Modeling the information-seeking behavior of social scientists: Ellis's study revisited



This paper revises David Ellis's information-seeking behavior model of social scientists, which includes six generic features: starting, chaining, browsing, differentiating, monitoring, and extracting. The paper uses social science faculty researching stateless nations as the study population. The description and analysis of the information-seeking behavior of this group of scholars is based on data collected through structured and semi-structured electronic mail interviews. Sixty faculty members from 14 different countries were interviewed by e-mail. For reality check purposes, face-to-face interviews with five faculty members were also conducted. Although the study confirmed Ellis's model, it found that a fuller description of the information-seeking process of social scientists studying stateless nations should include four additional features besides those identified by Ellis. These new features are: accessing, networking, verifying, and information managing. In view of that, the study develops a new model, which, unlike Ellis's, groups all the features into four interrelated stages: searching, accessing, processing, and ending. This new model is fully described and its implications on research and practice are discussed. How and why scholars studied here are different than other academic social scientists is also discussed.