User Access to Services Committee
CURRENT USER RESEARCH BIBLIOGRAPHY - Working List - Last update July 31, 2000
For more information on the project contact Sally J. Jacobs , Chair MARS/UAS Committee
This article reports on a survey conducted in the Fall 1993 and Spring 1994. Accessibility to workstations is the key factor in determining the adoption of electronic networks. A second important factor in adoption is the number of people sharing a workstation. Perceived ease of use does not appear to be a factor in adoption of electronic networks.
Describes surveys of CD-ROM use in three academic/research libraries in Ghana. Two surveys were completed, one for libraries and one for library users. Libraries were asked about access, use, impact on demand for services, current awareness, impact on interlibrary loan, promotion, and problems. Library users responded to questions about how they learned about the CD-ROM databases, satisfaction, purposes for use of the CD-ROM database, impact, willingness to pay for use or to cancel journal subscriptions, and usefulness. Most users used the CD-ROM databases for theses and projects, increased research output, did not wish to pay for access, and believed they had received benefit from the CD-ROM databases. The authors conclude with a list of twelve recommendations.
Allen discusses the varied abilities of users and the configuration options available on many software packages, suggesting that software should be configured based on user needs and abilities, thereby optimizing search performance for the end user. To prove his hypothesis, Allen conducted experiments in which users were assigned tasks to complete using specified software configurations. Allen used four systems, all with the same database of 668 bibliographic records. His participants included eighty students at the University of Missouri. His results show the configuring software to suit user's abilities is possible and recommended. However, configuring software based on specific tasks is more difficult. Nonetheless, Allen recommends that both variables be taken into consideration when designing or configuring search interfaces. Analysis of user abilities may provide useful indicators for librarian wishing to configure software to suit their user abilities and needs and enhance search performance. He concludes that the simplest method of achieving an interface that provides optimum results for specific users is to provide the user with preferences that may be changed by the user as they use the software.
When multiple CD-ROM databases are available, do users select the appropriate one to use? In this study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, three independent judges reviewed what students selected when offered 16 different databases. Using a point system of most appropriate (3 points), next choice (2 points), and third choice (1 point), the judges would select which three databases they would use for a particular question/assignment. Eighty-two searches were examined. 21.95% of the searches received the highest score while 19.51% received 0. Training and accessibility or knowledge of the availability of the databases might have affected the outcome.
Reports the results of a survey of online search techniques of fifty university students at Arizona State University. Factors measured were: type of searching, use of library personnel and online help screens, exposure to library instruction and length of time at the terminal for citation versus abstract products. The survey used an observer to gather data. Analysis revealed that patrons still rely on simple subject searching, even when exposed to more advanced search techniques; users need both online help and staff assistance; databases with abstracts required more terminal time than databases without abstracts.
To evaluate a new corporate internal database/search tool based on metadata/field searching, the author surveyed users on Internet search tools, commercial search tools (Dialog, IDC Net, Dow Jones), the corporate OPAC and the new search database. Respondents included 18 professional information specialists, 7 frontline helpdesk associates, and 9 administrative staff. Expertise and amount of searching varied: specialists used all tools heavily and consistently, associates used primarily the corporate OPAC and the new internal databsse, and the administrative users used Internet search tools and the corporate OPAC and database. Both closed and open-ended questions asked users to evaluate search and result fields. Users were also asked about future features for the database. User in general favored search tools that they had developed a trust in and which they saw as comprehensive, information specialists favored comprehensiveness over precision and administrative staff vice versa. Other important factors were coverage (including knowing what is in the database), relevant ranking, field searching, search and proximity operators, and help screens. Log analysis of searches in the new database engine found steadily increasing field searches, especially publisher, service name, document type and title (date fields, not already present, were heavily requested). Searchers would like to see search refinement, query by example, and multiple field searches added. Administrators were interested in topical search trees while information specialists wanted document excerpts. Literature review, technical methodology and a copy of the survey are included.
This study was conducted through CD-ROM search request forms and a questionnaire survey distributed to 817 faculty members with a 53% response rate. The purpose of the study was to determine: the magnitude of CD-ROM use and non-use; the use patterns of CD-ROM databases; the extent users were satisfied with search results, staff assistance and user guides; if dissatisfied, the reasons for dissatisfaction; and, users perceptions about the need for training on CD-ROM searching. The results of the study were reviewed. The follow-up measures to the results and their effects were also outlined.
Finding a lack of available literature and few surveys on academic uses of the Internet the authors developed their own questionnaire to survey Internet users in higher education. Using StatView, a statistical software package, they designed a questionnaire that would use the Internet as their distribution vehicle. The survey was sent to 231 electronic discussion groups (Listservs) and a total of 1,536 responses were received. Survey questions asked were; computer expertise,frequency of e-mail utilization, access to various telnet sites, frequency of connections to a variety of Internet sources, use of various navigation aids (Gopher, etc.), institutional affiliation, research interest and importance and use of the Internet. Tables showing some of the survey results and helpful references are included.
In 1991, Hofstra University was about to expand end-user online and compact-disc services with implementation of a local area network. Reference Department staff felt it would be useful before the expansion to evaluate the effectiveness of the current end-user training and satisfaction with the current services. A survey of fourteen questions was conducted to ascertain usage of specific databases, the purpose of the end-user search, search strategies, use of online thesauri, satisfaction with results of the search (in numerical terms), and previous use of printed sources. The survey showed that the definition of "comprehensiveness" differed greatly between librarians and users. More than half of the users felt that search results between one and twenty items was comprehensive enough. This perception of a comprehensive search was consistent with the number of items they needed, so overall satisfaction was high. Use of print sources was very low among online users. The vast majority of users said they employed mainly descriptor or keyword searching, but observation indicated that they actually used the terms keyword and descriptor interchangeably and rarely used descriptor searching. Few used limiting functions when searching and few indicated use of online thesauri, prompting the writers to conclude that current end-user training might over-emphasize thesaurus use and precision searching.
Baron et. al. examine three classifications of hyperlinks within hypertext databases and evaluate which are best for user navigation. The three types of links examined include organizational links, unlabeled semantic, rhetorical, and pragmatic links, and labeled semantic, rhetorical, and links to the organizational links. The links are used in combination with each other, as well as the only type on link available on the interface. Organization links are defined as links and icons for "next page"; "end of file", etc. The content-based links deal with the meaning of a text rather than the organization. The authors divide the content-based links into three subcategories: semantic, dealing with the meanings of words; rhetorical, for example a link to an abstract or summary; and pragmatic, for example al ink to a primary source, or links to examples. The experiment was run to determine which combination of link types lead to increases performance by the users, defined by speed and accuracy of searching. The thirty-six participants were given a search to perform under conditions including the various combinations of link-types. The searches were video taped and analyzed. The results indicate that content-based links can be effective, but with some exceptions. The participants who have the additional content-based links that were labeled scored significantly higher than participants who had no content-based links of who had only unlabeled content-based links. Adding abeled links can produce more effective searching and can give the searcher and idea of the information to be found the destination.
The Research Activity Timetable as a method of analysis of information seeking behavior is discussed in great detail and applied to compare the information seeking behavior of groups of users from different academic fields. (The purpose of the article is to explain the technique of the RAT, however, an analysis of the information seeking behavior does give some insight into the user.)
The final in a series of reports on a project at the Getty Research Institute, in which visiting scholars were given DIALOG accounts and a one-day training session. Records of all searches were kept and the scholars were interviewed. Only a few scholars used the service heavily, and use was principally at the margins of the scholars' field. Various ways are examined in which search systems that work well for scientists and engineers work less well for humanists. Scholars were not consistent in their preferences for search arrangements: mediated, unmediated alone, unmediated with assistance, and so on.
Presents the results of a survey on the use of electronic information sources; remote access to online databases, CD-ROM indexes and library OPACs by professionals in the field of aging. Members of the Gerontological Society of America, who represent a wide range of disciplines and professions in the field of aging were used for this study. The questionnaire used was designed to gather the following about the respondents; demographic information, level of computer literacy, use of electronic information sources and their knowledge of online databases. Medline was found to be the most frequently used database by the participants, and that attendance at library-sponsored workshops increased end-user searching. Includes questions asked and charts of findings.
This article discusses the potential role of user-oriented studies of computer networking. Although such studies are increasing in number, the authors feel they are underutilized by those who make decisions about the goals, design, and support of networked systems. The point is made that existing policy at the national, regional, or local level may even mandate attention to user needs, yet for both political and practical reasons, user studies may be avoided. Even when user studies are employed, they are too often one-time efforts performed by individuals or groups with narrow agendas. The authors make the case for user input as an ongoing and intrinsic component of networking policies and strategic planning, achieving increased government accountability and effectiveness of the networked systems.
Through a content analysis of take-home examinations given during the first and second semesters, the authors found definite changes in public health graduate students' use of critical analysis skills. During the first eight weeks of the year, 96% of the students stated that the Internet was their most helpful resource in gathering information. Six months later, after becoming selective and critical in Web reading, none of the students felt that the Internet was most useful. Rather, they had learned, as a result of problem-based learning, that the Internet was good for statistical data, regulations, and organizational overviews. The evaluation criteria students employed included (1) the validity of the information source; (2) the rationality of methods used to collect data; (3) the accuracy and currency of the actual data; (4) the appropriateness of references cited; and (5) use of peer review for quality control.
This study examines Australian academics' satisfaction with information seeking on the Internet and the effect of training, frequency of use, and expectation of success on that measure of satisfaction. The primary objective of the research, however, was to establish the validity and reliability of the users' magnitude estimates of their satisfaction. The study also showed that satisfaction was a prophetic variable, one that is characterized as a perceptual, quantitative continuum. Having validated the data, researchers were able to conclude that Australian academics' generally have high expectations of success and are satisfied with their information seeking results, regardless of frequency of Internet use or receipt of formal training. Research to explain the reason(s) for high expectations of success for Internet information seeking is needed.
At the University of North Carolina's Davis Library, an electronic survey of users of the CD- ROM network was done in spring 1991. 1,135 responses showed that librarians need to be prepared to instruct first time users as well as responding to complex search questions; most users prefer staff assistance to other forms of help; the most effective way of publicizing the service is through the faculty; staff needs to be aware that many searches are being run in inappropriate databases.
A study conducted at Georgia Institute of Technology by capturing 43,000 client-side user events of NCSA's Xmosaic was analyzed to determine user behavior. Log file analysis revealed user navigation strategies and provided real interface usage data. It also yielded design and usability suggestions for WWW pages, sites and browsers. Methodology and findings are discussed along with future research directions.
This study examines the usability of two algorithm techniques in browsing and searching the Internet. The ET-Map, a variant of the Kohonen self-organizing map (SOM) algorithm, graphically categorizes Yahoo!'s Entertainment subdirectory. The Entertainment Thesaurus is an automatically-generated "concept space" representing weighted relationships of terms from the subdirectory's web sites. Both tools were compared to Yahoo!. The browsing experiment indicates that the Kohonen SOM could effectively and scaleably be used for browsing the Internet. The ET-Map worked best for broad, undirected searching done by users with associative rather than hierarchical and alphabetic mental models. Testers liked the map's spatial factor and color differentiation and noted that the layers and labels helped reduce information overload. Negative feedback included problems with word association, readability, getting lost, and design inflexibility. The results of the searching experiment found no statistically significant difference in document precision and concept recall between thesaurus and user-suggested terms. However, searches combining user and thesaurus terms significantly improved recall. The concept space worked best for experienced searchers who were refining broad searches. Testers commended the concept space for its organization, multiple term searching, high degree of user control, and results display. The study suggests that not only do both techniques compare favorably with typical Internet browsing/searching mechanisms, but that they may be used to improve them.
Chen and Ford interviewed and observed 10 male and female students who interacted with a hypermedia program entitled An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence to determine if there were significant correlations between individual differences and preferred types of navigation tools or navigation patterns. Each participant could decide what to do (content control) and in what order (sequence control). Personal differences studied included prior subject knowledge, prior experience using a hypermedia browser to access information, levels of Internet experience, and cognitive style. Data analyses connected students' feedback on the system with their cognitive styles; assessed the relationships between frequency of navigation tools selected and cognitive styles; and identified students' navigation patterns derived from their navigation routes. The investigators' findings were not unexpected. Students with greater subject knowledge made greater use of navigation tools and those with a lot of Internet experience spent longer interacting with the hypermedia system. Chen and Ford conclude that students could learn more effectively and efficiently if learning environments could be tailored to their particular individual characteristics. They call for more research to identify ways to assist students with low levels of prior subject knowledge.
This article examines the "Principle of Least Effort," which states: "Each individual will adopt a course of action that will involve the expenditure of the probably least average of his work (by definition, least effort)" in relation to reference workstations. Workstation use in a Chemistry branch library were analyzed and confirmed that workstation use has impacted connect hours, journal use, use of library services such as reference and circulation in positive ways, and that workstations seem to "work" for the end-user.
Two controlled experiments were conducted to determine if the animated zooming effect that accompanies the opening or closing of a folder in the Apple Macintosh graphical user interface aids in a user's ability to determine which window corresponds to which folder. No statistically significant overall difference was found resulting from the presence or absence of the zooming effect. The author suggests that the advantages of the use of such animation in interface design needs to be further studied.
This article summarizes a survey of faculty members at A&M University regarding their use of online databases both in the library and at their office. The survey revealed that a significant number (21%) were searching databases from their labs or offices without funding or assistance from the library. Some of the databases used in the office or lab were actually available at the library. Faculty were more willing to spend their own money for access at their own convenience than to make the trip to the library, indicating that demand for remote access will continue. The study also showed that faculty in some departments were either unaware of the library resources available or did not have the necessary equipment to use them.
This article reports on the results of a 1994 study of the use and users of U.S. Representative Sam Coppersmith's (Arizona) Gopher and distribution list services via the Internet. The use part of the study covers the access patterns of the Coppersmith Gopher; files they searched and client types (.edu, .gov, .com, .org, etc.). The user survey, which was conducted via e-mail, asked general demographic information: state residency, education, gender, age, etc.; type of system and software used to access the gopher; what gopher files they accessed; and how often they visited the site. The questionnaire used for the survey and charts of findings are included.
This article reports on the results of a series of structured interviews of about 125 scholars at eight universities, conducted in 1995, on their use of new technologies in their research. The investigation focused on the concept of "material mastery," or the ability and skills of the subjects to conduct research in a specific discipline, to look at the "context of use" or "situated use" of paper and electronic resources by scholars in four disciplines. Disciplinary search strategy, materials selection, and field integration are considered. The author found that which of the new technologies were likely to be adopted was often due to whether or not it met the needs of researchers in a particular discipline. Among other findings, it was discovered that molecular biologists were unwilling to use electronic journals because they did not provide adequate displays of graphics; that sociologists made heavy use of a variety of databases because of their frequent need to learn of work done outside their area of expertise; that literary theorists rarely used discussion lists because of the preponderance of undisciplined, chatty submissions; and that computer scientists were making heavy use of one particular electronic journal because the major print journal in the same subfield had significant time lags in the appearance of articles in an area where currency was critical, and because the new journal was peer-reviewed. Though obviously catching the behavior of scholars at a particular point in time, the article offers a model for examining the relevance of specific digital resources to the research needs of scholars in specific disciplines.
Details the results of a survey of students undertaken at Glasgow Caledonian University (Scotland) when an "Electronic Floor" opened providing access to 100 computers. The authors used semi-structured interviews and focus groups to gather information about the students' use of electronic resources. Respondents saw the electronic floor in the library as an extension of computer labs elsewhere on campus and used it primarily for non-curricular activities--email and the Internet. Few used electronic information resources on CD-ROM or on the Internet. Students expressed a need for training and part-time students were especially concerned that they did not know how to use the computers effectively.
This article expands on the comparison of subsistence foraging activity to scholarly information seeking, a concept explored in a 1994 article by Sandstrom in Library Quarterly. The authors analyze the use of digital resource environments like the World Wide Web for possible inclusion in this theoretical model. The different ways in which researchers use the Web are explored. The authors describe searching behavior in the more free-wheeling Web environment and conclude that Web searchers are more engaged in discovery and a "novelty-as-nutrient" approach as opposed to matching or relevancy in the traditional information and retrieval model. This analysis supports the case for changing the dominant information retrieval metaphor from matching to foraging. The authors conclude that use of the foraging metaphor could provide a fruitful way to model information behaviors and might encourage development of more sensitive Web discovery tools.
The Colorado State University Libraries have been acquiring science and engineering databases on CD-ROM since the fall of 1988. There is little information in the literature on what actually happens when library patrons sit down at a CD-ROM workstation. Computer Foundations' Total Recall, which records keystrokes and provides options for them to be examined and played back, was used to study CD-ROM searching at the libraries. A total of 46 searches were recorded and analyzed using Total Recall. During these searches, a total of 356 search terms were used for an average of 7.9 terms per search. Printouts were made at some point during 70% of the searches.However, in only 62% of these searches were records actually selected for printing. Findings indicate that the CD-ROM users whose searches were analyzed were unlikely to use sophisticated search features. Less than 20% of the users employed special feature commands or segment searching and slightly more than half used Boolean connectors. The Sciences and Technology Department at Colorado State now offers workshops on CD-ROM searching.
The authors surveyed a small set of physicians asked to use a pair of health information system kiosks made available in the hospital. Found that most did not use it, or were not happy with it, because of: lack of convenience, difficulties with the system, and inability to find what they considered reliable information in the system. Suggested that categorizations of information and information structuring in the system, primarily based on patient mental models, appear to be inadequate for physician information retrieval. Optimum use of online information systems by physicians would appear to require handheld wireless devices, a large database of reliable clinical information and articles, and a presentation structure developed expressly for fast and easy retrieval of information by physicians.
This short article gives the results of a 1996 survey of Internet use by 640 scientists. Approximately 25% of the scientists were already accessing electronic journals and contents services. When asked if they would like all their work-related information to be delivered by the Internet, 97% responded positively.
This masters research investigated the effect of different search interfaces on user performance. Infoseek's simple search with the single line and drop menu interface that is common on the Internet was compared with the Open Text power search which combines drop menus and multiple fill in lines. Twenty one journalism students conducted three prescribed searches and one personal search on one search engine and completed a scaled evaluation of that engine. The students repeated the searches using the second search engine, then evaluated the second search engine. Additional data were collected from the participants by capturing screen actions and tracking users' online behavior. The data recorded for each search engine included the query searched, the number of URLs checked for relevancy, number of pages scanned, number of query terms, number of query revisions and number of times help was used. The Investigator also made note when features unique to a particular engine were used. T tests or Chi-square tests were used to explore relationships among the variables. Data analysis revealed statistically significant differences in the number of revisions (more in Open Text), the number of terms used (more in Open Text), number of results (more in Infoseek) and number of times zero results were returned (more often in Open Text). Most students either failed to see or to use the help messages when zero results were returned. Having a favorite search engine prior to testing affected how the participants felt about the capability of the two engines. Different query interfaces, levels of search experience and domain knowledge led to different user behavior. The investigator attributed the poor results to ineffective query formulation or the searchers' lack of understanding of the workings of the search engines.
This study tests user success in a networked environment consisting of CD-ROM, Telenet-accessible databases, free Internet services, and the library catalog. Forty-three subjects took part in an exercise that forced them to choose among databases, use a variety of database interfaces, and select terminology. The measure of success was the subject's ability to print a record appropriate to each question asked. Subjects were successful 52 percent of the time. The most significant factors affecting success were selection of database, the use of multiple concepts, the interface used, and the number of databases used. Conclusions were drawn about network design, database design, and library instruction.
The authors compared the search strategies of undergraduate students who are novice users of CD-ROM databases to determine whether there are significant differences between searchers who are native English speakers and those who are English-as-a-second-language (ESL) students. They analyzed results from a search of the PsycLIT CD-ROM database in three areas: (1) use of language-based techniques, such as plurals, synonyms, variant spellings, and compound words, (2) use of procedural techniques, such as Boolean logic, truncation, and combining search sets, and (3) effectiveness and efficiency. Both groups of novice searchers had problems with searching and under-utilized Boolean logic, truncation, the thesaurus, and the index. ESL students also had difficulty using plurals, synonyms, compound words, and alternative words. The authors conclude with suggestions about the content of instruction for general users and for ESL students, and about changes needed in databases.
The study examined and assessed the search techniques of trained end-users and determined whether or not they were searching the system effectively. One hundred and thirty-one users searched a full-text system and completed a survey that asked them to evaluate the system and describe their search strategy and techniques. Overall, 55% of the total indicated dissatisfaction with their searches. Correlations between native language and searching results and satisfaction are shown. These findings suggest that computer literate end-users with prior experience searching other databases and formal training experience more difficulties than is commonly realized. Implications for training are discussed.
This article describes a research study assessing the affective response of searchers to hypertext versions of a structured bibliographic database, similar to a library catalog. Users worked with two different types of hypertext database: a "basic" database with hypertext links to traditional author, title and descriptor links, and an "enhanced" database which included the links in the basic database, plus linkages among keywords from titles and abstracts. Participants performed five searches, using controlled vocabulary; Boolean searches were not available. User perceptions of the two types of database were not statistically different, but factor analysis revealed that factors influencing feelings were maneuverability, which included the ability to refine a search, perceptions of ease of use, and (for the enhanced version only) a novelty factor. Analysis of search performance found that although users liked the additional linkages in the enhanced database, those extra linkages did not result in better searches. The authors conclude that the hypertext model needs refinement to reduce user frustration and to improve maneuverability.
This article describes a usability study of ZPRISE, an information retrieval interface. Study participants used the interface for a test question development task for the Text REtrieval Conference (TREC). The study's process included a tutorial, task observations and verbal feedback, and a satisfaction survey. A usability problem matrix was created by combining tutorial and task performance observations and grouping them first by interface window and then by user. This analysis identified trends in user problems and common problems in specific parts of the interface. Satisfaction survey data relevant to these problems was incorporated, and usability issues were categorized and prioritized. Based on the matrix, changes in size, color, screen placement, wording, viewing options, and navigation were made to the interface, which was retested for usability in the same manner. Comparative analysis of the two tests determined if usability issues from Test 1 had been minimized or eliminated and if new problems had arisen, especially as a result of the changes. Analysis showed 11 usability problem groups were found in common, eight were eliminated between tests, and three new groups were identified in Test 2. Existing problem groups could be classified as either navigation or conceptual issues. The study not only examined the usability of a particular interface but also provided valuable insight into the problems users were having with a specific information retrieval task.
The use of three interfaces to a Belgian library catalog by eight motor impaired university students was studied to identify how interface design influences required motor actions. Software recorded the actions of users performing pre-defined tasks, with cameras recording keyboard, mouse and screen activity, and students completing post-test questionnaires. Recommendations are offered based on quantitative and qualitative data analysis, including the reduction of required motor actions by minimizing required scrolling, avoiding the use of small shapes to be clicked on, and automatically placing the cursor in the text-entry box.
Users predominately from the UCLA Biomedical and the Engineering and Math Sciences Libraries were studied as to their ability at searching CD-ROM databases and the effectiveness of their searching. Methodology, data collection instruments, procedure for data collection, and the results were reported. The conclusion was that users overall do not know how to search and they need further training. Attention should also be paid to improving CD-ROM interfaces and retrieval systems.
This study investigated whether experience in using CD-ROM databases would improve patron's use of keyword features in the online catalog. The study found that there was virtually no effect.
Cornell University's Chemistry Online Retrieval Experiment (CORE) was a five year R&D project to provide networked electronic access to the text and graphics of previously published scholarly journals. One of CORE's goals was to compare user responses to differing presentations of the same data, particularly scanned pages (Pixlook interface) versus encoded text (Scepter interface). The project included users from a number of departments. A variety of evaluation techniques (transaction logs, online questionnaires, online comments, in-person interviews, and anecdotes) were used to assess user attitudes and experiences. Overall system usage, article viewing, printing, reading habits, and searching are discussed. Although none of the data conclusively demonstrates the superiority of either interface, conclusions drawn from the research regarding display, printing, response time, and searching can be applied to future work with electronic journals.
This study done at the University of Denver was to increase user confidence by teaching research skills which could be used in many databases, determine the success of teaching methods used to introduce the DIALOG Classroom Instruction Program, and to study the behavior of the searchers. Participants attended a one-hour class in which librarians discussed the role of DIALOG as a research tool and compared it to other available resources, with emphasis on CARL. After having access to five free 20 minute sessions on DIALOG participants completed a survey. Some of the survey results were: level of comfort with computers was highest with searchers in the sciences and lowest with searchers in the humanities; users felt confident in search strategy design, commands, Boolean logic, and database content after instruction; and users had difficulty knowing when an online search was not appropriate.
This research explores the differences in the use and perception of the Internet by men and women. Using both an e-mail survey of 31 items of Internet perception and use and a test of cognitive styles, the authors studied a group of 75 students. The 31 items on the survey were grouped into 7 broad factors by factor analysis. Factor 1, disoriented, was associated with female students; factor 2, disinterested, emphasized the Internet as offering little information of personal interest, little usefulness for work, and being too big; factor 3, informationally overloaded-planful was associated with "verbalizers;" factor 4, informationally overloaded-graphics-oriented was associated with older students; factor 5, work-oriented, was associated with older students and/or female students; factor 6, keyword searchers, showed that keyword searchers preferred to browse; and factor 7, seemingly happy to spend time on the Internet, was associated with male students. In general,the survey found that men enjoy browsing with no clear plan, while women tend to use the Internet for work and not for pleasure or personal interest.
The Graphics, Visualization & Usability (GVU) is a research center affiliated with Georgia Tech's College of Computing. Since January of 1994, the surveys have been run as a public service to the Web community every six months and all results and collected datasets are published online. There are now seven surveys available . Of particular interest are the sections on Information Gathering Behavior.
This article reports the results of a survey done in the spring of 1995 by the Seattle (WA) Public Library of patrons who used the library's Internet service. The results indicated a high level of satisfaction with the service. In addition, the survey found that over half of the users of the service at the Central Library used the Internet for an hour or more each time they logged on. The library provided 25 free training sessions per month, yet only 14% of the respondents reported attending one of the sessions. For approximately 63% of users, the main reason for going online was to "communicate with others." Sixty percent also reported using the Internet for recreation. Slightly over half of the respondents indicated that using the Internet for educational purposes was important.
Covers a study conducted at the University Library, SUNY at Albany, in 1995 to investigate who is using the Internet, and for what purpose. A survey was developed and questions asked of patrons, using Windows access, at six Internet workstations. Patrons were asked demographic information: status, sex, age range, and discipline; their experience with the Internet and its perceived usefulness. The findings showed that the majority of users were male undergraduates in the Social Sciences and novice users. Findings also indicated that the library should continue to provide access to the Internet and take a lead in developing campus-wide information systems, such as Web home pages. Includes charts of the findings and the questionnaire used.
The purpose of this exploratory study was to identify the strategies used by ten members of a technology for educators class to find information in an open-ended information system. Data collection took place during the telecommunications unit of the course. Five tools were used to gather information: a pre-search survey, think-aloud protocols, audit trails, a post-search questionnaire, and a stimulated post-search interview. Each of the tools covered the five main areas examined in the study: metacognitive knowledge (or the awareness of the cognitive strategies one employs while working), disorientation (one's perception of being lost), perceived self-efficacy (one's perception of his/her ability to succeed), system knowledge (prior knowledge and experience in using a particular system), and subject knowledge (existing knowledge and experience related to the subject searched). The process of analytical induction was used to analyze the data gathered during the research.
Hill found that the participants used search strategies, cognitive strategies, and metacognitive strategies as they searched for information. She noted that the search task was continuously refined. This ever-evolving procedure is known as "strategies in action," and it consists of two cycles, navigation and process. A user moves through the cycles several times during a search task. The "navigation"cycle comprises the user's thinking and acting and the system's responding. The "process" cycle comprises integration, transformation, and resolution. Participants who reported being high in metacognitive awareness, system knowledge, and subject knowledge tended to use more strategies found in the "process" cycle; while participants who reported being high in perceptions of disorientation and low in perceived levels of self-efficacy tended to use more strategies found in the "navigation" cycle.
The open-ended nature of the Web demands that the users adopt a mental model of the system that allows for multiple perspectives and flexibility, both in how search terms are selected and how items are selected from the hits retrieved. Users must adapt their models of information retrieval systems to match the structure inherent in the system. Those participants who were taking action without reflecting upon previous action had substantially more trouble in finding what they needed. In most instances, they were not successful. Hill urges librarians to go beyond direct instruction on particular systems and teach learners how to be critical thinkers and problem solvers who will become effective users of any technologies that emerge in the information age.
The influence of several search task characteristics on children's success in finding science materials on an automated library catalog, the Science Library Catalog, is examined. Children performed 8 search tasks that varied in terms of science and technology topics and complexity levels; children's domain knowledge levels and gender were also considered. The findings suggest that the complexity of the search task and the level of children's science domain knowledge affect their success in identifying books on assigned science topics. Some implications for end-user training are discussed.
Describes and lists statistics programs both free and fee based on and off of the Web.
This library (University of Wollongong) had a questionnaire added to their computers that users had to fill in before gaining access to the databases. The questions provided information on students, non-students, what databases or CD-ROMs were used, what school within the college the students were enrolled, reason for using the computer, level of student (undergraduate, graduate, etc.), and the length of usage. The results of information collected were discussed.
Describes a study of use of full-text journal articles by graduate and professional students in health and education at Mercer College in Atlanta to determine whether the convenience of full-text articles easily available from home computers affects the quality of journal articles used for research projects. Bibliographies for masters theses in education and articles submitted for a masters degree capstone course in healthcare policy and administration were studied for 1996 (before access to the statewide Galileo system), 1997, and 1998 (after Galileo). For health students, the number of scientific studies and interlibrary loans decreased, while the number of news articles included increased. The authors concluded that the quality of the journal articles selected by students reflected the quality of full-text databases available.
This article reports on research involving 26 novice users who were asked to search a full-text database to gather relevant articles to a question of their choice related to a topic assigned by the researcher. The study sought to evaluate the ability of novices to use such an information retrieval system and to analyze their information-seeking behavior within such a system. The results of the study indicate that the end users were moderately successful in finding relevant documents. Two categories of searching events emerged. The first centered on making progress with the search and with reading the screen, indicating a need to make decisions on how to proceed with the search. The second category of events involved trying to do a search but failing, often as a result of incorrect spelling. The most common question on how to use the system was one of navigation, i.e., how to get to some "place" in the system.
A questionnaire was used to compare two groups of database users, those who required only technical assistance, and those who searched independently. The results showed that the groups did not differ significantly in the number of retrieved references.
Columbia University Libraries did a study of the impact of CD-ROM products and technology upon users and librarians. They also did a study on the effectiveness of end-user searching in online databases and CD-ROM. General observations of the results of the studies are noted.
Kilker and Gay evaluate the Making of America (MOA) digital library (specifically the prototype developed at Cornell University) using the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) approach. This approach examines a technology in light of it's use and usefulness among various social groups. Groups that participated in the evaluation of MOA were system designers, librarians, faculty, and students. Evaluation methods included interviews, open-ended questionnaires and focus groups. Results in the study were used to evaluate not only the MOA project, but to examine the use of the SCOT approach in evaluating emerging technologies such as digital libraries in contrast to using user-centered iterative evaluation methods. Results of the evaluation were expectedly diverse between the groups and required interpretation based on the diversity of the tested groups.
Reports on the use and favorable evaluation of the Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library (EEVL) pilot service project. It was developed with a web interface to improve access to high quality Internet resources in engineering.Describes the methodology used; observations, interviews, questionnaires and online data gathering. Data was obtained on; background of users, initial impressions, browse categories used, sites most frequently visited, most common search terms used and details of the browser clients accessing EEVL. The questionnaires used and the data collected are in the appendices.
Paper that looks into the potential influences on the use of information resources in electronic from: CD-ROMs, executive information systems, resources available from the Internet and other computer-based electronic networks. To find what influences users to use electronic resources the author looked into how to measure the link between product quality and electronic information resource use. Measurement models used in the study include the Technology Assessment Model, the Theory of Planned Behavior and the Fitness for Purpose Model. Charts of findings are included.
Although no results were given in this paper, the author does provide an excellent literature review of user studies and sets up a theoretical model on online use and proposes a method to test the model. The model postulates that information resource use is the end result of a process that includes characteristics of the information resource, individual differences, contextual differences, beliefs and their weightings, attitudes and perceptions, and the intention to use the information resource.
This study tests the Technology-to-Performance Chain model (Goodhue, 1997), which proposes that when a user applies a technology to a task, the user must recognize a "fit" between the technology, the individual and the task. Other related influences on technology choices are social norms, habit and facilitation conditions. The qualitative study interviewed faculty end-users on the types of technology used in doing literature searches, moving from broad topic to specific methods used. The results indicate that both fit and personal characteristics such as habit, accessibility, and cost are related to the use of appropriate technology.
Recounts a survey by Duke University Librarians of First Year Students on thier useof the World Wide Web and their preferences and attitudes regarding this source of information. Students were asked how they used the Internet, for what purposes, if they found it easy or difficult, if the Web helped them in their coursework and what the Libraries could do to help them learn more about using the Internet. An interesting feature of this excellent article is the recommendation for additional research and the analysis of the decline of use of traditional reference services.
Lubans, John. "When students hit the surf (surveys on Web use at Duke University)." School Library Journal 45(September 1999): 144-147.
Luban's study focuses on how students are using the Internet to find information, and what else they're doing online. He used both survey and focus group methods to study use of the Internet by 7th to 10th graders as well as freshmen at Duke University. His findings include: most students are using the web for research, at a ratio of at least 50/50 compared to traditional library resources. He found that students are learning from each other rather than library staff, and that most are competent at evaluating the quality of web sites. What students want from librarians is to provide access to information, to include live links in the catalog, and to develop finding aids for the web. More information on these studies can be found at http://www.lib.duke.edu/staff/orgnztn/lubans/john.html
This study examined 291 bibliographies of students at ten undergraduate institutions. An assumption was made that citation of an electronic resource (defined here as full-text material from either CD-ROM or the Internet) provides one indication of student perceived value. 84% of the bibliographies included no electronic resource, although all students had received instruction. Students also reported a higher number of electronic sources than that which was tallied. This discrepancy may have been somewhat due to the poor quality of the citation information students provided. Although statistical significance was not established for instruction's effect on electronic citations, two institutions who provided in-depth instruction had a high number of elecronic cites. Reasons for students' non-use of electronic sources included technological and intellectual barriers to access. Ease of use, currency, and relevancy were top reasons for use of electronic resources.
This article recounts various studies in which the information-seeking behaviors of experts in online searching and experts in a subject domain are compared while using several business and legal fulltext CD ROMs. Domain experts tended to be "content-driven" and seek to find concrete answers to questions. Search experts tended to be "problem-driven," and sought to find a set of relevant documents. Behaviors discusses and compared include the use of search features, query formation, browsing and scanning as a strategy, and the nature of the expectations of the result.
This study of user effectiveness and satisfaction, employing questionnaires and unobtrusive observation, is a follow-up to an earlier study published by McCarthy. The study revealed that user confidence was greater for upperlevel undergraduates than for lower level, and greater still for graduate student. Nonetheless, many had difficulties developing search strategies, choosing the proper database, dealing with various interfaces, and limited searches. They preferred personal assistance to other ways of training. Still, most were satisfied with the CD-ROM services.
Part IV of this publication is a manual for developing a network user survey. In addition to the guidelines there is a model survey which can be adapted to fit the needs of a particular institution.
Based on user studies in information retrieval, the authors suggest a taxonomy of user characteristics for such studies. Among these are user characteristics (knowledge and skills, information-seeking knowledge, subject domain knowledge, searcher=92s individual characteristics, the role of the information seeker), user training, expression of need or query formulation, conduct of the search, use of language, analysis of retrieved information, and satisfaction with the search outcome. The authors recommend that a system be able to classify users as to their type and level of seeking skills, that different types of training be available, that the system be able to provide active assistance to users, that the system be able to assist in selecting appropriate search terms and directing the development of a search strategy and query formulation, that the system facilitate browsing, and that the system be able to help searchers decide on the next step in the search and to assist in the analysis and evaluation of information retrieval.
The authors tested two types of database interfaces on users who were experienced in database searching (library school students), but not subject experts, and users who were subject experts but not experienced users to learn how differences in user background and interface design affected performance. The two interfaces were the command-driven Dialog interface and a graphical, menu- driven interface to Dialog called Oak. Using transaction logs, interviews after the sessions, and focus group discussions, they determined that different types of users need different types of interfaces. Subject experts were more comfortable with the graphical interface than commands, willing to learn only what they needed to get results, more willing than the search experts to spend time reading and evaluating records, used a relatively small range of steps/commands, and needed help in the conceptual processes of developing a query, evaluating results and revising searches. Includes detailed information about data analysis.
Co-authors Mehta and Young mailed surveys to 280 science and engineering faculty at the University of Alabama in the summer of 1993 in order to increase their understanding of how and why the faculty use electronic information products. The co-authors wanted to find out what variables affect the information-seeking habits of a science and technology user and what features are most desirable in electronic products. Eighty-three (or 35%) of the surveys were returned. Respondents identified references in journal articles as the major source of information, followed by print sources in the library, friends and colleagues and graduate assistants. Librarians were consulted as a last resort. Faculty want electronic databases to provide access to journal articles, conference literature, and books. Only 30% of the group expressed interest in technical reports. The most surprising finding was that instead of relying exclusively on current scientific and technical literature, 49% of the respondents believed that professional literature more than six years old was still very important. They suggested that libraries should purchase more journals, specialized databases, and books in order to serve researchers more effectively.
Mirkovich surveyed students in several investment classes at the University of Nevada Las Vegas to determine which of 35 library resources about investments were used to complete assignments and whether students used library resources for this purpose. To gather additional information, he followed up the survey with analysis of course syllabi, discussions with faculty, and interviews with students. He concluded that the courses were largely mechanical, not requiring use of library resources, and that use of these resources by students was light. From student interviews, however, he learned that students would like more information about available resources. He suggests that more client education, compilation of research guides, and maintaining office hours might be a way to increase use.
Monroe interviewed a small sample (7) of individual investors about their research behavior and specific print and electronic sources used for investment information. Investors fell into two categories: those making decisions about long-term investment in stocks and bonds, and those wishing aid in trading stocks and bonds. Research topics covered in the survey included: mergers and acquisitions, market share, industry health, analyst reports, company sources, mutual funds and money market accounts, social and political activities of companies, financial indicators, prices, and long-term forecasts.
This exploratory study attempted to understand the novice searcher's experience in learning to use a search engine without prior instruction and without assistance. Ms. Nahl used ethnographic techniques to make explicit the steps project participants followed during their first encounter with a Web search engine. Internet novices followed written self-report instructions while using Web search engines for the first time. The novice searchers prepared self-reports, completed quantitative scales, wrote explanations for their ratings, and gave interviews describing what they felt and thought during specific search moves. This article is an in-depth analysis of self-reports prepared by undergraduate students. There was 95% agreement between two different experimenters who coded the self-reports. The data reveal the affective and cognitive domains in information behavior. The ethnographer found that the affective organization of needs and interests acted as a directional component for the cognitive content. The affective/cognitive relationship determined the choices and acts of novice searchers attempting to use a Web search engine without instruction. Students drew on their social experiences as well as technical knowledge to teach themselves to use Web search engines draws. Their assessment of the usefulness of a search engine was tied to what it could do for them now and what it might do in the future. Information value is related to the searcher's ability to identify with its content. This kind of personalizing of one's Internet experience has been found to be crucial in sustained self-directed activity as an indication of the potential for lifelong use. A search engine is perceived in the context of the information content to which it gives access. No matter how powerful and sophisticated the search system capability may be in itself, if the results are not satisfactory, the engine is perceived as ineffective. Novice users' self-esteem is affected by search engines. With numerous retrievals, self often reported as high. Rapid searches and easy access to vast amounts of information strengthen the affective value of the usefulness of search engines. The content is valued as relevant and acceptable when it enhances a searcher's understanding of the topic of interest. On the other hand, some novices indicated that large numbers of retrievals typical with Web search engines have a tendency to arouse an affective avoidance reaction. Fast searches increased satisfaction, as long as the engine was easy to use. Further research is needed to show the distribution of affective patterns in relation to user characteristics: how much experience they have accumulated; what their public values are; and what their expectations are. General user surveys may also benefit from obtaining explanatory comments along with the ratings.
This article traces the theory-building in Internet use and information behavior research and the design impact of the resulting user-based, user-centered variables. User surveys are informative in that they reveal user characteristics and patterns of Internet behavior. In order to better understand that behavior, however, survey research has been augmented by experimental and ethnographic studies which attempt to explain why Internet users behave in certain ways. These studies indicate that cognitive and affective variables alternate in a pattern with the affective function supplying the direction of the behavior and the cognitive providing the content. In addition, Internet users utilize "affective filters," which are based on cultural norms and expectations. The user-centered focus resulting from Internet use research now drives work in the areas of human-computer interaction and hardware and software development. Continued emphasis on both the affective and cognitive aspects of information behavior will likely result in future system design and instruction that is more user-centered, interactive, and personal.
Reports on a study done to compare the searching behavior of nonacademic end users, from the Guardian Newspaper and the House of Commons, against that of information professionals, librarians. The participants were studied in light of their information needs, information seeking behavior and results, through the use of computer logs, interviews and questionnaires. Results show how the preconceptions by librarians of the two groups search behavior differences were not always true, and how searching behavior is more related to levels of training and experience.
This brief article discusses the use of "spy" sites that allow you to look
at search terms entered by users of a particular search engine. While these
sites are not suitable for a reliable study, they can afford librarians the
advantage of seeing how patrons use internet search engines. Nims et al
discuss five common search errors that prevent successful searches, and
include hints on how to successfully execute searches on ISEs. The article
further points to three internet sites that compare ISE features. Examples
of spy sites are: voyeur.mckinley.com/cgi-bin/voyeur.cgi
The author wished to evaluate the increase in journal usage and ILL usage at Russell Sage College. With the addition of multiple CD-ROM databases, she wished to determine if the users preferred CD-ROM as earlier studies have indicated, why they preferred a particular format, and how much did they understand about the pros and cons of the CD-ROM format. The study was also for the purpose of collection usage. The period examined was between 1988/89 to 1992/93 and it was limited to biology and nursing areas. The impact upon use of titles not indexed electronically was discussed.
In the Fall and Spring Semesters of the 1993-94 academic year, a survey was distributed at California State University, Fresno to assess the users' response to the newly implemented universal information access workstations. The report compares its findings with those of a previous survey which tested user response to the newly installed Online Public Access Catalog. The report also compares the user responses with the statistics obtained from the system itself.
This article reports on findings from staff, faculty, and student user surveys and focus groups conducted during Spring/Summer 1996 at Cornell University to collect input for the development of the Albert R. Mann Library Gateway. The Gateway, a Web-based information system, provides access to networked resources and multiple citation databases. The main goals of the study were to improve understanding of users' research processes, to identify key tasks involving interaction with the Gateway, to assess the effectiveness of the user interface design, and to develop design principles for development of the next generation Gateway. Findings highlight the applicability and importance of user input for application design, and point to a need for flexible, adaptive user interfaces.
Although much attention has recently been devoted to the World Wide Web, relatively little research has been conducted examining Web usage and societal implications. With the goals of understanding the Web user population and promoting the Web as a viable surveying medium, the WWW User Surveys were initially conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology's Graphics, Visualization, and Usability Center during January 1994. Subsequent surveys have been administered approximately every 6 months thereafter. Each survey is conducted for one month using the limited interactivity of the Web, where users point and click on responses within their Web browsers and submit results to a centralized server for processing. The results of the first 4 surveys are discussed. Throughout the 4 surveys, substantial shifts in the characteristics of Web users have occurred. Changes in user demographics, content providers, and usage patterns among WWW users are examined. The surveyed Web user populations have rapidly changed from the originators of the technology to the initial users in educational and research settings to users who are provided with Web access at work and school to those who actively seek out Web connectivity.
This article provides initial results from the second WWW User Survey that was performed in fall of 1994. Over 18,000 responses from over 4000 users were received. The results indicated that over 90% of respondents were male, with 87% being white and a mean age of 31. The majority of users were either university students or technical specialists. The affiliation of most users was with an educational institution or a commercial venture. The users represented by the survey were heavy Internet users, with most searching the Web several times each day. The most frequent use of the Web was for browsing or entertainment, with education a close third.
Thirty-three students in an Introduction to Information Science class at Indiana-Bloomington took part in a study of novice users. Three methods were used to collect data: participant observation, a self-administered questionnaire, and selective interviews. The focus was on what a first-time user encountered, what caused errors, and what caused difficulties. Although ERIC on CD-ROM was the only database used, the findings of the study are applicable to more than just the one product.
Rosen reports on an online survey of 113 adult literacy practitioners conducted during November 1995. The major difficulties encountered in learning to use the Internet were purchasing hardware or software, learning to use the hardware and software, getting access to a telephone line, getting an Internet account, learning account commands, difficulty accessing the Internet service provider, learning to use Internet features such as FTP or file uploading/downloading, and finding the time required to learn these features. The respondents found the following methods of support and training helpful: hands-on experience, a friend or colleague who could be asked for help, printed instructions such as manuals or guides, workshops, telephone assistance, fellow learners, and e-mail and real-time technical assistance. The main reasons for using the Internet were e-mail, listservs, the world wide web, gopher, uploading/downloading files, newsgroups, and file transfer protocol. For adult education activities over 64% reported using the Internet for research and searching databases. In the comments from the users included in the paper, only one respondent mentioned a library, indicating that the local public library was offering workshops on how to use the Internet.
This article examines the criteria by which networked services (Internet) are preferred in job-related and nonwork information seeking and the extent to which they replace other media in this context. Based on an analysis of theme interviews and quantitative data from a Finnish national survey, the study is "user-centered," focusing on the meanings people attach to the Internet by assessing its usefulness in relation to alternative media. The conceptual framework for the empirical research is drawn from various theories, including computer-mediated communication, uses and gratifications, social influence, and media richness. The study indicates that although the internet has had an impact on interpersonal communication it tends to complement traditional media in information seeking. E-mail, the web, and discussion groups are the most popular for both job-related and networked services. Criteria for preference of the internet include ease of use, speed, informality, cost savings, and lack of time and place constraints. Ultimate selection, however, depends more on the task involved than the media's easy availability. The role of electronic newspapers in information seeking exemplifies the criteria used in choosing between networked services and traditional media sources. The article closes by noting the need for further comparative research which relates internet use to other media.
This study aimed at supplementing existing research on computer-mediated communication (CMC) and strives to make up for the lack of study of CMC in non-work environments. The author attempts to arrive at a broader view of network user behavior, including the Internet. Savolin reviews the nature of empirical use studies of networked services, mainly those networked services available via the Internet. The general types of network use studies are outlined and discussed both in relation to non-work and work environments, and brings up challenges for further development of use studies. Savolin concludes that thus far, network use studies have been dominated by surveys focusing on the quantitative aspects of use, but qualitative analyses are growing in popularity
This study attempts to understand processes elementary students use when seeking information on the Internet, as well as to assess searching performance. The primary research focus is the information- seeking task structure's effect on student information retrieval. Thirty-two fifth- and sixth-grade students completed two search tasks (one ill-defined, one well-defined). A computer generated search log measured search process, while relevance rating by the students and two adult experts measured performance. Results confirmed that children used browsing information-seeking processes significantly more than analytic or scan-and-select processes on both task types. Analysis also revealed that more analytic searches were used with well-defined tasks than with ill-defined, and that boys browsed more than girls. In terms of performance, the students performed poorly on the well-defined task but were more successful on the ill-defined task and simply found more information. Students and adult raters agreed on relevance scores for solutions for ill-defined task, but students rated their work on the well- defined task much higher than the raters. A majority of students also believed that all of the information they found on the Internet was true.
Although many information scientists recognize the importance of the criteria underlying information users' relevance judgments, the field lacks a generally accepted technique for collecting data on users' judgments based on these criteria. Preliminary findings of a long-termproject intended to develop a measurement instrument based on users'relevance criteria are presented. The primary objective of this analysis in its exploratory stage was to identify simple terms and groups of terms that clearly and consistently describe users' concepts of criteria. As the list of criterion concepts was refined, a secondary objective was to explore how users employed the criteria in making evaluations. In the first validation test, users were asked to sort 119 criterion terms from previous studies into conceptually related groups, based on their own general perceptions of information seeking. Their responses provided direction for reducing the number of terms to 83. In the 2nd validation test, users were asked to group the 83 criterion terms conceptually and to rank their relative importance as applied to their own information problem situations.
In this study, questionnaires were distributed to users of CD-ROM databases at the Biology Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Among the findings were that use was mainly by graduate students, that they generally selected the correct database and were satisfied with their results, and that only about a third required assistance. The impact of CD-ROM activities on staffing, collection development, and bibliographic instruction are considered.
Schwabach's concern about the fact that most legal research training focused on "traditional" text sources while the students conducted most of their research online gave rise to the research reported in this article. The data were drawn from students' self-reporting of Westlaw use for class assignments at two law schools. The first set of data was collected at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spring 1994. The second set was collected two years later, in the Spring of 1996, at Thomas Jefferson School of law. As one might expect, more students relied on electronic searching in 1996 than in 1994. When students computed what their searches would have cost if fees were assessed, the average hypothetical cost of a search among the 1994 class was $651 while the average cost in 1996 was $1,858.
One reason for the different outcomes is that most students in the 1994 class relied on print sources to complete the assignment, while fewer than half of the 1996 class used print sources to a significant extent. The 1996 students used, on the average, nearly four times as much computer time, and printed nearly four times as many lines, as the students in the 1994 group. Schwabach concludes that most students are spending too much unproductive time online. He questions the wisdom of providing students with unlimited free access to Westlaw or LEXIS without providing adequate training. The vendor-provided one-hour training sessions appear to result in over-reliance on natural language searching. The training usually comes during the first year of law school when the students are still disoriented and not fully aware of the nature of legal research. Schwabach argues for course-integrated teaching of electronic research throughout the curriculum.
There is a paucity of research on general undergraduate user behavior particularly in the emerging digital library environment. This paper presents the results of a preliminary study of information seeking among sixty undergraduates at Skidmore College. The study was designed to 1) assess students' information seeking behavior in general; 2) elicit information about the search process; and 3) discern how students had acquired their knowledge of online searching and their level of expertise with online searching, computer applications and libraries. Results indicate that most undergraduates have a relatively poor understanding of the information environment and that the "digital library" exaggerates and magnifies these problems.
This study, undertaken July 1995 through June 1996, compared the effectiveness of resource-specific (cursory) and generalized (in-depth) approaches to facilitating adult novice user access to electronic networked information resources. It also compared the effectiveness of graphical and text-based interfaces in helping novice users learn to access resources. Four models were developed for comparing the effects of type of interface and length of training on novice users. One model emphasizing specificity in the range of resources and services was designed for four 90-minute training sessions. A second model providing a comprehensive understanding of a wide range of general resources was designed for eight, 120-minute sessions. Both text-based and graphical-interface versions of the models were made available. Each model incorporated a set of guided readings, explanations of Internet tools and demonstrations of their use by a research assistant. Four groups of 11-12 public librarians or skilled library staff with limited Internet experience tested the four models. After completion of the test sessions, participants were assigned a series of questions to which they were asked to find answers using Internet resources, noting both their answer and the amount of time devoted to each question. Following the pilot test sessions with librarians, the most effective model was revised and the research was extended to include adult patrons at one suburban library site. Public sessions for library patrons demonstrating the Internet using both text-based and graphical approaches and applications with a particular focus were carried out during May and June 1996. The authors found that length of training was correlated with Internet use effectiveness immediately after the training sessions, but it had no significant bearing on the time taken to answer questions correctly. The type of interface used did affect the length of time taken to find the correct answer for two of the assigned questions. The researchers surmised that users with a graphical interface browsed longer and looked at more information sites before finding the answers. Users trained with the text-based interface were significantly more confident than users of the graphically-based interface. The text-based groups also saw Internet resources as more useful. Longer training produced a more positive view of the utility of the web and search engines. During a follow-up evaluation several months after the training sessions, text-based groups continued to exhibit more confidence than the graphical groups and those with in-depth training were significantly more confident in using Internet tools and resources. Although Senkewitch and Wolfram acknowledge that graphical interfaces have become ubiquitous, they recommend continued research on the effect of different interfaces on learning and the search process.
Ten advanced graduate students in the areas of language and literature were observed in search sessions (lasting from 45 to 90 minutes) searching the MLA International Bibliography and other humanities databases, in order to observe how humanists approached database searching and made relevance judgements. Searchers were encouraged to think aloud. The searchers tended to search broadly and browse large retrieval sets for relevant items, as has been observed in other studies of humanist scholars. Searchers tended to distrust the application of descriptors in the database, and were wary of relying on them to a too great extent to accurately guide them to the documents they needed. Some used Boolean searches to narrow very large retrievals, but others were not familiar with Boolean operators. There was a fairly high level of serendipity in discovering relevant articles, which did not necessarily match the stated search criteria. Relevance judgement depended to a great extent on the scholars' knowledge of the literature, with factors such as language, author, journal, length and format also coming into play. The students had some difficulty with the software (especially printing), but were enthusiastic about using the resources electronically.
In the spring of 1993, 10 students at Indiana University were observed and their thoughts were recorded using a think aloud methodology as they used several bibliographic databases located on IU Libraries CD-ROM LAN. The students each spent between 30 and 50 minutes searching a topic related to a course paper. In general, the students seemed familiar with database searching and they used, on average, 2.7 files per search, although it was difficult for the students to describe why they had chosen the databases they searched. Search strategy was influenced by the searcher's ability, experience, and expectations for the search, and by the capabilities of the search software. Although the students rejected over half of the retrieved citations, they had difficulty expressing why the relevance judgments were made. The title of an article was most often used to determine relevance of the article. Subjects (descriptors) and abstracts were also helpful in assessing relevance. The students were willing to look through a retrieval set of about 20 items and usually printed fewer than 20. There were differences in the way students searched Wilsondisc databases versus SilverPlatter databases. Since Wilsondisc was closer in look to the Infotrac search interface, it was generally more familiar to the students.
The authors report findings of a survey of members of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) regarding their use of computer-based tools. Five hundred MLA members were sent the questionnaire via the U.S. Postal Service and 500 members received questionnaires via electronic mail. There was a 41% response rate for the paper-based survey and a 37% response rate for the e-mailed survey. Results indicate that computer-based tools are being used increasingly by members of the MLA. Word processing was used at least once a week by approximately 98% of all the humanities scholars who responded. Library online catalogs were used at least once a week by 69% of the respondents. Access was a major problem in using computer-based tools. Other problems included knowing what was available and keeping up with software changes and hardware requirements. When asked about changes in research activities over the last three years, most people reported spending less time in the library and more time conducting research outside the library.
A discussion of an exploratory study of end-users' search sessions over time and at different stages of their information seeking related to a current research project. Two hundred academic end-users were interviewed to investigate the occurrence of multiple search sessions with online public access catalogs or CD-ROM databases. Results indicate that many end-users conduct a continuum of search sessions, possibly dirven by an evolving and changing information problem: 57% of the end-users conducted multiple search sessions during their research project, with 49% conducting between 1 and 6 search sessions and 8% more than 6 search sessions. Seventy percent of end-users who conducted multiple search sessions modified their search terms from the initial search session. The study reveals the need for further research investigating the occurrence and nature of multiple search sessions and the relationship between the information-seeking stage and utilization of information retrieval systems. Implications of findings for training of information professionals who assist users, end-user training, and information retrieval systems design are discussed.
This paper reports results from an analysis of data from three separate studies of users' relevance judgments to examine how 'highly' and 'partially' relevant judgments affect the users' perception of changes in their information need following interactive online searching. All three studies involved users in their initial search. The first and third studies involved 13 end-users searching DIALOG, while the second study incorporated data from 18 users who had mediated DIALOG searches. Data was collected from search logs, questionnaires, and videotapes of mediated searches. In study one and study three, the number of items judged partially relevant by the 13 end users relevant was positively correlated with end-users' assessment of a change in their own information problem definition. Similar results were found in study two, involving 18 mediated searches: the number of items judged partially relevant was positively correlated with a change in the user's relevance criteria. The less users knew about the problem for which they searched, the more items they judged partially relevant. Partially relevant items provided new information that often changed their understanding of their information problem and the criteria used to make relevance judgments. The search intermediaries also perceived changes occurring in the user in relation to their relevance criteria and information problem during the discussion and search interaction.
The findings from this study support the conceptualization of relevance in terms of its relationship and effect on a user's information seeking process. It also underscores the need for information counselors to think about the user in the context of his/her information seeking stage and to take that stage into account when advising the user about search strategy.
The Department of Environmental Health Library at the University of Washington chose three software programs to gather statistics from their new Web site. The programs selected are available at no cost on the Web. This article contains descriptions of how the statistics programs were used, and gives information about the programs' availability. It presents data generated from the April 1996 access and referrer logs for the Library Web pages.
Two studies have been released that examine who uses the Internet. Defining the Internet Opportunity (O=92Reilly and Associates) and Yankelovich Cybercitizen Report (Yankelovich Partners) provide demographic information on Internet users. In general, Internet users are predominately well-educated men with incomes over $50,000 per year The main occupations are sales (19%) and engineering (15%). Reilly estimates that the number of Internet users increased from 5.87 million in 1995 to over 6 million in 1996.
This study was done to determine if users preferred a graphical user interface (GUI) to a character-based interface when searching a database. The study was conducted in five public libraries that used only character-based database interfaces. Subjects were given one of three different levels of assistance - none, basic introduction, and on-going/unlimited help. Taking into account the users previous experience and the level of help given during the study, users preferred the GUI interface five to one. Four tables of findings are included.
The results of a survey of database end-users at the University of Connecticut Health Center Library regarding training on database searching are discussed. 62.2% of respondents thought that their searches could be improved if they attended library instruction sessions, though 20.5% of those who thought that instruction would help them still would not attend a 30 minute training session. Approximately 40% said that they use the tutorial or online help, implying that these should be well designed since close to half of these respondents used them. Furthermore, though there is a recognition of a need for assistance, only 22.3% had ever had instructional interactions with a librarian. Implications for library instruction and interface design are discussed.
Toms and Kinnucan analyze the use of metaphors in an electronic environment and whether these metaphors enhance users' response to the interface design of a system, specifically, a multi-level menu. The study compares metaphor-based and non-metaphoric labeling schemes for the top-level menu choices of an information system. The menu itself contained information regarding community events, such as theater schedules, community activities, government resources, and more. The particular metaphor used in their experiment constituted a city. In the metaphor-based system, the top-level menu choices were building such as "Arts Building," the lower menus were all non-metaphorical. The test consisted of factual questions using the information in the menu system, one group of subjects using the metaphor-based menu, the other using the non-metaphoric menu. The study showed that a metaphoric menu is not necessarily more intuitive or easier to understand for the user. In fact, the performance of the two groups was initially very similar, while the group using the menu without metaphors actually showed a higher learning effect. Furthermore, the users preferred the menu without metaphors when asked to rate the interface.
Reports on a survey-based study of 15 fine and applied artist-lecturers. Respondents were asked to select their 3 most important reasons for looking for information, rate a list of the information resources as essential, useful, and not useful, and rate the helpfulness of various information seeking strategies. Results were analyzed based on the respondents' educational backgrounds, genders, subject areas, and ages. Resources considered included periodical articles, books in the library, personal collections, personal contact with colleagues, exhibition catalogs, print indexes, reference sources, mediated online searches, multimedia CD-ROMs, Web/Internet, and listservs. Information seeking behaviors included catalog searching, browsing the collection, asking a colleague, asking a librarian, and searching the Internet. Overall, the most highly rated reasons for seeking information were study for a higher qualification and personal interest/curiousity; periodical articles, followed by books in the library, were considered the most essential tools; and a self-conducted catalog search was the most popular way of looking for information.
Ameritech academic library experts observed over 75 patrons performing online searches on eight different electronic resources. The objective was to ascertain whether students were successful in getting the information they needed from an online search. Direct observations were conducted by using a workstation next to the user or by standing unobtrusively near the public access machines. Findings showed that nearly half the end users did not get the information they needed. It was apparent that students did not understand how to use online search techniques correctly and that resource interfaces did not provide the necessary assistance in overcoming this barrier. None of the students used Boolean operators and only four of the 75 used the help function. Novice users appeared unwilling to explore the interface to determine its capabilities. In several instances, users were overwhelmed by the number of items returned and simply walked away from the terminal without even attempting to evaluate the search results.
After reviewing the literature of search engine analyses and end user survey results, authors tested the hypothesis that users prefer comprehensiveness over convenience in Internet search engines. 84 librarians and library students responded to a survey about their favorite internet search tools' features, focusing on convenience (ease of use, interface design, & speed) and usability (usefulness & comprehensiveness of results, database coverage) factors. Users were asked to rate their search engine features such as help, example queries, search interface, Boolean searching, proximity, natural language, speed, inclusion of non-Web sites, size of database, currency, relevance and number of results and relevance ranking; and to rate how important these features were to them. Overall, the information professionals surveyed were more interested in utility (comprehensive and relevant results) than convenience (ease of use). Boolean searching was the only type seen as vitally important, but users were willing to look through at least 3-5 screens and spend more than 10 minutes per search. Includes literature analysis and survey questions.
Ms. Watson analyzed qualitative data collected from nine 8th grade students about their personal experiences with the World Wide Web and other technology.. As each student described his or her experiences and perceptions, the researcher engaged in constructing meaning of the student's meanings. Once she collected the students' experiences in the form of anecdotes or stories, she transcribed the students' interviews using her knowledge of the cognitive and affective qualities of these particular student users of the Internet. After analyzing the content across stories, Ms. Stapleton organized her data into two broad categories: students' personal attributes and students' particular skills in using technology. The personal attributes included self-confidence stemming from knowing that one has access and knowing how to access technology. Students also revealed mature notions of time: technology must be expedient, since users must be mindful of how they spend their time; it should facilitate browsing to allow users to pursue ideas; and users must be patient, to access what is really want from the avalanche of information. Among the particular skills identified were reading with many senses, skimming for information, reading deeply or critically, knowing what information is wanted or needed, and using appropriate search strategies (like narrowing and broadening terms) to manage information retrieved on the Web. This study raises many questions for professionals engaged in teaching students how to seek and retrieve information.
This article presents the preliminary findings of a study on user-performance on a hypertext system design to retrieve bibliographic records. The study included eighty-three subjects who each performed several searches on the software, including keyword searches and subject-based searches. The system recorded usage measures such as the number of pages visited, the search time, and the relevance of the results. Further testing included interviewing the searchers regarding the topics they investigated, know how confident they felt about their search results. The interviews were used to evaluate the searchers' perception of their search. The authors compared the results with the searchers' perception of the results to see of there was a correlation. The results show that there is no significant relationship between user-confidence and the number of pages visited. However, confident searchers searched for less time .Moreover, the results indicated that all searchers were overconfident in their performance.
Briefly describes programs which keep web statistics.
The authors have examined and reported what measures authors studying user behavior regarding information retrieval systems most commonly use. The authors collected a sample of published papers in the field of user-behavior of this type, either co- written, or written by authors well known in the field. The authors class the different variables used by the researchers into several fields, such as variables descriptive of persons, systems, databases, actions taken, and opinions. The article summarizes the results, but does not speculate on the best methods of gathering such data for research, thus does not establish a basis for future work.
This qualitative research project studying the information seeking behavior of a small sample of five students using a hypertext information system on ancient Greece. The students verbalized their thought processes while performing a class assignment involving exploring a subject, coming up with a thesis, and supporting it from information in the system. Their system logs, the completed assignments and video-tapes of the sessions were used in a recursive analysis of their information seeking behaviors and processes. The author developed a model that describes 8 main types of information seeking behavior: Prescriptive (to fulfill requirements), Purposive (to meet self-set goals), Exploratory, Associative (for similar information), Intuitive (the information should be there), Accidental , Curious and Tangential . Yang points out four themes: learners structure their use of the system to optimize their learning; they are self-reflective, both actively searching and critically evaluating throughout the process; they tend to progress 'from chaos to order, fuzzy to clear, and unstructured to structured' in their process; and they experience varying degrees of disorientation, caused by information not being in the database, by not being able to find the information, and by problems with the application functions. Includes a literature review on information seeking, and the author's suggestions for further research.
Six volunteers from an introductory course on Greek culture agreed to use the Perseus hypermedia database of interactive resources to complete five assignments during the semester. The students verbalized their thought processes as they worked on their assignments. The researcher observed their decisions and noted their operations and body language. The verbal data was recorded and analyzed to find the information seeking structures employed in the justification of their solutions. In the post-task interview, the researcher asked questions about the students' decision-making process. The author used the verbal protocols to develop a model classification scheme of information-seeking. The six students demonstrated a range of searching behaviors: prescriptive, exploratory, purposive, associative, intuitive, curious, tangential, and accidental. Each type of searching appeared to reflect the students' changing mental state or intention. The students managed the information load through selective allocation of attention to relevant texts by using tools such as GoTo to directly access a specific line or chapter, and FindText to search quickly for a specific word or phrase.