Digital Reference Services for Engineers

Definition of an Engineer
Types of Information Sources
Accessibility / Ease of Use
Technical Quality
Stages of Information Seeking
The Reference Interview
Digital Reference
References (pdf)
Appendix (pdf)

Technical Quality

Gerstberger and Allen (1968) suggest that technical quality alone does not influence an engineer’s choice of a reference source. A first choice of source is influenced by a combination of accessibility and technical quality. However, once an engineer has been unable to find an answer through the more easily accessible, informal channels and has resorted to a formal source the principle of least effort no longer applies and the engineer will choose quality and relevance over accessibility (Anderson, Glassman, McAfee, & Pinelli, 2001).

For informal sources, like co-workers, technical quality is represented by credibility and authority. If an engineer trusts the authority of the person that is providing them with the information, they trust that the information received is accurate and reliable (Bruce, et al., 2003).