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USERS' CONCEPTUAL STRUCTURE, SEARCH PROCESS AND USEFUL INFORMATION TYPES IN THE RETRIEVED REFERENCES

Pertti Vakkari, Sami Serola University of Tampere, Finland Mikko Pennanen University of Turku, Finland

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


Abstract

This study focuses on the relationship between students' conceptual understanding of their information need, search process and search effectiveness in terms of useful information types in the references retrieved for their task. The research subjects were 22 undergraduates of psychology preparing a research proposal for a small empirical study. They were asked to make searches in the PsycINFO database in the beginning of their proposal preparation. A pre- and post-search interview was conducted and the search logs were recorded. The students assessed the utility of the references retrieved in terms of given information types useful for their task, i.e. using multidimensional relevance assessments. The results show that students' conceptual structure was both directly and indirectly via search tactics connected to the number of retrieved references providing certain types of information for the task. Different search tactics led to the retrieving of references containing different types of information. It was observed that certain field codes of PsycINFO fit in part with the useful information types. Signalling more clearly those field codes related to these dimensions of topicality could help users in articulating their information needs and consequently in improving search effectiveness.


  
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