UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A Scoping Review of Individual Differences in Information Seeking Behavior and Retrieval Research between 2000 and 2015 O'Brien, Heather, 1977-; Dickinson, R.; Askin, Nicole


Individual differences have long been of interest in information science to design information systems and services for specific populations. Yet what individual differences make a difference to search outcomes, both across applications and for diverse user groups? A scoping study of information seeking and retrieval research (2000-2015) was conducted involving systematic searches in eight scholarly databases. Over 2100 articles were screened based on title, abstract, and full-text using specified inclusion criteria, resulting in 223 papers for analysis. Data were extracted to provide an overview of the literature, including types of individual differences studied, publication volume over time, measures, sample, and study outcomes. Findings are inconclusiveness regarding what individual differences affect search outcomes, and raise issues around measurement and generalizability. This study represents an essential first step to developing a more systematic investigation of individual differences research and connecting individual research studies to anchor and guide future work.

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