Seeking and sharing information dialogically

Reijo Savolainen (Tampere University, Tampere, Finland)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Publication date: 13 May 2019



Drawing on the ideas of conversation analysis (CA), the purpose of this paper is to elaborate the picture of dialogical information seeking and sharing. To this end, information seeking and sharing are approached as interactive online talk occurring in an asynchronous discussion forum.


The conceptual framework is based on the elaboration of Schegloff’s model for sequence organisation in spoken conversation. As a result, ten categories constitutive of asynchronous online talk were identified. It was further examined how online talk of this type is structured by expanded question – answers adjacency pairs and how such pairs are constitutive of dialogical information seeking and sharing. This question was explored by scrutinising 20 discussion threads downloaded from a do-it-yourself related online forum.


Four ideal typical patterns of asynchronous online talk were identified. Answering the question is a basic pattern of online talk, based on the provision of responses to an individual request. Specifying the answer, broadening the discussion topic and challenging the answer represent more sophisticated patterns incorporating post-expansions of diverse kind.

Research limitations/implications

As the study focusses on four patterns constitutive of online talk occurring in a particular domain, the findings cannot be generalised to depict the phenomena of dialogical information interaction as a whole. Further research is needed to scrutiny the particular features of asynchronous online talk in the context of dialogical information interaction.


The paper pioneers by examining the potential of CA in the micro-level study of dialogical information seeking and sharing structured by expanded adjacency pairs. The findings also identify the limitations of the conversation analytic methodology in the study of asynchronous online discourse.



Reijo Savolainen (2019) "Seeking and sharing information dialogically", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 75 No. 3, pp. 530-549

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