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ellis model of information seeking behaviour


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ellis model of information seeking behaviour

  1. 1. NATASHA GANDHI MILSc. 2012-13 ELLIS MODEL OF INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIORInformation seeking behavior refers to the way people search for and utilize information. It isseen as purposive seeking of information as a consequence of a need to satisfy some goal.It is the micro-level of behavior employed by the searcher in interacting with informationsystems of all kinds, be it between the seeker and the system, or the pure method of creating andfollowing up on a search.The approach to modeling information seeking behavior originates in the perceived absence ofempirically based models of information seeking behavior in information retrieval research.Ellis (1989), Ellis et al (1993), and Ellis and Haugan (1997) proposed and elaborated a generalmodel of information seeking behaviors based on studies of the information seeking patterns ofsocial scientists, research physicists and chemists, and engineers and research scientists in anindustrial firm.Ellis, employing Glaser and Strauss’s ‘grounded theory’ approach, derived six genericcharacteristics of the information seeking patterns of social scientists. Starting Chaining Browsing Differentiating Monitoring ExtractingStarting:Starting is the means employed by the user to begin seeking information, for example, askingsome knowledgeable colleague.It comprises those activities that form the initial search for information like identifying sourcesof interest that could serve as starting points of the search. Identified sources often includefamiliar sources and familiar sources.
  2. 2. The likelihood of a source being selected depends on the perceived accessibility and quality ofthe information from that source.Perceived accessibility, which is the amount of effort and time needed to make contact with anduse a source, is a strong predictor of source use for many groups of information users (such asengineers and scientists (Allen 1977)).However, in situations when ambiguity is high and information reliability important, lessaccessible sources of perceived high quality are consulted.While searching these initial sources, they may point to, suggest, or recommend additionalsources or references.Chaining:Following up on these new leads from an initial source is the activity of chaining, which can bebackward or forward.Backward chaining takes place when pointers or references from an initial source are followed,and is a well established routine of information seeking among scientists and researchers.Forward chaining identifies and follows up on other sources such as footnotes and citations ofthe initial source or document. It is less commonly used, because people are unaware of it or therequired bibliographical tools are unavailable.Browsing:Browing is the activity of semi-directed or semi-structured searching in areas of potentialsearch.Chang and Rice (1993) define browsing as "the process of exposing oneself to a resource spaceby scanning its content (objects or representations) and/or structure, possibly resulting inawareness of unexpected or new content or paths in that resource space."Browsing takes place in many situations in which related information has been grouped togetheraccording to subject affinity.The individual often simplifies browsing by looking through tables of contents, lists of titles,subject headings, names of organizations or persons, abstracts and summaries, and so on.Differentiating:The individual filters and selects from among the sources scanned by noticing differencesbetween the nature and quality of the information offered.
  3. 3. The differentiation process is likely to depend on the individuals prior or initial experiences withthe sources, word-of-mouth recommendations from personal contacts, or reviews in publishedsources.Taylor (1986) identifies six categories of criteria by which an individual can select anddifferentiate between sources: ease of use, noise reduction, quality, adaptability, time savings,and cost savings.Monitoring:It is the activity of keeping abreast of developments in an area by regularly following particularsources.The individual monitors by concentrating on a small number of core sources which vary betweenprofessional groups, but usually include key personal contacts and publications.For example, social scientists and physicists track developments through core journals, onlinesearch updates, newspapers, conferences, magazines, books, catalogues, etc.Extracting:It is the activity of systematically working through a particular source or sources in order toidentify material of interest. It selectively identifies the relevant material in an informationsource;As a form of retrospective searching, extracting may be achieved by directly consulting thesource, or by indirectly looking through bibliographies, indexes, or online databases. Retrospective searching tends to be labor intensive, and is more likely when there is a need forcomprehensive or historical information on a topic.This work was extended to physicists and chemists in studies which found that the originalmodel fits behavior in these fields with very little modification, the principal being the additionof the categories of verifying and ending.Verifying:It involves checking the accuracy of information that is obtained by the user from the varioussources.Ending:Ending can defined as tying up loose ends through a final search. Here the task of informationseeking is complete and the user has obtained all the required information, thus satisfying hisneeds.
  4. 4. Ellis noted that, ‘the detailed interrelation or interaction of the features in any individual informationseeking pattern will depend on the unique circumstances of the information seeking activities of theperson concerned at that particular point in time’.However, it is clear that ‘starting’ must initiate a process and that ‘ending’ must end it. It is reasonable tosuggest that ‘verifying’ is a penultimate stage in a process and that ‘extracting’ must follow on from aspecific search behavior such as ‘browsing’.To conclude ‘extracting’ is not an information behavior of the same kind as ‘browsing’, or ‘chaining’ or‘monitoring’, and ‘differentiating’ is also a different kind of behavior.Browsing, chaining and monitoring are search procedures, whereas differentiating is a filtering processand extracting an action performed on the information sourcesThe remaining behaviors do not necessarily take place in a specific sequence and may be initiated indifferent sequences at different times in the overall search process. Ellis’s model, appears to sit betweenthe micro-analysis of search behavior (starting, chaining, extracting, verifying, ending) and the macro-analysis of information behavior generally (browsing, monitoring, differentiating)Elliss elaboration of the different behaviors involved in information seeking is not set out as adiagrammatic model and Ellis makes no claims that the different behaviors constitute a single setof stages, he uses the term features rather than stages.Though the Ellis model is based on studies of academics and researchers, these categories ofinformation seeking behaviors may be applicable to other groups of users such as Englishliterature researchers, engineers and research scientists in industrial environment.For example, Suttons (1994) analysis of the information seeking behavior of attorneys noted thatthe three stages of legal research he identified i.e. base-level modelling, context sensitiveexploration, and disambiguating the space could be mapped into Elliss categories of starting,chaining, and differentiating.
  5. 5. The identification of categories of information seeking behavior also suggests that informationretrieval systems could increase their usefulness by including features that directly support theseactivities.Ellis thought that hypertext-based systems would have the capabilities to implement thesefunctions. If one visualizes the World Wide Web as a hyperlinked information system distributedover numerous networks, one can see that most of the information seeking behavior categories inEllis model are being supported by capabilities available in common Web browser software.An individual could begin surfing the Web from one of a few favorite starting pages or sites(starting);Follow hyper textual links to related information resources -- in both backward and forwardlinking directions (chaining);Scan the Web pages of the sources selected (browsing);Bookmark useful sources for future reference and visits (differentiating);Subscribe to e-mail based services that alert the user of new information or developments(monitoring);Search a particular source or site for all information on that site on a particular topic (extracting).Information Starting Chaining Browsing Differentiating Monitoring Extracting Seeking BehaviorsLiterature Identifying Following Scanning Assessing or Receiving SystematicallySearch sources of up tables of restricting regular workingMoves interest references contents information reports or through a found in or according to their summaries source to given headings usefulness from identify material selected material of sources interestAnticipated Identifying Following Scanning Selecting useful Receiving SystematicallyWeb Moves websites/ links on top-level pages and sites by site updates searches a local pages starting pages: bookmarking, using e.g. site to extract containing pages to lists, printing, copying push, agents, information of or pointing other headings, and pasting, etc or profiles interest at that to content- site maps site information related Choosing/starting Revisiting of interest sites at differentiated, favorite sites pre-selected site of for new known content information
  6. 6. The activities of web information seeking are compared with the original information modeldevised by Ellis in the above table.Elliss work also suggests that an IR system ought to provide more navigational routes for theuser, providing not only Boolean or best-match search strategies, but also the capacity to chainthrough citations in texts both backwards and forwards in time, and with intelligent agents tomonitor additions to the database according to, say, the users last search or an establishedprofile.One can see a similarity between the models of Ellis and Kulthau which is illustrated in thediagram below.From the above diagram, we can see strong similarities between the two models. There is amajor difference is that Ellis specifies the modes of exploration or investigation. Ellis does notpresent his characteristics as stages but as elements of behavior that may occur in differentsequences with different persons or with the same person at different times.Thus, the two models are fundamentally opposed in the minds of the authors: Kuhlthaudepictsthe stages on the basis of her analysis of behavior, while Ellis suggests that the sequences ofbehavioral characteristics may vary.The strength of Ellis’s model, as with Kuhlthau’s is that it is based on empirical research and hasbeen tested in subsequent studies, most recently in the context of an engineering company.Wilson also incorporates the Ellis’s ‘Behavioral Characteristics’ of information seeking in hisModel on Information Seeking Behavior which he was updating.To conclude, David Ellis’ empirically-based model of common actions associated with scholarlyinformation seeking hasbeen influential, spurring several follow-on studies to test for similaractivities in the work of people in other circumstances
  7. 7. REFERENCESChoo, C. W, Detlor, B & Turnbull, D. (1998), A Behavioral Model of Information Seeking onthe Web -- Preliminary Results of a Study of How Managers and IT Specialists Use the Web,1998 ASIS Annual Meeting Contributed Paper, Retrieved on September 11,2012,from, C. W, Detlor, B & Turnbull, D. (2000), Information Seeking on the Web: An IntegratedModel of Browsing and Searching, First Monday, 5(2), Retrieved on September 11, 2012,, T.D. (1999) "Models in information behaviour research" Journal ofDocumentation, 55(3) 249-270, Retrieved on September 11, 2012, from, D. &Haugan, M. (1997),"Modeling the information seeking patterns of engineers andresearch scientists in an industrial environment", Journal of Documentation, 53 (4), p. 384 – 403,Retrieved on September 11, 2012, from seeking behavior, (2012)Retrieved on September 18, 2012, from, D.(2005), Information Seeking Behavior,InK. Fisher, S. Erdelez& L. McKechnie, (Eds.),Theories of Information Behavior, p. 138-142, Retrieved on September 18, 2012, from, T.D. (2007). Evolution in information behavior modeling: Wilsons model. In, K.Fisher, S. Erdelez& L. McKechnie, (Eds.).Theories of information behavior, (pp. 31-36).Medford, NJ: Information Today. [Slightly revised and updated October 2007] Available at, Marcia J. (2010) Information Behavior InEncyclopedia of Library and InformationSciences, 3rd Ed.Marcia J. Bates and Mary Niles Maack, (Eds.) New York: CRC Press, vol. 3, p.2381-2391, Retrieved on September 24, 2012, from, V.G. (2008), Information needs and information behavior, (1st ed.), Amravati:Shivneri Publishers& Distributors. 294 p.