Conducting academic searches within online digital libraries can be a difficult task due to the complexity of the searcher’s information need. The interfaces for such digital libraries commonly use simple search features that provide limited support for the fundamental strategies that academic searchers employ. The authors have developed a novel visualisation interface called Bow Tie Academic Search to address some of these shortcomings, and present in this paper the findings from a user evaluation. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
A controlled laboratory study was conducted to compare a traditional search interface to Bow Tie Academic Search. In total, 24 graduate students were recruited to perform academic searches using the two candidate interfaces, guided by specific sub-tasks that focus on citation and keyword analysis strategies.
Although the use of the core visualisation and exploration features did not reveal differences in retrieval effectiveness or efficiency, the query refinement features were found to be effective. Strongly positive impressions of usefulness and ease of use of all aspects of the system were reported, along with a preference for using Bow Tie Academic Search for academic search tasks.
This study provides insight into the potential value for providing visual and interactive interfaces for supporting academic search tasks and strategies. While the quantitative improvements over the traditional search interface were minimal, the qualitative measures illustrate the value of Bow Tie Academic Search.
This research has been made possible through the first author’s Discovery Grant, provided by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Hoeber, O. and Khazaei, T. (2015), "Evaluating citation visualization and exploration methods for supporting academic search tasks", Online Information Review, Vol. 39 No. 2, pp. 229-254. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-10-2014-0259Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited