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A systematic literature review on image information needs and behaviors

Hyerim Cho (School of Information Science and Learning Technologies, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA)
Minh T.N. Pham (School of Information Science and Learning Technologies, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA)
Katherine N. Leonard (School of Library and Information Science, Simmons University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Alex C. Urban (School of Information Science and Learning Technologies, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 30 April 2021

Issue publication date: 22 February 2022

319

Abstract

Purpose

With ready access to search engines and social media platforms, the way people find image information has evolved and diversified in the past two decades. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the literature on image information needs and behaviors.

Design/methodology/approach

Following an eight-step procedure for conducting systematic literature reviews, the paper presents an analysis of peer-reviewed work on image information needs and behaviors, with publications ranging from the years 1997 to 2019.

Findings

Application of the inclusion criteria led to 69 peer-reviewed works. These works were synthesized according to the following categories: research methods, users targeted, image types, identified needs, search behaviors and search obstacles. The reviewed studies show that people seek and use images for multiple reasons, including entertainment, illustration, aesthetic appreciation, knowledge construction, engagement, inspiration and social interactions. The reviewed studies also report that common strategies for image searches include keyword searches with short queries, browsing, specialization and reformulation. Observed trends suggest common deployment of query analysis, survey questionnaires and undergraduate participant pools to research image information needs and behavior.

Originality/value

At this point, after more than two decades of image information needs research, a holistic systematic review of the literature was long overdue. The way users find image information has evolved and diversified due to technological developments in image retrieval. By synthesizing this burgeoning field into specific foci, this systematic literature review provides a foundation for future empirical investigation. With this foundation set, the paper then pinpoints key research gaps to investigate, particularly the influence of user expertise, a need for more diverse population samples, a dearth of qualitative data, new search features and information and visual literacies instruction.

Keywords

Citation

Cho, H., Pham, M.T.N., Leonard, K.N. and Urban, A.C. (2022), "A systematic literature review on image information needs and behaviors", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 78 No. 2, pp. 207-227. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-10-2020-0172

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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