Use of electronic databases by postgraduate students in the Faculty of Science and Agriculture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of electronic databases by postgraduate students in the Faculty of Science and Agriculture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, with a view to proposing a set of recommendations based on the findings that would contribute to a more effective use of these databases. The study focussed on the use students made of electronic databases provided by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg Library and any other electronic databases which provided information and were needed for their studies. The study population consisted of 500 registered postgraduate students. The survey instrument used to elicit data was a self-administered questionnaire that was distributed to a sample population of 100 postgraduate students. The questionnaire sought to establish if postgraduate students used electronic databases, which electronic databases postgraduate students used and the reasons for their choice, to identify problems postgraduate students encountered, how students became aware of the databases and how often they used the available databases. A total of 65 postgraduate students responded, a response rate of 65%. The results were analysed in terms of frequency responses and they are graphically displayed in the form of tables and graphs. The study found that postgraduate students did use the electronic databases, but a few of the databases were not used. A number of problems were experienced when using the databases. Students became aware of the availability of electronic databases from a variety of sources such as friends, library orientation programmes and academic staff. Search engines were identified as a resource that was very popular with almost all the students. There was a need for training on use of the databases and a need for improving access for all campus and off-campus users. Recommendations for action and further research, based on the conclusions of the study, are made.
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