Developing informational literacy among doctoral students and researchers - Case Åbo Akademi University Library and Turku University Library


  • Eva Costiander-Huldén Åbo Akademi University
  • Leena Järveläinen Turku University



In recent years, there has been a demand to include doctoral students and researchers in the curriculum for information literacy. Not only information search, but also the expertise of the librarians in scientific publishing, bibliometric analysis is demanded. As a result of the demand the two universities in Turku/Åbo have developed their research services. The libraries have also met for benchmarking and further cooperation is being discussed.

1.The implementation of three focus group interviews with 18 researchers at Åbo Akademi University

The Focus Group survey methodology has its roots in social science qualitative research. It is widely used in the library world and is considered to be suitable particularly well for the evaluation and development of library services. The overall purpose with our interviews was to obtain feedback on how library users (in this case, researchers and graduate students) wish ÅAUL to develop its services to better meet their needs.

Three group interviews were conducted, with 6-8 participators. The following questions were, among others, discussed in every session:

How do the researchers perceive the library's role in their daily work?

What is the starting point for retrieving information (e.g. The MetaLib portal, Google Scholar or other)? Is there a need for courses/more supervision in information search and reference management? Is there a need for tailored and integrated library services?

As a result of the sessions and analysis of the group discussions a number of measures were proposed:

Targeted teaching of subject-specific databases, more topic-specific sessions in the library portal and RefWorks.

Compulsory information retrieval course for first year doctoral students.

Information Weeks or "hands on" sessions on campus libraries.

The library should participate more in workshops and seminars to increase their visibility and their services.

The library should actively consider how to measure the impact and influence of such as the teaching of information retrieval and databases to better develop and monitor the results.

More individual supervision and focus on the personal touch.

The presentation will also discuss the pros and cons of the focus group method.

2.Transferable skills for researchers in Turku University Library (TUL)

In Turku University Library the need for IL among doctoral students and researchers had also been recognized and when the University of Turku Graduate School (UTUGS) was established in 2011, the library immediately contacted the coordinator of UTUGS. Already in the first meeting both parties agreed that the first training of which the library would be responsible would take place in Spring 2012. The course blended well into the other transferable skills training of UTUGS.

The IL course contents were then planned with the UTUGS Coordinator who had the best knowledge of what the PhD students would need from the library. E-resources, reference management, affiliation, plagiarism etc. were discussed and the first course description was written. One of the key elements was that other experts in the university were asked to lecture also. They covered subjects like ethics and plagiarism.

For all three courses the library has asked for feedback and adjusted the content respectively. For the most part the feedback has been encouraging but there are still things to be done. Which are the interfaces with the other UTUGS courses? How can the course participants benefit more of the interdisciplinary groups they are studying in? Does the training have effect on the research the participants are doing?

3.Cooperation and benchmarking

Since 2004, The Information Literacy Network of the Finnish Universities has coordinated further education and exchanges of experiences. Some of the members were appointed in 2012 to develop the recommendations of information literacy in universities and universities of applied sciences in Finland. The recommendations are now under consideration by the libraries and will be used in negotiations with the university administration to implement compulsory studies of information skills among doctoral students.

On a local level, ÅAUL and TUL, as neighbouring libraries, have strengthen the exchange of ideas and experiences during the last years. As ÅAUL started with focus group surveys and abstracts before implementing information literacy courses, TUL started with customized courses for doctoral students last year. There have been fruitful, professional discussions and more elaborative benchmarking sessions between the libraries. Together the both libraries have also hosted the University Library of Gothenburg and arranged a two-day-long benchmarking seminar about research services.



How to Cite

Costiander-Huldén, E., & Järveläinen, L. (2013). Developing informational literacy among doctoral students and researchers - Case Åbo Akademi University Library and Turku University Library. Nordic Journal of Information Literacy in Higher Education, 5(1).