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Article
Publication date: 16 January 2017

Chirag Shah, Chathra Hendahewa and Roberto González-Ibáñez

The purpose of this paper is to investigate when and how people working collaboratively could be assisted in a fact-finding task, specifically focusing on team size and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate when and how people working collaboratively could be assisted in a fact-finding task, specifically focusing on team size and its effect on the outcomes of such a task. This is a follow-up to a previously published study that examined exploratory search tasks.

Design/methodology/approach

This research investigates the effects of team size on fact-finding tasks using a lab study involving 68 participants – 12 individuals, ten dyads, and 12 triads. The evaluation framework developed in the preceding work is used to compare the findings with respect to the earlier traditional exploratory task (Task 1) and the complex fact-finding task reported here (Task 2), with task type being the only difference.

Findings

The analyses of the user study data show that while adding more people to an exploratory search task could be beneficial in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, such findings do not apply in a complex fact-finding task. Indeed, results showed that the individuals were more efficient and effective doing Task 2 than they were in Task 1. Moreover, they outperformed the dyads and triads in Task 2 with respect to these two measures, which relate to the coverage of useful information and its relation to the expression of information needs. If the total time taken by each team is disregarded, the dyads and triads did better than the individuals in answering the fact-finding questions. But considering the time effect, this performance boost does not keep up with the increased group size.

Originality/value

The findings shed light not only on when, how, and why certain collaborations become successful, but also how team size affects specific aspects of information seeking, including information exposure, information relevancy, information search, and performance. This has implications for system designers, information managers, and educators. The presented work is novel in that it is the first empirical work to show the difference in individual and collaborative work (by dyads and triads) between exploratory and fact-finding tasks.

Details

Aslib Journal of Information Management, vol. 69 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-3806

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 16 November 2015

Chirag Shah, Chathra Hendahewa and Roberto González-Ibáñez

The purpose of this paper is to investigate when and how people working in collaboration could be benefitted by an exploratory search task, specifically focussing on team…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate when and how people working in collaboration could be benefitted by an exploratory search task, specifically focussing on team size and its effect on the outcomes of such a task.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper investigates the effects of team sizes on exploratory search tasks using a lab study involving 68 participants – 12 individuals, ten dyads, and 12 triads. In order to assess various factors during their exploratory search sessions, an evaluation framework is synthesized using relevant literature. The framework consists of measures for five groups of quantities relevant to exploratory search: information exposure, information relevancy, information search, performance, and learning.

Findings

The analyses on the user study data using the proposed framework reveals that while individuals working alone cover more information than those working in teams, the teams (dyads and triads) are able to achieve better information coverage and search performance due to their collaborative strategies. In many of the measures, the triads are found to be even better than the dyads, demonstrating the value of adding a collaborator to a search process with multiple facets.

Originality/value

The findings shed light on not only how collaborative work could help in achieving better results in exploratory search, but also how team sizes affect specific aspects – information exposure, information relevancy, information search, performance, and learning – of exploratory search. This has implications for system designers, information managers, and educators.

Details

Aslib Journal of Information Management, vol. 67 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-3806

Keywords

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