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Remote OPAC users’ search query reformulation (SQR) patterns: a transaction log analysis

Faraja Ndumbaro (Department of Information Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 19 July 2022

Issue publication date: 18 January 2023




Users' search logs are implicit feedbacks on how searchers interact with online information retrieval (IR) systems. The purpose of this paper is to analyze search query reformulation (SQR) patterns of University of Dar es Salaam remote OPAC users.


Qualitative and quantitative analysis of transaction logs were employed to ascertain the characteristics of search queries and the patterns in which remote OPAC users reformulate their search queries. The study covered a period of six months, commencing from January to June 2019.


A total of 30,474 search hits were submitted by remote OPAC users during the period under study. Individuals from academic and research institutions, computing consortia, and telecommunication companies are the main users of the system. Most of the searches originated from North America and Europe, with few searches coming from China and India. Besides improving search results, SQRs are linked with the existence of multiple information demands as manifested by the use of heterogeneous headwords within individual search episodes.

Research limitations/implications

Data collected covered only six months. Similarly, it was however not possible to analyze users' search query formulation within specific contexts such as task-based information searching.

Practical implications

A query recommendation system should be integrated into the OPAC functionalities to improve users' search experiences. Alternatively, there should be a migration to a new system that offers more advanced search features and functionalities.


The study has contributed new insights in SQR studies particularly on how non-institutional affiliated users translate their information needs into search queries during information searching processes.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at:



Ndumbaro, F. (2023), "Remote OPAC users’ search query reformulation (SQR) patterns: a transaction log analysis", Online Information Review, Vol. 47 No. 1, pp. 162-176.



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