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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the relationship between research in Information Retrieval and Information Seeking Behavior, 1979-2008 Talal, Alhaji


Information Retrieval (IR) and Information Seeking Behavior (ISB) are fields of study which contribute to the process by which relevant information is identified and used. In order to understand how to design more effective and easy-to-use information retrieval systems, researchers from both fields have called for greater collaboration and interaction between them. The objective of this study is to explore and measure the development of the relationship between IR and ISB from 1979 to 2008 by examining how IR and ISB developed separately, how the relationship between them changed, and what factors governed that relationship. The 30-year period was divided into six five-year time slices and several bibliometric studies were conducted: a study of IR and ISB publications and citations, a study of the membership of conference committees, and a study of references from the syllabi of courses. In addition to quantitative evidence, qualitative evidence derived from the literature was used. The findings of this study show IR steadily moving from a young established field with a settled core of researchers to a mature field that is open to the changing perspectives and the influence of new research problems and challenges. ISB, on the other hand, started out as a small emerging field, appearing as a highly dynamic field that moved quickly to a cohesive and focused field of research. IR and ISB focused on their fundamental models, theories, and methods, while sharing common interest in investigating the topics “Library Automation” and “Evaluation”, in the first two time slices (1979-1988). The relationship between the fields grew stronger and they shared more authors, references, and sources that focused on bridging topics, such as “Information Seeking” and “Relevance”. The strongest collaboration and integration between IR and ISB occurred in the fourth time slice (1994-1998). This was followed by a decline in the number of common authors and references occurred in the last two time slices (1999-2008). However, there is a greater interest in investigating bridging topics, such as “Information Needs” and “Information Use”. Four factors governed the relationship between the fields: calls for change, topics, research venues, and technological advances.

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