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Agricultural Economics and Extension programme is an aspect of social science courses in the field of agriculture which prepares and trains individual as an expert or specialist that manage agricultural business using economic principles. In the course of achieving this aim for master's and doctoral students in an institution of higher learning, dissertations and theses are submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings (Wikipedia, 2011). There is no clear distinction between thesis and dissertation. Some institutions use thesis for master's and dissertation for doctoral while others use it vice-visa depending on the policy of individual higher institution. While in Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), dissertation is use for master's and thesis for Ph.D. Interestingly, authors make use of information materials available in the library to prepare these theses and dissertations. These information materials according to Dulle, Lwehabura, Matovelo and Mulimila (2004) include books, research reports, theses, conference proceedings and scientific journals, among others.

In identifying the impact of the information materials on dissertation and thesis submitted, citation can be used. Citation is an analytical tool for examining reference citation in bibliometric studies (Tunon and Brydes, 2005). Citation analysis is also a branch of information science in which the researcher studies the way article in scholarly field are accessed and referenced (Meho, 2007). Theses and dissertations reflect the scholarly communication process (Sudhier and Kumar, 2010). While, in Aina (2006) opinion, citation analysis helps to determine position of authors and can help to identify useful journal. Johnson (2000) noted that citation studies reveal much about scholarly communication and can guide collection development in academic libraries. In academics, a lot of citation analysis had been recorded in engineering, library and information science, health, chemistry and other discipline while few exist in agricultural economics and extension. In this regard, the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension (AEE), Federal University of Technology Akure is not left out.

The Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) came into being in 1981. This was as a result of the Federal government decision to establish a university of technology in each of the states of the federation that has no federal university in Nigeria as at that time. FUTA runs programmes that cut across; diploma, pre-degree, undergraduate and postgraduate studies. It has six Schools (Faculties) while AEE is among the first five (5) Schools established. It was formerly named Farm Management and Extension Education before it was changed to Agricultural Economics and Extension in 1993. The department that started with two (2) academic and one (1) non- academic staff had produced several graduate and postgraduate students.

The main objective of its programmes is to train graduate and postgraduate students in the field of Agricultural Economics and Extension with emphasis on the application of economic principles to the management of agricultural business. The programme is fully accredited by the Nigerian University Commission (NUC). It is good to note that the number of students seeking for admission into master's and doctoral (M and D) programme in the university (FUTA) has increased. As such, requires a corresponding growth in the holdings of the University Libraries, School of Agricultural and Agricultural Technology (SAAT) Library and AEE Library. In achieving this, some questions like; what types of information materials do M and D students often used? How recent are the materials? Which journals are the most frequently cited, among others come to mind. It is against this background that this study examines the theses and dissertations of postgraduate students submitted between 2004 - 2009 at the Department of AEE, FUTA using citation analysis.

Purposes of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to determine the information materials used in dissertations and theses submitted in the department of AEE, FUTA during the period of 2004 - 2009. The specific objectives are to;

  • identify the types of information materials cited by master's and doctoral (M and D) students in the department of AEE;
  • determine the distribution of citations of M and D students by year;
  • determine the most frequently cited journals in AEE dissertation and thesis;
  • ascertain the recency of cited materials in the department of AEE ;
  • examine the types of authorship cited by M and D students;
  • identify the highest and lowest citations by individual dissertation and thesis and;
  • identify the most cited authors in the dissertation and thesis of M and D students.

Literature Review

Momoh (1996) noted that several researchers have used citation analysis to look at subject focus of postgraduate students and determine their journal needs. Kushkowski (2003) conducted a longitudinal study of over 9100 citation from 629 master's and doctoral theses and found that authors favour current researches regardless of discipline. It was observed by Gooden (2006) that citation analysis were used by librarian in different fields to eliminate costly low use/unused journals, identify core journals needed for use and to purchase the needed materials. Gooden (2006) further carried out a citation analysis of chemistry doctoral dissertation as way of identify materials used at the Ohio State University between 1996 – 2000. The result showed that journal article is cited more frequently than monographs.

Similarly, Olatokun and Makinde (2009a) conducted a study on citation analysis of doctoral works accepted at the Department of Animal Science, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Journal articles and textbooks were more cited while web resources had the lowest citations, probably the doctoral students were yet to appreciate web resources references or had little or no access to Internet according to Olatokun and Makinde. In the same vein, masters and doctoral students of Faculty of Agriculture of Tshwane University of Technolgy, South Africa hardly make any use of website and other electronic resources following the surveyed of Swanepoel (2008) on citation analysis of theses and dissertations submitted between 2004-2006 in the institution.

Nkiko and Adetoro (2007) who studied citation analysis of Covenant University Students' Research Project, Canaan Land, Ota, Nigeria found out that books were more cited and 36.5% of total citations were made between 2001 – 2006 which was at that time very recent. They concluded that a high citation count reflects depth and diversity in the literature review, as well as measure of honesty in research reporting. Moreover, on the recency of consulted information materials, Aina and Mabawonku (1997) worked on literature of information in Anglophone Africa and discovered that majority of publications used for research were published within ten years of their publication. Citation analysis which involves counting how many times a paper or researcher is cited, assumes that influential scientists and important works are cited more often than others, Meho (2007).

Williams and Fletcher (2006) performed a citation analysis on materials used by graduate students in engineering and found that journals (38 percent), conference papers (19 percent), and books (18 percent) were the most heavily used formats, with books aging more slowly than other formats. Citation analysis of dissertations have been shown to be effective method of assessing quality of information materials because they are culminating experience of doctoral training which is deposited in dissertations (Herubel, 1991). Also, Buttler (1999) affirmed that doctoral dissertation is an evidence of author's ability to engage in extensive scholarly endeavor. Sudheir and Kumar (2010) noted that the subject field of dissertations, the number of citations, their distribution by type of source, years, and by numbers of authors among others which were citation characteristics of dissertations has been studied with the aim of determining the basic features of scholarly communication processed in the fields of study. Various studies on theses citation have been carried out by several authors in different disciplines like agriculture and veterinary services (Krishna and Kumar, 2004), engineering (Chrzastowski and Joseph, 2006) and education (Okiy, 2003). Similarly, Chikate and Patil (2008) conducted a study in library and information science while Mangla and Seema (2002) carried out research in economics.