n Mousaion - The information behaviour of consulting engineers in South Africa

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



Consulting engineers are professionals who are either self-employed or work for a consulting engineering company. They do not all necessarily have formally organised information services, such as libraries, available in their companies to provide in their information needs. The objective is to report on a qualitative study investigating the information behaviour of a small group of self-employed consulting engineers working in Gauteng. A combination of convenience and snowball sampling was used to select the eleven responding consulting engineers for this study. Semi-structured time-line interviews were conducted to collect the data. The gap-metaphor in Dervin's sense-making approach was used to analyse the data. Leckie, Pettigrew and Sylvain's general model of the information-seeking of professionals provided the framework for the study. The results showed that consulting engineers rely heavily on people, personal files and personal knowledge for information. Other frequently used information sources include the Internet, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites and digital cameras. Consulting engineers need information from varied sources in the initial stages of a project. Information in the final stages of a project comes from the project itself. In conclusion comments are made on the use of Leckie et al's model and the gap-metaphor in Dervin's sense-making methodology.

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