BIBLIOMETRIC ANALYSIS OF POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH REPORTS IN LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES
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Background to the Study
Research is a systematic observation of events or reality in order to determine the validity of an idea. According to Best and Kahn (1998:228) “research is the systematic and objective analysis and recording of controlled observation that may lead to the development of generalizations, principles, theories resulting in predication and ultimate control of many events that may be consequences or causes of specific activities”. Hence, the ultimate aim of any research is to increase knowledge of the subject and to use the results of the research to improve on the existing situation or to seek solutions to problems. Ivowi (1999) lists three uses of research: research leads to further studies and knowledge, serves as a powerful tool for solving problems through better understanding of a given situation, and normally leads to development and then actual production of goods or services for societal improvement.
Research, particularly in the sciences and social sciences, is considered to be a formal, systematic and intensive process of applying the scientific method of analysis. Research can be of various types: applied, historical, empirical, state of the art review, basic, descriptive and theoretical. The major reason for any type of research is to discover, reinforce or refine knowledge and ultimately develop new knowledge. The new knowledge is valuable because it will lead eventually to the improvement of the whole system. Research develops and broadens the mind of the researcher, especially in higher degrees, and the researcher in turn makes available his discovery or new knowledge. Stressing the importance of higher degrees, Whyte in Afolabi (1997:94) pointed out that one reason why universities offer higher degrees in any subject is to advance knowledge in that subject. She also stressed that “through the study and discipline necessary to complete a piece of research successfully (be it historical or empirical research) the student contributes directly to the total body of knowledge, and also learns to write and investigate”. The student may decide to spend the rest of his life working on the subject, but even if he does not, should be able to understand and interpret the research of others and should appreciate its importance. Another reason for higher degrees is to produce academic staff that are capable of teaching and research at an advanced level. For instance the holder of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree has in fact completed a piece of research ,
Research is accompanied by a written account of the research procedure, an outcome known as research reports. In academics, at higher degrees, a research report is a document that presents the author’s research findings and is submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification. It is an original work that addresses a problem and sometimes offers a solution to that problem. It is the main idea of one’s research and is normally the culmination of a candidate’s research; submission of the research report represents the completion of the final requirement for the postgraduate degree being pursued. The research reports for the purpose of this study include thesis, dijssertation and project. Websters English Dictionary (2005) defined thesis, dissertation and project as follows: A thesis is a proposition, a reasoned argument, which involves a comprehensive research on a theme connected with the speciality of a candidate for any of certain academic degrees. A dissertation is a formal discourse, written or spoken, a treatise, especially an original piece of research together wih course work where research predominates over coure work and constitutes not less than two-third of the toal credit load. A project is a course of action intended or considered possible, a systematic planned undertaking together with course work where course work predominates over research and constitutes not less than two-third of the total credit load. There are some differences existing between the three ie. thesis, dissertation and project. The name given to each of them depends on the proportion of research work to course work. A thesis is a comprehensive research work without coursework while dissertation entails one-third coursework and two-third research work and finally project involves two-third coursework and one-third research work. In Nigeria theses and dissertations are written at doctorate degree level while projects are written at masters’ degree level.
A thesis or dissertation should be a contribution to the body of knowledge in a subject. Afolabi (1997) observed that it might be read and cited for purposes of teaching, learning and research. It should represent a university’s contribution to the advancement of knowledge. The more research reports a university has produced, the more influence it may have on the advancement of knowledge and greater influence it has in the subject field. Afolabi also noted that some dimensions of influence exist based on the ideas of Hollander and Willis. First, a thesis may be read by others and the ideas expressed in it accepted. Second, a thesis may be read by others, but the ideas expressed in it rejected because of poor research design, wrong choice of statistical method, or wrong interpretation of findings. Third, a thesis may be read by others and the ideas in it modified to advance knowledge.
Researches carried out at postgraduate level have much to offer to the development of the society. Most postgraduate research reports are not mere partial fulfilment for degree awards but are aimed at providing answers to questions envisaged in our society. Postgraduate research reports are reflections of areas of interest of researchers in a field of study. Researchers are being supervised and guided by academic staff members who are themselves familiar with the research methodology and the area chosen by the students for research. Therefore the research reports also reflect the intellectual base of the discipline and extent of research coverage of the course content in the field. Since a research report (project, thesis or dissertation) is one major requirement for fulfilling postgraduate degree requirements, there is need to analyze these research reports in order to determine the extent of research coverage in Library and Information Science using bibliometrics techniques.
Bibliometrics is the application of mathematics and statistical methods to recorded sources of information to determine extent of research coverage, to demonstrate historical movements, to improve scientific documentation and to understand the mechanism of scientific research. Bibliometrics is also a type of research method used in Library and Information Science. It utilizes quantitative analysis and statistics to describe patterns of publication within a given field or body of literature. Researchers may use bibliometric methods of evaluation to determine the influence of research in a given field. The goal of Bibliometrics is to contribute to the analysis and the evaluation of research by shedding light on the processes of research, and of the nature and course of development by means of counting and analyzing the various aspects of the research works. Bibliometrics can provide tools for ranking publications according to importance or quantitative output, identifying core literature, measuring the impact of publications, studying subject inter-relationship, investigating the structure of knowledge and improving bibliographic control of documents, documenting the publication performance of people and institutions, ascertaining retrospective bibliographies, to study patterns of research and also used in quantitative research assessment of academic output.
Bibliometrics has become a standard tool of science policy and research management in the last decades. Osareh (1996) quoting Braun, Soper, Nicholas and Ritche noted that the aim of bibliometrics is to measure national research performance in the international context or to describe the development of a science field with the help of bibliometric means. Bibliometrics is one of the rare truly interdisciplinary research fields to extend to almost all scientific fields. Bibliometric studies could be grouped into two broad areas: productivity analysis and citation analysis. The productivity analysis strives to determine the core of these bibliometric constructs: geographical location (country or city), time period and the subject. Citation analysis analyzes the citation patterns and measures citations, references in order to establish authorship pattern and preferred literature. Bibliometrics employs bibliomterics techniques to analyze quantitative data.
The field of Library and Information Science relatively a new field of study in the country, needs to be studied in order to shed light on the pattern, nature and development of research. Aina and Mooko (1999) noted that convenient adaptation like pattern of research development and tools to determine resources and services relevant to the field needs to be done constantly to ensure that the profession is relevant to its immediate environment. They also observed that understanding the pattern of research and extent of research coverage is crucial for information professionals in this area,since the profession itself was imported wholesale from Western Europe.There is a great need for analyzing research outputs in library and information science in order to have insight into the state of the discipline, its strengths and weakness as well as charting future direction. “American Library Association (ALA) Policy paper on library education and manpower (2004), recognizing the importance of library research analysis, stated that understanding the pattern of research and extent of research coverage has an important role to play in the educational process as a source of new knowledge both for the field of librarianship in general and for library education in particular.”
Line (1991) observed that because of the pressure for increased efficiency and effectiveness in the application of limited resources, the role of research is assuming greater significance in the management of libraries, both in investigations that precede policymaking, and in evaluation of current activities. The teaching of research methodoloies is therefore assuming greater importance. At the same time, greater emphasis is being placed on understanding the pattern of research and extent of research coverage in order to develope new skills for the users of libraries to research information needed for their education and personal development or to support strategic decisions on public policy issues or business development. Postgraduate research work provides a forum for training researchers to adapt to changes in the field of research in various fields of knowledge. Cline (1981) observed that bibliometric techniques could certainly be applied to the research reports collections in academic libraries in order to identify changes that had occurred through the years. It is, therefore, against this background that this study examines postgraduate research reports output in Library and Information Science in Nigeria to determine the extent of research coverage, the core geographical areas and subjects researched, the least researched geographical areas and subjects, ranking of research reports of the individual university based on the number produced and finally compiles retrospective bibliography of research reports in Library and Information Science. This will help to determine the pattern of research and also to direct future researches in this academic discipline.
Statement of Problem
Researchers (Best and Kahn 1998, Ivowi 1999) have described research as a driving force for development and basic structures needed for improvement and change. Research results contribute to the body of existing knowledge and enable researchers to discover new ideas. There is need for an analytical study of the research reports in Library and Information Science in Nigerian universities to determine the extent of research coverage and patterns of research output in the discipline as this will showcase the nature, the trend, the characteristics of research in this discipline, thereby assessing research performance in order to direct better future researches.
A search of the literature shows that few works have been done on the bibliometric analysis of postgraduate research reportss output in Library and Information Science in Nigerian universities. The scope of the previous related studies differed significantly from the scope of the present study. Nweke (1985) covered the period of 1973 – 1982 and the study was based solely on the University of Ibadan. Mommoh (1996) carried out a bibliometric study on postgraduate theses in Library and Information Science at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from 1977 to 1992. Igbashal (1994) examined the theses output on Nigeria in Library and Information Science form 1963-1992. The study covered four Nigerian universities, University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Bayero University, Kano and Abia State University, the only universities offering Library and Information Science at postgraduate level then. Using the same universities, Afolabi (1997) examined theses output for a twenty year period from 1972 when the first thesis was produced in Nigeria, to 1992. This later study examined the theses output from the point of view of their influence on research in Nigeria. The most recent study analyzed data up to 1992. As at then, some library schools were at their infancy stage while some have not started postgraduate programmes at all and have not produced any postgraduate research report.
The lack of bibliometric analysis of postgraduate research reports in Library and Information Science in Nigerian universities for fourteen years in the opinion of the researcher suggests that: there is need to update our knowledge on bibliometric pattern of these research reports in order to shed light on the processes, nature and their course of development by means of counting and analyzing the various bibliometric constructs that is distribution, type of library, geographical areas and subject areas covered in the research reports in order to forestall excessive repetition of some areas. There is no current data on which universities are producing projects, theses and dissertations; there is insufficient knowledge of research areas studied in these universities and those areas that are consistently unresearched in order to ensure a better comprehensive coverage of the bibliometric constructs; and there is no current bibliographic control mechanism to provide current bibliography on research reports in Library and Information Science. This study provides the data that facilitate effective bibliographic control. There is therefore a gap in our knowledge that needs to be filled. The gap is to determine the difference among Nigerian universities with regards to postgraduate research reports output by type of libraries, geo-political zones, topical areas and individual universities. This gap is to be filled through the analysis of research reports produced in Nigerian universities in the field of Library and Information Science.
Purpose of the Study
This study is aimed at analyzing the research reports produced in Library and Information Science at the postgraduate level in Nigerian Universities using bibliometric techniques to determine the pattern of research in terms of distribution, type of library, geographical areas and subject areas studied and also determine core geographical and subject areas.
Specifically, the objectives of the study are:
- To determine the annual distribution of postgraduate research reports in Library and Information Science in Nigeria from 1993 to 2006 in terms of quantity produced.
- To determine the distribution of postgraduate research reports in Library and Information Science in Nigerian Universities from 1993 to 2006.
- To determine the difference in the masters’ research reports produced in Nigerian Universities from 1993 to 2006 by individual university in terms of quantity produced.
- To determine the difference in the doctoral research reports produced in Nigerian Universities from 1993 to 2006 by individual university in terms of quantity produced.
- To determine the difference in the number of masters’ and doctoral research reports produced in Nigerian Universities from 1993 to 2006 by geographical areas in order to determine core geographical areas.
- To determine the difference in the number of masters’ and doctoral research reports produced in Nigerian Universities from 1993 to 2006 by type of library.
- To determine the difference in the number of masters’ and doctoral research reports produced in Nigerian Universities from 1993 to 2006 by subjects in order to determine core subject areas.
To adequately conduct this study the following questions have been raised to guide the study.
- What is the annual distribution of postgraduate research reports in Library and Information Science in Nigeria from 1993 to 2006?
- What is the distribution of postgraduate research reports in Library and Information Science in Nigeria from 1993 to 2006 by individual university?
- What is the difference in masters’ research reports output of individual Nigerian University from 1993 to 2006?
- What is the difference in doctoral research reports output of individual Nigerian University from 1993 to 2006?
- What is the difference in masters’ and doctoral research reports output in Nigerian universities from 1993 to 2006 based on geographical areas?.
- What is the difference in masters’ and doctoral research reports output from 1993 to 2006 on type of library in Nigerian Universities?
- What is the difference in masters’ and doctoral research reports output based on subject or topical areas in Library and Information Science from 1993 to 2006 in Nigerian Universities?
Significance of the Study
This study which is a bibliometric analysis of postgraduate research reports titles in Nigeria will be useful to the management of libraries, library schools and also to postgraduate researchers in Library and Information Science for several reasons. The compilation of all the postgraduate projects, theses and dissertations in Library and Information Science in Nigeria will serve as a bibliographic control for the period under study, that is from 1993 to 2006, a period of fourteen years. The compiled bibliography will be useful as it will reveal the patterns exhibited by various characteristics studied such as type of library, geographical area, level of degree, subject etc. and also be used to trace the interrelationships amongst research reports written in various institutions.
The management of libraries will use the result of this study for planning, implementation and evaluation of effectiveness of their stock for the purposes of collection development in addition to improving on management and utilization of research reports to enhance researches. It will also be useful within the framework of the librarian’s daily work as this can help to solve some practical problems of libraries and information centres.
This study would serve as a good tool to the management of library schools in establishing the pattern of academic researches in Nigerian universities and also to analyse the development of researches in Library and Information Science as this will aid in managing research and development programmes and activities of librarians. The result of this study will produce a comprehensive database which has never existed and it will be used as raw data for operations research and other mathematical models. It will also contribute in advancing new knowledge in this discipline, as the study will review at a glance all the subjects studied so far. Then emphasis should be shifted to least stressed subjects, thereby advancing new knowledge instead of repeated researches on some subjects. This will help to shed light in all aspects of the discipline and it will also contribute to the growth of literature on bibliometric analysis and this facilitates availability of a reliable source of research data. Information on subject distribution will be a useful guide to postgraduate researchers who are searching for theses, projects or dissertations topics and it will also provide background information for effective research in the discipline.
This study uses bibliometric methods to explore the impact of research in this field; the impact of researchers; impact of types of libraries; impact of geographical areas and impact of different subjects. This study quantitatively assesses the core geographical areas and core subjects in this particular discipline and this also helps to determine the extent of coverage of these bibliometric constructs that were studied.
Scope of the Study
This study on bibliometric analysis of research reports titles of postgraduate students in Library and Information Science in Nigerian Universities was carried out to examine the patterns of academic researches by postgraduate researchers in Library and Information Science within the 14 years stipulated period of 1993 to 2006. This fourteen-year period was chosen in order to determine a stable trend and continuity in the patterns of postgraduate research reports analysis in Library and Information Science. This study on postgraduate research reports covers all the projects, theses and dissertations in Library and Information Science.This study specifically focuses on the study of distribution of the titles of the research reports as regards years. Subjects, type of library, level of degree sought and geographical areas in order to examine the characteristics and pattern of Library and Information Science research in Nigerian universities. Nigeria is the geographic area of the study and the study focused on the ten Nigerian universities that have produced postgraduate research reports in Library and Information Science.