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Exploiting the Social & Cognitive Dimensions of Document Genres to Improve the Reading of Digital Content at the Government of Canada: Results of a Pilot Study

Inge Alberts; Suzanne Bertrand-Gastaldy

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


The contributed research poster will present preliminary results of a pilot project that took place within the Government of Canada. The research project aims to assess how document genres can be exploited in digital information system design and development. We seek to obtain a rich description of Canadian governmental employees’ textual practices while they perform their everyday tasks. We also wish to evaluate the socio-cognitive impacts of document genres within these practices.

The expected contributions of the research project are the following: (1) an understanding of employee reading and textual behaviours at the Government of Canada, and the disparity of these behaviours following the various work tasks; (2) an evaluation of genre’s roles while reading and performing the textual practices; (3) a practical representation of social, linguistic and technical genre features in use at the Government of Canada; (4) a list of influential textual and contextual cues for reading and information seeking, in association with their linkage to document genres.

The preliminary findings demonstrate that understanding how genre impacts on reading in an organisational context leads to the development of more efficient information strategies to improve system design for work tasks. These strategies include genre exploitation within reading aids and the development of personalized options for content access. With this research, we wish to contribute to the enhancement of user access to digital text, where tools will be designed to support, in an integrated manner, the different kinds of reading strategies used to accomplish a diverse range of work tasks and activities.

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