ASIS&T 2006 START Conference Manager    

Information Searching Tactics of Web Searchers

Mimi Zhang Bernard J. Jansen Amanda Spink

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


This paper examines patterns and features of query reformulation within a Web searching session. We pursued this study in response to the growing interest in the area of interactions during information searching. Modifying queries is a necessary and critical step to get desired information from online system. The results from this research can be helpful for researchers to understand people’s behavior when interacting with Web search engines. It could also help search engine providers to improve their services. In this study, we randomly selected a stratified sample of Web sessions containing 8,030 queries from a AltaVista ( transaction log. Then, we analyzed these sessions in terms of the query reformulation tactics that the searcher employed. Our results show that changing the query topic was the primary means to modify queries; and most of the time they were inclined to modify nouns so as to make changes. They knew how to increase and decrease the coverage range (i.e., number of results retrieved) of queries, but they were a little better at decreasing than increasing.

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