The information needs and information seeking behaviour of Saudi Arabian students in the UK

  • Alanoud Alsalem

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis examines the information seeking behaviour of Saudi Arabian students in the UK, using accepted information behaviour models, in particular Wilson’s (1997) enhanced model of information seeking behaviour, to contextualise, analyse and understand this. It investigates information and sense-making strategies, influencing factors, barriers and attitudes of participants towards information seeking. There have been very few empirical studies on the information seeking behaviour of Saudi Arabian students in Western countries such as the UK and while there have been previous studies on the information seeking behaviour of international students, they have been general in nature. This study has investigated Saudi Arabian students as a specific group and has gathered data which allows an in-depth understanding of their behaviour.

    The research has used a mix of observation, think-aloud and interview techniques to gather data over a two-month period. The sixteen participants are Saudi students studying a range of subjects at undergraduate, Masters and PhD levels from six different Higher Education institutions in the UK. The data were organised using the qualitative analysis software nVivo, and analysed using a thematic approach with an open coding system. Through the analysis, five top-level themes were identified with respect to online information seeking, two top-level themes with respect to offline information seeking and three top-level themes with respect to attitudes towards information seeking. Each of these themes generated secondary categories and the findings arose from a synthesis of all the themes and categories. The findings demonstrate that the information seeking behaviours and attitudes of students matched those observed in other studies to a large extent, thereby validating many aspects of Wilson’s 1997 enhanced model of information seeking behaviour. At the same time, the study also reveals areas in which the findings offer a new perspective on the literature, thereby suggesting changes to the scope of the model. Accordingly, Wilson’s model has been enhanced and customised to reflect the findings from the study.

    The discussion focuses on the ways in which the findings support existing studies and models of information-seeking behaviour and on where they offer new perspectives. The results are discussed in terms of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, which enables in-depth understanding of the behaviours and attitudes specific to a hitherto under-represented cultural group. The study paves the way for future studies related to academic information seeking behaviour.
    Date of AwardJan 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorLyn Pemberton (Supervisor), Audrey Marshall (Supervisor) & Anya Belz (Supervisor)

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