Is Exploratory Search Different?

A Comparison of Information Search Behavior for Exploratory and Lookup Tasks

Kumaripaba Miyurusara Athukorala, Dorota Glowacka, Giulio Jacucci, Antti Oulasvirta, Jilles Vreeken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Exploratory search is an increasingly important activity yet challenging for users. Although there exists an ample amount of research into understanding exploration, most of the major information retrieval (IR) systems do not provide tailored and adaptive support for such tasks. One reason is the lack of empirical knowledge on how to distinguish exploratory and lookup search behaviors in IR systems. The goal of this paper is to investigate how to separate the two types of tasks in an IR system using easily measurable behaviors.
In this paper, we first review characteristics of exploratory search behavior. We then report on a controlled study of six search tasks with three exploratory – comparison, knowledge acquisition, planning – and three lookup tasks – fact-finding, navigational, question answering. The results are encouraging, showing that IR systems can distinguish the two search categories in the course of a search session. The most distinctive indicators that characterize exploratory search behaviors are query length, maximum scroll depth, and task completion time. However, two tasks are borderline and exhibit mixed characteristics. We assess the applicability of this finding by reporting on several classification experiments. Our results have valuable implications for designing tailored and adaptive IR systems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Society for Information Science and Technology. Journal
Volume65
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)2635-2651
Number of pages17
ISSN1532-2882
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 113 Computer and information sciences

Cite this

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title = "Is Exploratory Search Different?: A Comparison of Information Search Behavior for Exploratory and Lookup Tasks",
abstract = "Exploratory search is an increasingly important activity yet challenging for users. Although there exists an ample amount of research into understanding exploration, most of the major information retrieval (IR) systems do not provide tailored and adaptive support for such tasks. One reason is the lack of empirical knowledge on how to distinguish exploratory and lookup search behaviors in IR systems. The goal of this paper is to investigate how to separate the two types of tasks in an IR system using easily measurable behaviors.In this paper, we first review characteristics of exploratory search behavior. We then report on a controlled study of six search tasks with three exploratory – comparison, knowledge acquisition, planning – and three lookup tasks – fact-finding, navigational, question answering. The results are encouraging, showing that IR systems can distinguish the two search categories in the course of a search session. The most distinctive indicators that characterize exploratory search behaviors are query length, maximum scroll depth, and task completion time. However, two tasks are borderline and exhibit mixed characteristics. We assess the applicability of this finding by reporting on several classification experiments. Our results have valuable implications for designing tailored and adaptive IR systems.",
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Is Exploratory Search Different? A Comparison of Information Search Behavior for Exploratory and Lookup Tasks. / Athukorala, Kumaripaba Miyurusara; Glowacka, Dorota; Jacucci, Giulio; Oulasvirta, Antti; Vreeken, Jilles .

In: American Society for Information Science and Technology. Journal, Vol. 65, No. 11, 11.2016, p. 2635-2651.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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T1 - Is Exploratory Search Different?

T2 - A Comparison of Information Search Behavior for Exploratory and Lookup Tasks

AU - Athukorala, Kumaripaba Miyurusara

AU - Glowacka, Dorota

AU - Jacucci, Giulio

AU - Oulasvirta, Antti

AU - Vreeken, Jilles

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N2 - Exploratory search is an increasingly important activity yet challenging for users. Although there exists an ample amount of research into understanding exploration, most of the major information retrieval (IR) systems do not provide tailored and adaptive support for such tasks. One reason is the lack of empirical knowledge on how to distinguish exploratory and lookup search behaviors in IR systems. The goal of this paper is to investigate how to separate the two types of tasks in an IR system using easily measurable behaviors.In this paper, we first review characteristics of exploratory search behavior. We then report on a controlled study of six search tasks with three exploratory – comparison, knowledge acquisition, planning – and three lookup tasks – fact-finding, navigational, question answering. The results are encouraging, showing that IR systems can distinguish the two search categories in the course of a search session. The most distinctive indicators that characterize exploratory search behaviors are query length, maximum scroll depth, and task completion time. However, two tasks are borderline and exhibit mixed characteristics. We assess the applicability of this finding by reporting on several classification experiments. Our results have valuable implications for designing tailored and adaptive IR systems.

AB - Exploratory search is an increasingly important activity yet challenging for users. Although there exists an ample amount of research into understanding exploration, most of the major information retrieval (IR) systems do not provide tailored and adaptive support for such tasks. One reason is the lack of empirical knowledge on how to distinguish exploratory and lookup search behaviors in IR systems. The goal of this paper is to investigate how to separate the two types of tasks in an IR system using easily measurable behaviors.In this paper, we first review characteristics of exploratory search behavior. We then report on a controlled study of six search tasks with three exploratory – comparison, knowledge acquisition, planning – and three lookup tasks – fact-finding, navigational, question answering. The results are encouraging, showing that IR systems can distinguish the two search categories in the course of a search session. The most distinctive indicators that characterize exploratory search behaviors are query length, maximum scroll depth, and task completion time. However, two tasks are borderline and exhibit mixed characteristics. We assess the applicability of this finding by reporting on several classification experiments. Our results have valuable implications for designing tailored and adaptive IR systems.

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