Last modified on January 30, 2014, at 20:28

Gender differences in information behavior concerning Wikipedia, an unorthodox information source?

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Gender differences in information behavior concerning Wikipedia, an unorthodox information source?
Authors: Sook Lim, Nahyun Kwon [edit item]
Citation: Library & Information Science Research 32 (3): 212-220. 2010 July.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2010.01.003.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
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Gender differences in information behavior concerning Wikipedia, an unorthodox information source? is a publication by Sook Lim, Nahyun Kwon.


[edit] Abstract

This study examined gender differences in information behavior concerning Wikipedia. Data were collected using a Web survey in spring 2008. The study used a convenient sample that consisted of students who had taken an introductory undergraduate course at a large public university in the Midwestern United States. A total of 134 out of 409 students participated in the study. As information consumers, male students used Wikipedia more frequently than their female counterparts did. With respect to the purposes of Wikipedia use, male students used Wikipedia for entertainment or idle reading more than their female counterparts, while there were no gender differences regarding Wikipedia use for other purposes. Male students were more likely to discount the risks involved when using Wikipedia information compared to their female counterparts. Furthermore, male students had higher ratings than female students regarding most aspects of Wikipedia, including outcome expectations, perceptions about its information quality, belief in the Wikipedia project itself, emotional states while using Wikipedia, confidence in evaluating information quality, and further exploration. Finally, there was no gender difference regarding the number of years of Wikipedia use. However, male students reported having more positive experiences with the information quality of Wikipedia than their female counterparts. Overall, the findings of this study were consistent with those of previous studies concerning gender. Given the acknowledgment of the knowledge value of Wikipedia in recent literature, it seems that there are more advantages to using Wikipedia than there are disadvantages. The current study shows that male students seem to enjoy such benefits more than female students and may have more opportunities to develop their information literacy skills than female students by actively using Wikipedia. This suggests that educators need to encourage female students in particular to explore Wikipedia strategically as an initial information source so that they can develop their information literacy skills for unconventional sources.

[edit] Research questions

"This study explores the following major research questions:

1. Are there gender differences regarding Wikipedia use and library database use?

2. Do female and male students use Wikipedia for different purposes?

3. Is there a gender difference regarding Wikipedia use in relation to the perception of risk?

4. Are there gender differences in the outcome expectations of Wikipedia, perceptions, beliefs, verbal persuasion, emotional state toward Wikipedia and its information utility such as ease, convenience and usefulness?

5. Is there a gender difference in confidence with respect to evaluating the quality of Wikipedia information?

6. Is there a gender difference in further exploring Wikipedia?

7. Finally, are there gender differences in years of Wikipedia use and past experiences with its information quality?"

Research details

Topics: Reader perceptions of credibility, Domain-specific student readership [edit item]
Domains: Information science, Communications, Education, Journalism [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Main topic [edit item]
Theories: "Some researchers have looked into emotions in relation to human information behavior. Nahl (2005) affective load theory claims that positive emotions interact with cognitive strategies to lower ambiguity and cognitive overload. This theory has explained how positive emotion helps information searchers quickly re-establish cognitive strategies that can help perform task-relevant activities. According to Isen, Daubman & Gorgoglione (1987), positive emotion facilitates learning by simplifying the task and making research more efficient. Furthermore, Kwon (2008) suggested that students who had more positive emotion were more likely to demonstrate better critical thinking skills, whereas students with negative dispositions tended to exhibit poorer critical thinking skills.

Finally, according to Lim (2009), one of the positive consequences of using Wikipedia is that students tend to explore information further by following the links on Wikipedia articles. However, it may be possible that the degree of exploration for further information and any benefits from such exploration differ according to gender due to different Web searching behaviors and other factors. Roy and Chi (2003) reported that boys tend to follow up on more hits and click on more links than girls while searching the Web. Other researchers point out the tendency of men to experiment with new or risky tasks/activities. For instance, in a study examining the readiness to use self-service technologies, Elliott and Hall (2005) found that male students displayed a stronger desire than females to experiment with new technologies. Similarly, Kim et al. (2007) reported that men tend to show a greater fondness for the latest information technology products than women. In addition, according to social control theory, men (sons) are freer to develop stronger risk preferences than women (daughters) because women are more constrained than men in patriarchal families, providing an explanation for why men are more likely to explore a variety of risky activities than women (Grasmick et al., 1996 H.G. Grasmick, J. Hagan, B.S. Blackwell and B.J. Arneklev, Risk preferences and patriarchy: Extending power-control theory, Social Forces 75 (1) (1996), pp. 177–199. Full Text via CrossRef" [edit item]

Research design: Statistical analysis [edit item]
Data source: Survey responses [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Cross-sectional [edit item]
Unit of analysis: User [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: N/A [edit item]
Wikipedia language: English [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"This study highlighted gender differences in information behavior concerning Wikipedia. Overall, this study was consistent with previous studies. Male students had more positive or active attitudes, emotions, and behaviors toward this unconventional (or nonauthoritative) information source than their female counterparts, whereas female students displayed more cautious or conservative attitudes, emotions, and behaviors than their male counterparts. The study contributes to our understanding of the gender perspectives of information behavior in an unconventional information environment by providing new knowledge of gender differences concerning Wikipedia. In addition, the study findings have implications for future studies that examine gender differences in similar Web 2.0 information environments in which Internet users increasingly seek and obtain information. Finally, this study helps educators and librarians develop appropriate information literacy programs intended to narrow gender gaps concerning Web 2.0 information sources."

[edit] Comments

"While male students were more positive, "female students displayed more cautious or conservative attitudes, emotions, and behaviors" towards Wikipedia."


Further notes[edit]

The domain here has presently "Information science", "communication", "education" and "Journalism". It is unclear why "journalism" is there and why not "Library science"?

"Unit of analysis" is not "Article", but rather "subject" or "user"?

"Collected data time dimension" could be said to be "cross-sectional" as the survey is cross-sectional. However, as no Wikipedia data is collected it might also be N/A!?

A survey should have a "research design" as a "statistical analysis" rather than "Case study.