Search Archive

03-Jun-2008

Attitude towards profession of participants of an online discussion forum of Library and Information Science Professionals

Introduction:

Online discussion forums are one of earliest form of online communication among people with common interests. Many of these forums are meant for people associated with a profession. LIS-Forum (LIS-Forum, 2008) is such an email based discussion forum (list-serv) for Library and Information Science (LIS) Professionals. It has been there since 1995 (Rajashekar, 2002) and now has more than 4100 subscribers. This online forum is the most popular and oldest in India. It has wide spread subscription base among Library and Information Professionals from India. It also has decent subscribers from outside India. It would be matter of interest to know what these subscribers think of LIS profession. Why did they enter into this profession? Was it a pure chance, lack of alternatives or deliberate choice? What is their attitude towards the core philosophy of the profession? A brief survey was done on the subscribers in the month of April 2008 to get some insight on these issues. However, the basic objective of this survey was to demonstrate a feature of Google Docs’ online spreadsheet (Google Docs, 2008) that can be exploited to conduct online surveys.

Methodology:

An online questionnaire was created using Google Docs’ online spreadsheet (Singh, Conduct Research and Surveys Online: Design, Send and Get Results Directly in Spreadsheet Using Google Docs, 2008). Google Docs has a feature to create an online form and link back it to a spreadsheet on its server. The data entered through forms gets entered directly into this linked spreadsheet. The questionnaire can be sent directly through email to target survey participants. Most email clients and web based emails services can directly display the form in email of the recipients. The recipient can fill in the values and click on submit button. In case the form is not displayed properly, a link to the online form is always there for the recipient to visit and respond.

A very simple survey questionnaire (Singh, LIS Motivation Survey, 2008) was created. The objective was to collect only minimal but relevant information. No personal details were collected. Only four questions were asked. Three were close-ended questions where the respondents had to just click on options. The last question was open-ended asking comments from respondents. These questions were asked:

  • Your Age Group?

  • Your Occupation?

  • Why you choose LIS Profession?

  • Any comments?

The questionnaire was mailed to LIS-Forum. The LIS-Forum moderator approved the email containing the survey on 21st April 2008. The responses started pouring in from 11:01 A.M. First day saw most of the responses. On third day, the responses tampered to just three responses. However, responses kept pouring in even later. The last response that was included in the study is the 57th response received on 3rd May 2008.

Analysis:

  1. Age Groups:

The responses were grouped age-wise. Most responses (42%) were from respondents in the age group of 25 -30 years. This was followed (30%) by those in the age group of 31-35. Thus this relatively young age group of 25 to 35 years combined together formed 72% of responses.

Age Groups

Total

Above 60

1

Between 25 - 30

24

Between 31 - 35

17

Between 36 - 40

2

Between 41 - 45

4

Between 46 - 50

3

Between 51- 55

3

Between 56 - 60

1

Under 25

2

Grand Total

57

  1. Occupations:

Most respondents (65%) were employed in LIS domain. Apart from these 10% were employed in LIS domain as well research students. While 7% more were doing correspondence courses to improve their qualifications while in service. Thus 82% of the respondents were employed in LIS domain. Only one (2%) respondent was working in non-LIS domain.

Respondents’ Occupations

Total

Employed but LIS Student of Distant / Correspondence Course

4

Employed in LIS Domain

37

Employed in non-LIS Domain

1

Research Only

2

Research Only, Employed but LIS Student of Distant / Correspondence Course

1

Research, but Employed

6

Research, but Employed, Employed in LIS Domain

2

Retired

1

Student – MLIS

1

Student - MLIS, Employed in LIS Domain

1

Student - MLIS, Research, but Employed

1

Grand Total

57

  1. Reason for Joining Library and Information Science (LIS) Profession:

Interestingly, almost half (46%) of the persons said they loved the philosophy of LIS profession. Twenty percent of the people said that they joined the profession because jobs were / are easily available. About same number (23%) of people said that they did not care to know much it before joining.

Reason for choosing LIS Profession

Total

I had to do something, What is your problem?

2

I loved the philosophy of the profession

26

I was employed in another field, studied LIS during job and now I am well off.

1

Jobs are / were easily available in LIS

11

Just joined it without caring what it is all about

13

Nothing better was available to me

1

Wanted to spend some more time at university

2



Grand Total

56

Breaking down responses by two major age groups (25-30 and 31-35) revealed an interesting fact. In 25-30 age group, 9 out of 24 (37.5%) respondents said that they did not care what the profession was all about while joining it. However, in the age group of 31-35, only 1 out of 16 (6.25%) said so. This gives an indication that people tend to love core philosophy of the profession with passage of time.

  1. Respondents’ General Comments:

There was an open ended question asking comments of the respondents. Most of the people wanted to know the results of this survey. Some were with very positive comments towards the profession. At the same time, few were very critical about joining the profession. One person even thought to the extent that juniors are being exploited by their senior professionals.

Limitation of study:

The questionnaire had a very poor response. It would be risky to draw major conclusions from this study. This study can only reflect the views of active LIS-Forum subscribers who opted to respond.

Conclusion:

Though the response rate was poor, but still the study does tell about the attitude of active participants of the LIS-Forum who decided to respond promptly. Majority of the responses came within 48 hours. The methodology of the survey, that is using Google Docs, hence has been tested. This methodology works and thus can be used for online surveys. This study also showed that relatively young people from the age group of 25 to 35 years are active on online forum for LIS professionals. This active population either has positive attitude towards the philosophy of profession or consider LIS as a career. Moreover, their commitment and love towards the professional philosophy increases with time. Further studies on this issue are required. The spreadsheet containing the survey responses is being shared as open data to help future similar studies (LIS motivation survey: spreadsheet with survey responses, 2008). To maintain privacy, the comments field has been deleted from this spreadsheet.

References

Google Docs. (2008). Retrieved June 3, 2008, from http://docs.google.com/

LIS motivation survey: spreadsheet with survey responses. (2008, June 3). Retrieved June 3, 2008, from http://snipr.com/2bvu5

LIS-Forum. (2008). Retrieved June 3, 2008, from LIS-Forum: Discussion Forum for Library and Information Professionals in India: http://ncsi.iisc.ernet.in/mailman/listinfo/lis-forum

Rajashekar, T. (2002, Oct 1). LIS-Forum: A brief history. Retrieved June 1, 2008, from http://snipr.com/lishistory

Singh, S. (2008, April 25). Conduct Research and Surveys Online: Design, Send and Get Results Directly in Spreadsheet Using Google Docs. Retrieved June 1, 2008, from http://snipr.com/gdsurvey

Singh, S. (2008, April 19). LIS Motivation Survey. Retrieved June 1, 2008, from http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?key=p4GBbR26ZPytvtls2v-qhBw

4 comments:

Robin Ashford said...

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing.

vyasa said...

About 8 years ago the number of subscribers to Lis-forum was 800. A response of 57 is very good. If you had circulated the questionnaire among other lists like Emala, Iaslic Iatlis corp_librns (sp?) etc the response may have been slightly better. There are alumni lists like those of NCSI, Mysore Univ Dept Lib Sc, St Josephs Trichy etc.

Results are very interesting.
COngrats. Now Google Spreadsheets are lot better and more reliable.

Vyasamoorthy

Lata said...

Thanks for sharing the report.

Lata Suresh
Manager, Lib & Doc Centre
IIHMR, Jaipur

PUSHPENDRA SINGH said...

Thanks for sharing the Report.



Pushpendra Singh
Librarian
NIMS University,
Jaipur