JASIST IndexJASIST Table of Contents

Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology



In This Issue
Bert R. Boyce




Co-Evolution of User and Organizational Interfaces a Longitudinal Case Study of Www Dissemination of National Statistics
Gary Marchionini
Published Online 15 Nov 2002

Marchionini posits that an organization's culture and its public face interact with the interfaces that the organization creates for communicating with its users; an interaction that results in the modification and evolution of the organization itself. This conclusion is the result of the analysis of 5 years of interviews with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics staff and of transaction logs collected for the purpose of improving user interfaces for the Web sites of that Bureau. Internet services have become a part of the BLS infrastructure rather than an add-on dissemination service. Significant resources have been applied to Internet dissemination and a long-term development plan based on collected data exists, which has led to the regular addition of new added services. More and more diverse users are appearing, including nonspecialists, and the Bureau has developed a goal of universal access.









Analysis of SciFinder Scholar and Web of Science Citation Searches
Katherine M. Whitley
Published Online 15 Nov 2002

Whitley finds differences in Chemical Abstracts SciFinder Scholar and ISI's Web of Science coverage of chemist's citing references. Using what is termed a haphazard sample of 15 chemistry researchers at U.S. universities and a random sample of 15 from the author index of the American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition Program (April 7-11, 2002, Orlando, FL) she searched their works cited in each database in 1999, 2000, and 2001. The average duplication rate is 60%. The average unique percentage for SFS is 23% and for WOS, 17%. Source journal titles appear in both of the coverage lists for the two indexes, so a sizable number of articles in both indexes are likely not being processed properly. Neither index alone will provide a comprehensive search.








Effective Methods for Studying Information Seeking and Use
Barbara M. Wildemuth
Published Online 15 Nov 2002

In conjunction with the Association for Information Science and Technology's (ASIST) annual meeting in fall 2001, the Special Interest Group on Information Needs, Seeking, and Use (SIG USE) sponsored a research symposium on Effective Methods for Studying Information Seeking and Use. The symposium was intended to address the SIG's goal of promoting studies of human information behavior by focusing on the research methods that can most effectively be used to study information needs, information seeking, information use, and other human information behaviors. The symposium included the presentation of six refereed articles, which were revised based on the discussion at the symposium and are included here. The six articles describe the application of a variety of research methods, singly or in combination. Some of the methods are most appropriate for studying individuals and their interactions with information, while others can be applied to studying group behaviors. The studies were conducted in a variety of settings, from a Web-searching laboratory to an archive, from hospitals to the great outdoors (i.e., forest and river sites). Each method or set of methods was applied to a particular user group, including young children, teenagers, and adults. Each article makes a unique contribution to our repertoire of research methods, as briefly reviewed here.

The articles presented in this issue are a smorgasbord of some of the research methods currently being used for studying information needs, seeking, and use. They generated some interesting discussions during the SIG USE symposium, and provided those present with many ideas for furthering their own research programs. It is hoped that their long-term effect will be the strengthening of research efforts focused on understanding people's information needs, seeking, and use.














Methodology for a Project Examining Cognitive Categories for Library Information in Young Children
Linda Z. Cooper
Published Online 15 Nov 2002

Cooper's article ([2002]) is based on a study of children's understanding of libraries and the information they hold. The study involved three sessions with children in kindergarten through fourth grade. In the first session, the children were asked to visualize an empty library and to suggest the types of books that they felt would be important to include in the library. In the second session, the children were asked to imagine that the books they had suggested had been delivered and were piled on the floor. They were then asked to suggest ways in which the books might be sorted so that it would be easier to find a particular book. The group then practiced sorting a few of the terms generated in the first session onto shelves  in the imaginary library. In the third session, the children worked in small groups to complete a card(book)-sorting exercise, as practiced in the second session. After completing the sorting task, each group also named each shelf.  Multidimensional scaling and hierarchical clustering techniques were used to analyze the results of the card-sorting exercise. Although prior studies of information seeking (e.g., Bilal, [2000], [2001]; Borgman, Hirsch, Walter, & Gallagher, [1995]; Large, Beheshti, & Breuleux, [1998]; Pejtersen, [1992]; Solomon, [1993]) have included young children as study participants, they typically have focused on individual children interacting with existing information resources. Using visualization techniques and drawing on children's imaginative capabilities, Cooper has provided an example of how researchers can work with groups of young children to understand their perspectives on libraries and how library resources might be organized. In addition, the card-sorting exercise that Cooper designed for the children took into account their cognitive development (and how it changes between kindergarten and fourth grade) and, by having them work in groups, the individual idiosyncracies that might weaken the reliability of the findings. Although these methods would benefit from further development, they provide a basis for future work with young children.














"I Spent 1 Hours Sifting Through One Large Box...." Diaries as Information Behavior of the Archives User Lessons Learned
Elaine G. Toms, Wendy Duff
Published Online 15 Nov 2002

Toms and Duff ([2002]) describe their use of diaries to investigate historians' use of archives. They cite the use of diaries as a data collection method in information and library science, and diaries have also been used in studies of human-computer interaction (e.g., Brown, Sellen, & O'Hara, [2000]). In the diary, an individual is asked to record his or her public and private thoughts in a particular situation, for example, while accessing and using archival materials. In this study, graduate students in history were asked to make diary entries recording which tools were used and why, how those tools were used, and whether they were helpful. Diaries hold great promise for some studies of information seeking and use because study participants record their thoughts concurrently with the information interactions. Thus, the diary entries can act as a surrogate for direct observation of these interactions. Archives use would seem to be an appropriate setting for this research method, because it is unlikely that the researcher could travel with the study participant to directly observe his or her information- seeking behaviors. However, Toms and Duff found that there are many barriers to using this research method. The chief problem is the burden imposed on the research participants and, because of the burden, their lack of compliance with the request to complete diary entries. Although diary entries may be a rich source of data, collecting them continues to be a challenge for the researcher.












Beyond Logs and Surveys In-depth Measures of People's Web Use Skills
Eszter Hargittai
Published Online 15 Nov 2002

Web searching and the strategies that people use in their Web searches is a topic of great interest in information science. A number of studies have used Web transaction logs to gain insight into searchers' behaviors (e.g., Jansen, [2000]; Rieh & Xie, [2001]; Spink, Jansen, & Ozmultu, [2000]). Alternatively, researchers have surveyed Web users about their searching behaviors (e.g., Lenhart, [2000]; Spink, Bateman, & Jansen, [1999]). Hargittai ([2002]) provides an example of a large-scale laboratory study of searching behaviors. In the summer of 2001, a random sample of citizens of one New Jersey county were invited to participate in the study (additional counties will be added to the study in the future). The participants were interviewed about their Web use and knowledge about the Web, then observed as they completed 17 assigned search tasks. During the session, participants were asked to comment on their search behaviors. Each session was captured via audiotape and screen capture. During the summer of 2001, 63 participants completed the study. In many ways, Hargittai's ([2002]) work resembles earlier studies of Web searching. Having people complete assigned search tasks while being observed is standard practice in laboratory studies of searching behaviors (e.g., see Dempsey, Vreeland, Sumner, Yang, [2000]; Palmquist & Kim, [2000]). Capturing the searchers' comments as they search is less common, but has been done in previous studies (e.g., Fidel et al., [1999]; Wang, Hawk, & Tenopir, [2000]). The unique contribution of Hargittai's work is its scale she is asking a large number of participants to complete and comment on a large number of search tasks. Incorporating the research and methodological perspectives of sociology into her design of this study, Hargittai is demonstrating that it is feasible to conduct such large-scale studies of searching behavior.













Following Experts at Work in Their Own Information Spaces Using Observational Methods to Develop Tools for the Digital Library
Paul Gorman, Mary Lavelle, Lois Delcambre, David Maier
Published Online 15 Nov 2002

The work of Gorman, Lavelle, Delcambre, and Maier ([2002]) was conducted in several phases, with each phase focused on a different conceptualization of the way in which physicians use medical records. Their initial focus was on the ways in which physicians familiarized  themselves with the content of a patient's medical record. The researchers observed physicians and asked them to think aloud as the physicians used a medical record to solve a clinical problem. Based on the outcomes of this phase, the next phase focused on capturing traces  left by experts as they examined the medical records. Pilot observations were conducted in multiple health care settings, followed by more in- depth ethnographic observation in an intensive care unit. Based on these observations, the team of researchers began to focus on the bundles  of information selected, organized, and annotated as the physicians worked with the medical records. Focus groups were used to verify that this conceptualization of information use by physicians was valid. This study helps us to understand how different research methods might serve different roles during the course of a study or series of studies. In each phase, the research team began with a particular conceptualization of the information behavior they were studying. However, the results in each phase caused the research team to adjust their view, each time bringing it closer to the view of the target audience - physicians. The most effort was put into the second phase. Thus, the first phase can be seen as preliminary, providing a first view of the situation of interest. The second phase was the primary study, with some pilot observations conducted in preparation for the intensive ethnographic observations that yielded the richest data. The final phase provided a mechanism for confirming the validity of the phase two findings, for a broader range of physicians. This serial combination of methods provides a strong basis for design of tools for working with medical records.













Complementary User-centered Methodologies for Information Seeking and Use System's Design in the Biological Information Browsing Environment (BIBE)
P. Bryan Heidorn, Bharat Mehra, Mary F. Lokhaiser
Published Online 15 Nov 2002

The work of Heidorn, Mehra, and Lokhaiser ([2002]) goes even further in incorporating multiple methods, by integrating findings from interviews, participant observation, field observation, and focus groups to study the information needs and information seeking of groups of high school students conducting biodiversity surveys. Interviews were conducted with botanists and with the students' teachers. The researchers participated in training for conducting biodiversity surveys and so were participants as well as being observers of the experiences of the other study participants. Students and their teachers were observed while actually conducting biodiversity surveys in the field (and I do mean, the field!). Finally, focus group interviews were conducted with small groups of students, asking about their experiences with the biodiversity survey and gathering their input about a new software tool for identifying particular plants. In contrast to the work of Gorman and his colleagues ([2002]), Heidorn et al. ([2002]) use these methods in a single phase, allowing them to both triangulate data points for validation purposes and enrich their understanding of information seeking and use in this context. Clearly, none of these methods is unique to this study. Thus, the contribution of this study is its weaving together of methods selected to complement each other in terms of the perspectives they provide. The interviews with botanists provided outside experts' views of the process of plant identification - essentially a knowledge elicitation process that was useful in developing tools for nonexperts. The interviews with students and teachers (both individual and group) allowed them to speak about their experiences in trying to identify particular plants and the tools that supported that process. Participating in the training sessions provided the researchers with a first-person perspective on the knowledge that study participants might have as they entered the field to conduct a biodiversity survey. Direct observation in the field helped the researchers to understand the actual (as opposed to reported) use of the students' knowledge and the available tools. These methods are well-integrated, yet each provides some new insights for the researchers - in the authors' words, they are complementary to each other.
















Scenarios in the Afya Project as a Participatory Action Research (PAR) Tool for Studying Information Seeking and Use Across the "Digital Divide"
Bharat Mehra, Ann Peterson Bishop, Imani Bazzell, Cynthia Smith
Published Online 15 Nov 2002

Although all of the studies included here might be described as user-centered, the Afya project, described by Mehra, Bishop, Bazzell, and Smith ([2002]), is the only study that explicitly includes the target audience in the design of the research (thus making it participatory research). In addition, it is action research, in which findings are quickly incorporated into day-to-day project operations. The project's goal is to gain a better understanding of the provision of community health and information services for Black women, and to intervene effectively in this process. This article is focused on the use of scenarios  as one method for accomplishing this goal. The use of scenarios is common in the field of human-computer interaction and interface design (Carroll, [2000]). Scenarios are stories; they can be either factual or fictional, but they are always realistic. Within the context of this study, scenarios were generated by analyzing the discussions that occurred in three focus groups. Each scenario is a narrative that includes key social realities of the project participants, specific instances of local Black women's health experiences, and questions that mirror their information needs. Although participatory design is an approach sometimes used in information science (Schuler & Namioka, [1993]), participatory action research is relatively rare. It requires that the researchers and their study participants establish a relationship of trust, so that they can together formulate the goals of the research project. In this regard, the Afya project has been successful. On this basis, they are able to give a voice to the project participants - a group that is typically disempowered. With this voice, the project participants can tell their stories, generating scenarios that can then be used in making decisions in the design of information sources and services needed by the participants. The proactive nature of action research combined with an iterative approach to design supports this approach, helping the participants to maintain the trusting relationships required for the research to succeed.
















Banking (On) Different Forms of Symbolic Capital
Blaise Cronin, Debora Shaw
Published Online 7 Nov 2002

Using the 25 most cited Library and Information Science professors in Budd's study of faculty productivity, Cronin and Shaw gathered their total Web hits on Google, and total mentions in open media using LexisNexis, in an attempt to determine if this group constituted public intellectuals in Posner's sense. All have Web presence (123 to 18,520) but nine do not appear in the public media (0 to 310). Web hits and media mentions are highly correlated, while the correlations of these two measures with citation counts are .69 and .66, respectively. While it appears Hal Varian might qualify, it seems there are no outstanding public intellectuals in the group.










Digital Preservation and Metadata History, Theory, Practice, by Susan S. Lazinger
Derek G. Law
Published Online 6 Nov 2002






Engineering a Search Engine (WebLib) and Browser (Knowledge Navigator) for Digital Libraries Global Knowledge Discovery Tools Exclusively for Librarians and Libraries on the Web
V. Sreenivasulu
Published Online 7 Nov 2002





The Special Competency of Information Specialists
Birger Hjorland
Published Online 7 Nov 2002




Integer Partitions Result in Skewed Rank-Frequency Distributions
Donald A. Windsor
Published Online 7 Nov 2002




Published Online 5 Nov 2002


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