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A Model of Scientists’ Information Seeking and a User-Interface Design

Sadeh, T. (2010). A Model of Scientists’ Information Seeking and a User-Interface Design. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Information systems that are available today do not optimally address the information-seeking behaviour of scholars, particularly those who belong to scientific communities; as a result, scholarly discovery is often cumbersome and incomplete. The hypothesis of this study is that an information-seeking system that is designed to address the nature of scholarly materials and the information seeking behaviour of scholars, particularly the members of one scientific community, will increase the effectiveness of the scholars’ searches and enable them to find and obtain relevant materials with greater ease and precision than current practices do. The information-seeking behaviour and search practices deployed by high-energy physics (HEP) researchers are explored through a series of interviews and observations. More than 2,100 responses obtained from a HEP survey are also examined; in particular, the participants’ open-ended responses are analysed. On the basis of qualitative and quantitative research regarding the characteristics of HEP scientists and their information-seeking practices, a set of six personas, representing typical members of the HEP community, is constructed. An original model is developed that leverages existing models of information behaviour, information seeking, and information searching and reflects the full pectrum of active information-seeking and information-searching practices of HEP scholars and the nature of the data that these researchers seek. The model is then evaluated by means of seven scenarios involving the personas constructed earlier. On the basis of the information-seeking model, a software user interface is designed as the future interface for the HEP INSPIRE information system. The user-interface design is corroborated through the model, and the personas are used to evaluate the design. Methods are suggested for long-term quantitative and qualitative monitoring of the ways in which this design supports HEP researchers. It is argued that the proposed user interface, which provides an information environment that accommodates the information-seeking practices of the HEP community in a friendly and efficient manner, will support HEP academic research—and research of other scholarly communities that share some of the HEP community’s characteristics—by shortening the search process and improving the findability of quality materials. This thesis contributes to the body of information-science knowledge in the novel modelling of information-seeking behaviour of a well-defined scientific community, the use of personas for the modelling, and the concretization of the model into a new user-interface design.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Library & Information Science
Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
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