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Search Tasks and Their Role in Studies of Search Behaviors Barbara M. Wildemuth School of Information & Library Science University of North Carolina at.

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Presentation on theme: "Search Tasks and Their Role in Studies of Search Behaviors Barbara M. Wildemuth School of Information & Library Science University of North Carolina at."— Presentation transcript:

1 Search Tasks and Their Role in Studies of Search Behaviors Barbara M. Wildemuth School of Information & Library Science University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Luanne Freund School of Library, Archival & Information Studies University of British Columbia

2 What is a task? search task 2

3 What is a task? search task information seeking task 3

4 What is a task? search task information seeking task work task 4

5 What is a search task? What the researcher assigns What the participant does In the labIn the world 5

6 A meta-analysis of search tasks Identify studies that have assigned search tasks Capture authors’ depictions of task types Capture full text of search tasks assigned, if available Analyze the definitions/depictions and the tasks themselves, in order to more fully understand which task attributes are critical to successful research 6

7 Search tasks, undefined Woodruff et al. (2002) – “typical Web search tasks” – Find at least three side effects of Halcion. Hsieh-Yee (1993) – specifically concerned with searchers’ familiarity with the domain – Assume that you are the head of a reference department and are in the process of compiling a bibliography on reference interviews. You want to cover various issues related to interviews conducted in the traditional reference setting and those conducted in the online environment. In particular, you are interested in including articles comparing these two kinds of interview. You want at least 25 ERIC citations. 7

8 Complex vs. simple search tasks Defined in terms of: – Task structure – Certainty or a priori determinability – Number of facets – Length of the search path – Cognitive effort required – Topic familiarity 8

9 Complex vs. simple search tasks Bell & Ruthven (2004) – varying levels of uncertainty – Highest complexity: Whilst having dinner with an American colleague, they comment on the high price of petrol in the UK compared to other countries, despite large volumes coming from the same sources. Unaware of any major differences, you decide to find out how and why petrol prices vary worldwide. – Medium complexity: Whilst out for dinner one night, one of your friends’ guests is complaining about the price of petrol and all the factors that cause it. Throughout the night they seem to complain about everything they can, reducing the credibility of their earlier statements so you decide to research which factors actually are important in deciding the price of petrol in the UK. – Lowest complexity: While out for dinner one night, your friend complains about the rising price of petrol. However as you have been driving for long, you are unaware of any major changes in price. You decide to find out how the price of petrol in the UK has changed in recent years. 9

10 Specific vs. general search tasks Specific tasks ≈ known-item, factual, or simple lookup tasks Rouet (2003) – searching a hypertext document on anorexia – Specific: Which authors have provided the first clinical descriptions of anorexia? – General: What treatments [for anorexia] may be suggested, and what are their effects? 10

11 Exploratory vs. lookup tasks Exploratory search supports learning, investigating, comparison, or discovery White & Marchionini (2007) – Exploratory task: You are about to depart on a short-tour along the west coast of Italy. The agenda includes a visit to the country’s capital, Rome, during which you hope to find time to pursue your interest in modern art. However, you have recently been told that time in the city is limited and you want information that allows you to choose a gallery to visit. – Lookup task: You are doing some research for a term paper you are writing and need to find the name of the first woman to travel in space and her age at the time of her flight. 11

12 Transactional vs. navigational vs. informational tasks Transactional tasks: to perform some Web- mediated activity Navigational tasks: to reach a particular Web site Informational tasks: to find information for a particular purpose 12

13 Transactional vs. navigational vs. informational tasks Example of transactional task not yet identified Navigational: Lorigo et al. (2006) – Find the homepage for graduate housing at Carnegie Mellon University. Informational: Lorigo et al. (2006) – What is the name of the researcher who discovered the first modern antibiotic? 13

14 Next steps: Questions for discussion Which attributes of search tasks need to be specified? Which attributes of search tasks are most important to study directly? What methods can be used to develop search tasks that are appropriate/valid to deploy in a particular study? 14

15 References and photo credits Person using computer, Nevada Dept of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, http://www.detr.state.nv.us/detrweb2/ESD%20Pages/File%20UI%20claim%20.htm http://www.detr.state.nv.us/detrweb2/ESD%20Pages/File%20UI%20claim%20.htm Bell, D. & Ruthven, I. (2004). Searcher's Assessments of Task Complexity for Web Searching. Advances in Information Retrieval, 26th European Conference on IR Research, ECIR 2004. Springer, 57-71. Borlund, P. (2003). The IIR evaluation model: a framework for evaluation of interactive information retrieval systems. Info. Research, 8(3). http://informationr.net/ir/8-3/paper152.html.http://informationr.net/ir/8-3/paper152.html Broder, A. (2002). A taxonomy of Web search. SIGIR Forum, 36(2), 3-10. Hsieh-Yee, I. (1993). Effects of search experience and subject knowledge on the search tactics of novice and experienced searchers. J. of the Am. Soc. for Info. Sci. & Tech., 44(3), 161-174. Lorigo, L., Pan, B., Hembrooke, H., Joachims, T., Granka, L., & Gay, G. (2006). The influence of task and gender on search and evaluation behavior using Google. Info. Proc. & Mgmt., 42(4), 1123-1131. Rouet, J.-F. (2003). What was I looking for? The influence of task specificity and prior knowledge on students' search strategies in hypertext. Interact. with Comp., 15(3), 409-428. White, R. W., & Marchionini, G. (2007). Examining the effectiveness of real-time query expansion. Info. Proc. & Mgmt., 43(3), 685-704. Woodruff, A., Rosenholtz, R., Morrison, J. B., Faulring, A., & Pirolli, P. (2002). A comparison of the use of text summaries, plain thumbnails, and enhanced thumbnails for web search tasks. J. of the Am. Soc. for Info. Sci. & Tech., 53(2), 172-185. 15


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