Information needs and information seeking in a biomedical research setting: a study of scientists and science administrators.
An information needs study of clinical specialists and biomedical researchers was conducted at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to inform library services and contribute to a broader understanding of information use in academic and research settings. A random stratified sample by job category of 500 NIH scientists was surveyed by telephone by an independent consultant using a standardized information industry instrument, augmented with locally developed questions. Results were analyzed for statistical significance using t- tests and chi square. Findings were compared with published studies and an aggregated dataset of information users in business, government, and health care from Outsell. The study results highlighted similarities and differences with other studies and the industry standard, providing insights into user preferences, including new technologies. NIH scientists overwhelmingly used the NIH Library (424/500), began their searches at the library's Website rather than Google (P = or< 0.001), were likely to seek information themselves (474/500), and valued desktop resources and services. While NIH staff work in a unique setting, they share some information characteristics with other researchers. The findings underscored the need to continue assessing specialized needs and seek innovative solutions. The study led to improvements or expansion of services such as developing a Website search engine, organizing gene sequence data, and assisting with manuscript preparation.