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RTI Research Spotlight: Recent Review Finds Few Information Literacy Studies of Doctoral Students

Doctoral studies offer a unique phase in the development and legitimization of researchers, and it is essential to understand the distinct practices of this population if librarians are to support this process in an evidence-based manner. In a recent review in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, Elisabeth Nylander has explored the literature that describes the information literacies of students who are pursing a doctoral degree (PhD) in the health sciences.

The review found that these PhD students are underrepresented as a distinct group and highlights the need for more primary research on this topic. Only 7 articles were identified that explicitly examined this user group (0.3% of the initial data set of 2,317 records). Many studies failed to treat doctoral studies as a unique process; in other words, PhD students were often grouped together with other graduate students or researchers. Studies also tended to be based on small populations, and the number of PhD students involved was often unclear or only equaled a few individuals within the entire group of study.

The few relevant articles were mainly found in library and information science journals. However, if librarians wish to inform health sciences faculty about information literacies and how librarians can help, an effective medium for them to publish in is disciplinary publications (such as those indexed by PubMed).

* Elisabeth Nylander is a fellow of the 2018 MLA Research Training Institute (RTI), and this review was part of her research project. The RTI project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (RE-95-17-0025-17).

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