Introduction. Many projects on information retrieval systems have been reported. This paper, however, reports on the use of value-added features and services available from proprietary databases for example, Researcher ID, sharing references with others, case studies and curricular recommendations that can contribute to effective task completion. The question, however, arises: to what extent are academics (faculty, lecturing staff) aware of these, and how are they using these for academic tasks?
Method. The paper reports on an exploratory case study at a South African university in 2015 with 37 staff members from all ranks, within the three academic departments teaching on facets of information: Information Science, Informatics and Computer Science. A mixed methods approach was used to collect quantitative data (semi-structured electronic questionnaire) and qualitative data (individual interviews and one focus group interview).
Analysis. Descriptive statistics revealed the use of proprietary databases and selected features. A thematic analysis of the qualitative data revealed perceptions, opinions, experiences, barriers and motivators. Wilson’s (1981) information behaviour model guided the study.
Results. What stood out was the use of proprietary databases to complete academic tasks associated with perceptions of what is expected at various academic ranks, the impact of curriculum content, personal preferences and habits, and the value of the study to raise awareness.
Conclusion. Considering changes in for example, tasks, disciplinary content and continuing career growth, it is recommended that reciprocal mapping of value-added features and services against academic tasks is used at regular intervals to raise awareness of the value of such features and services.
Keyword. Academics; databases; departments; information behaviour; information retrieval; information retrieval systems; value-added features; value-added services