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Title: Information Seeking Behavior and Context: Theoretical Frameworks and an Empirical Study of Source Use
Keywords: Information Seeking Behavior, Integrated Framework, Context, Theoretical frameworks, Source Use, Survey study
Issue Date: 30-Jun-2009
Citation: NARESH KUMAR AGARWAL (2009-06-30). Information Seeking Behavior and Context: Theoretical Frameworks and an Empirical Study of Source Use. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Information seeking, context and source use - these three phrases constitute the core of this thesis. Information seeking may be understood as a conscious effort to acquire information in response to a need/gap in our knowledge. All those factors that surround and influence information seeking behavior may be loosely understood as context. An information source can be defined as a carrier of information (e.g. a person, a book, a search engine, etc.). The first phrase (information seeking) contributes an integrated theoretical framework (Study 1). The second term (context) forms the basis for two theoretical frameworks. The third phrase (source use), along with context, leads to an empirical study utilizing a questionnaire survey (Study 2).
Study 1 - Towards an Integrated Framework of Information Seeking and Information Retrieval. In the first theoretical study, we present an integrated framework synthesizing a large number of models/frameworks from the person-centric field of information seeking (that looks at the information needs of the user, the process of seeking and the searcher context) and the system-centric field of information retrieval (concentrating on technology aspects such as search engines/interfaces/algorithms). This process of synthesis could also serve as a methodological move for convergence of research in any field, whereby the work of a particular theorist is taken and other theories and models mapped to it. Designed to serve as one of the most comprehensive frameworks in the field of information behavior, the framework will contribute to theory development and be useful to practitioners and designers of information systems for research. It would help in understanding past studies in the wider context of the field, as well as in the design of new empirical studies. Our second study provides one such design based on elements from this integrated framework.
Study 2 - A Context-based Investigation into Source Use by Information Seekers.B An important question in information seeking behavior is where do people go for information and how do people decide on which information source to use when faced with an information-seeking task or need for information. Some studies have reported that seekers use the information source that is most easily accessible. Other studies have found that people go for the source with the highest quality. The empirical survey study seeks to address these conflicting findings by incorporating variables from the context surrounding information seeking that impact a person's use of one or more information sources. However, this required facing difficult questions on what context really means and what its boundaries are. This difficulty was resolved by proposing theoretical frameworks 1) to define the boundaries of context and 2) to list the variables that make up context. This was followed by aB survey study of 352 working professionals in Singapore to study the role of these contextual factors in determining a person's use of information source. The study found that upon incorporating contextual variables, quality (benefit) was certainly the important factor in the use of a source. Accessibility (cost) was perceived by the seeker to be unimportant but was actually found to be important as well.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D Theses (Open)

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