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ASIST 2012 Annual Meeting 
Baltimore, MD, October 26-30, 2012 

An Investigation on Search Processes in Collaborative Exploratory Web Search
Zhen Yue, Shuguang Han and Daqing He

Monday, 6:30pm


Collaboration in Web search can be synchronous or asynchronous in terms of concurrency, and different collaboration style may affect search actions greatly. This paper presents a user study aiming to compare search processes in three different conditions: pair of users working on the same Web search tasks synchronously, pair of users working on the same Web search tasks asynchronously, and single users work separately. Our analysis of search processes was focused on the distribution and transition of user search actions logged in a web search system called CollabSearch. The results show that the participants exhibited different patterns of search processes under different conditions. A large proportion of users’ actions in the synchronous condition were related to explicit communication, and users in the synchronous condition issued queries and collected documents sooner than those in the other two conditions. In asynchronous conditions, participants conducted more actions in the shared workspace than those in individual condition. Particularly, their actions in shared workspace were more frequent in the beginning and ending phase than those in the middle phase of entire search session. This study provides some guidance on the range of behaviors and activities that a collaborative search system should support.