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From translation to navigation of different discourses: A model of search term selection during the pre-online stage of the search process

Publikation: Forskning - peer reviewTidsskriftartikel

Mirja Livonen, Diane H. Sonnenwald

We propose a model of the search term selection process based on our empirical study of professional searchers during the pre-online stage of the search process. The model characterizes the selection of search terms as the navigation of different discourses. Discourse refers to the ways of talking and thinking about a certain topic; there often exists multiple, diverse discourses on the same topic. When selecting search terms, searchers appear to navigate a variety of discourses, i.e., they view the topic of a client's search request from the perspective of multiple discourse communities, and evaluate and synthesize differences and similarities among those discourses when selecting search terms. Six discourses emerged as sources of search terms in our study. These discourses are controlled vocabularies, documents and the domain, the practice of indexing, clients' search requests, databases, and the searchers' own search experience. Data further suggest that searchers navigate these discourses dynamically and have preferences for certain discourses. Conceptualizing the selection of search terms as a meeting place of different discourses provides new insights into the complex nature of the search term selection process. It emphasizes the multiplicity and complexity of sources of search terms, the dynamic nature of the search term selection process, and the complex analysis and synthesis of differences and similarities among sources of search terms. It suggests that searchers may need to understand fundamental aspects of multiple discourses in order to select search terms.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftJournal of American Society for Information Science
Vol/bind49
Tidsskriftsnummer4
Sider (fra-til)312-326
Antal sider15
ISSN0002-8231
StatusUdgivet - 1 dec. 1998

ID: 129213961