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Title:The Value of The Search Request Form in The Negotiation Process Between Requester and Librarian
Author(s):Fitzgerald, Evelyn Laverne Curry
Department / Program:Library Science
Discipline:Library Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Library Science
Abstract:The present study was designed to investigate the effectiveness of the search request form in the negotiation process between requester and librarian in the online setting. The formal hypothesis was: users who complete the search request form before talking to an information specialist will get better results than those who do not complete such a form prior to talking to the information specialist. Two groups represented the interaction sequences below: the first, the experimental group, the second, the control. (a) Requester - Request Statement - Intermediary - Search; (b) Requester - Intermediary - Request Statement - Search. The study hypothesized that the first of the pair produces better results. Two reasons account for the improved results. (a) Writing a statement of information need imposes a discipline on users and helps them to clarify what it is they really want, and (b) In completing a form, before any substantial discussion with the intermediary, users are not constrained or preconditioned by the "system;" they are more likely to ask for what they want rather than what they think the system is able to give them.
Improved results were measured by nine dependent variables: precision (overall and major value), recall (overall and major value), cost (overall, per relevant citation and per major value citation), time (online) and user evaluation. The independent variable was the interaction sequence.
One hundred and two in-person searches were collected between November, 1979 and February, 1981 at the University of Illinois Library of the Health Sciences, Urbana campus. Eighty-seven (85.29% return) were analyzed for the study: 46 in the experimental group and 41 in the control group. For each search, data were collected on characteristics of the user (status, department, experience with the system, etc.), the request (subject, restrictions, recall requirements, etc.), the process (number of data bases accessed, Boolean operators used, number of sets built, etc.) and the outcome (precision, recall, cost, time and evaluation). Each variable was measured by examination of the search records (printouts, request forms and evaluation sheets).
Findings showed that no statistically significant differences existed between the two groups. The T-test was used to measure the differences at the .05 confidence level. The data suggested that factors other than interaction sequence, the independent variable measured, may exert greater influence on search outcomes. Trends, however, suggested that the interaction sequence of Group 1 (the "no interference" mode) was superior in several respects. Six of the nine dependent variables indicated improved search results for this sequence: major value precision, overall cost, cost per relevant citation, cost per major value citation, online time and user evaluation. The remaining variables examined (overall precision and the two recall measures) favored the Group 2 sequence.
The major value of this research is its contribution to the methodology of online system evaluation. It is important as a baseline study needed to provide data on what happens at the complex interface between the requester and the information specialist. Variable clusters were identified that appeared to exert (individually or combined) substantial influence on search outcomes. Further research needs to be done in this important area to test the effects of these variables on the question/negotiation process.
Issue Date:1981
Description:234 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203460
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-13
Date Deposited:1981

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