Usability of Social Tags in Digital Libraries for E-Learning Environment




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De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


This study contributes to the academic literature concerning social tag systems for digital libraries, addressing the identified information gap from the user’s perspective. It defines social tagging tools and tests users’ perceptions about possible practices. Moreover, it evaluates the effect when using social tagging systems in digital libraries, to assess whether such a system enhances the search process, and to identify whether there is any significant relationship between using social tagging systems in digital libraries and user satisfaction. Although developments in the field of social tags have been significant in recent years, there remains an open question regarding their usability, particularly in the context of digital libraries. Therefore, there is a need for further investigation, exploration and evaluation, and so this work contributed to this by exploring the usability of social tagging in digital libraries in terms of accuracy for research, user satisfaction and adoptability. For this study, Saudi students were given the opportunity to use the system in the United Kingdom, and their experiences, and opinions regarding ease of use and adoptability were then analysed to determine if they would assist digital libraries in Saudi Arabia to achieve their educational goals and to ensure user numbers would not decrease. A quantitative approach and a qualitative approach were combined to collect and analyse the data used in this research. The two approaches were conducted in sequential phases. In the first quantitative phase, assessment measures were administrated to Saudi students using library websites while studying in the UK. Data was collected from 175 participants, and statistical analysis was conducted using SPSS. Cross tabulation was also used to describe the numerical data and a chi-square analysis was conducted to determine the relationship between the various study variables. In the follow-up qualitative phase, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 15 Saudi students, to explore the proposed hypothesis in depth. This data was then thematically analysed. Results concerning the usability of social tagging in digital libraries obtained in western universities cannot be generalised to Saudi Arabian universities, because the context of Saudi Arabia differs culturally and academically (Alsurehi & Al Youbi, 1014). To address this, the study utilised a sample of Saudi Arabian students, who had had the opportunity to experience using social tags while studying abroad, specifically in the United Kingdom. Their experience might potentially be very important and this research could be considered a first attempt to examine the usability of social tags in digital libraries. Since to date few empirical studies have directly addressed the usability issues raised here in Saudi Arabia, this research also offers a contribution in this area. In addition, although this study relates to the Saudi perspective, the findings can also be considered valuable to Arab countries sharing similar cultural and academic traditions.



social tags, digital libraries, usability of social tags, information retrieval in digital library, social tags in digital library



Research Institute