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A context-based investigation into source use by information seekers



An important question in information-seeking behavior is where people go for information and why information seekers prefer to use one source type rather than another when faced with an information-seeking task or need for information. Prior studies have paid little attention to contingent variables that could change the cost-benefit calculus in source use. They also defined source use in one way or the other, or considered source use as a monolithic construct. Through an empirical survey of 352 working professionals in Singapore, this study carried out a context-based investigation into source use by information seekers. Different measures of source use have been incorporated, and various contextual variables that could affect the use of source types have been identified. The findings suggest that source quality and access difficulty are important antecedents of source use, regardless of the source type. Moreover, seekers place more weight on source quality when the task is important. Other contextual factors, however, are generally less important to source use. Seekers also demonstrate a strong pecking order in the use of source types, with online information and face-to-face being the two most preferred types.