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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Using Japanese sources for academic research : information-seeking behaviours of graduate students Hatanaka, Risa


Traditionally, library and information studies have found that people strategize their information seeking depending on their plans and situations. When it comes to locating Japanese information sources in English-speaking countries, previous studies found that barriers by geography, language, and culture influenced their strategies. However, less studied is how Japanese information sources are sought by graduate students, who have unique information-seeking behaviors compared to undergraduate students and faculty members. To fill the research gap, I investigated the intersections of Japanese-language sources, information-seeking strategies, and graduate students. I conducted semi-structured virtual interviews with eight graduate students at the University of British Columbia (UBC), five in the Department of Asian Studies and three in the Faculty of Education. The interviews were transcribed and coded using a directed content analysis approach. Participants’ self-report indicated that they strategize information seeking by interacting with information systems (e.g., a discovery tool), resources (e.g., library stacks) and people (e.g., peers and librarians) and shift different strategies. The selection of strategies and shifting were affected by their plans (e.g., search habits, information literacy, research stages) and situations (e.g., geography, culture, language, academics’ roles). Also, most participants used resources and strategies available within UBC community, such as UBC library collections and services and asking for help from supervisors, librarians, and peers. Participants also reported that time and budgetary constraints limited opportunities for travelling to Japanese library institutions. Disciplinary differences were also found. Education students, who did not have Japanese-speaking supervisors, did not rely on people at UBC, whereas Asian Studies students frequently mentioned help from their supervisors. These findings suggest that information professionals continue advocating for collection development, international interlibrary loans, digitization and open access. Partnership with faculty members would also help outreach the available library services for graduate students. Also, faculty and departments could provide travel grants for students to visit library institutions overseas, as participants’ time and budgetary constraints forced them to give up accessing physical copies that are only available at Japanese institutions. Future research is expected to explore graduate students in other disciplines and other languages, and employ different research method (e.g., research diaries).

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