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Exploratory information searching in the enterprise: A study of user satisfaction and task performance

Cleverley, Paul H.; Burnett, Simon; Muir, Laura


Paul H. Cleverley

Simon Burnett

Laura Muir


No prior research has been identified which investigates the causal factors for workplace exploratory search task performance. The impact of user, task and environmental factors on user satisfaction and task performance was investigated through a mixed methods study with 26 experienced information professionals using enterprise search in an oil and gas enterprise. Some participants found 75% of high value items, others found none with an average of 27%. No association was found between self-reported search expertise and task performance, with a tendency for many participants to overestimate their search expertise. Successful searchers may have more accurate mental models of both search systems and the information space. Organizations may not have effective exploratory search task performance feedback loops, a lack of learning. This may be caused by management bias towards technology not capability, a lack of systems thinking. Furthermore, organizations may not ‘know’ they ‘don’t know’ their true level of search expertise, a lack of knowing. A metamodel is presented identifying the causal factors for workplace exploratory search task performance. Semi-structured qualitative interviews with search staff from the Defence, Pharmaceutical and Aerospace sectors indicates the potential transferability of the finding that organizations may not know their search expertise levels.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 8, 2015
Online Publication Date Sep 23, 2015
Publication Date 2017-01
Deposit Date Nov 24, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 24, 2015
Journal Journal of the association for information science and technology
Electronic ISSN 2330-1643
Publisher Association for Information Science and Technology
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 68
Issue 1
Pages 77-96
Keywords Search strategies, learning, searching
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Nov 24, 2015


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