Purpose – This study examines the use of the search engine, Google Scholar, from the perspective of a specific study group, that of international postgraduate students. Based on the theory of task perceived performance and effort expectancy influencing intention to use, further factors of system, individual, social and organisational, in the postgraduate student context are explored.
Design/methodology/approach – The questionnaire for the measurement of 11 factors was developed from related studies of e-library use, and data were collected from 200 international postgraduate students studying in the UK. Analysis using confirmatory factor analysis established the contextual influencing factors, and structural equation modeling examined the predicted model.
Findings – The findings confirmed the influence of the task-based factors of performance and expectancy and revealed that these were based on the perception of the visibility, accessibility and relevance of the system, and on perceived self-efficacy. The perception postgraduates held of themselves as competent users of Google Scholar was further borne out in the participants’ own words when asked for the reason for their preference. Originality/value – The approach taken enables research into use of search tools to go beyond ease of use as a main driver and to explore the relationship held among the internal and external influences of use. Recommendations for further user research are suggested as well as possible impact on the university library provision and support of services for students.
Keywords Search engines, Postgraduate students, E-Library, Information-seeking behaviour, Technology acceptance models, User perceptions