Digital Reference Services for Social Scientists

Lisa Watson

SLIS Capping Exercise

March 15, 2004


Introduction

The Social Sciences

How Social Scientists Seek and Retrieve Information

Improving Electronic Reference Services for Social Scientists

Conclusion

Works Cited

When seeking and retrieving information, different groups exhibit different patterns of behaviour. In order to provide the best possible digital reference services for a particular group, these patterns must be understood. In the case of social scientists, understanding information-seeking behaviour is complicated by the amorphous nature of the group. Social scientists rely upon a wide range of information sources, and increasingly use electronic sources. They frequently suffer from information overload, which may lead to a paradoxical information need the need for less, or at least more specific, information. These patterns must be considered when determining the resources, technology, and staffing of an electronic reference service.