Is our Collection Enough or Underutilized?: A Citation Analysis of Master’s Theses

J. M. Yap, A. Kozhayeva


Objective. The quality of library collection depends on how the librarians select materials for purchasing based on existing collection development policy. In the absence of approved policy, working guidelines take effect so there would be a selection guidelines criteria. The use of available selection tools, online book reviews, faculty recommendations, and standard lists will help the collection building. This paper aims to provide an overview of the type of materials Kazakh students utilize to complete their master’s thesis. Specifically, it will have the following objectives: 1) to categorize the types of sources graduate students use in their thesis; 2) to compare the actual count of e-journal titles available in our collection versus the number of e-journal titles used in the reference list; 3) to identify the common journal titles used by the students and its overall journal ranking credibility based on prestige; 4) To further develop the e-resources collection based on the citation analysis. Methods. In 2019, 20 e-theses were uploaded in the repository coming from one school (may also be called college or faculty). It was decided to select from one school only to determine the relevance of the collection coming from one discipline. A sample of 10 theses (50%) was analyzed in this study. Citation analysis was used to measure which materials are currently available in the library. It will also give an impression of whether the material is being used or not. Collection of data was done in an organized manner. A table was created to list the number of referenced items found per thesis. The researchers identified the number of print books, e-journals, conference proceedings, theses and other types of materials. To determine the specific journal titles, they were carefully extracted. Duplicate titles were combined and were counted as one unique entry. Using the SJR online, the researchers identified the quartiles of each title and determined the impact of the journals based on the ranking. Journal titles were searched and availability was verified using the online journal finder A-Z journal title list provided by the EBSCOHost. Non-quartile journal titles were also verified using Scopus. Results. An average of 59 references was listed by a graduate student in his/her master’s thesis. Each student may have used 17.6 print books to cite in their thesis and 32.4 journal articles in which some of them may have referenced a suspected predatory journal. There are 199 unique journal titles cited in 10 master’s theses. 19.6% of which is unavailable in the subscription but needs to be verified if they are indexed in leading citation databases. At least 50% of the theses had more journal titles categorized as Q1 journals. Another 50% the theses included more Q2 journals than Q1. One thesis cited more journal publications with no quartile but was able to reference 68% of journal titles coming from Q1-Q4 journals. In terms of journal availability, the library holds 80% of the journal titles cited in the reference list that are available whether by subscription or Open Access. Conclusions. It is apparent that master’s students from the graduate school of education will likely cite more journal articles than books. At least 50% of the students get their references from Q1-ranked journals based from the SJR ranking. The library has a promising and huge collection of e-journal titles as it has almost 80% of the titles available in the library subscription. The sample revealed that the library is capable of providing a good quality of journal collection that can be used by the students and faculty members as well. We can proudly say that our collection is above the average. We need to still dig deeper how much of our collection is used extensively by the other members of the academic community.


citation analysis; master’s theses; e-resources; e-journal usage; collection assessment

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