Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology

Index
Table of Contents

Volume 55  Issue 8


 

Special Topic Issue
Part I:  Information Seeking Research
 

 

Editorial

657

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Introduction
Amanda Spink and Charles Cole
Published online 23 February 2004

This special topic issue of the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology addresses significant research questions related to the broad research area of information seeking behavior. Armed with new methods of data collection such as analyzing online query logs, and new methodologies borrowed from other disciplines, information seeking research has blossomed in recent years to meet the challenge of new, diverse channels of information access at home, at school, and at work.

The papers highlight the future of information seeking theories, models, and research. We asked the authors to set their research inside an information seeking theoretical perspective. As a result, the papers here contextualize information seeking, analyzing the situation of the particular information user in greater depth than ever before. But at the same time, they attempt, by using variables such as uncertainty, to integrate interdisciplinary approaches and to provide generalizable process models that have the potential for application across situations.
 

 

Research

660

 

 

 


 

 

 

From Two-Step Flow to the Internet: The Changing Array of Sources for Genetics Information Seeking
Donald O. Case, J. David Johnson, James E. Andrews, Suzanne L. Allard, and Kimberly M. Kelly
Published online 18 February 2004

"From Two-Step Flow to the Internet: The Changing Array of Sources for Genetics Information Seeking" reevaluates the traditional two-step flow of information seeking by examining cancer genetic information seeking in the Internet environment. The two-step flow is where a person obtains information second-hand from friends and acquaintances who, in a first step, have previously obtained the same information from some other source. The researchers conducted a telephone survey in Kentucky, via random digital dialing, reaching 2,454 people, of whom 882 adults (41%) agreed to be polled. Respondents reported using the Internet first for cancer genetic information, then public libraries, and then medical doctors. The paper concludes that the Internet has changed the traditional two-step flow hypothesis of information seeking.
 

670

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

User Information Seeking Behavior in a Medical Web Portal Environment: A Preliminary Study
Dongming Zhang, Caroline Zambrowicz, Hong Zhou, and Nancy K. Roderer
Published online 23 February 2004

In Zhang, Zambrowicz, Zhou, and Roderer's paper User Information Seeking Behavior in a Medical Web Portal Environment: A Preliminary Study, methodologically, the study is based on a query log analysis of MyWelch which is provided to users of the Johns Hopkins University Medical Library (Welch Medical Library) Web Portal. They studied high use users of the MyWelch Portal only. The study measured user's clicks/minute, the time length of search, and seeking time per click, to classify the users' searching activities as undirected seeking, semi-directed seeking, or directed seeking. The authors also widen out information search to an information seeking framework by analyzing the data in terms of an information seeking model. Their findings were that 22.5% of the MyWelch users studied were engaged in directed information seeking, 23.15% in semidirected seeking, and 52.4% in undirected information seeking.
 

685

 

 

 

 


 

 

Positioning Theory and the Negotiation of Information Needs in a Clinical Midwifery Setting
Pamela J. McKenzie
Published online 20 February 2004 

Pamela McKenzie's paper Positioning Theory and the Negotiation of Information Needs in a Clinical Midwifery Setting studies how the information needs of pregnant women are constructed in conversations with their midwives. The researchers interviewed, taped, and observed nine pregnant women and their midwives. Each midwife/pregnant woman was recorded in the midwife's office (without researcher), plus there was a later follow-up interview between the researcher and each midwife and pregnant woman. The findings include several types of what the researcher calls positioning, where the information need of the pregnant woman is positioned either by herself, by the midwife, or in terms of a 3rd-order information encounter. This type of research is extremely difficult to do, digging deep down into the small world of the pregnant woman at a time of intense information need.
 

695

 

 

 


 

 

 

A Framework for Understanding User Requirements for an Information Service: Defining the Needs of Informal Carers
Mark Hepworth
Published online 2 March 2004

Mark Hepworth's paper A Framework for Understanding User Requirements for an Information Service: Defining the Needs of Informal Carers develops a framework to help identify key aspects of the care giver, their social environment, and their interaction with sources of information, to facilitate specification of user requirements for a care giver information service. Some 60 English care givers were interviewed using Dervin's micro-time line interview technique (which is based on recalling specific information situations). Based on the study findings, the researcher provides a model of situation or contextual factors - situation-in-context - divided into sociological data (roles, norms, tasks), psychological data (knowledge state, cognitive state, style state, affective state), behavioral data, and information source data (source character, source behavior).
 

709

 

 

 

 

 

Toward Wellness: Women Seeking Health Information
Dorothy Warner and J. Drew Procaccino
Published online 24 February 2004

Warner and Procaccino's paper Toward Wellness: Women Seeking Health Information examines the health information seeking processes of women, including their use of formal, informal, and hybrid channels. The Internet is regarded as a hybrid channel. The researchers define information seeking as a process of seeking information needed for personal decision-making related to health and medical issues. A convenience sample of 119 women filled out a questionnaire. One of the qualities of this research is the detailed analysis of questionnaire construction provided in the paper.
 

731

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use of the World Wide Web for International Travel: Integrating the Construct of Uncertainty in Information Seeking and the Task-Technology Fit (TTF) Model
John D'Ambra and Concepción S. Wilson
Published online 24 February 2004

D'Ambra and Wilson's paper Use of the WWW for International Travel: Integrating the Construct of Uncertainty in Information Seeking and the Task-Technology Fit (TTF) Model models and evaluates Web search performance for the nonwork task of travel information provision. The study hypothesis was that Web information seeking reduces uncertainty. Some 217 travelers were interviewed at an airport using a structured interview schedule. The authors present an information seeking model that includes uncertainty reduction. They conclude that the use of the Web for travel tasks, for uncertainty reduction, as an information resource, and for mediation, all have a significant impact on users' perceptions of performance, explaining 46% of variance.
 

743

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Web at Home: Information Seeking and Web Searching in the Home Environment
Soo Young Rieh
Published online 23 February 2004

Soo Young Rieh's paper On the Web at Home: Information Seeking and Web Searching in the Home Environment reports results from a study that explores the environmental factors that affect Web information seeking in home environments, including the goals of users, how users interact with the Web, and how they formulate search queries. Twleve residents of Northern California recruited by a recruiting agency were required to keep a Search Activities Diary; there was also a later interview in their home. There, the subjects were asked to explain diary entries and demonstrate the actions described in the diary using the user's computer terminal. Rieh found that the location of the computer in home is important for examining use patterns within the everyday life information seeking context.
 

754

 

 

 

 

 


 

Information Grounds and the Use of Need-Based Services by Immigrants in Queens, New York: A Context-Based, Outcome Evaluation Approach
Karen E. Fisher, Joan C. Durrance, and Marian Bouch Hinton
Published online 23 February 2004

Fisher, Durrance, and Hinton's paper Information Grounds and the Use of Need-Based Services By Immigrants in Queens, New York: A Context-Based, Outcome Evaluation Approach reports the results from a major ongoing study that seeks to evaluate a library's outreach services. In the part of the study reported here, the researchers' interviewed 15 library administrators and 30 library customers, conducted observations, and examined documentary evidence. The researchers created a taxonomy of outcomes of library use, outcomes that were firmly set in the information ground or context of the immigrant library customer's small world. The researchers show that outcomes can be equated with information use. Types of outcomes include immigrant adaptation to the United States, and the increase in the immigrant's status via library outreach services. The theoretical focus and the researchers' linking of outcomes to information use provide an innovative method of measuring the value of the library services provided to these library clients.


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