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Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research






We conducted a qualitative research study examining the information seeking behaviours of Psychology, Sociology and Women’s Studies graduate students at a large research intensive university to determine how graduate students find information; the roles that faculty members, fellow graduate students and librarians play in the information search; and graduate students’ knowledge of information resources and services. The context of graduate student information seeking was uncovered through an analysis of the data using the trichotomy of people, place and information. Across the disciplines, Master’s students were more likely to ask for librarian assistance than PhD students. The interview findings will be used to improve librarian support to this user group via an instruction plan aimed at those graduate students most in need of librarian assistance: Master’s students. We recommend a series of several (e.g., approximately four to eight) strategically timed brief (e.g., ten-minute) sessions offered via a first-year mandatory research methods course. Sessions would introduce students to key resources, explain the role librarians can play in their research and advertise the office hours service. This enhanced librarian support will ensure that all new graduate students have a common information seeking knowledge base and that they understand the services offered by their liaison librarians. Most importantly, it places librarians in close proximity to graduate students providing opportunities to uncover and address their actual research needs. Future research will look at the effectiveness of this plan in supporting graduate students with their research.