Undergraduate Use of Federated Searching: A Survey of Preferences and Perceptions of Value-added Functionality

C. Jeffrey Belliston, Jared L. Howland, Brian C. Roberts


Randomly selected undergraduates at Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, and Brigham Young University-Hawaii, all private universities sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, participated in a study that investigated four questions regarding federated searching: (1) Does it save time? (2) Do undergraduates prefer it? (3) Are undergraduates satisfied with the results they get from it? (4) Does it yield higher-quality results than nonfederated searching? Federated searching was, on average, 11 percent faster than nonfederated searching. Undergraduates rated their satisfaction with the citations gathered by federated searching 17 percent higher than their satisfaction using nonfederated search methods. A majority of undergraduates, 70 percent, preferred federated searching to the alternative. This study could not ultimately determine which of the two search methods yielded higher citation quality. The study does shed light on assumptions about federated searching and will interest librarians in different types of academic institutions, given the diversity of the three institutions studied.

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