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Search interfaces for known-item and exploratory search tasks

Diriye, Abdigani Mohamed; (2012) Search interfaces for known-item and exploratory search tasks. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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People’s online search tasks vary considerably from simple known-item search tasks to complex and exploratory ones. Designing user search interfaces that effectively support this range of search tasks is a difficult and challenging problem, made so by the variety of search goals, information needs and search strategies. Over the last few years, this topic has gained more attention from several research communities, but designing more effective search interfaces requires us to understand how they are used during search tasks, and the role they play in people’s information seeking. The aim of the research reported here was to understand how search interfaces support known-item and exploratory search tasks, and how we can leverage this to design better Information Retrieval systems that improve user experience and performance. We begin this thesis by reporting on an initial exploratory user study that investigates the relationship between richer search interfaces and search tasks. We find, through qualitative data analysis, that richer search interfaces that provide more sophisticated search strategies better support exploratory search tasks than simple search interfaces, which were shown to be more effective for known-item search tasks. This analysis revealed several ways search interface features affect information seeking (impede, distract, facilitate, augment, etc.). A follow-up study further developed and validated these findings by analyzing their impact in terms of task completion time, interactive precision and user preference. To expand our knowledge of search tasks, a definition synthesizing the constituent elements from the literature is proposed. Using this definition, our final study builds on our earlier work, and identifies differences in how people interact and use search interfaces for different search tasks. We conclude the thesis by discussing the implications of our user studies, and our novel search interfaces, for the design of future user search interfaces. The contributions of this thesis are a demonstration of the impact of search interfaces on information seeking; an analysis and synthesis of the constituent elements of search tasks based on the research in the Information Science community; and a series of novel search interfaces that address existing shortcomings, and support more complex and exploratory search tasks.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Search interfaces for known-item and exploratory search tasks
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1343928
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