Patterns of Information Seeking on the Web: A Qualitative Study of Domain Expertise and Web Expertise

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Info on how structured/unstructured searches may help/hinder different types of users from finding anything useful. Could have implications for something like a Learning Object Repository...

This research examines the pattern of Web information seeking in four groups of nurses with different combinations of domain expertise and Web expertise. Protocols were gathered as the nurses carried out information-seeking tasks in the domain of osteoporosis. Domain and Web novices searched breadth-first and did little or no evaluation of the results. Domain expert/Web novices also searched breadth-first but evaluated information more thoroughly using osteoporosis knowledge. Domain novice/Web experts searched in a mixed, breadth-first/depth-first pattern and attempted to evaluate information using general criteria. Domain expert/Web experts carried out depth-first searches, following deep trails of information and evaluated information based on the most varied and sophisticated criteria. The results suggest that there are distinct differences in searching patterns related to expertise. Implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are provided.

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