Main outcomes survey Erasmus students and PHD-candidates

‘We are happy to report that we have had a total survey response of +/- 2500 completed surveys, of which just over 2000 from of Erasmus University students. On this page we will present the basic outcomes of the survey. We will also conduct a more thorough analysis of the survey results by looking at specific groups, levels and trends. This analysis, combined with in-depth interviews and observations will be the foundation of our research, and shall be discussed in future publication(s).

For a better view of the charts, please click on the thumbnail for a full-scale view.   

1. Which faculty are you associated with?

The majority of the students and PHD-candidates that filled out the survey represented our two largest faculties: RSM (Rotterdam School of Management) and ESE (Erasmus School of Economics), followed closely by the Erasmus MC. But the smaller faculties were also well represented, giving us a nice, overall representation of the EUR student body.

which faculty erasmus university

2. What is your current level of education/research?

Our MA students were the most committed to our research (40% of the total response). The rest of the response consisted mostly of BA1, BA2 and BA3 students (together over 50%). The remainder consisted of PHD-candidates, pre-masters and executive masters. 

level of education/research

3. Which of the following search engines and collections do you regularly use in everyday life and/or for academic purposes?

We divided the search engines and collections in 4 categories: general search engines, academic search engines, databases & institutional collections and audio/visual search engines / databases. As we expected, Google strongly dominated the first, second and fourth category with Google, Google Scholar, Google Images and Youtube. The products that had no competition from Google, such as library collections, databases and institutional collections fared considerably well with respectable scores. In the field of audiovisual media, the academic collections (Academis, Arkyves) were very little used. Since the Google products are used often in the private lives as well, this might be an explanation - people already know and use it.

search engines for acedemic purposes
academic search engines
academic search engines
academic search engines

4. Of the search engines and searchable collections you DO use for academic purposes, could you indicate what factors contribute to your trust in them? Rank from  1 (first choice) to 7 (last choice)

In the diagram, we took the mean values. This means that the factors with the lowest score are considered the most important trust factors.

We can see that the recommendation of peers is very important, whereas the inner workings of a search tool and internet recommendations are considered of less value.

factors contribute to trust in search engines and searchable collections

5. Of the search engines and searchable collections you DO NOT use for academic purposes, could you indicate what in general are your reasons for not using these?

The results of this survey question are quite straightforward. Reasons for not using a search engine are either because people don't know it or because they don't need it. The inner workings of a search tool are, again, not really much of a consideration for our respondents.

reasons not to use academic search engines

6. When searching for information, how often do you use......

In this part of the survey we asked about the use of various search techniques or -tools. The results speak for themselves. Keywords are basically used by everyone. Filters, advanced search options and related terms are also used quite regularly, but after this, the techniques become more obscure and less used.

When searching for information, how often do you use......

7. How do you find relevant academic information online?

This response confirms the previous question: keyword searches, either in search engines or in databases, are usually the way to go. Relying on suggestions from either bibliographies or peers / seniors is the much used alternative to keyword searches.

How do you find relevant academic information online?

8. To what extent do the following statements apply to you? I am confident that I will be able…

We asked the respondents how well they judged themselves when it came to their search skills. The students appeared to be quite confident, except for the more advanced search functions, such as boolean operators, and learning new functionalities in general. 

To what extent do the following statements apply to you?

9. To what extent do the following statements apply to you?

Another question about the way students judge their own results and techniques. One striking result: a lot of students admitted that they were aware that there were probably better ways to find academic information. This contrasts with the results of the previous question, in which they were quite content with their capabilities. Maybe they assume that the superior ways of searching will not make that much of a change?

To what extent do the following statements apply to you?

10. If the academic information you find with your search is not exactly what you were looking for, what do you do? Rank from 1 (first choice) to 6 (last choice)

In the diagram, we took the mean values. This means that the choices with the lowest score are considered the most important ones. It is clear that students prefer adjusting their own actions or searching for themselves (using Google) for better methods, before turning to respectively peers, seniors, lecturers or library experts. 

rank finding academic information

11. At present, do you have a need for support in searching academic information?

12. Have you ever had some kind of support/training in searching academic information? If yes, when did this take place?

This pretty much speaks for itself.

a need for support in searching academic information
support/training in searching academic information

13. What was the nature of the training/support you received?

Most of the students who have received support in developing their search skills followed a practical introduction, workshop or training, either organized by their faculty or by the library. A very small part of the respondents actually searched for information by themselves (personal training, online course or manual)

What was the nature of the training/support you received?

14. With regard to the search training/support you received, please indicate per statement to what extent it applies to you. As a result of the training/support.....

The response to the received support / training was generally positive, especially with regard to searching for academic information. A little over half of them have admitted that it has changed the way they search.

what applies with regard to the search training/support

15. If you would need support/help in improving your academic information search skills, what would you do? Please rank the options, with 1 being the most likely option and 6 being the most unlikely.

In the diagram, we took the mean values. This means that the options with the lowest score are considered the most popular choices. The answer to this question strongly resembles the response to question 10 - students prefer to operate from their 'inner circle' to the outside.

need support/help in improving your academic information search skills

16. With regard to support in searching and finding academic information, would you assign a role to the University Library?

Pretty clear answer. But, since question 11 made clear that students have no particular need for support in searching anyway, does it imply that students have no need at all, or no need from the library?

would you assign a role to the University Library