Investigating and enhancing the policy relevance of marine scientific information (especially grey literature) through multi-partner collaboration

A comparative case study approach, applying a suite of research methodologies, will be used to examine the information-policy interface, accounting for different information life cycles and policy-making cultures that may exist within the organizations. (see more)

Research Student Projects

Impact Evaluation of the International Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) Database

The Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) database has been a resource on the science, technology, and management of marine, brackish water, and freshwater environments, and related economic, social, and legal subjects since the 1970s. Operating as an international partnership of over 60 agencies, ASFA compiles and disseminates information produced around the world and is overseen by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Accessible through a subscription from Proquest, ASFA currently contains more than 2 million records, and its main aim is to facilitate the global sharing of information, particularly of grey literature, i.e., information that is not produced by a commercial publisher, and unique reports that are otherwise unavailable.

Due to the rapidly changing information landscape, the future of ASFA in its present form is being reconsidered. The EIUI research program is assisting the FAO and its ASFA Impact Evaluation Working Group in conducting an impact evaluation of what would happen if ASFA ceased to exist in its current form. In her study, Master of Library and Information Studies student Dianna Castillo, is focusing on one component of the larger evaluation project by asking two main questions. First, does an abstracting and indexing service have a place in present day marine research and policy development? Second, does ASFA meet the information needs of its potential users or are there comparable alternatives available that meet the needs of users?

This project has three complimentary approaches to collecting and analyzing data obtained through the commercial publisher, ProQuest; a survey of subscribers worldwide; and interviews with members of the International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers (IAMSLIC). ProQuest will provide data that tracks customers accessing ASFA which can provide a snapshot of how subscribers are currently engaging with the database. With the assistance of ProQuest, a survey will be distributed to ASFA subscribers and will ask them why they subscribe to ASFA and how they evaluate databases, among other questions. The survey will also ask what, in their opinion, are the key features of ASFA and if it meets the needs of their communities. Interviews of IAMSLIC members will complement and augment the survey data by seeking the views of information professionals who work in the fields covered by ASFA in numerous countries around the world.

This research will describe how users engage with and use ASFA and if it facilitates the sharing of information among stakeholders on ocean research and policy development. The data collected through the three methods discussed will be used to analyze what users view as key features of ASFA and if it is meeting the information needs of stakeholders, and if not, what changes may need to be made to address those needs.

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