City Research Online

Information behaviour of law students; the impact of mobile devices on information seeking behaviour and provision in the 21st century

Abbas, Z. (2018). Information behaviour of law students; the impact of mobile devices on information seeking behaviour and provision in the 21st century. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This research examines the information seeking behaviours of law students; in the context of using mobile technologies to search for and retrieve academic legal information. Law students have been exposed to a variety of legal resources which are accessible in both paper-based and electronic formats. The latter is of specific interest given that it has increasingly been ported onto mobile form factors; providing unprecedented access to legal content to students without the physical restrictions that paper-based resources traditionally were inhibited by.

This cohort’s interaction with text-based resources (rather than data) is significant, leading to our interest, resulting in the undertaking that builds towards an original contribution of knowledge. In addition to the law student cohort, this research also engaged with academic law librarians; whose input provided an overarching perspective on the consumption of legal content by law students. Their insight into the design, provision and promotion of legal information services by vendors of said products was well founded and of great value.

Achieved through a mixed methodology and the utilisation of a variety of research tools fielded at the cohorts, this research extracts significant empirical data through statistical analysis which is articulated to further enhance our discovery and understanding of the subject landscape. The outcome of which is a proposal of a law students information seeking behaviour model (LSISBM) that maps out a law students’ information seeking journey as they search for legal information using a variety of technologies available at their disposal.

The proposed model is refined through a multi-staged research approach and our tools are developed as we successfully engage some 28 academic law librarians and participation from circa 100 law students spanning all four home countries that comprise of the U.K. Key themes arising throughout the research effort included the intangibility of digital resources vs. the tangibility of paper-based content and the perceived reliance on digitally-based legal research tools.

The latter observation challenging the traditional law student information seeking behaviours, as described by academic law librarians, where research skills once acquired by legal practitioners as a rite of passage and part of the profession were now under clear threat from an increasingly digitised legal information corpus.

This research uncovered a digitally aware law student cohort, confident in the transitive use of technologies to access legal content with little appreciation for non-digital content and limited understanding of analogue research methods. This newly emerging behaviour challenges the traditional position where the focus has been on utilising extensive, and at times laborious, manual research skills - often crucial to retrieving legal content of relevance - from the vast array of paper-based legal content. From these findings, this research output is further complemented by delivering a set of recommendations for academic law librarians and legal product vendors which can be used to better inform on the management of legal information resources.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Library & Information Science
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
Text (Volume 1) - Accepted Version
Download (7MB) | Preview
Text (Volume 2) - Accepted Version
Download (1MB) | Preview
[img] Other (Appendix D.2) - Accepted Version
Download (111kB)



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login