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Untangling search task complexity and difficulty in the context of interactive information retrieval studies

Untangling search task complexity and difficulty in the context of interactive information... Purpose – One core element of interactive information retrieval (IIR) experiments is the assignment of search tasks. The purpose of this paper is to provide an analytical review of current practice in developing those search tasks to test, observe or control task complexity and difficulty. Design/methodology/approach – Over 100 prior studies of IIR were examined in terms of how each defined task complexity and/or difficulty (or related concepts) and subsequently interpreted those concepts in the development of the assigned search tasks. Findings – Search task complexity is found to include three dimensions: multiplicity of subtasks or steps, multiplicity of facets, and indeterminability. Search task difficulty is based on an interaction between the search task and the attributes of the searcher or the attributes of the search situation. The paper highlights the anomalies in our use of these two concepts, concluding with suggestions for future methodological research related to search task complexity and difficulty. Originality/value – By analyzing and synthesizing current practices, this paper provides guidance for future experiments in IIR that involve these two constructs. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Documentation Emerald Publishing

Untangling search task complexity and difficulty in the context of interactive information retrieval studies

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References (85)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0022-0418
DOI
10.1108/JD-03-2014-0056
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – One core element of interactive information retrieval (IIR) experiments is the assignment of search tasks. The purpose of this paper is to provide an analytical review of current practice in developing those search tasks to test, observe or control task complexity and difficulty. Design/methodology/approach – Over 100 prior studies of IIR were examined in terms of how each defined task complexity and/or difficulty (or related concepts) and subsequently interpreted those concepts in the development of the assigned search tasks. Findings – Search task complexity is found to include three dimensions: multiplicity of subtasks or steps, multiplicity of facets, and indeterminability. Search task difficulty is based on an interaction between the search task and the attributes of the searcher or the attributes of the search situation. The paper highlights the anomalies in our use of these two concepts, concluding with suggestions for future methodological research related to search task complexity and difficulty. Originality/value – By analyzing and synthesizing current practices, this paper provides guidance for future experiments in IIR that involve these two constructs.

Journal

Journal of DocumentationEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 7, 2014

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