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Graduate researchers’ perceptions and expectations : An exploratory study about reference and information services

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This study aims to explore the perceptions and expectations of graduate research students regarding reference and information services. The purpose was also to determine the information seeking and library usage patterns of the respondents.


The qualitative research design was used to conduct this study. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 18 research scholars enrolled at the University of the Punjab in three main domains of knowledge: sciences, social sciences and humanities. The interviews were verbatim transcribed and analyzed using a thematic approach.


The findings revealed that the graduate research students had hardly any idea of reference and information services. Their perceptions of the services were vague. Due to this lack of understanding, they would not expect an important role of the library professionals in their research activities except providing access to physical or online information sources. The study recommends redesigning of reference and information services, as well as their promotion among communities.

Research limitations/implications

Being qualitative in approach, the findings are based on the perceptions and expectations of a limited number of researchers. However, libraries and institutions may use the findings for assessment of their services.

Practical implications

Public and university libraries in the developing countries like Pakistan can use the insight for developing user-focused reference and information services and create aggressive awareness strategies about the services offered. The research-related information services can enhance the quality of research output.

Social implications

The public image of information professionals can be enhanced by meeting the expectations of modern information seekers.


The paper is the first one in the context of a developing country on the subject of reference and information services. The users' perspectives have hardly been addressed in a qualitative manner. The findings reveal interesting aspects of reference and information services.
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Keywords: Information resources; Information searches; Library usage; Professional development; Reference services; Research

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Information Management, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

Publication date: June 8, 2020

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