Identifying E-Resources: An Exploratory Study of University Students

Amy Buhler, Tara Cataldo


This preliminary study assesses university students’ ability to identify document types or information containers (journal, article, book, etc.) and different types of search tools (database, search engine) in the online environment. It is imperative to understand students’ behaviors due to the pervasiveness of online resources and their impact on information literacy. A survey administered at the University of Florida sought to investigate this phenomenon and queried respondents about their age, higher education level, exposure to bibliographic instruction, and time devoted to school-related online searching. Analyses of 765 responses show that many students cannot consistently correctly identify these containers and behavioral characteristics have no influence on this process. This has implications for the online information seeking process and judging credibility and is of importance to the library, education, and publishing communities. Recommendations for these various communities are discussed.

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