use, ability to search multiple files at the same time, ability to save, print and repeat

searches, more frequent updating and the ability to access from outside the library (more advantageous to distant learners).

Academics now live in a superior new world. The rapid advancement of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has brought a revolutionary change in the information scenario, giving rise to a number of options to the users’ community, to handle varied information sources conveniently and effortlessly (Swain and Panda 2009). Dadzie (2005) highlighted the importance of online information to academics when he stated that online information could be accessed by users that are restricted by geographical location or finances, access to current information and provision of extensive links to additional resources or related content. They could be stored electronically thereby saving space and reducing the risk of lost, theft and damage. Academics are encouraged to become information literate, life-long learners in order to cope with the challenges of the fast-paced society, knowledge explosion, technological advancement, culture of

information revolution and new academic and vocational opportunities. Because of the

importance of information seeking behavior for academics, institutions of higher education need to facilitate a culture of information seeking and to improve the utilization of resource support, such as library and documentation services. With knowledge changing rapidly and the ready access to technology, academics must upgrade their knowledge and skills in order to cope with an overflow of knowledge (Eskola, 1998; Griffiths & Brophy, 2002; Miculincer, 1997).


Information Behaviour

Information behaviour encompasses information seeking as well as the totality of other unintentional or passive behaviours (such as glimpsing or encountering information), as well as purposive behaviours that do not involve seeking, such as avoiding information (Case, 2002). Based on the general model of information behaviour developed by Wilson (1997), he posited that a general model of information behaviour needs to include at least three elements:

i     an information need and its drives, i.e. the factors that give rise to an individual’s

perception of need,ii.     the factors that affect the individual’s response to the perception of needs; and,

iii.    the processes or actions involved in that response.

Taylor (1991) asserted that information is the product of certain element of the information use environment. These elements, according to him, are: the assumptions, formerly learned or not, made by a defined set of people concerning their nature of work, the kind and structure of the problems deemed important and typical by this set of people, the constraints and opportunities of typical environments within which any group or sub-group of this set of people operate and work, and the conscious perhaps unconscious assumptions made as to what constitutes a solution or better said a resolution of problems and what makes information useful and valuable in their contexts. From the above, therefore, information behaviour can be said to be the totality of human behaviour in relation to sources and channels of information, including both active and passive information seeking and use.

Information Seeking

It is a universal phenomenon that human beings search for solutions to challenges in their quest to survive and advance. Information seeking is thus a natural and necessary mechanism of human existence (Marchionini: 1992). Case (2002) succinctly put that information seeking is a conscious effort to acquire information in response to a need or gap in the knowledge of a client. IkojaOdongo and Ochalla (2004) described information seeking as a process that requires an information seeker’s cognitive ability, his or her knowledge and skills regarding information seeking. Information seeking therefore is the act of obtaining information from existing resources in both human and technological contexts. Information seeking starts with the needs of users, followed by needs analysis, collection and filtration, with the needs information finally transmitted to users. Sources of information include domain experts, knowledge workers, traditional paper files, document databases, digital media, and the Internet.


Information Need

In Information Science, information need is defined as that need originating from a vague awareness of something missing and then culminating in locating information that contributes to understanding and meaning (Kuhlthau: 1993). It is an anomalous state of knowledge (Belkin, Brooks and Oddy, 1982) or a gap in an individual’s knowledge in sense making situations (Devin

& Milan, 1986). For a person to experience an information need, there must be a motive behind it,(Wilson, 1997). From the above definitions, therefore, it can be noted that an information need is recognition that one’s knowledge is inadequate to satisfy a goal that is at hand.




Information Seeking Behaviour

Information-seeking behaviour begins when someone realizes the existence of an information need and ends when that need is believed to have been satisfied (Krikelas 1983). The seeker turns to formal and informal sources of information and is ultimately satisfied or dissatisfied with the end result (Wilson, 2009). Similarly, it can be defined as an individual’s way and manner of gathering and sourcing for information for personal use, knowledge updating and development. Fairer-Wessels (1990:361 in Kakai et al, 2004) refers to it as a way people search for and utilize information. Information seeking behavior refers to those activities a person engages in when identifying his or her own need for information, searching for such information in any way, and using or transferring that information. In relation to this study therefore, it can be deduced that information seeking behaviour is the purposive seeking for information as a consequence of a need to satisfy some goals. In the course of seeking for research and assignments, the individual may interact with manual information systems (such as newspaper or a library) or with computer-based systems (such as the Internet-world wide web).


Information Seeking Theories

Information seeking is the process of attempting to obtain information in both human and

technological contexts. A variety of theories of information behaviour e.g. Zipf’s Principle of Least Effort, Brenda Dervin’s Sense, Making and Elfreda Chatman’s Life in the Rounds, seek to understand the processes that surround information seeking. Foster (2005) and Kuhlthau (2006), asserted that information seeking has generally been accepted as dynamic and non-linear. People experience information search as a process of an interplay of thoughts, feelings and actions (Kuhlthau, 2006).



Online Information Systems, Resources and Services

Information systems have been defined as a set of inter-related components working together to collect, retrieve, process, store and distribute information over a network. It also consists of the network of all communication channels used within an organisation. Online information systems occupy the centre stage of information seeking in the online environment.

Online information resources as maintained by Gbaje (2007) are relevant information and communication technology that aid in the access of relevant and current information for teaching, learning and research development. Online information resources have the potentials of allowing institutions and researchers to share their own research output with the global community. Online information resources are capable of enhancing research and also lifelong learning through establishing constant and continuous access to shared online archival collections, as well as access to Online Electronic Thesis and Dissertations (ETDs) for the global community.

Online Information Search and Access

The challenge for education in the twenty-first century is to prepare students to use information in their work places, in their personal lives, and as responsible citizens. This is clearly stated in the

Report of the ALA Presidential Committee on Information Literacy as follows:

“Such a restructuring of the learning process will not only enhance the critical thinking skills of students, but will also empower them for lifelong learning and the effective performance of professional and civic responsibilities.”

Education is changing from the assembly-line environment of the industrial age offered by textbook teaching to data-rich environment of the information age offered by resource-based learning. In response to this change, information centres have to design new means by which users can maximize the use of these resources with the purpose of gaining access to the information therein. In searching for information, basically six processes are involved as suggested by  Kulhthau (2004). These processes are as follows:

Initiation ————– ►Selection —————-► Exploration ————- ►Formulation      ——— ►Collection ————-  ► Search closure

Recognition of         Decision on topic         Gathering and              Have a focused             Focus clear with           Here, information searchneed for new                to be investigated             locating new                perspective and            greater interest             has been completed,

informationinformationevaluation of newhaving a sense of reliefinformation beginseither satisfaction

or disappointment

In furtherance to how information can or should be searched on the web, the researcher has suggested the following steps:-

  1. Analyse your topic: – In order to start a fruitful search, it is always good to analyse the topic at hand. The topic should be broken into main concepts, relevant terms and phrases should be identified. A list of terms or phrases can also be created.
  2. Choose a search tool: – Always try to begin a search with the relevant resource for the chosen topic. After searching this resource thoroughly, move on to other resources to find different, broader or more items. Some examples of these search tools are Web pages, Journal articles, Full text and citations etc.
  3. Narrowing and Broadening Search: – For fewer and more precise results, it is good to narrow a search. Use more specific search terms and phrases. If the search tool being used has an index, use that to help pick the most specific terms to use for the search, also use hyperlinks if any is provided. For less precise results, try out the broader search. Use less specific and alternative search terms and phrases. Try out using the “OR” searches. Try to change search tools to achieve needed results. Try out the broader search. Use less specific and alternative search terms and phrases. Try out using the “OR” searches. Try to change search tools to achieve needed results.
  4. Finally, try other search tips such as
    • Always check out for the help or search tips information when using a new search tool. As they will suggest the kind of search operators you use.
    • Be aware that most search tools have a list of stop words e.g. and, or, the, in etc. they are usually ignored unless purposely inserted.
    • Many databases offer an index for its users. Check out the terms and phrases before engaging in a search.

Information access on the other hand, boarders around ensuring that information users, have the opportunity to get and use information. There should be ease of access to information by users regardless of their location, position or status. Access to information is paramount on users mind. With the advent of technology which further gave birth to the Internet, it has been known for its richness in terms of its information content. It has promoted learning and allowed universal access to information. It allows students to broaden their academic horizon, access information, and communicate with others on the basis of academics. The Internet gives access to educational databases and sites that could make a user to be deviant and perverse as the case may be. Also, the Internet can give access to digitized and uploaded research works and holdings of a university. From the above, therefore, it is pertinent to note that access to information requires literacy skills by the recipient, offers acquisition of livelihood skills and assists the information seeker to make informed decision when need be, thereby making the right choice.


1.2        Statement of Problem

Information is a vital resource needed by students to perform well in their academic pursuit. The web is used to access relevant, useful and current information from different fields of endeavour the world over. The use of the web, no doubt, enhances quality research, access to a variety of information resources and current information resources on the web. Education requires studies that uncover how to optimally use technologies for the benefit of students and researchers. Online information has been identified as an important information resource for postgraduate students. Having acknowledged the importance of online information resources, the management of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria has invested so much to ensure that postgraduate students have access to online information resources by deploying Internet access points and hotspots in the Library and within the Campus at large.

The researcher has observed, however, that many postgraduate students are faced with the challenges of seeking online information. This is supported by many scholars. Abdulkadir (2011) noted that students spend long hours in the quest for online information.  It is pertinent to note that a shift from print to electronic resources requires information technology skills for its effective use. It was observed that many students in Nigerian universities cannot use the web and other ICT facilities independently. Kari and Savolainen (2001) explained that skills (to search for and find information) are especially necessary because there is often a wide range of potentially relevant documents to make do with.

In the light of the above, this study investigates the Online Information Seeking Behaviour of Post-graduate Students in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.


1.3        Research Questions

The following are the research questions of this study.


  1. What online information resources are available to postgraduate students in Ahmadu

Bello University, Zaria?

  1. What type of online information resources and services are accessed by the postgraduate students in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria?
  2. What techniques do the post graduate students in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria apply in seeking for online information?
  3. How do the postgraduate students in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria evaluate the quality

of online information resources they use?

  1. To what extent are the postgraduate students in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria satisfied with the available online information for their needs?

1.4       Hypotheses

The following are the hypotheses of this study.

H01:  There is no significant difference in the type of online information resources needed by post graduate students of the various faculties in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

H02:  There is no significant difference between male and female postgraduate students in the various faculties in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria on the sources of online information resources available for their use.


H03: There is no significant difference among the students of various faculties in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria on the information search pattern adopted for accessing online information resources available for their use.
H04 There is no significant difference among the students of the various faculties of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in the level of satisfaction with online information resources available for their use.
H05 There is no significant difference among the post graduate students of the various faculties

in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in the challenges faced in search for online information resources in the University.

1.5       Objectives of the Study


The following are the objectives of this study.

  1. To identify the sources of online information resources used by postgraduate students in

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

  1. To identify the types of online information resources and services that the post graduate students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria access.
  2. To discover the techniques used by post graduate students in Ahmadu Bello University,

Zaria in seeking for information online.

  1. To determine how the postgraduate students in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria evaluate the quality of online information resources they use.
  2. To ascertain the extent to which the information postgraduate students in Ahmadu Bello

University, Zaria satisfy their information needs.


1.6       Significance of the Study

There is no doubt that the findings of this study would be of great benefit to the postgraduate students and the University authority at large. This would no doubt improve upon the current techniques and behaviour exhibited by students while using online information resources. This study is actually timely because it would help users to improve their online information seeking skills by providing them with the requisite skills in order to effectively meet their online information needs. This research work intends to add to the existing researches carried out on online information seeking behaviour. This study is also of importance to librarians in their quest for providing effective online access to their information resources by making available Online Information Resources and Services that are tailor – made to users needs. It is also hoped that it would be of help to policy makers, and all those in charge of information and communication technology in education by studying closely models involved in online information seeking and advice in the design of better systems that would enhance and support seeking information online. Finally, this research work would be of greatimportance to researchers who will plough this area of research to improve upon online information provision.

1.7      Scope of the Study

This study covered the postgraduate students in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. There are twelve faculties in the University. It did not include the students in A.B.U affiliate schools.

1.8       Limitation of the Study

The study was limited to the postgraduate students in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. It did not cover the entire University population (i.e. undergraduate students), due to their size, time and the cost implication of carrying out such a research.

1.9       Operational Definition of Terms

The following are the operational definition of terms used for this study.

Information Behaviour: This is the totality of other unintentional or passive behaviours (such as glimpsing or encountering information) as well as purposive behaviours that do not involve seeking, such as avoiding information.

Information Need: This can be defined as a gap in an individual’s knowledge in sense making


Information Seeking: This is a conscious effort to acquire information in response to a need or gap identified in the knowledge of a clientele.

Information Seeking Behaviour: Refers to the way and manner people search for and utilize information.

Online Information Seeking: This can be defined as a process by which an individual or group of people seek/search for information on the Internet with the intention of causing a change in their current state of knowledge.

Online Information Seeking Behaviour: This simply refers to the various ways and manners by which users ensure that they access information in the online environment (Internet).


Abdulkadir, Aliyu (2011). Information Anxiety Among Internet Users in Ahmadu Bello

University, Zaria. (Unpublished thesis).

Aguolu, C.C. (1984). The Future of Library and Information Services in Nigeria. Nigerian Libraries Vol. 20 p 58.

Aina, L. O.(2008). Information and Knowledge Management in the digital age: Concepts Technologies and African Perspective. Ibadan: Third World Information Services

Belkin, N.J. Oddu, R. and Brooks, H. (1982). Information Retrieval: Pt 1 Background Theory. Journal of Documentation 8(2) 61 -71.

Brophy, P. (1993). “Network in British Academic Libraries” British Journal of Academic Librarianship, Vol. 8 No. 1:49-60

Case, D.O. (2002). Looking for Information: A Survey Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behaviour Amsterdam. Academic Press.

Dadzie, P.S. (2009). “Electronic resources: access and usage at Ashesi University College”.

Campus-Wide        information        systems.     Vol.     22.        No.     5:10650741. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/insight/viewcontentsei^let?filename=PublishedVEmeraldfulltextarticle/articles/1650220504.htm

Dervin, B. & Nilan (1986). Information Needs and Users. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 22:3-33. Knowledge Industry Publication Inc. New York.

Eskola, A. (1998). From small group research to conversion analysis. In: Lahikainen A. R & Pirttila Backman, A.M (eds). Social Interaction, Helsinki: Otava.


FairerWessels (1990). Basic Community Information Needs of Urban Black Women in Mamelodi, Pretoria, South Africa. Retrieved on 25th August 2008 from www.caisacsi.ca/proceedings/1995/olson_1995.pdf

Gbaje, S.E. (2007). Implementing a National Virtual Library for Higher Institutions in Nigeria. Retrieved from on 03/04/2012.


Griffiths, J. R., &Brophy, P. (2002). Student Searching Behaviour in the JISC Information Environment. Ariadne, 33. Retrieved November 16, 2012, from http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue33/edner/.


Ikoja-Odongo, R. and Ochalla, D.N. (2004). Information Seeking Behaviour of the Informal Sector Entrepreneurs: The Uganda Experience. Libri 54, pp. 54-66.


Ikoja-Odongo, R. and Ochalla, D.N. (2004). Information Seeking Behaviour of Formal Sector Entrepreneurs. The Uganda Experience. Libri Vol. 54 pp 54-66.

Ingwersen, P. (2008). Information and Information Science in context. In J. Olaisen, E. MunchPetersen, P. Wilson (eds.). information Science. From the development of the discipline to social interaction. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press pp 69-111.


Kari, J. & Savolainen, R. (2001). Web Searching in the Context of Information Seeking in Everyday Life: The cases of civic and spiritual action. A Research Proposal. Retrieved from http://www.uta.fi/csiakar/karisavolainen.pdf.


Krikelas, J. (1983). Information Seeking Behaviour: Patterns and Concepts. Drexel Library Quarterly, 19, 5-20.


Kuhlthau, C. (2004). Seeking Meaning: a process approach to library and information services. London: Libraries Unlimited ISBN 1-59158-094-3

Kulthau, C.C. (1993). Seeking Meaning, a Process Approach to Library and Information Services. Norwood, N.J. Ablex, Publishing.


Majid, S., Aozova, A.F. (1999). ” Computer literacy and use of electronic sources by academics:a case study of international Islamic University of Malaysia, Asian libraries”. Vol. 8, No. 4.100-111.http://www.emeraldinsight.com/insight/viewcontentservlet? Filename=published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/Articles/l 730080401 .html.      accessed      (8th

December, 2011)


Marchionini, G.(1992); “Interfaces of End-User Information Seeking”, Journal of American Society for Information Science, 43 (2), p. 156-163, 1992.


Miculincer, M. (1997). Adult Attachment Style and Information Processing: Individual Differences in Curiosity and Cognitive Closure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 72, no.5: 1217-1230

Reitz, J.M. (2004). Dictionary of Library and Information Science and Technology. Boston: Academic.

Shuling, W. (2007). “Investigation and analysis of current use of electronic resources in University libraries”. Library Management. Vol, 28 No. 1 / 2 72-88. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/insight/viewcontentservlet?

Filename=published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/Articles/0150280107.html.     accessed     (13th January, 2012)

Swain, D.K, and Panda, K.C. (2009). “Use of electronic resources in business school libraries of an Indian: A study of librarians’ opinion”, The electronic library, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp 74-85.

Taylor, R.S. (1991). Information Use Environment.: In Brenda, Dervin & Melvin J. Voigt (Eds). Progress in Communication Sciences, Norwood, NJ: Ablex 10.


Wilson T. D. (1999). Models in Information Behaviour Research. Journal of Documentation, Page 249-270. Retrieved from http://www.information.neton 06/03/2012.

Wilson, T.D. (1997a). Information Beahviour. An Interdisciplinary Perspective. In P. Vakkari, R. Savolainen & B. Derkin (Eds). Information Seeking in Context of Proceedings of an International Conference on Research in Information Needs, Seeking and Use in Different Contexts 14-15, August, 1996. Tampere, Findland. London Taylor Graham.

Wilson, T.D. (1999). Models in Information Behaviour Research. Journal of Documentation (Electronic Version) 55,249-270.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like