UCL News


How will the researcher of the future behave?

2 May 2007

The UCL Centre for Information Behaviour & the Evaluation of Research (CIBER) is carrying a study for the British Library to investigate how the 'Google generation' searches for information and the implications for the country's major research collections.

"The question we are seeking to solve is whether today's young people, who have grown up in an immersive IT environment with broadband on tap, seek out information in radically different ways from previous generations, and whether they will therefore bring a different set of research behaviours to the British Library," explains Dr Ian Rowlands of CIBER.

The research project, which the British Library has commissioned with the Joint Information Systems Committee, will take place over the next six months and will inform the British Library's strategic planning to 2017.

The project will consist of three main activities. The CIBER team will examine library and information science literature published over the past 30 years, including a twenty-year long survey into the research behaviour of academics as they get older.

Secondly, they will use analyse web logs of two British Library online services to ascertain whether people of a variety of ages interact with them differently.

Finally, a panel of industrial and technology experts will help assess the strategic implications of the findings from the first two research activities. The panel, which will include Richard Withey (global director of interactive media for Independent News & Media), will bring their knowledge of the evolution of the information environment over the past ten years to develop a radical set of scenarios that might emerge over the next decade. They will consider, for example, whether the British Library could use social networking technology to harness the knowledge of scholars who regularly research there to inform the Library's own staff.

The project will finish in October 2007, and findings will be reported publicly.

The search habits of the Google generation will also be discussed when Jens Redmer, responsible for Google Book Search, speaks at UCL this week as part of the School of Library, Archive, and Information Studies' 21st century curation series. He will share the stage with Mike Buschman of Microsoft, who will describe the corporation's library digitisation project. The free lecture will take place on Wednesday 2 May, 6-7.15 at the Chadwick Lecture Theatre, and will be followed by a reception.

To find out more, follow the links at the bottom of this article.