Collaborative information seeking in student group projects

Chris Leeder (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)
Chirag Shah (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Publication date: 19 September 2016



The purpose of this paper is to gain a better understanding of the collaborative information seeking (CIS) behaviors of students conducting authentic group work projects, and the features of a collaborative search system that are most useful to these students.


An exploratory study was conducted with 41 participants in ten groups working on an in class, for-credit group project assignment utilizing a collaborative search system. Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered on the everyday search practices of students over the course of the group project, along with quality scores for the sources found.


Results showed that student behavior during their CIS related to the quality of their search outcomes, as the effective and efficient searchers found better quality sources. Students’ pre-task attitudes and experiences toward group work also relate to the quality of their search outcomes. Student feedback demonstrated the importance of making collaborative search tools convenient, lightweight, and easy to use.

Practical implications

These findings may be useful to researchers designing and studying the effectiveness of collaborative search tools, and to instructors planning to incorporate group projects into their classes.


In this paper, the authors document the authentic behaviors and attitudes of students conducting group projects in an classroom setting, and offer specific recommendations for developers of collaborative search systems. These findings provide greater context for CIS research into the collaborative search behaviors of students conducting group work projects.



Leeder, C. and Shah, C. (2016), "Collaborative information seeking in student group projects", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 68 No. 5, pp. 526-544.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.