ASIS&T 2014 Annual Meeting 
Seattle, WA | October 31 - November 5, 2014

An Investigation of the Effects of Awareness and Task Orientation on Collaborative Search

Annie T. Chen, Rob Capra, Wan-ching Wu
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States of America

Sunday, Nov. 2, 3:30pm


Collaborative search is concerned with how people work together to address a common information need. In this paper, we investigate two factors that may influence collaborative search behaviors: awareness of collaborators’ prior activities, and the orientation of the shared task. For awareness, we examined two levels: an aware condition in which participants could see their collaborators’ prior activity, and a non-aware condition in which they could only see their own history. For task orientation, we investigated two conditions: a task with an open set of goals, and recall-oriented task that asked participants to find as many relevant documents as possible. We conducted a laboratory study to explore the effects of these factors on the search behaviors of participants working on an asynchronous collaborative search task. Forty-one participants used a prototype system called ResultsSpace to complete a search task with three simulated collaborators. Results did not detect any significant differences of the factors on measures of precision and recall, but participants who were aware of their collaborators’ prior actions used more query terms in common with their collaborators and tended to avoid rating or viewing documents that collaborators had already rated.compared to the non-aware group. We also observed an interaction between awareness and task-orientation for the number of unique documents found, suggesting that task nature could change the direction of the effect of awareness on how users explore a document space.