SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

An ongoing thread in information retrieval research has been the exploration of user goals (or information needs, or problems) on information retrieval systems. It has been suggested that an understanding of goals and their role in the information retrieval interaction can provide insight into appropriate retrieval strategies, relevant documents, and general system design. This article reports on empirical findings concerning goals of users searching an OPAC at a northeastern United States university. These findings were generated during a large inductive and qualitative study of users' interactions with the OPAC. It was found that respondents came to the OPAC to search for a variety of course- or degree-related projects in which they were engaged. Respondent goals were not greatly modified during the course of these interactions. A set of situational elements associated with the respondent's goal was also identified. The implications of these findings for OPAC design and the training of informational professionals are discussed. © 1996 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.