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Use of Classification in Information Seeking (SIGs CR, USE)

Hur-Li Lee

Sparking Synergies: Bringing Research and Practice Together @ ASIST '05 (ASIS&T 2005)
Westin Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina, October 28 - November 2, 2005


In subject searching, the most popular method is by entering verbal descriptions which may be part of natural language or a controlled vocabulary. Less popular is searching through classifications or classification-like schemes that provide links among closely associated, hierarchically arranged topics. American libraries and many libraries around the world have long abandoned the latter, making the former the only subject search mechanism in their catalogs. Since 1994, however, Yahoo and other internet search services have offered a so-called “directory” as an alternative to keyword searching. These directories resemble classification schemes in their hierarchical approach to organizing information.

Recognizing the power and potential of classification in information retrieval, classification researchers have recently expanded their research agenda and broadened applications of classification in a variety of environments. The increasing applications of classification-like arrangements on the Internet and in other retrieval systems lead to the questions being explored by this proposed panel:

1. How do classification-like schemes facilitate information seeking in various information environments?

2. Are users taking advantage of this type of scheme in searching? In what circumstances do they do so?

3. How do they navigate classificatory or hierarchical structures?

4. How do they benefit from this kind of navigation, as opposed to searching by keyword?

5. What are the challenges they face in navigating classificatory structures?

6. What are the differences between their use of traditional classification schemes such as the Dewey Decimal Classification and navigation of newly developed online directories?

The panel participants will tackle these issues from both the theoretical and practical perspectives. Although the focus is not on the development of classification theory or schemes, the intention is to call for more research on the use of classification and classification-like schemes in seeking information so that insights gained from this research can assist in developing future schemes and retrieval interfaces that are both sound in theory and user-friendly in practice.

Discuss this on the ASIS&T 2005 Annual Meeting wiki!

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