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World Digital Libraries: An International Journal (WDL)
Vol.8(2)  December 2015
Print ISSN : 0974-567X
Online ISSN : 0975-7597

Use of Mobile Devices for Improving the Research Work by Research Scholars of the University of Delhi and University of Hyderabad: A Study

M Madhusudhan: Associate Professor, Department of Library and Information Science, University of Delhi, Delhi-110 007, India, (E): madhumargam@gmail.com

DOI: 10.18329/09757597/2015/8204


Mobile technologies are playing an increasingly important role in the academic lives of research scholars. The use of mobile devices for academic purposes is the main objective of this study. As such, it has become important to find out how mobile devices improve research work of the research scholars and make it easier, more accessible, faster, and time saving in their academic/research work, and how these devices benefit in research performance of the scholars. The study shows that research scholars do use mobile devices for more than communication and mobile learning (m-learning). Majority of respondents fall under the age group of 26–30 years and are using smartphones. Mobile devices are easier, more accessible, faster, time saving, and can be used for m-learning to improve social interactions. Mobile apps are most frequently used for checking social networking sites (SNSs). Accessing e-newspapers is the most specific use of mobile devices. Majority respondents are using mobile devices for searching Web OPAC. Finding other research scholars and discussing with peers through groups are the main purpose of using academic SNSs. Majority respondents stated that mobile devices are very easy to use, but not significantly used for exchange of ideas with their research supervisors related to research work, which is the principal issue addressed by this study. Mobile devices are least used for identifying potential collaborators. Lack of high speed and authentic e-resources are the biggest barriers that interrupt the access of licensed e-resources subscribed by the study libraries for enhancement of research work. The findings of the study will not only guide research scholars in effective use of mobile devices for academic purpose but also help mobile manufactures, university authorities, librarians, and database vendors in exploring mobile devices adoption and usage among the university students.

1. Introduction

Mobile devices are getting more and more powerful, and its use has special place and impact on academic lives of university students. Mobile technology can inspire and engage students by letting them lead their learning and supporting them in choosing and using the devices they know, love, and prefer. “Mobile technology opens the door for a new kind of learning and performance support in the field, providing anytime and anywhere access to information, processes, and communication” (Meurant 2010). “Devices such as smartphones, tablets, and e-book readers connect users to the world instantly, heightening access to information and enabling interactivity with other students. These mobile devices are now regarded as essential learning tools” (Traxler 2010) and “applications that run on these devices let users not only consume but also discover and produce content” (Dahlstrom 2012).

“Majority of the university students around the world carry these miniature computing and communication devices using them exclusively for personal purposes” (Evans 2008). However, “mobile computing devices can provide educational opportunities for students to access course content, as well as, interact with instructors and student colleagues wherever they are located” (Cavus and Ibrahim 2009). Earlier these mobile devices were used only for telephone calls and for text messages. However, these days “mobile devices are used for many different purposes” (Dewitt and Siraj 2011).

  1.1 University of Delhi

The University of Delhi, popularly known as DU or Delhi University, is a premier university of India. It was established in 1922 (University of Delhi 2015) and is well known for its high standards in teaching and research. The University of Delhi has been ranked number one by the India Today–Nielsen Survey for fourth consecutive years and placed at 481 position in the world universities ranking according to the QS World University Rankings 2015 and also ranked 91 position in Asian Universities. At present, there are 16 faculties; 86 academic departments; 83 colleges, recognized institutes; and two campuses spread all over the capital city of India, with around 202,841 students in the collegiate mode, and another approximately 300,000 in distance learning, and about 3,500 are pursuing MPhil, and PhD. The colleges at the University of Delhi provide the highest density of higher education learners in the territory of Delhi and perhaps anywhere else in the country.

“The University of Delhi has, in keeping with its traditions and growth, moved from strength to strength. The University has maintained its number one rank in the list of Indian universities. This is a tribute to the inherent strengths in the systems and institutions of the University of Delhi. The University has delivered high quality research in niche areas, strengthened its facilities and professional networks to be an academic leader while serving the country in an effective and dedicated manner” (Research Profile, University of Delhi 2014).

  1.2 University of Hyderabad

The University of Hyderabad (UoH), popularly known as Hyderabad Central University or HCU, was established in 1974 (University of Hyderabad 2015). It is one of the major institutions of higher education in India, is largely devoted to postgraduate studies, and is widely known for its excellence in research and for its distinguished faculty. The University offers close to 150 different programmes of study, ranging from doctoral studies to Masters level degrees, with 46 different departments and centres organized in 12 schools of study and over 5,225 students. The University is a public research university with high research activity in every department and awards about 300 doctorates every year; nearly 695 are pursuing MPhil or MTech courses and 1,551 the PhD programmes. The University has been recognized by the University Grants Commission as a ‘University with Potential for Excellence’. The University ranks amongst the top ten universities in the country. It has been re-accredited with an A Grade (CGPA of 3.72/4.00) by NAAC in 2014. India Today placed UoH at the fifth position in its rankings of universities for 2014. The UoH also features in the QS Rankings of top 200 Asian universities (Wiki UoH 2015).

2. Statement of Problem

“Mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous in the world today. With the power of portable computing in the hands of everyone and anyone, the time has come to consider using mobile devices for education” (Goundar 2011). “Today learning takes place at any time and at any place because of the rapid advancement in mobile technologies” (Pour 2013). Through mobile devices, students learn with ease at any place without the constraints of time. The other benefit of using mobile devices is that it facilitates the student to communicate with supervisors and peers, thus it has radically reshaped the higher education area. “During the past decade, a surge in the use of mobile devices as educational tools has led to an increased number of educational institutions exploring the possibilities of the use of these ubiquitous devices by students in the classroom” (Engel and Green 2011). However, it is to be noted that potential use of any mobile device in education has not been fully realized.

The present study will focus on use of mobile devices for improving research work by the research scholars of the University of Delhi and UoH. As such, it has become important to find out how mobile devices improve research work of the research scholars and make it easier, more accessible, faster, and time saving in their academic/research work in the universities. Furthermore, “mobile technologies have the power to promote and foster collaboration and communication” (Chiong and Shuler 2010), which are considered for present day collaboration and student’s success. The use of mobile devices for academic purpose is the main objective of this study and how these devices benefit in the research performance of the scholars.

3. Research Objectives and Methodology

The main objective of the study is to know perception and attitude of research scholars regarding use of mobile devices for enhancing research work in the universities under study. The focus would also be laid on:

  • Finding out the use of mobile devices by research scholars in the University of Delhi and UoH.

  • Knowing the different uses and purposes of mobile devices.

  • Finding out usefulness of mobile devices;

  • Finding out specific purposes, including accessing the library e-resources.

  • Asserting the use of mobile devices for academic social networking sites (SNSs).

  • Finding out the problems of using mobile devices.

 The scope of the study is restricted to 200 research scholars (MPhil, PhD; both males and females) at the Universities of Delhi and Hyderabad. The selection of the sample (from all subjects) from the universities under study was done on the basis of use of mobile devices and who are available in the university libraries during the study period and taken from the Faculty of Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, and Faculty of Humanities.

To solicit information about use of mobile devices, a structured questionnaire was designed, which included different type of questions, such as dichotomous (yes/no), multiple choice, rating, and opinion questions, to elicit their experience with the following main factors: (i) use of mobile devices, (ii) types of mobile device used, (iii) different purposes, (iv) usefulness of mobile devices in communication, (v) mobile devices used for mobile learning (m-learning), (vi) mobile devices used for Web Apps, (vii) specific purposes of using mobile devices, (viii) accessing library e-resources, (ix) use of specialized academic SNSs, (x) ease of use, and (xi) problems faced while using mobile devices.

In the first phase, a pilot study was conducted on 50 research scholars in the University of Delhi during January 19–24, 2015, on the use of mobile devices among the research scholars in order to improve the latter’s quality and efficiency of the designed questionnaire. The finding of the pilot study was compared with the latest literature. All the suggestions were critically analysed, and modifications were made in the final questionnaire, wherever found necessary. The finalized structured questionnaire was distributed to research scholars, personally and as an e-mail attachment, during May to July 2015 and collected in August 2015.

4. Analysis of Results

The present study was conducted on a sample of 200 of which 184 completed questionnaires were personally collected by the investigator, eliciting a response rate of 92 per cent. All the questionnaires were selected for the analysis of data. The responses received to 13 questions from the research scholars are illustrated in the form of tables and figures and also implications of the findings are discussed in relation to past research.

  4.1 Gender- and age-wise distribution

The various facets of qualitative part of questionnaire consist of questions based on demographic characteristics such as gender, age, and educational backgrounds. They have great impact on use of mobile devices. Therefore, data relating to gender, age, and level of study has been sought from the respondents. The representation of research scholars based on the gender- and faculty-wise (Table 1) and age-wise distribution (Table 2) was sought.

Table 1 shows that female representatives are greater than male representatives. The data clearly indicates that the dominance of female research scholars 93 (50.54 per cent), as compared to male research scholars 91 (49.45 per cent).

Table 2 depicts the age-wise distribution of respondents in study universities. The analysis shows that majority (71.20 per cent) of the respondents fall under the age group of 26–30 years, which comes out as the most aware group. Also, this is the age group that uses mobile devices more, followed by under the age group of 31–35 years (20.65 per cent), and below 25 years (7.06 per cent). Surprisingly, 1.09 per cent respondents are falling over 35 years.

  4.2 Use of mobile devices

“The increase in mobile device use for educational purposes generates ample opportunity for innovations designed to help students achieve their learning goals and help them navigate the logistics of being a student” (Coffin and Lyle 2014). “Students are often power users of mobile devices and don’t want to ‘power down’ when they attend university” (Crompton 2013). As Bowen and Pisilli (2015) rightly said “the future of learning is mobile, whether it is a simple delivery technology or something that enables a new method of instructions not yet possible.” In view of the above, a question was asked to the respondents to whether they are using mobile devices with internet connectivity or not (Figure 1).

As indicated in Figure 1, 100 per cent respondents are using mobile devices. These device features offer tremendous opportunities for multimedia capabilities for gaming, photos, education, and entertainment. These devices are a promising vehicle for research scholars for completing their research work.

  4.3 Types of mobile devices used

“Mobile devices such as personal digital assistants (PDA), mobile phones, tablet (tabs), e-book readers are now-a-days more user-friendly and convenient than before. They are coming with major improvement in memory storage, interactivity features and high data transfer speed” (Meurant 2010). Many research scholars prefer to get devices that can support different applications such as smartphones or tablet computer instead of ordinary mobile devices. As Rajanithan stated “now a days mobile phone is becoming as a necessary tool and popular one among the university students. And in their day to day life, most of the people are using mobile phone to fulfil their needs” (Rajanithan 2014).

“The main characteristics of mobile devices are portability, instant connectivity and context sensitivity which respectively mean that they can be taken to different locations, access a variety of information anytime and anywhere, and find and gather real or simulated data” (Cheon et al. 2012). In addition, “advanced hardware of mobile devices (e.g., camera, accelerometer) and various software (e.g., web apps) provide more capabilities to organize, manipulate and generate information for teaching and learning” (Keskin and Metcalf 2011). The research scholars are using multiple mobile devices for their research work (Figure 2).

Figure 2 indicates that 158 research scholars (85.86 per cent) used a smartphone while 68 research scholars (36.95 per cent) used a full size tab. Interestingly, only 12 research scholars (6.52 per cent) used an e-book reader. These low numbers are partially a reflection of low ownership of e-book readers and tabs. It appears that respondents are not using e-book readers and tabs for academic reading often. It would be worthwhile to keep an eye on effective use of subscribed e-books by the study libraries.

Although the respondents reported smartphone as the most commonly used device, these findings clearly indicate that there is a gap between use of innovative e-book reading devices and research scholars’ demand for availability of such devices for effective use of e-books in the libraries for academic work and needs proper attention of university librarians for the same, since “books are one of the most frequently recognized sources to gather authentic facts and information” (Erin 2014) and e-books become more advanced.

  4.4 Purpose of using mobile devices

In India, the university students use mobile devices for various purposes, for example, social networking, text messaging, blogging, content sharing, online learning, etc. “Mobile phones are known to be very popular among the university students, increasing their social inclusion and connectedness as well as providing a sense of security as they can contact others in times of distress or emergency” (Balakrishnan and Raj 2012). As Kumar et al. (2011) stress, “mobile devices like cell phones are a perfect vehicle for making educational opportunities.” A key question raised in this research was what purpose research scholars engaged in, and to what extent they were using mobile devices for academic/research work. Here, an attempt has been made to find out the general purpose of use of mobile devices by respondents (Figure 3).

From Figure 3, it is interesting to note that majority (77.17 per cent) of the respondents are using mobile devices for communication. This finding is supported by Ahmed (2012), Ruth et al. (2013), and Fasae and Idowu (2015). As the second option, respondents stated that they use mobile devices for m-learning (68.47 per cent). Next, respondents stated that they use mobile devices for both communication and leisure. This is 53.26 per cent of the total sample. Interestingly, 44.56 per cent of them are using devices for leisure. Only 42.39 per cent of them are using it for Web apps.

It is interesting to perceive that the respondents use the mobile devices for their m-learning purpose. As Goundar observes, “mobile devices are on track to become the main technology for use in education in the future. It is going to advance, improve, and become enhanced with each generation of students learning with them” (Goundar 2011). These findings clearly indicate a gap between use of mobile technologies in academic work and student demand for integrating these technologies in learning and academic work.

  4.5 Usefulness of mobile devices in communication

Majority of respondents, as stated in Figure 3, reflect that the mobile devices are used for communication purpose. A supplement question was asked to the respondents to know how mobile devices are useful in communication, and responses were made by 142 respondents who rated communication as main purpose as presented in Table 3.

The perusal of Table 1 indicates, in response to an open question, respondents mentioned, “mobile devices are easier, more accessible, faster and time-saving” with 57.75 per cent, followed by “more convenient as they are portable” with 36.61 per cent. Interestingly, mobile phones are not significantly used for exchange of ideas with their research supervisors related research work (5.63 per cent). The low usage of mobile devices for research work was also similar to findings by Fasae and Idowu (2015), who found that “students using mobile devices for academic practices are poor.” Therefore, it has become an important issue to develop methodologies or tools to assist the research scholars to learn in a m-learning environment and motivate them to use mobile devices for improving their research work.

  4.6 Mobile devices used for m-learning

Mobile devices have become essential tools for higher education and research; technology has become more mobile, affordable, effective and easy to use. “With a variety of tools and resources always available, m-learning provides increased options for the personalization of learning. And m-learning is considered to be the ability to use mobile devices to support teaching and learning” (Crescente and Lee 2011). On the other hand, “users in developing countries have the same need for m-Learning to be mobile, accessible and affordable, as those in developed countries do” (Mehdipour and Zerehkafi 2013). In other words, with the “use of mobile devices, learners can learn anywhere and at any time” (Crescente and Lee 2011). Research studies in India have shown that learners in various programmes have benefited by various forms of student support services. Fraunholz and Unnithan (2006) have “carried out a preliminary research to assess the potential of m-learning in India.” In view of the above, a supplement question was asked to the 126 respondents who used the mobile devices for m-learning (Figure 3). The questionnaire provided five major opportunities as proposed by Chiong and Shuler (2010), and their responses are presented in Figure 4.

Figure 4 shows that mobile technologies have the power to promote and foster collaboration and communication, and 94.44 per cent respondents use mobile devices for m-learning to improve their social interactions. Mobile devices allow students to gather, access, and process information outside the classroom, that is, encouraging “anywhere, anytime” learning (89.68 per cent). There are significant opportunities for genuinely supporting differentiated, autonomous, and individualized learning through mobile devices (76.19 per cent). The percentage of respondents using such devices to overcome many of the challenges associated with larger technologies is 70.63, as they fit more naturally within various learning environments and reaching the students (53.96 per cent). Similar results can be seen in the study of Goundar (2011) and Valk et al. (2010); they “reviewed the evidence of the role of mobile phone-facilitated m-Learning in contributing to improved educational outcomes in the developing countries of Asia.”

  4.7 Mobile devices used for Web Apps

“Web mobile applications are software programs that run directly from the web browser on mobile phones and tabs. These web-based mobile apps do not get installed on handheld mobile device and run on web-hosted servers. These web-based mobile applications can be developed on a single platform as they are not limited by the operating systems of device” (Mobdevapp 2013). To address this, a question was asked to the respondents, what categories of apps they used most frequently and the results are presented in Figure 5.

Not surprisingly, as Figure 5 shows, research scholars are most frequently using mobile apps for checking social networking sites (79.34 per cent), listening to music (75 per cent), e-mail and chatting (73.91 per cent), playing games (71.73 per cent), information searching (70.10 per cent), and cloud-based office applications (36.95 per cent).

“Mobile devices and apps have provided many benefits to research scholars, allowing them to make more rapid decisions with a lower error rate, increasing the quality of data management and accessibility, and improving practice efficiency and knowledge” (Ventola 2014). On contrary, mobile devices are less used for finding books using web apps (25 per cent), references (23.91 per cent), online citation tools (11.04 per cent), and productivity (such as Ever- note, Dropbox, Pages, Keynote, and Notes) (5.97 per cent). Interestingly, meagre respondents said that they frequently used apps for academic social networking sites (5.43 per cent).

Most importantly, these benefits have not shown positive effects on academic outcomes. The main purpose of this study was to know how research scholars used mobile apps for academic/research context. The reasons found in this study reveal that the primary criterion for choice of app is often cost. As Murfin observes, “some free apps are fully functional, while others are non-functional or partially functional unless a subscription is purchased” (Murfin 2013).

  4.8 Specific purposes of using mobile devices

Mobile devices have wide variety of uses and purposes like, basic communications, training delivery, information access, social networking, content access with apps, and to a great extent by joining different groups and communicating with other research scholars. The major specific purposes pertained to the experience of research scholars in using mobile devices for academic/research work, which was the main aim of this study. In view of the above, a multiple choice question with fifteen major specific purposes was asked the respondents to impinge on their research efficiency (Figure 6).

It is evident from Figure 6 that the accessing e-newspapers is the most specific use of mobile devices (54.89 per cent), followed by emailing to other researchers (53.80 per cent), sharing documents (33.69 per cent), browsing academic networking sites (29.34 per cent), exchange of ideas for research (26.08 per cent), and keep abreast with latest news and announcements (19.56 per cent) are the major specific purposes. Interestingly, no mobile device was used by more than 55 per cent of the respondents for any one of the specific purposes.

A selectively lower percentage of research scholars use the devices for requesting for full-text articles (17.39 per cent), promoting own research (15.22 per cent), accessing open access articles (15.22 per cent), chatting with supervisor (14.13 per cent), downloading research papers (13.58 per cent), sharing references with peers (13.58 per cent), reviewing articles (8.69 per cent), and browsing bookmarking tools (7.60 per cent). Furthermore, mobile devices are least used for identifying potential collaborators (4.34 per cent). These findings of this study demonstrate that majority of respondents are not using mobile devices for academic/research work purposes. These findings will help the university authorities to understand the research scholars preferences and creation of new mobile services, particularly how university libraries move beyond providing mobile access to services. If mobile services are provided to research scholars, these findings provide insights into best practices for content delivery in a mobile environment. The use of mobile devices for academic purpose is the main objective of this study and how these devices are improving research work of the research scholars.

  4.9 Use of mobile devices for library e-resources

Electronic resources are invaluable research tools, which complement print-based resources in any traditional library. Both the university’s libraries are automated and have huge collection of scholarly e-journals, e-books, digitized resources, and databases. Moreover, the study provides insights into how research scholars prefer to consume on their mobile devices, ranging from general purpose to academic specific areas of interest. This question was intentionally worded specifically in order to gather information about how mobile devices used by the respondents for accessing subscribed library e-resources and responses are depicted in Figure 7.

Figure 7 reveals that 72.28 per cent respondents are using mobile devices for searching Web OPAC. This correlates with the observance by Cummings et al. (2010) that “a high percentage of users would (potentially) use mobile devices to access the OPAC.” The other uses are for accessing library subscribed e-journals (57.60 per cent). Surprisingly, 22.28 per cent of the respondents are accessing subscribed e-books, which facilitate interactive multimedia features. The low percentage of respondents using such devices for institutional repository (IR) resources is 18.47 per cent, because, IR@DU server was not working at the time of survey period. These responses raise a concern for the need to find a platform that is suitable for accessing academic resources by the research scholars and further investigation needed to explore the reasons why research scholars were not prepared to use their personal mobile devices to improve their research work. Libraries will be responsible for maintaining and delivering the subscribed e-resources including UGC Infonet Digital Library Consortium via a variety of computing technologies for optimum utilization, considering the fact that the study university libraries and vendors need to think of new solutions appropriate to mobile environment and authenticate through proxy servers or VPNs to access because majority of respondents in this study are still reading open access articles on their mobile devices.

The study finds that university libraries are providing free Wi-Fi facility to research scholars to access library e-resources from their departments, department libraries, colleges, institutes, centres, and computer centres. It is worth mentioning that the University of Delhi established a high speed gigabit network from National Knowledge Network (NKN) using 2 Gbps for providing access to all the devices to access Internet, including library e-resources, and created 3000+ Wi-Fi accounts for research scholars in the university. It is interesting to note that subscribed e-journals/databases are not mobile optimized and remains the most significant barrier to access and “e-resources are invaluable research tools for research scholars” (Madhusudhan 2008).

  4.10 Use of mobile devices for academic SNSs

With the changing paradigm of information-seeking pattern of researcher scholars, academic social networking sites (ASNSs) offer new ways to communicate, connect to other research scholars across the world, join discussion forums, read practical case studies, update about research methodologies adopted by various researchers, contact with supervisor and peers, as publishing platform, comments to improve, and bibliographical control. Academic SNSs are economical, with anytime approach, boundless space and help in research and learning, find popular topic, collation of resources, collaborative, peer-to-peer learning, and gather knowledge. Many of the respondents are already using tools for their research work, for example, ResearchGate, Mendeley, Academia, ScienceStage, Epernicus, ResearchID, Zotero, etc.

In view of the above, the respondents were asked to know the purpose of using academic SNSs. The questionnaire provided major 13 purposes as proposed by Nowsheeba and Madhusudhan (2014) and their responses are presented in Figure 8.

From Figure 8, it is indicated that 68.47 per cent respondents are using academic SNSs for finding other research scholars, followed by discussion with peers through groups (52.71 per cent). The results are also consistent with the findings of Thenu and Keerthi (2013); they found that “peer pressure seems to play a role in social networking rather than their personal interest.” Requesting for full-text articles (50.54 per cent), finding relevant material (47.28 per cent), downloading research papers (41.30 per cent), and adding content in blogs and wikis (33.69 per cent). Meagre respondents use academic SNSs for bookmarking (15.21 per cent), getting statistics about views, downloads and citations (13.58 per cent), aggregate content via RSS (11.95 per cent), identify potential collaborators (5.97 per cent), sharing references with peers (4.89 per cent), promoting own research (4.34 per cent), and reviewing articles (1.08 per cent). This study supports the findings of Rajanithan (2014) that shows “mostly students use their mobile phone for their entertainment purpose than education purpose.”

However, academic SNSs bring researchers and researches at one place. Flexibility in exchange of ideas and open discussions lead to free flow of information. They provide a platform to share and updating the knowledge in a controllable and secure way is need of the hour for research scholars. On the other hand, there are many researches highlighting that there is a use of social networking sites that do not affect academic achievement adversely. Madge et al. (2009) argue that “often students use social networking websites to discuss their academics issues formally and informally and also to interact with their instructor, teachers and professors.”

  4.11 Ease of use mobile devices

In order to gauge the possibilities of using the mobile devices for enhancing the research work, respondents are asked to ascertain whether mobile devices are easy or difficult to use. The questionnaire provided five ratings ranging from very easy to very difficult on five-point rating scale (Figure 9). It reveals that 85.86 per cent found that the mobile device is very easy to use. A further 11.95 per cent found it easy to use, and 2.17 per cent respondents noted that it is moderately easy to use. The most important finding is that no one stated that the mobile device is difficult and very difficult to use. The results affirm that usage of mobile devices among the respondents is easy rather than difficult.

  4.12 Problems faced while using mobile devices

“Mobile devices are undoubtedly an exciting way to interact with technology, especially, when they are touch screen enabled” (Goundar 2011). These devices have come a very long way, very fast and becoming more and more common, both for personal and academic use. Although such devices can carry a lot of data itself, perhaps their main strength lies in remote networking. However, there are a number of obstacles to use mobile devices by research scholars. The problems generally include networking, small screen size, phone distractions, data security, device management, power and charging, authentication of licensed e-resources, format compatibility, lack of high speed, poor network coverage, high charging rate, etc. To accomplish the above, a question was put to the respondents to state as to what problems they experienced while using the mobile devices for enhancing their research work (Figure 10).

Figure 10 reveals that users of mobile devices voted lack of high speed as their most frequently faced problem (73.91 per cent), followed by authentication of e-resources was the biggest barrier that interrupts the access of licensed e-resources subscribed by the study libraries with 68.47 per cent. Literature suggests that libraries want to remain a major source for information and resources and, thus, want to capture the mobile audience, but, publishers in developing countries have been characteristically suspicious of digital publishing and content for these platforms are hard to get. However, “getting content created or ported to this platform and distributed somehow is probably the easy part” (Goundar 2011) and “libraries will want to have a significant presence in offering content and services suitable for those devices” (Lippincott 2010).

The other problems are slow load time (60.86 per cent), small screen size (55.43 per cent), poor network coverage (53.26 per cent), and high charging data plans (50 per cent). These findings are supported by Fasae and Idowu (2015), who found that “the students using mobile devices for academic practices are poor Internet connectivity (81.25 per cent) and high cost of data subscription (53.75 per cent).” “Poor network coverage is perhaps the biggest barrier that interrupts the enjoyment of using 3G services” (Madhusudhan 2015). Difficulty in reading content format (45.65 per cent), device management (44.56 per cent), phone distractions (40.21 per cent), data security (37.5 per cent), and other problems are low battery life and charging hampered their use of mobile devices (7.6 per cent). This finding is consistent with the findings of Ishaq that “the future of smartphone depends on its battery life and most of the manufacturers are facing problem to sell their smartphones” (Ishaq 2014). Similar problems, in varying degrees, have been pointed out by other researchers: Madhusudhan (2015), Neil and Rees (2014), Boruff and Storie (2014), Handal et al. (2013), Coffin and Lyle (2013), Mtega et al. (2012), Goundar (2011), and Hu and Meier (2010).

5. Conclusion

The mobile device usage is popular among the research scholars under study, and it is deeply penetrating whole of their academic life. The result of this study shows that research scholars do use mobile devices for more than communication and m-learning. Majority of respondents fall under the age group of 26–30 years and using variety of mobile features from their smartphones to fulfil their needs. Because these devices are easier, more accessible, faster, time saving, and make individuals available anywhere and anytime, these changes the way that individuals are choosing to interact in social settings with others. Majority of respondents use mobile devices for m-learning to improve their social interactions and mobile apps are most frequently used for checking social networking sites. Further, research scholars have stated that they are accessing e-newspapers as the most specific use of mobile devices. Majority of respondents are using mobile devices for searching Web OPAC.

 It can also be concluded from of this study that the devices are being used for finding other research scholars and discuss with peers through groups with using academic SNSs. Majority respondents stated that a mobile device is very easy to use, but mobile devices are not substantially used for promotion of one’s own research and exchange of ideas, which is the principal issue addressed by this study. Mobile devices are least used for identifying potential collaborators. Lack of high speed connectivity and authentication of e-resources are the biggest barriers that interrupt access of licensed e-resources subscribed by the study libraries for enhancement of research work. By removing the access barriers to library-licensed resources, it will be easier to promote these resources. Even though the minority of research scholars surveyed did not know about library-licensed mobile resources, the survey demonstrated that they appreciated and needed this content.

It is recommended to encourage research scholars to use library-licensed resources on their mobile devices and active promotion of mobile device resources that are available through the library. Designing a useful, intuitive library app or mobile website therefore must be more than just making static information available on a smartphone. Furthermore, Web 2.0 awareness among research scholars should be raised as these tools are believed to be efficient in exchange of ideas in research work. Moreover, “universities recognise the need to adapt to these changing environments and their associated demands and expectations in order to fulfil the information needs of students and researchers and help them succeed in their academic endeavours” (Tess 2013; Wentzel et al. 2005).

The research study also holds some limitations regarding the sample size. Therefore, this study should be counted purely as research scholars experiences about use of mobile devices. Frequent further studies will be needed to keep abreast of new technology, views about usefulness, and effectiveness of using mobile devices in learning/research work. Finally, there is no doubt that the studies regarding the mobile communication and mobile technology would be increased according to the development of mobile communication and mobile technology.

This research could have practical benefits to mobile vendors, mobile phone developers, universities, and parents in India. “One of the educational ironies of today is that students are absorbed in technology in all aspects of their lives except for university” (Johnston 2013). Research supervisors should use mobile devices to communicate with research scholars. The findings from this study may be used as a foundation for other researchers who intend to examine why mobile devices are not widely used for accessing licensed library e-resources, as well as developing mobile device friendly web tools, library apps, and assessment of third party mobile services that enhance the research work. The study is first-of-its-kind in India and therefore, opens up a pathway for further research into the subject.


This research is supported by the University of Delhi, under the scheme Research and Development of the University faculty (2014–15).


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