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Evaluation of the EI reference desk : a multifunction workstation

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posted on 02.04.2014, 13:21 by Sandra P. Price
This thesis describes an investigation undertaken at Loughborough University of Technology in conjunction with the British Library Document Supply Centre. The overall aim of this research was to investigate and evaluate the operation and use of the Ei Reference Desk, an integrated engineering information workstation developed by Engineering Information Inc.. In addition to adding to the basic knowledge on systems for information retrieval and dissemination, improvements to the Ei Reference Desk and related systems were also identified. The research comprised: production of instructional documentation for the workstation; literature review; testing the workstation using evaluative research in the form of questionnaires; comparison studies; and statistical analysis of results using SPSS-X. The literature review concentrated on the following: Engineering Information Inc., workstations, document delivery, telecommunications, and end-user searching. Two questionnaires were designed: the first questionnaire was for test group members using the full workstation facilities over a five month test period; and the second questionnaire was for general library users using the workstation on an ad hoc basis throughout the year. The main objectives of the comparison studies were to compare the printed and electronic sources available to the researcher, and highlight some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with the various retrieval methods. A comparison was also made between the search results retrieved by both the intermediary/librarian and the researcher/end-user. The conclusions and recommendations draw together the main findings of the research, and have been presented to reflect the: optimal operation for different user groups and functions; impact upon the end-users and institution; value for managing information; suitability and clarity of the user interface; technical robustness and flexibility; and effectiveness of the document delivery options. Overall, the Ei Reference Desk provided end-users with valuable access to engineering literature. Recommendations for future development work include: improved integration of modules and user interfaces; access to other software packages; an easy to use and reliable order module; ability to link into existing document supply services and communication networks; further developments in electronic document delivery; and the integration of on-site library holding records.



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  • Information Science


© Sandra P. Price

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A Master's Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy of Loughborough University.



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