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This research shows how much users value convenience and quick access. That will probably not surprise you, but it should help inform choices for libraries. The choices libraries make will increase their value to users or drive users away.
- Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, Timothy J. Dickey, and Marie L. Radford. 2011. ‘If It Is Too Inconvenient, I’m Not Going After it:’ Convenience as a Critical Factor in Information-Seeking Behaviors. Library and Information Science Research, 33: 179-190. Pre-print available online at: http://www.oclc.org/research/publications/library/2011/connaway-lisr.pdf (.pdf: 275K/46 pp.).
It can be argued that in the not-too-distant past, resources were scarce, and libraries were one of the only sources of trustworthy information. Users were obliged to conform to library practices and standards in order to successfully meet their information needs. Now, users’ time and attention are scarce, while resources are abundant with the development of the Internet and Web-based services (blogs, chat, social media sites, etc.) and easily accessed, digitized content. This article provides an overview of findings from two multi-year grant-funded projects. These projects address the questions: “Why do people choose one information source instead of another?” and “What factors contribute to their selection of information sources?” Specifically, the emergence of the concept of convenience as a critical factor in information-seeking choices among a variety of different types of people, across a period of several years, and in a variety of contexts, is explored.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced the online availability of over 5.2 million records of passengers who arrived at the ports of Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia in the 19th century. These records were transcribed from original ship manifests into databases by Temple University’s Center for Immigration Research and donated to NARA.
Intrigued, I went to NARA’s Access to Archival Databases (AAD) and searched “Records for Passengers Who Arrived at the Port of New York During the Irish Famine” between 1846-1851 (over 607,800 records!), and I found several of my Troy clan ancestors that arrived in 1851. I’ll have to compare the names with the extensive family tree that my grandfather made. If he was alive today, he’d be searching this database for hours!
Other record sets include: Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Germans to the United States, 1850-1897; Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Italians to the United States, 1855-1900; and Data Files Relating to the Immigration of Russians to the United States, 1834-1897.
Since its inception in 2005, we at Free Government Information have envisioned this group conducting and promoting research of various types into government information. This page is dedicated to that goal.
This page is divided into two sections: 1) The research that the FGI volunteers themselves are conducting or have completed and 2) Ideas that we do not currently have the resources to carry out but which we hope will inspire others.
Current and past FGI conducted projects
- EPA Document Tagging Project (started 1/18/2008) – Can document users and others improve the findability of government documents and add value via del.icio.us? Join us in finding out! We are planning to compile results on this project in early May 2008.
Ideas for Research
These are for anybody, but especially for LIS students looking to improve knowledge in the field of government information. If you know of a project that already covers an idea below, please let us know!
- Calculate the storage space for a year’s worth of FDLP documents
- Analyze agency robot.txt files to see which agencies exclude search engines from all or part of their web sites.
- Estimate the percentage of an agency’s PDF files that have keyword and description metadata.
- Estimate amount of agency documents in older formats (wordperfect, etc)
- Survey non-internet users on how (or whether) they access government information.
If you’ve got other government information research oriented ideas, please send them our way, either in comments or by e-mail admin AT freegovinfo DOT info.
The General Accountability Office was recently asked to look into whether federal scientists were being muzzled into media silence. They produced the report:
Here is the abstract for your consideration (emphasis mine):
Researchers at federal agencies disseminate their research results through a variety of approaches, including scientific publications, presentations, press releases, and media interviews. Because of recent concerns about some federal researchers possibly being restricted from disseminating their research on controversial topics, GAO determined (1) the policies that guide the dissemination of federal research at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); (2) how effectively these agencies have communicated their policies to researchers; and (3) the extent to which researchers have been restricted in disseminating their research. GAO conducted a survey of 1,811 researchers randomly selected at the three agencies, and had a 66 percent response rate.
Most of the NASA, NIST, and NOAA policies that guide the dissemination of federally funded research generally facilitate the dissemination process, but some do not. GAO found that overall NASA’s policies, including its recently revised media policy, are clear and should help facilitate dissemination regardless of the dissemination approach used. At NIST and NOAA, GAO found that the agencies’ policies for dissemination through publications and presentations were generally clear and should facilitate dissemination; but their policies for disseminating research through media interviews and press releases may hinder it. For example, because both NIST and NOAA are part of Commerce, researchers at these agencies must comply with department-level policies to disseminate their research results through media interviews or press releases, but Commerce’s policies are outdated and can prevent researchers from meeting media schedules. Moreover, requests by NOAA researchers to share their research via media interviews and press releases may be further hampered because these researchers must also comply with their own agency’s media interview and press release policies in addition to the Department of Commerce’s. NOAA officials told GAO that because its media interview and press release policies lack clarity, they have been inconsistently interpreted by NOAA public affairs officials. According to GAO’s survey, NASA, NIST, and NOAA have made efforts to communicate their dissemination policies to their research staff, but many researchers are not confident that they know how to comply with some of the policies. The agencies have communicated their dissemination policies through staff meetings, on agency Web sites, and in limited formal training. While 90 percent of researchers are confident that they understand the policies for publications, only about 65 percent are confident they understand their agency’s media interview and press release policies well enough to comply with them. Similarly, almost half of the researchers across the agencies are unsure whether their agency’s policy allows them to discuss their personal views on the policy implications of their research. Finally, only 25 percent of researchers across the agencies are aware of a process to follow to appeal denials of requests to disseminate their research. On the basis of responses to GAO’s survey, 6 percent–or about 200 researchers–across NASA, NIST, and NOAA had dissemination requests denied during the last 5 years. One of the most common reasons researchers mentioned for these denials was that the topic of the research was sensitive or restricted for security reasons; in some cases, no reason was given. Most researchers at these agencies believe that their agency is more supportive of dissemination of research through publications and presentations, than dissemination through the media. Most NIST and NOAA researchers believe that their agency consistently applies the dissemination policies for each route of dissemination, while more researchers at NASA believe the agency consistently applies its policies for publications than believe the agency consistently applies its policies for press releases and interviews.
The full report is available at the link above.