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Researchers of Tomorrow: The research behaviour of Generation Y doctoral students


Some findings are reported from the three-year Researchers of Tomorrow study of research behaviour among doctoral students in ‘Generation Y’. Commissioned by the British Library and UK Joint Information Systems Committee, it is the most intensive study of its kind to date. Generation Y doctoral students are sophisticated information-seekers and users of complex information sources, highly competent in but not dazzled by technology and acutely aware of authority and authenticity issues in research. The study indicates heavy dependence on secondary, published resources as the basis for original research, which may have implications for research quality and the ‘research apprenticeship’ experience. eJournals dominate across all subject disciplines; authentication of access to and licensing limitations on subscription-based resources are a source of frustration. There is widespread lack of understanding about open access. Generation Y doctoral students are not keen users of new technology applications in their research and prefer those that do not challenge existing research work practices. The majority work alone, not in research teams, sharing research outputs only with peers. Despite potential benefits of greater openness and sharing they are constrained by lack of confidence in their research work and the need for them to demonstrate originality in research findings.