Undergraduates Have Difficulty Distinguishing Formats Based on Discovery Tool Search Results


  • Diana K. Wakimoto California State University, East Bay




evidence summary, discovery tool, undergraduates


A Review of:
Gewirtz, S. R., Novak, M., & Parsons, J. (2014). Evaluating the intersection between WorldCat Local and student research. Journal of Web Librarianship, 8(2), 113-124. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19322909.2014.877312


Objective – To evaluate the usability of WorldCat Local for undergraduate students conducting research.

Design – Usability study.

Setting – Two small, liberal arts colleges in central Minnesota.

Subjects – 13 undergraduates (7 females and 6 males).

Methods – To simulate an authentic research process, researchers created a thesis statement and a list of materials students needed to find using WorldCat Local. The students were video recorded and instructed to use the “think aloud” protocol as they worked through the list of materials to find. Researchers analyzed the recordings and evaluated the efficiency of the students’ searching processes using a rubric with scores from 1 to 5.

Main Results – Students were able to find books relevant to their topic, but had difficulty in identifying a book that their college library did not own. Students had more difficulty finding current scholarly journal articles and encyclopedias. Additionally, students had trouble distinguishing different formats in the results list.

Conclusion – The WorldCat Local results interface confused students, especially when they tried to determine the types of materials found (e.g., article, book, etc.). The students showed little understanding of relevance sorting and facets, although they did attempt to use them while searching. Despite the difficulties, the colleges will keep WorldCat Local as their discovery tool while exploring alternative options. The researchers suggest the need for future research to confirm their findings and determine what changes to the discovery tool interface would be most beneficial for the users.


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Author Biography

Diana K. Wakimoto, California State University, East Bay

Associate Librarian




How to Cite

Wakimoto, D. K. (2015). Undergraduates Have Difficulty Distinguishing Formats Based on Discovery Tool Search Results. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 10(2), 153–155. https://doi.org/10.18438/B89K6P



Evidence Summaries