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Title: Characteristics and user interaction with web search engines : a study on engineering students
Authors: Seow, Hai Sim.
Keywords: DRNTU::Engineering::Computer science and engineering::Information systems::Information storage and retrieval
Issue Date: 1999
Abstract: In common with library catalogues, users of Web search engines are concerned with results, hardly consider the mechanisms, and rarely make full use of the capabilities. This exploratory study attempts to provide an insight about the interaction between users and the search engines on the Web, mainly focussing on: the user's most frequently used search engines; how the user uses search engines with respect to the use of simple or advanced search, the query formulation, and the use of advanced search facilities; how the user interacts with search engines in areas such as the use of Help files, and the processing of search results; and the user's common perceptions and problems of search engines. The subjects of the study were twenty engineering undergraduates of the NTU. Data were collected through structured interviews, and triangulated by observation. The four most widely used search engines were found to be in the order: Yahoo, Alta Vista, Infoseek, and Excite. All the users used keyword (and not natural language) queries (averaged 2-3 terms). Most users did not use advanced search interface, read Help files, use Boolean operators, or other advanced means of searching. Few customized or used special features of search engines. Most users scanned not more than three results pages. Modification of queries was not a common practice. Many users did not know how search engines interpret their query, index or rank documents. Most users reported having no problem in finding appropriate query keywords. However, judging the relevance of results was quite a problem for most users. This study includes recommendations for lecturers and university libraries to promote more efficient use of search engines. Implications for the companies of search engines mainly lie in the development of user-friendly and effective interfaces that keep pace with the development of the functionality of search engines.
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SAS Theses

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