references servicesacademic librariesthesis consultationscholarly communication
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the relative merits of thesis consultation with a librarian
prior to graduate submission and to explore whether thesis consultation has a significant impact on the
quality of the theses submitted by postgraduate students.
Design/methodology/approach – This study uses a quantitative case study approach. The total
number of thesis scrutiny reports written by librarians between 2009 and 2014 has been reviewed for errors
found in theses. Errors have been classified as referencing errors and formatting errors. These have been
compiled in a spreadsheet and analyzed using the SPSS statistical package.
Findings – This paper highlights that thesis consultation has had a positive impact on the quality of
the theses students submitted for examination at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.
Thesis consultation with a strong focus on referencing clearly assisted students learning and applying
different citation styles. There was a decrease in the number of referencing errors over time. Not much
difference was seen in terms of formatting errors. Further tests showed that there was a statistically
significant positive relationship between thesis consultation and the number of referencing errors made
by graduate students.
Practical implications – This study may have implications for the engagement of academic libraries
with their graduate communities. With thesis consultation, a librarian may scrutinize the same thesis more
than once. Although this may increase the workload of librarians, thesis consultation/scrutiny will have a
positive impact on the quality of research produced by graduate students.
Originality/value – This study shows that students benefited from thesis consultation and there was a
significant reduction in citation errors. In reviewing the literature, it has been noted that research done in the
area of thesis consultation was very limited; hence, this study significantly contributes to the body of
knowledge that presently exists.