“Irrational” searchers and IR-rational researchers

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Abstract

In this article the authors look at the prescriptions advocated by Web search textbooks in the light of a selection of empirical data of real Web information search processes. They use the strategy of disjointed incrementalism, which is a theoretical foundation from decision making, to focus on how people face complex problems, and claim that such problem solving can be compared to the tasks searchers perform when interacting with the Web. The findings suggest that textbooks on Web searching should take into account that searchers only tend to take a certain number of sources into consideration, that the searchers adjust their goals and objectives during searching, and that searchers reconsider the usefulness of sources at different stages of their work tasks as well as their search tasks.

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