The association between professional stratification and use of online sources: Evidence from the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network

J Inf Sci. 2021 Jun 1;47(3):373-386. doi: 10.1177/0165551519890519. Epub 2019 Dec 9.


The use of online information sources in most professions is widespread, and well researched. Less understood is how the use of these sources vary across the strata within a single profession, and how question context affects search behaviour. Using the dental profession as a case of a highly stratified discipline, we examine search preferences for sources by professional strata among dentists in a practice-based network. Results show that variation exists in information search behaviour across professional strata of dental clinicians. This study highlights the importance of addressing information literacy across different levels of a profession. Findings also underscore that search behaviour and source preference vary with perceived question relevance.

Keywords: Dentistry; information literacy; information preferences; online sources; professional stratification.