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E-resources in collaboration with Internet have become a sign of modern age being an invaluable tool for teaching, learning, and research. The library and information landscape has transformed with the onset of the digital era and today traditional libraries have changed their roles to serve as ‘Knowledge Centers’ with priority on value added electronic information services. Academic and research institutions are focusing on how best they can facilitate research by canalizing specific information services which compliment as cutting-edge technology. With the advent of globalization in the realm of education, there has been an information explosion. Most of the science and technology, academic institutions as well as R & D Organizations have changed their contemporary outlooks towards the functions, operations and services. The traditional environment has been rapidly changing to an electronic one and the demand for Internet and e-resources among the academic and research community has increased manifold over the years being the most popular source of undertaking research. However, the literature review reveals that, there is a dearth of studies on use of e-resources and internet in context of academics, researchers and students not only in India but also across the globe.
The present decade has been dubbed as the information age. While this concept is not a new phenomenon especially when viewed against its historical perspective, the revolution in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and particularly the internet, is exerting profound effects on information-based services. The proliferation of new technologies opens a number of challenges for teaching, learning and research. Notable among these are those associated with the adoption and institutionalization of these emerging technologies in teaching, learning, and research. As a result, in the last few years, there have been many initiatives to enhance the developed and developing countries capacity to harness this technology in reshaping their educational sectors in ways that are consistent with current knowledge societies.
India has a strong research and development base, both in the governmental and private sectors, in science and technology. This has led to an impressive quantity of research publications. But the Indian scientific community has noted with great concern that Indian research findings, especially those reported in Indian journals, are under represented in the global knowledge base. This is of concern not only for India but for other developing nations as well. A global effort is on the way to make scientific information affordable by bypassing the profit-making commercial scientific journal publishers. Internet, therefore, has created the possibility of establishing alternative models for the dissemination of information. The above problems may be addressed by facilitating free access to scientific information in electronic form to users worldwide. In India, many science, technology, and medical journals are now available online for a global audience through the initiatives of government and private non-profit publishers (Kumari, 2008).
Use of Internet by research scholars, therefore, is an important area of study in today’s information environment. The Internet has now-a-days become an important component in academic institutions as it plays a pivotal role in meeting the information and communication needs of institutions. ‘‘It makes it possible to access a wide range of information, such as up-to-date research reports, from anywhere in the world. It also enables scholars and academic institutions to disseminate information to a wider audience around the globe through having web sites and a way to search them and organize the output’’ (Madhusudhan, 2007).
The emergence of the internet and e-resources particularly the World Wide Web, as a new medium of information storage and delivery represents a revolution, which will have a lasting impact on the publishing and information delivery system in the twenty-first century. Increasing numbers of publishers – both commercial and private, as well as individuals – are using the internet as a global means to offer their publications and writings to the international community of scientists and technologists, as well as students. Electronic journals are simply serial publications in which the end products are made available in digital formats and online whose contents may or may not be peer reviewed (Khan and Ahmad, 2009).
The internet boom in India, therefore, has become one of the major contributors to the economic growth of the country. The use of internet has increased more than 11 times in the last seven years. This rise has led to the growth of cybercafés and internet parlors throughout India with easy accessibility and cost effective services helped by the enhanced speed of the internet. A study conducted by Business mapsofindia.com (2008) reveals that, the number of internet users since the year 2000 has increased by a staggering 69 times in the metropolitan areas and 33 times in the semi-urban towns. It has been predicted that, the internet boom in India is still on the rise at present, and as per the ongoing trends, it would continue on its path of glory until things might change. Blecic et. al. (2007) pointed out that, indeed, electronic information sources and more particularly the internet resources have become an increasingly substantial component of academic library collections over the last decades. In another study, Mary Case (2004) has reported that, “between 1994/1995 and 2001/2002, expenditures on electronic resources for the typical university research library have grown almost 400 per cent to almost $1.4M, while the overall library materials expenditures have grown only 61 per cent. Electronic journals account for the greatest proportion of the electronic expenditures claiming 92 per cent of these dollars in 2001/2002 (Kumar and Kumar, 2010).
UK universities have taken full advantage of the enhanced provision of e-journals over the past five years. It is now estimated that 96.1 per cent of journal titles in science, technology and medicine, and 86.5 per cent of titles in the arts, humanities and social sciences are now available online (Rowlands, 2009).
An ever increasing amount of money is being spent on e-resources in contemporary libraries so are the number of titles which come in electronic format. For example, as per a study commissioned by British Library, UK, it is estimated that, by 2020, 40% of UK monographs will be available in exclusive electronic format while another 50% will be available in both print and digital. British Library predicts a switch from print to digital publishing by the year 2020, with 90 per cent of the British research monographs being published in electronic format by that date (Bhat, 2009).