Google vs. the Library (Part II): Student Search Patterns and Behaviors when Using Google and a Federated Search Tool
Abstract

This study examines the information-seeking behavior of undergraduate students within a research context. Student searches were recorded while the participants used Google and a library (federated) search tool to find sources (one book, two articles, and one other source of their choosing) for a selected topic. The undergraduates in this study believed themselves to be skilled researchers, but their search queries and behaviors did not support this belief. Students did not examine their topics to identify keywords and related terms. They relied heavily on the language presented to them via the list of research topics and performed natural language or simple keyword or phrase queries. They did not reformulate or refine their research questions or search queries, did not move beyond the first page of results, and did not examine metadata to improve searches. When using Google, students frequently visited commercial sites such as Amazon; content farms such as About.com; and subscription databases such as JSTOR. This study concludes by offering suggestions for search interface improvement and pedagogical opportunities on which librarians may wish to focus or refocus. This article is the second in a series that examines student use of Google and a library (federated) search tool.


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