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The Journal of Academic Librarianship


Academic libraries offer a variety of tools for students to find information, including discovery systems and traditional library databases. This study contributes to the growing body of knowledge on student information-seeking behaviors by comparing how upper-level students majoring in Social and Behavioral Sciences use these two categories of search tools. Student search behavior and the use of search features, facets in particular, are quantified for each tool. The authors explore with statistical analyses whether these practices aid or hinder students in their search for high quality information. Qualitative data from student interviews is selectively employed to aid in explaining the results. Key findings include the differential use of search features in the discovery system versus the traditional database, and the relationships between the use of certain facets and the quality of sources chosen by students. Implications for instruction, search interface configuration, and default settings are discussed.


Preprint version. Published in The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Volume 46, Issue 1, by Elsevier. Final publication available via doi: 10.1016/j.acalib.2019.102096.