Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

DOI

10.1108/00907321011084789

Abstract

Purpose – The paper aims to systematically review research that analyzes satisfaction with electronic reference services, paying particular attention to how user satisfaction is measured. The application and value of evidence‐based methodologies for library and information science (LIS) research are explored.

Design/methodology/approach – Database searches identified research concerned with electronic reference. Articles with a variable of user satisfaction were extracted and subjected to a critical appraisal. The remaining research was analyzed for similarities, differences, and consistency.

Findings – A wide variety of methods are used to measure user satisfaction. There was almost no overlap in specific questions considered although there were some similarities in methodologies used. The results of this analysis show a lack of standardization in LIS research on this topic.

Research limitations/implications – There may be some bias in the selection of research in that the reviewers were only able to obtain published findings. The lack of consistency in reporting results further limited the articles eligible for review and precluded a meta‐analysis.

Practical implications – By synthesizing the research conducted on this topic, practicing librarians should be able to see patterns in user satisfaction with electronic reference, and become aware of common pitfalls in undertaking user satisfaction assessment. Those conducting or planning LIS research will be able to identify the characteristics of sound research and thorough reporting of results.

Originality/value – Systematic review is an underutilized methodology in LIS research. As evidence‐based librarianship gains traction, it will become a more important tool for LIS researchers. The synthesis and analysis of previous research bring together disparate findings and show patterns and/or differences in providing these services, and brings into focus the lack of consistency in LIS research on this topic.

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