Patterns of Information Sources Used by Graduate Students: a Citation Analysis of Master’s Thesis in Open Access in the Field of Studies in Nursing

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Aim: Accessibility of digital resources and tools has brought changes to scholarly communication and practice. This has caused an evident and rapid trend of developing various information behaviours by scholars. The main aim of this study was to ascertain the information patterns of graduate students from the Studies in Nursing archived in the institutional repository of University of Zagreb, School of Medicine based on the sources they used.Institutional repositories are established mainly to provide open access to information and institutional research output and to create global visibility for institutional scholarly research.

Methods: Based on the methodology of previous studies this study was based on citation analysis. Citation analysis is an activity involving the analysis of the citations or references,which forms a part of the primary scientific communication. Citation analysis of this kind can provide insights into research interests, resource needs, research behaviour, interdisciplinary,scholarly communication, and collection management in academic libraries. Used cautiously and in conjunction with other evaluation sources, it can contribute to a profile of the resources that students most commonly use. A total of 8678 citations consisting of 237 master’s theses from 2014 to 2017 were examined using citation analysis from the open access institutional repository of the School of Medicine. Questions were used to determine the graduate students’ information patterns: number of citations per thesis, age of distribution of the citations, type,language and format of reference.

Results and Discussion: The highest citation number per thesis was 259, with the lowest being 7. The average number of cited items per thesis was 36.92. The average number of references per thesis for 2017 was 44.56 % and 40.3 % for 2014. The results show that 60 % of all materials used by graduate students in this field are written in the English language and 39% of the materials are in Croatian. The study revealed that journals were the most preferred source of information used by the students in the field of nursing accounting for 56.21 % of total citations.Among the most popular cited journals are Croatian journals in Croatian. The ten most popular journals used are: Acta Medica Croatica, Medix, Liječnički vjesnik, Medicus, New England Journal of Medicine, Paediatria Croatica, Pediatrics, Sestrinski glasnik/Nursing Journal, British Medical Journal, Hrvatski časopis za javno zdravstvo. Out of the ten most popular journals used,seven are Croatian journals in open access. Approximately 41.2 % of all sources cited were published over 18 years ago, 34.4 % are in the 8-year range. Nursing students used journals familiar to them (e.g. Croatian journals) which are easily accessible and in open access. Although they have access to a wide range of high-quality health information resources through national licence, the nursing students tend to use resources based on accessibility (preferring OA) and awareness of the resource and its content, which correlates with previous studies. Out of all the information resources used in the sample, 43.1 % were in open access form, 31.9% were subscription based resources (e.g. journals), 24.5 % were in printed form (e.g.textbooks), and 0.6 % were oral presentations.

Conclusion: To conclude, the citation analysis proves to be useful because it enriches our understanding of academic research by providing a quantitative basis for describing and interpreting patterns of information use. Results show that students are familiar with using sources in English and are aware of the importance of different types of sources. The most used resources are in open access, and that highlights the positive features of open science, such as easy accessibility and a wider research impact. The analysis gives an insight into students citing practice and could be useful for librarians, students, as well as for educators and mentors in guiding their students. Librarians can use the results for adjustments to their collection development and acquisition policies, to plan institutional repository development and education of users.Key words: citation analysis, information sources, institutional repository, studies in nursing,School of Medicine Zagreb