The goal of this study is to expand our understanding of the relationships between selected tasks, cognitive abilities and search result interfaces. The underlying objective is to understand how to select search results presentation for tasks and user contexts. Twenty three participants conducted four search tasks of two types and used two interfaces (List and Overview) to refine and examine search results. Clickthrough data were recorded. This controlled study employed a mixed model design with two within-subject factors (task and interface) and two between-subject factors (two cognitive abilities: memory span and verbal closure). Quantitative analyses were carried out by means of the statistical package SPSS. Specifically, multivariate analysis of variance with repeated measures and non-parametric tests were performed on the collected data. The overview of search results appeared to have benefited searchers in several ways. It made them faster; it facilitated formulation of more effective queries and helped to assess search results. Searchers with higher cognitive abilities were faster in the Overview interface and in less demanding situations (on simple tasks), while at the same time they issued about the same number of queries as lower-ability searchers. In more demanding situations (on complex tasks and in the List interface), the higher ability searchers expended more search effort, although they were not significantly slower than the lower ability people in these situations. The higher search effort, however, did not result in a measurable improvement of task outcomes for high-ability searchers. These findings have implications for the design of search interfaces. They suggest benefits of providing result overviews. They also suggest the importance of considering cognitive abilities in the design of search results' presentation and interaction.
Building on resource mobilization theory, we explore three distinct rewards for individuals to engage in innovative collective action, namely open source software development. The three rewards, which we term communal resources, are reputation, control over technology, and learning opportunities. The collective action (the open source software development project) produces the communal resources in parallel with the actual product (software) and mobilizes programmers to spend time and effort, and contribute their knowledge to the project. Communal resources appear as a byproduct to the production process and represent a public good of second order. We show that they increase in value for individuals along with their involvement in the community. Empirical data from Freenet, an open source software project for peer-to-peer software, illustrates both the levels of involvement and the communal resources.
The introduction of electronic journals into Higher Education institutions in the United Kingdom has been relatively well documented, in terms of their purchase, management and uptake. However, the impact on learning, other than trends in usage and some indications of students' and researchers' attitudes, has not been quantified. This paper evaluates a project designed with the primary aim of testing a hypothesis that learning can be enhanced by promoting the use of e-journals. It was run jointly by a member of the library staff and an academic within the Business School. A 'research quotient' was developed to measure a student's ability to carry out appropriate research to support their learning. Research quotient scores were analysed along with journal bibliographic citations in students' assignments. Analysis of the results indicated that effective collaboration between academic and library staff, the timely embedding of e-journal induction into the learning process and associating it with the assessment process, can significantly enhance the learning of students. It was also recognised that students need be encouraged to see beyond assignments and adopt an holistic approach to learning.
Research undertaken by the Centre for Research in Library and Information Management has sought to enhance understanding of information seeking behaviour of blind and visually impaired people when using digital resources. The Non-Visual Access to the Digital Library project (NoVA) aimed to develop further understanding of user behaviour with web based resources, with particular reference to retrieval of information by blind and visually impaired people. Using a sample of 20 sighted and 20 visually impaired people, users undertook a number of information seeking tasks using four different electronic resources. Each step of the information seeking process was logged (at keystroke or equivalent level) and pre-task and post-task questions were asked in order to gather qualitative data. Results revealed that visually impaired users spend more time searching or browsing the web with times varying considerably depending on the design of the site. Overall, visually impaired users have to spend more time navigating around each page, especially if, for example, the page contains a lot of information or has many links. Observations revealed that people with more experience with the assistive technology they were using were more successful with the task. Whereas designers may assume that everyone has access to the new versions of assistive technology, this is not always the case. Designers, therefore, will have to take such realities into account.
This paper was commissioned by Professor Gernot Wersig of the Freie Universität, Berlin in 1980, as part of his Project, Methodeninstrumentarium zur Benutzforschung in Information und Dokumentation. It attempted to set out what was, for the time, a novel perspective on appropriate methodologies for the study of human information seeking behaviour, focusing on qualitative methods and action research, arguing that the application of information research depended upon its adoption into the managerial processes of organizations, rather than its self-evident relationship to any body of theory. It is presented here as it was originally written, with the figures re-drawn.
Previous studies have shown how personality influences learning strategies and learning outcome. In this study this will be taken further by combining personality and approaches to learning with information behaviour. The aim of this study is to show how the five traits of the Five-Factor Inventory related to the approaches to learning of the ASSIST-test affect information behaviour. The subjects will be approximately 500 university students writing their dissertation.
In a pilot study it was shown that personality traits can be related to approaches to learning. Moreover they seem to form distinctive information behaviour.
In their influential paper, Dervin and Nilan compared and contrasted the "traditional" and "alternative" paradigms for human information behaviour research, highlighting the inadequacies of the former and promoting the importance of the latter. In this paper, we argue that the two paradigms are not irreconcilable. We offer a research framework that allows qualitative and quantitative views of the same problem to be combined using systems models. We demonstrate how this approach can be used to reconcile the six key differences between the two paradigms as argued by Dervin and Nilan.
This paper presents a conceptual model of information behaviour. The model is part of the Search Situation Transition method schema. The method schema is developed to discover and analyse interplay between phenomena traditionally analysed as factors influencing either information retrieval or information seeking. In this paper the focus is on the model's five main categories: the work task, the searcher, the social/organisational environment, the search task, and the search process. In particular, the search process and its sub-categories search situation and transition and the relationship between these are discussed. To justify the method schema an empirical study was designed according to the schema's specifications. In the paper a subset of the study is presented analysing the effects of work tasks on Web information searching. Findings from this small-scale study indicate a strong relationship between the work task goal and the level of relevance used for judging resources during search processes.
Drawing on extensive literature reviews focusing, in particular, on user (and audience) research in the fields of library and information science and communication studies, the author describes the increasing chaos of human studies and user studies: the plethora of theories, concepts, approaches, methods, and findings which plague researchers within and between fields and bewilder policy maker and practitioner observers. The origins and symptoms of these disciplinary overloads and the usual forms of inter-disciplinarity brought to bear on them are traced. The author argues that most usual approaches to inter-disciplinarity act as more of the same and contribute to overload conditions. She calls for a methodological approach to inter-disciplinarity based on fundamental communicative principles. For library and information science, which as a field has traditionally drawn on multi-disciplinary sources, the author cautions that, as the field sets itself to the task of assisting the inter-disciplinary needs of its constituencies, it is especially important that the field also attend to inter-disciplinary needs within its own walls, between its many disparate and disconnected discourse communities.
This paper presents findings from a study of the effects of query structure on retrieval by Web search services. Fifteen queries were selected from the transaction log of a major Web search service in simple query form with no advanced operators (e.g., Boolean operators, phrase operators, etc.) and submitted to 5 major search engines - Alta Vista, Excite, FAST Search, Infoseek, and Northern Light. The results from these queries became the baseline data. The original 15 queries were then modified using the various search operators supported by each of the 5 search engines for a total of 210 queries. Each of these 210 queries was also submitted to the applicable search service. The results obtained were then compared to the baseline results. A total of 2,768 search results were returned by the set of all queries. In general, increasing the complexity of the queries had little effect on the results with a greater than 70% overlap in results, on average. Implications for the design of Web search services and directions for future research are discussed.
There are several kinds of conceptual models for information seeking and retrieval (IS&R). The paper suggests that some models are of a summary type and others more analytic. Such models serve different research purposes. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the functions of conceptual models in scientific research, in IS&R research in particular. What kind of models are there and in what ways may they help the investigators? What kinds of models are needed for various purposes? In particular, we are looking for models that provide guidance in setting research questions, and formulation of hypotheses. As a example, the paper discusses [at length] one analytical model of task-based information seeking and its contribution to the development of the research area.
One of the main problems involved in the use of free text for indexing and retrieval is the variation in word forms that is likely to be encountered. The most common type of variations are spelling errors, alternative spellings, multi-word concepts, transliteration, affixes and abbreviations. One way to alleviate this problem is to use a conflation algorithm, a computational procedure that is designed to bring together words that are semantically related, and to reduce them to a single form for retrieval purposes. In this paper, we discuss the use of conflation techniques for Turkish text databases.
Genealogy and family history are examples of everyday life information seeking and provide a unique example of intensive and extensive use of libraries and archives over time. In spite of the ongoing nature of this activity, genealogists and family historians have rarely been the subject of study in the information seeking literature and therefore the nature of their information problems have not been explored. This article discusses findings from a qualitative study based on twenty-nine in-depth, semi-structured interviews with genealogists and family historians and observations of their personal information management practices. Results indicated that the search for factual information often led to one for orienting information. Finding ancestors in the past was also a means of finding one's own identity in the present. Family history is also an activity without a clear end goal; after the ancestry chart is filled out the search continues for more information about the lives of one's forebears. Thus, family history should be viewed as an ongoing process of seeking meaning. The ultimate need is not a fact or date, but to create a larger narrative, connect with others in the past and in the present, and to find coherence in one's own life.
It is well established that Web documents are ephemeral in nature. The literature now suggests that some Web objects are more ephemeral than others. Some authors describe this in terms of a Web document half-life, others use terms like 'linkrot' or persistence. It may be that certain 'classes' of Web documents are more or less likely to persist than are others. This article is based upon an evaluation of the existing literature as well as a continuing study of a set of URLs first identified in late 1996. It finds that a static collection of general Web pages tends to 'stabilize' somewhat after it has 'aged'. However 'stable' various collections may be, their instability nevertheless pose problems for various classes of users. Based on the literature, it also finds that the stability of more specialized Web document collections (legal, educational, scientific citations) vary according to specialization. This finding, in turn, may have implications both for those who employ Web citations and for those involved in Web document collection development.
Based on the interviews of eighteen participants, the ways in which people talk about their source preferences with regard to the Internet in everyday life information seeking were investigated by using discourse analysis. Three major interpretative repertoires were identified: Enthusiastic, Realistic and Critical. The Enthusiastic repertoire emphasizes the strengths of the Internet, conceiving it as a great enabler or as a technology of freedom. In this repertoire, positive expressions such as fast, easy and interactive are favoured. In the Realistic repertoire, the source preferences are constructed as situation-bound choices. The Internet is given no absolute priority but its value is seen to depend on the relative advantages in specific situations. No sources or channels are superior by themselves but their value is contingent on the use situation and its specific requirements. Finally, the Critical repertoire is characterized by a reserved standpoint to the advantages brought by the Internet. Central to this repertoire is the critical view on the low amount of relevant informationavailable in the Internet and the poor organization of networked information, rendering effective information seeking difficult. Due to their ideal-typical nature, the above repertoires are rather independent. However, in the everyday discursive practices, the repertoires are used alternately, and the same speaker may shift from one repertoire to another within the same account.
This paper describes a research project in the Department of Information Studies at Sheffield University, focusing on Information Systems Strategy (ISS) Formation in UK Higher Education Institutions (HEI's) with specific reference to information strategies. Information strategies, for the purpose of this research are seen as a sub-set of an Information systems strategy. This research holds interest on two levels, first the topic of research, and secondly the methodological approach which will be tested. Most HEI's in the United Kingdom are currently developing information strategies. The impetus for this development coming both from internal pressures, but also significantly from the HEFCE's. Unfortunately there is very little information available on information systems strategies in HEI's or on information strategies. The research, it is hoped, will in some way address this imbalance.
Immigrants are generally perceived to be information poor, meaning they face major challenges with finding and using greatly needed everyday information. However, little research exists from an information behaviour perspective as differences in language, culture, and other factors such as access make immigrants a difficult population to study. We explored the everyday information behaviour and information grounds of migrant Hispanic farm workers through field observation and interviews with users and staff of community technology centres in a major agricultural area. Findings suggest that personal networks having various levels of credibility were used more readily than any other type of information source. Credibility and use of various sources seemed to relate to personal status as well as interest in information.
The paper analyses accounts of information behaviour that are produced by 20 heart surgery patients and their spouses. It is shown that patients and their significant others have to act in a context in which health ideologies stressing self sufficiency and patient compliance play a strong role. Thus, the analysed accounts and narratives of information seeking reflect moral demands that ill persons and their significant others are facing in contemporary society. The author uses social constructionist discourse analysis to examine how the interviewees have to relate their descriptions of information practices to existing moral presuppositions on how rational individuals should behave.
This paper provides a detailed assessment of the current status of the Information Systems (IS) field by tracing its historical evolution. It uses lessons drawn from the history of another social science, sociology, to highlight some of the fundamental choices now facing IS researchers. Firstly, the paper identifies the most important tensions and forces that shaped the evolution of the IS field in the 40 or so years of its history. Secondly, it draw a comparison between IS and sociology and uses some selected fundamental patterns of the history of the latter to explain the main aspects of the evolution of IS. Finally, noting that IS researchers do not seem to have succeeded in developing a core of concepts and definitions to enable the accumulation of knowledge in IS and to significantly contribute to the improvement of the business application of information systems, the paper calls for a debate on the future orientations of the field and identifies some of the choices that can be made at this stage of the evolution of the field.
The pilot study reported here applies content analysis techniques to twenty interviews carried out in preparation for mediated searches as part of the 'Uncertainty in Information Seeking' project. The tools used in the analysis (Atlas.ti and TEXTStat) are described and their contribution assessed. TEXTStat, a free program, was used to produce frequency counts of the words used in the interview and to examine the context of those words. Atlas.ti was used to assign codes to the interview transcripts and to model the relationships among these codes. The mode of analysis of the cases is qualitative and interpretative and the results reveal the complexity of the information problems, the variety of motivations for undertaking a mediated search, the difficulties of expressing the search concepts, and the relationship between the need for a search and previous information seeking behaviour.
This paper reports results of a user study conducted in the UK to evaluate the digital information services and projects of the Joint Information Systems Committee's Information Environment, JISC's IE, (formally known as the Distributed National Electronic Resource, DNER) from an end-user perspective. The study was undertaken as part of the EDNER project (Formative evaluation of the DNER), a three year project funded by the JISC. Test criteria for the user study draw upon Quality Attributes which were first posited by Garvin in 1987 and subsequently applied to information services by Brophy in 1998. They have been further modified for this context.
Based on a qualitative comparative study across four domains, this paper explores how the use and perceived usefulness of scholarly mailing lists is related to primary search methods, collaboration patterns, loci of critical information, physical proximity of like-minded colleagues, field size, the desirability of sharing information in public or semi-public discussion forums, relevance criteria, the degree of scatter within a field, and book versus article orientation. The findings show the differential role of formal and informal computer-mediated communication across fields. Environmental biologists and nursing scientists saw little value in mailing lists for research purposes. They relied on their local collaborators as sources of support and advice. Historians and literature and cultural studies scholars experienced mailing lists as helpful in monitoring literature and progress of the field.
Examines critically the origins and basis of 'knowledge management', its components and its development as a field of consultancy practice. Problems in the distinction between 'knowledge' and 'information' are explored, as well as Polanyi's concept of 'tacit knowing'. The concept is examined in the journal literature, the Web sites of consultancy companies, and in the presentation of business schools. The conclusion is reached that 'knowledge management' is an umbrella term for a variety of organizational activities, none of which are concerned with the management of knowledge. Those activities that are not concerned with the management of information are concerned with the management of work practices, in the expectation that changes in such areas as communication practice will enable information sharing.
In the 1980s information management was emergent and perceived by some to be simply a re-write of traditional librarianship. However, it has continued to thrive and much of what is now included is far removed even from modern information science, although information management draws upon ideas from both librarianship and information science. In one form or another it is likely to persist in the future, since information problems are likely to persist in organisations. The means for resolving the problems may change, but the need to understand those problems and develop solutions will remain.