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Library Philosophy and Practice Vol. 8, No. 2 (Spring 2006)

ISSN 1522-0222

The Impact of the Internet on Research: the Experience of Delta State University, Nigeria

Oghenevwogaga Benson Adogbeji

University Library

Oghenevwogaga David Toyo

Department Of Library And Information Science

Delta State University
Abraka , Nigeria
 

Introduction

The explosive growth of mobile computing and wireless networks has helped educational institutions stay at the forefront of this changing world (Khalil, 2004). For research to be reliable, it must be based on reliable information. Scholars need quick and easy access to this information. The Internet has been useful to higher education institutions both in the developed and the developing nations of the world.

The Internet has become an invaluable tool for teaching, learning, and research (Yumba 1997, Ojedokun and Owolabi 2003, and Adomi, Omodeko and Otolo 2004). The benefits are so great that there is no sphere of life without an Internet application. This is certainly true for higher education institutions. The Delta State University has embarked on numerous postgraduate programmes at the master's and PhD levels, and faculty have been given a limited time to acquire advanced degrees before losing their positions. Internet access is crucial for these faculty. This study addresses the lack of computer lab or other Internet center for faculty. The study assesses the level of Internet usage among the academic staff of the Delta State University, Abraka, to determine the impact of the Internet on research.

Methodology

A questionnaire was used to gather data for this study. A questionnaire enables researchers to collect data (Obasi, 1992) while providing more response than an interview (Ndagi, 1999). Delta State University has 485 faculty (Adomi, Omodeko, and Otolo, 2004). A total of 100 respondents were selected, representing a 20% sample. Random sampling was used to select the respondents across the five faculties: The faculty of Arts, Science, education, social sciences, medical science, and the University library. A total of 70 questionnaires were used for the analysis.

Findings and Discussion

Section A: BIODATA

Table I : Distribution of the academic staff by gender

Gender

Number

%

Male

62

88.6

Female

8

11.4

Total

70

100

The study respondents were primarily males. Table I shows that 62 (88.6%) of the respondents are male while 8 (11.4%) are female.

Table II: Distribution of staff by Department

Department

Number

%

Accounting

2

2.9

Anatomy

1

1.4

Botany & Microbiology

2

2.9

Business administration

1

1.4

Chemistry

1

1.4

Economics

1

1.4

Educational Administration

4

5.7

Fine and applied arts

1

1.4

Geography and Regional Planning

2

2.9

Guidance & counseling

2

2.9

History

1

1.4

Institute of Education

2

2.9

Language & Linguistic

6

8.6

Library (The University Library)

10

14.3

Library & Information science

2

2.9

Mathematics

2

2.9

Music

1

1.4

Performing Arts

4

5.7

Physics

3

4.3

Physical & Health Education

1

1.4

Political science

4

5.7

Religion study

1

1.4

Science education

1

1.4

Social science education

1

1.4

Sociology & psychology

3

4.3

Vocational Education

3

4.3

Total

70

100

There were more responses from the library as a department than any other department in the University. This could be as result of the accessibility of the staff at the time of the study.

Table III: Distribution of staff by faculty organization

Faculty

Number

%

Arts

14

20

Education

14

20

Science

11

15.7

Social Science

20

28.6

Medical Science

1

1.4

University Library

10

14.3

Total

70

100

It was found out from the study that social science faculty recorded the highest academic staff while the faculties of arts and education recorded 14 (20%) each and science 11 (15.7%). Similarly, medical science recorded 1 (1.4%) academic staff while the library, which is a department as well as a faculty, recorded 10 (14.3 %) .

Table IV:Staff distribution by status / designation

Status / Designation

Number

%

Graduate Assistant

7

10.0

Assistant Lecturer

15

21.4

Lecturer II

16

22.9

Lecturer I

15

21.4

Senior Lecturer

10

14.3

Reader

3

4.3

Professor

4

5.7

Total

70

100

Lecturer II is the predominant rank among the respondents. There were 7 (10%) graduate assistant, 15 (21.4%) assistant lecturer, 16 (22.9%) lecturer II while 15 (21.4%) lecturer I. Similarly, there were 10 (14.3%) senior lecturer, and 3 (4.3%) and 4 (5.7%) readers and professors respectively.

Table V: Staff distribution by Qualifications

Qualification

Number

%

B.Sc / B.A

4

5.7

M.Sc / M.A / MLS

46

65.7

Ph.D

20

28.6

Total

70

100

The study revealed more academic staff with masters' degree than any other category. Four (5.7%) of the academic staff were first-degree holders (these are the graduate assistant that are still in a master's programme). There were 46 (65.7%) master's degree holders and 20 (28.6%) with the PhD

Section B: Access to the Internet

Table VI: Staff access to the Internet

Question

Yes

%

NO

%

Do you have access to the Internet?

70

100

0

0

The study revealed that all the staff used for the study have access to the Internet.

Table VII: location of access to the Internet

Access to the Internet

Number

%

Computer laboratory

0

0.0

Office

3

4.3

University laboratory

0

0.0

At Home

3

4.3

Cybercafe

62

88.6

Office and cybercafe

2

2.8

Total

70

100

As shown in the Table VII above, the academic staff access to the Internet is mainly through cybercafe. No staff have access through the computer laboratory and university laboratory. There are no computer laboratories in the University with Internet service. Three of the staff each have access in their offices and at home but 62 (88.6%) have access through the cybercafe. Finally, only two academic staff have access to the Internet via their office and cybercafe.

Table VIII: Length of time using Internet

Duration

Number

%

Less than 1 Year

6

8.6

1 - 2 Years

29

41.4

3 - 4 Years

25

35.7

5 Years and above

10

14.3

Total

70

100

Most academic staff had been using the Internet for about one to two years, with 29 (41.4%) respondents. Six (8.6%) have been using it for less than one year, while 25 (35.7%) have been using it for about three to four years. Finally, 10 (14.3%) have been using the Internet for five years or more for research purpose.

Section C: Use of the Internet

Table IX: Categories of Use

Purpose

Number

%

Sending and receiving email, communication with colleagues and relations

2

2.9

Search for research and academic materials

15

21.4

Reading of Newspapers / entertainment and sport

0

0.0

Sending and receiving email, searching for research and academic materials, and communication with friends and relations

53

75.7

Total

70

100

Most staff use the Internet for sending and receiving emai, searching for research and academic materials, and also for communication with friends and relations in regard to research activities and other personal issues. While 53 (75.7%) attested to that, while 2 (2.9%) use the Internet for sending and receiving email, communication with colleagues and relations. Also, 15 (21.4%) staff use the Internet in searching for research and academic materials, while no academic staff use it for reading newspaper and entertainment or sport.

Table X: Duration of access to the Internet per week

Duration of access to the Internet per week (hours)

Numbers

%

Less than 10 Hours

57

81.4

10 - 20 Hours

8

11.4

20 - 30 Hours

2

2.9

30 - 40 Hours

3

4.3

Over 40 Hours

0

0.0

Total

70

100

The study shows that most staff (57, 81.4%) spend less than 10 hours per week on the Internet. Eight (11.4%) use the Internet for 10 to 20 hours per week while 2 (2.9%) use it for about 20 to 30 hours per week. Three (4.3%) use the Internet for about 30 to 40 hours per week, but no one reported using it for more than 40 hours per week. This could be attributed to the fact that staff pay per service at the Internet center and there are often people waiting to use the computers. Hence, more staff prefer to spend fewer hours to reduce cost and to give others access. Furthermore, most staff are afraid to visit the cybercafes at night (after working hours) due to fear of crime.

Table XI: Ease of research due to the use (application) of the Internet

Question

YES

%

NO

%

Does the application of Internet make research easier for you?

68

97.1

2

2.9

The Internet has contributed significantly to the ease of research of the academic staff of the University. 68 (97.1%) out of the 70 academic staff used for this study strongly attested to the fact that the Internet has make research work easier for them.

Table XII: Benefits of the Internet browsing to the academic staff on research

Ways in which the Internet is beneficial to the academic staff

Number

%

 

 

 

Making choice of research topic easier, ease the sending and receiving of mails

5

7.1

Downloading of related information materials for research, ease the sending and receiving of research materials, ease communication of filled questionnaires / Articles, ease access to study materials, ease in obtaining peer review thereby strengthening research and journal publications, Helped in having access to database not feasible in our library, Helped in having up-to-date information materials in research and ease the exchange of study materials / ideas with colleagues.

65

92.9

Total

70

100

More staff 65 (92.9%) have benefited from the use of the Internet through downloading of related information materials for research, etc. Five (7.1%) have benefited through making choice of research topic easier, ease the sending and receiving of mails.

Table XIII: The three most important use of the Internet to research as applicable to users.

Three Most Important usage

Number

%

Quick access to academic materials, ease of communication, access to relevant information and up-to-date information

53

77.9

Ease communication, ease choice of research topic

15

22.1

Total

68

100

Most staff, 53 (77.9%), rated quick access to academic materials, ease of communication, and access to relevant and up-to-date information as the most important use of the Internet to them, while 15 (22.1%) rated the ease of communication and ease of choice of research work as the most important use of the Internet to them in regards to research work.

Table XIV:Impact of the Internet on research as applicable to the academic staff.

Impact

Number

%

Very Much

58

82.9

Minimally

10

14.3

Not at all

2

2.8

Total

70

100

The study focus, which is the assessing of the impact of the Internet on research as applicable to the academic staff of the university, the study showed that the impact is quite significant. 58 (82.9%) attested to the fact that the use of the Internet has created great impact on their research work. The impact was considered minimal to 10 (14.3%) of the staff, and 2 (2.8%) have not seen any impact of the Internet on their own research work.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Based on the impact of the Internet and the benefits to the academic staff and the fact that so many staff have no access to the Internet either at home nor in their offices, we therefore have the following recommendations:

•  The university should set up an Internet center for staff. This is a natural prerequisite for effective research work as equally recommended by the National University Commission of Nigeria that lecturers should have access to the Internet even in their offices. This recommendation is still in line with the Delta State University, Abraka Information and Communication Technology Policy (2005) as recorded in policy summary section 1.3.3. That it is the university policy to promote office computing in all offices. This entails office software and access to the Internet and the university local network (Intranet) etc.

•  The university should organize formal training for the staff

•  Academic staff should change their orientation and attitude toward new technology. Staff should educate themselves on the use of the new technology such as the Internet so that they will not be left behind in the scheme of development.

•  The university should increase Internet access points rather than having only one point in the head of department's office so that other staff can freely access the net.

References

Adomi, E.E., Omodeko, F.S., and Otolo, P.U. (2004). The use of cybercafe at Delta State University, Nigeria,"Library Hi Tech 22(4):38-85.

Khalil, M.A. (2004). Vision to reality: applications of wireless laptops in accessing information from digital libraries: end-user viewpoints.Library Hi Tech News 7:25.

Ndagi, J.O. (1999). Essentials of research methodology for educators. Ibadan University Press.

Obasi, I.N. (1999). Research methodology in political science. Enugu: Academic Publishing.

Ojedokun, A.A. and Owolabi, E.O. (2003). "Internet access competence and the use of the Internet for teaching and research activities by university of Botswana academic staff,"African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science, 13(1):43-53.

Yumba, D. (1997). Internet in the library: potentials.African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science 7(2):163-168.

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