Information seeking and evaluation: a multi-institutional survey of veterinary students




Information Literacy, Critical Appraisal, Reading, Veterinary Students, Competency-Based Assessment


Objective: To practice evidence-based medicine, clinicians must be competent in information literacy (IL). Few studies acknowledge the critical role that reading strategies play in IL instruction and assessment of health professional students. The purpose of this study was to understand the information-seeking and evaluation behaviors of doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) students in regard to scientific papers.

Methods: The authors studied DVM student behaviors across eight programs in North America using a web-based survey of closed- and open-ended questions about finding and evaluating scientific papers, including a task to read a linked scientific paper and answer questions about it.

Results: A total of 226 individuals responded to the survey. The sections of a scientific paper that were most commonly read were the abstract, introduction, and conclusions. Students who reported reading a higher proportion of scientific papers were more likely to feel confident in their abilities to interpret them. A third of respondents answered open-ended questions after the paper reading task. Respondents felt the least amount of confidence with one of the final steps of evidence-based medicine, that of interpreting the significance of the paper to apply it in veterinary medicine.

Conclusions: DVM students may lack the skills needed to evaluate scientific literature and need more practice and feedback in evaluating and interpreting scientific papers. Librarians who support DVM students can (1) help DVM students to efficiently evaluate scientific literature, (2) seek training opportunities in alternative modes of teaching and learning IL skills, and (3) partner with veterinary faculty and clinicians to provide students with practice and feedback in information evaluation.


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Original Investigation