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Is Amount of Effort a Better Predictor of Search Success Than Use of Specific Search Tactics?

Earl Bailey and Diane Kelly

ASIST 2011 Annual Meeting 
New Orleans, LA, October 9-12, 2011


While it is true that many factors can influence information seeking success, the amount of effort exerted by the user in completing a task can be a key factor. This study examined the log files of high performing and low performing users of an experimental system to find differences in their behaviors performing retrieval tasks. The study examined aspects of elaboration, redundancy, depth, and effort to determine which might be used to predict user success in a retrieval task. Results did not show significant differences between the groups with regard to elaboration, redundancy, and depth, but did reveal significant differences when comparing the following effort measures: number of documents opened, number of piles used, and number of documents placed into piles. Results indicate that the amount of effort is a good indicator of success in information seeking tasks and that high performers are more likely to use tools to help them organize and monitor their search results.

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