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Journal cover: Journal of Documentation

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Online from: 1945

Subject Area: Library and Information Studies

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Understanding the information and communication technology needs of the e-humanist

Document Information:
Title:Understanding the information and communication technology needs of the e-humanist
Author(s):Elaine G. Toms, (Centre for Management Informatics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada), Heather L. O'Brien, (Centre for Management Informatics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)
Citation:Elaine G. Toms, Heather L. O'Brien, (2008) "Understanding the information and communication technology needs of the e-humanist", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 64 Iss: 1, pp.102 - 130
Keywords:Communication technologies, Electronic media, Humanistic philosophy, Research
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/00220410810844178 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand the needs of humanists with respect to information and communication technology (ICT) in order to prescribe the design of an e-humanist's workbench.

Design/methodology/approach – A web-based survey comprising over 60 questions gathered the following data from 169 humanists: profile of the humanist, use of ICT in teaching, e-texts, text analysis tools, access to and use of primary and secondary sources, and use of collaboration and communication tools.

Findings – Humanists conduct varied forms of research and use multiple techniques. They rely on the availability of inexpensive, quality-controlled e-texts for their research. The existence of primary sources in digital form influences the type of research conducted. They are unaware of existing tools for conducting text analyses, but expressed a need for better tools. Search engines have replaced the library catalogue as the key access tool for sources. Research continues to be solitary with little collaboration among scholars.

Research limitations/implications – The results are based on a self-selected sample of humanists who responded to a web-based survey. Future research needs to examine the work of the scholar at a more detailed level, preferably through observation and/or interviewing.

Practical implications – The findings support a five-part framework that could serve as the basis for the design of an e-humanist's workbench.

Originality/value – The paper examines the needs of the humanist, founded on an integration of information science research and humanities computing for a more comprehensive understanding of the humanist at work.

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