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Article

Alastair G. Smith

Bates' information search tactics have been influential in the practice and teaching of online searching since they were published in 1979. This paper is about using…

Abstract

Purpose

Bates' information search tactics have been influential in the practice and teaching of online searching since they were published in 1979. This paper is about using information search tactics to search the internet, and aims to present a set of tactics useful in the practice and teaching of internet searching.

Design/methodology/approach

Tactics used on the internet were gathered from the literature, web sites, and the author's experience of internet searching. These were compared with the information search tactics, and refined into a set of internet search tactics.

Findings

The article presents 34 internet search tactics: 18 of the original Bates tactics, interpreted in the context of the internet, and 16 new tactics. While many of the information search tactics are relevant, effective internet searching requires recognition of the role of relevancy ranking and full text searching in search engines. The uncontrolled nature of the internet means that evaluation of information resources is an integral part of internet searching, so a group of evaluation tactics have been proposed.

Practical implications

The tactics provide a framework for teaching effective internet searching.

Originality/value

Bates' information search tactics do not appear to have been applied as a whole to searching the internet. The proposed tactics will be useful for librarians and researchers who need to carry out effective searching on the internet, and for information literacy education. Research into information seeking and search interfaces will be informed by the tactics.

Details

Online Information Review, vol. 36 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1468-4527

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Article

Reijo Savolainen

The purpose of this paper is to elaborate the picture of strategies and tactics for information seeking and searching by focusing on the heuristic elements of such…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to elaborate the picture of strategies and tactics for information seeking and searching by focusing on the heuristic elements of such strategies and tactics.

Design/methodology/approach

A conceptual analysis of a sample of 31 pertinent investigations was conducted to find out how researchers have approached heuristics in the above context since the 1970s. To achieve this, the study draws on the ideas produced within the research programmes on Heuristics and Biases, and Fast and Frugal Heuristics.

Findings

Researchers have approached the heuristic elements in three major ways. First, these elements are defined as general level constituents of browsing strategies in particular. Second, heuristics are approached as search tips. Third, there are examples of conceptualizations of individual heuristics. Familiarity heuristic suggests that people tend to prefer sources that have worked well in similar situations in the past. Recognition heuristic draws on an all-or-none distinction of the information objects, based on cues such as information scent. Finally, representativeness heuristic is based on recalling similar instances of events or objects and judging their typicality in terms of genres, for example.

Research limitations/implications

As the study focuses on three heuristics only, the findings cannot be generalized to describe the use of all heuristic elements of strategies and tactics for information seeking and searching.

Originality/value

The study pioneers by providing an in-depth analysis of the ways in which the heuristic elements are conceptualized in the context of information seeking and searching. The findings contribute to the elaboration of the conceptual issues of information behavior research.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 73 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article

Pertti Vakkari

The aim of this article is threefold: (1) to give a summary of empirical results reported earlier on relations between students‘ problem stages in the course of writing…

Abstract

The aim of this article is threefold: (1) to give a summary of empirical results reported earlier on relations between students‘ problem stages in the course of writing their research proposals for a master’s thesis and the information sought, choice of search terms and tactics and relevance assessments of the information found for that task; (2) to show how the findings of the study refine Kuhlthau‘s model of the information search process in the field of information retrieval (IR); and (3) to construe a tentative theory of a task‐based IR process based on the supported hypotheses. The results of the empirical studies show that there is a close connection between the students’ problem stages (mental model) in the task performance and the information sought, the search tactics used and the assessment of the relevance and utility of the information found. The corroborated hypotheses expand the ideas in Kuhlthau‘s model in the domain of IR. A theory of task‐based information searching based on the empirical findings of the study is presented.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 57 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article

Po-Yao Chao, Chia-Ching Lin and Ming-Shiang Wu

The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to develop a visualized search system utilizing graphical images to represent the story elements and concepts to help…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to develop a visualized search system utilizing graphical images to represent the story elements and concepts to help elementary students describe and seek their desired storybooks; and second, to explore the effect of the proposed visualized search system on elementary students’ tactics, success, and motivation for seeking storybooks.

Design/methodology/approach

A quasi-experimental approach was conducted with a sample of 61 elementary students in this study. The students’ tactics, motivation and the success of their storybook searching were addressed as dependent variables for further comparisons of the visualized searching system and a conventional keyword searching system.

Findings

The results revealed that the students in the experimental group exhibited more frequent tactics and greater motivation for storybook searching than those in the control group. Further χ2 analysis indicated a significant relationship between the searching interface and the success of the students’ storybook searching.

Originality/value

This paper proposes a new visual search approach which allows young children to search for storybooks by describing an intended storybook in terms of its characters, objects, or the background colors of the cover page. The findings provide some evidence of the effectiveness of the visualized searching interface in terms of promoting young children’s learning through storybook searching and reading activities.

Details

Online Information Review, vol. 41 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1468-4527

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Article

Reijo Savolainen

The purpose of this paper is to elaborate the picture of strategies for information searching and seeking by reviewing the conceptualizations on this topic in the field of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to elaborate the picture of strategies for information searching and seeking by reviewing the conceptualizations on this topic in the field of library and information science (LIS).

Design/methodology/approach

The study draws on Henry Mintzberg’s idea of strategy as plan and strategy as pattern in a stream of actions. Conceptual analysis of 57 LIS investigations was conducted to find out how researchers have approached the above aspects in the characterizations of information search and seeking strategies.

Findings

In the conceptualizations of information search and information seeking strategies, the aspect of strategy as plan is explicated most clearly in text-book approaches describing the steps of rational web searching. Most conceptualizations focus on the aspect of strategy as pattern in a stream of actions. This approach places the main emphasis on realized strategies, either deliberate or emergent. Deliberate strategies indicate how information search or information seeking processes were oriented by intentions that existed previously. Emergent strategies indicate how patterns in information seeking and seeking developed in the absence of intentions, or despite them.

Research limitations/implications

The conceptualizations of the shifts in information seeking and searching strategies were excluded from the study. Similarly, conceptualizations of information search or information retrieval tactics were not examined.

Originality/value

The study pioneers by providing an in-depth analysis of the ways in which the key aspects of strategy are conceptualized in the classifications and typologies of information seeking and searching strategies. The findings contribute to the elaboration of the conceptual space of information behaviour research.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 72 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article

Saila Huuskonen and Pertti Vakkari

The aim of this study is to explore to which extent searching by medical students in Medline produces information items useful for writing an essay measured by precision…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study is to explore to which extent searching by medical students in Medline produces information items useful for writing an essay measured by precision and relative recall as perceived by the students, the proportion of cited items, and their utilization on four dimensions of the essay writing task evaluated by external assessors. It also aims to study interrelations of search process and outcome.

Design/methodology/approach

The study subjects were 42 third year medical students attending a class on Diagnostic and therapy. Searching in Medline was a part of their assignment of essay writing. The data consist of students' printed logs of Medline searches, students' assessments of the usefulness of the references retrieved, a questionnaire concerning the search process, and evaluation scores of the essays given by the teachers of the class. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated for answering the research questions.

Findings

The paper finds that precision and relative recall were not associated with evaluation scores in three of the four dimensions assessed. Some of the process variables were associated with precision and with assessment scores in two of the four dimensions assessed. Citing rate was negatively associated with recall. It seems that precision and recall are only weakly, if at all, associated to the use of information in the documents retrieved for writing the essay. Precision and relative recall are not associated to the way information in the retrieved items is used for performing the task. Users evidently look for a sufficient number of documents containing enough information for progressing in their task. Precision and recall are not sufficient measures in evaluating IR systems, but they have to be completed by other measures indicating the impact of the system on users’ task performance.

Originality/value

The paper provides useful information on students' information search process.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 64 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article

Raya Fidel

Moves, or changes in query formulation, are made to resolve three problem situations: (1) when retrieved sets are too large; (2) when they are too small; or (3) when…

Abstract

Moves, or changes in query formulation, are made to resolve three problem situations: (1) when retrieved sets are too large; (2) when they are too small; or (3) when retrieved sets are off‐target. Observation and analysis of about ninety searches resulted in a list of eighteen operational moves, or modifications of query formulation, that keep the meaning of query components unchanged, and twelve conceptual moves which change the meaning of query components. All these moves are explained and then related to search tactics and strategies.

Details

Online Review, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-314X

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Article

Dan Wu and Renmin Bi

This paper discusses the differences in search pattern transitions for mobile phone, tablet and desktop devices by mining the transaction log data of a library online…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper discusses the differences in search pattern transitions for mobile phone, tablet and desktop devices by mining the transaction log data of a library online public access catalogue (OPAC). We aimed to analyze the impacts of different devices on user search behavior and provide constructive suggestions for the development of library OPACs on different devices.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on transaction logs which are 9 GB in size and contain 16,140,509 records of a university library OPAC, statistics and clustering were used to analyze the differences in search pattern transitions on different devices in terms of two aspects: search field transition patterns and query reformulation patterns.

Findings

Search field transition patterns are influenced by the input function and user interfaces of different devices. As reformulation times increase, the differences between query reformulation patterns among different devices decrease.

Practical implications

Mobile-side libraries need to optimize user interfaces, for example by setting web page labels and improving input capabilities. Desk-side libraries can add more suggestive content on the interface.

Originality/value

Unlike previous studies, which have analyzed web search, this paper focuses on library OPAC search. The search function of mobile phones, tablets and desktops were found to be asymptotic, which was a good illustration of how devices have a large impact on user search behavior.

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Article

Asma Al-Wreikat, Pauline Rafferty and Allen Foster

The purpose of this paper is to report the results and the methods of a study which applied grounded theory to the information-seeking behaviour of social scientists when…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report the results and the methods of a study which applied grounded theory to the information-seeking behaviour of social scientists when searching Arabic and English academic databases using both languages.

Design/methodology/approach

The research applied the grounded theory approach using search experiments and semi-structured interviews. Think-aloud protocol during the experiment was used to capture the data from the subjects to allow a detailed analysis for the experiment. The semi-structured interviews followed each experiment and were analysed using the Strauss and Corbin (1990) version of the grounded theory, as were the think-aloud protocols.

Findings

The results of the think-aloud protocols and the semi-structured interviews suggest that the information needs of the subjects varied depending on the language used. In addition, it was discovered that social scientists followed more tactics in searching the Arabic database for the same tasks searched in English during the experiment. This allowed more search strategies and search tactics to appear in seeking information in Arabic language. The study also proposed a model to account for the cross-language information-seeking behaviour.

Research limitations/implications

This study identifies and compares the information-seeking behaviour of the social scientists in Jordanian universities in searching both Arabic and English academic databases. Therefore, the findings of this study cannot be generalized to other Arab countries, unless there was similar context.

Originality/value

Few studies have investigated information-seeking behaviour using academic Arabic databases and proposed information-seeking behaviour models. No studies have compared information-seeking behaviour when using Arabic and English academic databases. The value of the current study arises by being the first study to identify and compare the information-seeking behaviour of social scientists by using grounded theory and proposing a cross-language information-seeking behaviour model.

Details

Library Review, vol. 64 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0024-2535

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Article

Sanna Kumpulainen

The purpose of this paper is to aim at modelling the trails, which are search patterns with several search systems across the heterogeneous information environment. In…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to aim at modelling the trails, which are search patterns with several search systems across the heterogeneous information environment. In addition, the author seeks to examine what kinds of trails occur in routine, semi-complex and complex tasks, and what barrier types occur during the trail-blazing.

Design/methodology/approach

The author used qualitative task-based approach with shadowing of six molecular medicine researchers during six months, and collected their web interaction logs. Data triangulation made this kind of detailed search system integration analysis possible.

Findings

Five trail patterns emerged: branches, chains, lists, singles and berrypicking trails. The berrypicking was typical to complex work tasks, whereas the branches were common in routine work tasks. Singles and lists were employed typically in semi-complex tasks. In all kinds of trails, the barriers occurred often during the interaction with a single system, but there was a considerable number of barriers with the malfunctioning system integration, and lacking integration features. The findings propose that the trails could be used to reduce the amount of laborious manual system integration, and that there is a need for support to explorative search process in berrypicking trails.

Originality/value

Research of information behaviour yielding to different types of search patters with several search systems during real-world work task performance in molecular medicine have not been published previously. The author presents a task-based approach how to model search behaviour patterns. The author discusses the issue of system integration, which is a great challenge in biomedical domain, from the viewpoints of information studies and search behaviour.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 70 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

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