A behavioural approach to information retrieval system design is outlined based on the derivation of a behavioural model of the information seeking patterns of academic social scientists. The information seeking patterns of a variety of academic social scientists were broken down into six characteristics: starting, chaining, browsing, differentiating, monitoring, and extracting. These characteristics constitute the principal generic features of the different individual patterns, and together provide a flexible behavioural model for information retrieval system design. The extent to which these characteristics are available on existing systems is considered, and the requirements for implementing the features on an experimental system are set out.
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