Information needs and search characteristics of first-year medical students
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According to the Association of American Medical Colleges Medical School Objectives Project, a student before graduation is expected to demonstrate the ability to retrieve, manage, and utilize biomedical information for solving problems and making decisions relevant to the care of individuals and populations (Anderson, 1999). This makes information searching a critical skill in preparation of contemporary medical specialists. Contemporary problem-based learning (PBL) approach to medical education uses patient problems that students need to tackle to acquire clinical problem-solving skills. While working on these problems, students eventually need more information to proceed. This results in generation of information needs. As the most natural way of expressing information needs is through asking questions (Cogdill & Moore, 1997), by the end of each PBL session students come up with questions that they distribute among themselves. Later, each student engages in information searching to find answers to his or her questions.