Conception and understanding of PhD Students from Information Seeking and Retrieval Experience in Their Research Process: A Phenomenographic Study

Authors

Abstract

The process of information seeking and retrieval is a very complex cognitive process. One of the important approaches to exploring and understanding this process is to examine the user’s experiences. The purpose of this study was to concept and understand the Ph.D. students’ experience of the phenomenon of information seeking and retrieval in their research process.

The approach of this study was interpretative that was carried out through qualitative phenomenographical research method. The participants in this study were Ph.D. students in different fields at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad in 2019. Sampling was purposeful, criterion and snowball. The maximum diversity was considered in the sample selection and was continued to the theoretical saturation of data. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 students. Interviews were implemented and analyzed through an inductive and theoretical coding method using MAQDA12 software.

The results showed that after analyzing the data gathered from the interviews, six descriptive categories emerged about how Ph.D. students perceived and experienced the information seeking and retrieval phenomenon. Six categories were information seeking and retrieval as an endless sea, a valuable treasure, a road full of lights, the key to rescuing, eating the desired fruit, and a bridge to reach knowledge. The results showed that the Ph.D. students described the information seeking and retrieval in their research process as important and necessary and that their main problem was learning and teaching which made them feel unpleasant.
Although this qualitative study does not aim to generalize the findings, however, according to the findings of the present research at the outcome space, this type of students’ perception and description of information seeking and retrieval phenomena at the highest academic degree is an alarm for the higher education system and should be taken seriously into consideration.

Keywords


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