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Collaborative information seeking and expertise seeking: different discourses about similar issues

Morten Hertzum (Royal School of Library and Information Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 4 October 2017

Issue publication date: 12 October 2017




The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast research on collaborative information seeking (CIS) and expertise seeking (EXS) to identify focal themes, blind spots, and possibilities for cross-fertilization.


Existing research was reviewed. The review consisted of a content analysis of 70 (CIS) and 72 (EXS) studies with respect to the context, scope, process, and setting of CIS and EXS, supplemented with a bibliometric analysis of the references in the reviewed studies.


In CIS, the context is a group of actors collaborating on a shared task. In EXS, the information need is held by an individual but resolved by consulting other people. While the typical scope of EXS studies is source selection, CIS studies mostly concern the consultation of the sources and the use of the obtained information. CIS and EXS studies also attend differentially to the information-seeking process. Only 4 percent of the references in the reviewed studies are cited in both CIS and EXS research. The author concludes that, at present, CIS and EXS are different discourses about similar issues.

Research limitations/implications

Increased interaction between CIS and EXS will advance research in both areas and prevent duplication of effort. Topics for future research are identified. It should be noted that the findings are limited to the 142 studies reviewed.


By analyzing CIS in the context of EXS, and vice versa, this study provides a fresh look at the information-seeking research that attends to collaboration.



Hertzum, M. (2017), "Collaborative information seeking and expertise seeking: different discourses about similar issues", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 73 No. 5, pp. 858-876.



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