Sharman, Alison (2017) Using ethnographic research techniques to find out the story behind international student library usage in the Library Impact Data Project. Library Management, 38 (1). pp. 2-10. ISSN 0143-5124

Purpose – Phase two of the JISC funded Library Impact Data Project (LIDP) identified low library usage amongst Chinese students in comparison to their UK peers. Further research was needed to help the authors delve deeper and find out the story behind the data. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire was distributed to all international students in the
Business School to learn about their information retrieval behaviours. The response was high but the survey was deliberately designed to only produce quantitative data, and the paper highlights the limitations of this data. More research using qualitative ethnography research techniques was needed to gather qualitative data
to create a broader picture of student practice. Methods utilised included the retrospective process interview and cognitive mapping (both used by Andrew Asher in the ERIAL project). Questions from the survey were sometimes used as prompts in the qualitative process.
Findings – The data are still to be coded and analysed but one of the main findings is that students are unaware of the research help that they can get from their academic library. Ethnographic research methods gave more inroads into finding the story behind the LIDP than quantitative research methods.
Originality/value – Ethnographic research in libraries is still in its early days in the UK. It could help those library professionals who are hoping to practice similar research methods.

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