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INFORMATIONNEEDSANDUSES:FIFTY

YEARSOFPROGRESS?

ProfessorT.D.Wilson
DepartmentofInformationStudies
UniversityofSheffield

ThispaperwasfirstpublishedasChapter1ofB.C.Vickery,Ed.,Fiftyyearsofinformationprogress:a
JournalofDocumentationreview.London:Aslib.(pp.1551)

INTRODUCTION
Theterm"userstudies"coversawiderangeofresearchareasininformation
scienceand,aswillbeshownlater,canbeexpandedtoincludepartsof
computerscience,communicationstudiesandotherfields.However,asaterm
withininformationscienceitscurrencydatesfromthe1960s,ratherthanfrom
earlierintheperiodcovered.Theclosestwecometoitsuseinthetitleofan
articleintheJournalisFishenden's[1]in1965("Informationusestudies")
and,certainly,forthefirstyearsoftheJournal'slifetherewereveryfewpapers
thatfitwithineventhebroadestdefinitionoftheterm.

Oncetheterm,anditsassociatedterms,'informationseekingbehaviour',and
'informationneeds'enteredtheprofessionalvocabulary,however,reviewsof
thesubjectappearedregularly.SomeintheJournal[2,3],whileothershave
appearedregularlyintheAnnualReviewofInformationScienceand
Technology,[4]andmorehaveappearedinotherjournals[5].Thesereviews,
fromtimetotime,havesuggestedthatseveralthousandstudieshaveappeared
and,clearly,itisimpossibletoreviewallofthisliterature.Giventhatthis
paperispartofacelebrationoffiftyyearsoftheJournal,therefore,Ihave
triedtocovermostofwhathasappearedinitspages,withsufficientattention
toothersources,toenablethereadertoseehowfarwhathasappearedisa
microcosmofawiderworld.
THESCOPEOFTHEFIELD.
Evenwithininformationscience,theterms"userstudies","informationneeds"
and"informationseekingbehaviour"areassociatedwithadiverserangeof
problemareas,fromstudiesthatprovideabasisforsystemsdevelopmentor
improvement,throughbibliometrics,usereducation,readabilityoftexts,
studiesofreadingandreadership,toinformationretrievaldesignand
evaluation.Ingeneral,Ihavesimplifiedthispiecebyexcludingthewholearea
ofusereducation,allofbibliometrics,allstudiesofreadingandreadability,
mostofreadership,andmostofIRsystemdesignandevaluation.

Whatdoesthisleave?Thediagrambelowwaspublishedsomeyearsagoand,
asthepaperitappearedinisstillregularlycited,itseemstocontinueto
provideareasonablebasisfordefiningthefield[6].Inthediagram,Itakethe
startingpointof"userstudies"tobetheindividualinformationuserwho,in
responsetosomeperceived"need",engagesininformationseekingbehaviour.
Theword"need"wasplacedwithininvertedcommasbecauseitseemedatthe
timetobeaconceptwhichwasverydifficulttotranslateintoresearchable
termsandIusedtheterm"informationseekingbehaviour"toidentifythose
aspectsofinformationrelatedactivitythatdidappeartobeidentifiable,
observable,and,hence,researchable.

Thediagramisalsoadiagramofinformationprocesses,definedintermsof
userbehaviour,toshow,forexample,thatinformationmaybetransferredto
others,ormayberetainedandlaterexchangedforinformationfromothers.


Figure1:amodelofinformationbehaviour
AtthattimeInotedthatmoreattentionhadbeengiventohowpeopleusedinformationsources
andservicesthantootherareasofthediagram,suchasinformationexchange,informationuse,
andinformationtransfer.Therehasbeensomeimprovementinthatsituationoverthelast
thirteenyears,but,intheperiodcoveredbythisreview,itwouldbetruetosaythatmost"user
studies"havebeenabouthowpeopleusesystems,ratherthanabouttheusersthemselvesand
otheraspectsoftheirinformationseekingbehaviour.

Withthefielddelineatedinthiswayitwouldbepossibletoreviewdevelopmentsoverthepast
fiftyyearsinseveralways:

accordingtothemethodsofinvestigationinterviewsurveys,mailsurveyswith
selfcompletedquestionnaires,casestudies,etc.
accordingtothesocialroleofthepersonsinvestigatedresearchscientists,
teachers,socialworkers,Ph.D.students,andsoon
accordingtodisciplinescienceandtechnology,socialsciences,humanities,etc.or
accordingtotheoreticalframeworkthecognitiveapproach,thebehavioural
approach,thephenomenologicalapproach.

Allofthese(andmore)havebeenusedbyotherreviewersandthelastis,tomymind,themost
usefulbut,unfortunately,somuchworkhasbeendonewithoutreferencetoanytheoretical
frameworkthatitmusteitherbeignoredcompletelyorthe'Miscellaneous'categorywouldbe
verylargeindeed.Consequently,IhaveusedFigure1toprovidethebasisfororganization,
groupingstudiesundertheheadings:Informationseekingbehaviour(dividedintoLibrary
SurveysandUserfocusedstudies)FailureInformationuseInformationtransferand
exchangeUsersatisfactionMethodologicalperspectivesand,finally,aconsiderationofrelated
workinOtherDisciplines.

ALITTLEHISTORY
Although,forconvenience,thepaperreferredtoabovedateduserstudiesfromtheRoyalSociety
ScientificInformationConferenceof1948[7],thesubjectgoesratherfurtherbackintime.For
example,McDiarmid'sTheLibrarySurvey[8]wasproducedin1940andthatreferredto
variouskindsofsurveyswhichwereabouthowpeopleusedlibrariesandtheneedsthey
soughttosatisfy(although,interestingly,thereisnomentionofinformationneedsinthebook)
datingbackto1916[9]andwithaspateofstudiesinthe1920sand1930s.

Itwouldbetruetosay,however,thatthefieldbroadenedoutfromthestudyoflibrarysystems
tothestudyofthebehaviourandattitudesofinformationusersingeneralwitheffectfromthe
RoyalSocietyConference.Forexample,inastudyledbyMenzelattheUniversityofColumbia
[10]allofthereferencesarefrom1948onwards,whilePaisleydatedhisreview[11]from1948.
Also,ina1948paper[12],DonaldUrquhartpresented:

"...an effort to discover, by means of a questionnaire addressed to readers of


publications borrowed from the Science Museum Library, some information on such
questionsashowreferencestopublicationsareobtained,whattheexpectedinformation
isrequiredfor,andwhether,infact,thepublicationscontainthedesiredinformation."
andremarkedthat,"Noearliersurveyofthistypehasbeentraced."

TheRoyalSocietyconferencewasfolloweduptenyearslaterbytheInternationalConferenceon
ScientificInformation[13],Area1ofwhichwasdevotedto,"LiteratureandReferenceNeedsof
Scientists:Knowledgenowavailableandmethodsofascertainingrequirements."Those
presentingpapersincludedsomethatweretobecomewellknowninthisarea,andwhohave
beencitedinthisreview,forexample,Fishenden,SaulandMaryHerner,HerbertMenzel,and
D.J.Urquhart.Thestudiesreportedwerestilllargelysystemfocused,andincludedstudiesof
medicalscientists[14],forestscientists[15],and,afeatureofthetime,anumberrelatingto
scientistsintheatomicenergyindustryandassociatedresearchunits[16,17,18].Oneofthe
mostinterestingpaperswasbyJ.D.Bernal,ProfessorofPhysicsatBirkbeckCollege[19],who
provideda"Listofenquiriesinthefield..."thatoughttobeundertaken.Anumberoftopicson
thelisthavebeenpursuedinlateryearsbyvariousresearchers,butitisstillatleastpartially
relevant.Bernalendedhispaperwithastatementthatisworthrecalling:

"...a knowledge of the requirements of the different users of scientific information and
the uses to which they wish to put the information they secure should be the ultimate
determining factor in the designing of methods of storage and retrieval of scientific
information."

AnotherdevelopmentofinterestwastheestablishmentoftheCentreforResearchinUser
Studies(CRUS)withinthePostgraduateSchoolofLibrarianshipandInformationStudiesatthe
UniversityofSheffieldin1976.TheSchoolatSheffield(nowtheDepartmentofInformation
Studies)hadfostereduserstudiesthroughstudentdissertationsandoccasionalresearch
projectssinceitsfoundationin1963andin1976theBritishLibraryR.&D.Department
establishedtheCentreaspartofanationalpolicy[20].From1985to1987theCentrewas
partiallyfundedbytheBLRDDtoundertakespecificprojectsanditceasedoperationin1989,
followingtheretirementofthethenDirector,Dr.NormanRobertsalthoughworkintheareaof
informationneedscontinuestobeanimportantaspectoftheworkoftheDepartment.

Overitslifetime,CRUScontributedsignificantlytothedevelopmentofuserstudiesintheU.K.,
withprogrammesinthehumanities[21],theuseofbooksandlibrariesinschools[22],and
businessinformation[23],withindividualinvestigationsinavarietyofotherfieldsincluding
publicreferencelibraries[24],metalsinformation[25]andcommunityprofiling[26].The
Centrealsorantrainingcoursesinresearchmethodsandpublishedaquarterly,CRUSNews,
whichhasbeentransformedintotheDepartment'sInformationResearchNews.

INFORMATIONSEEKINGBEHAVIOUR
LibrarySurveys

Dividingthefieldintosystemstudiesanduserstudies,wefindthattherehasbeenacontinuing
interestintheusemadeofinformationservices,whichcanbesubsumedunderthegeneral
headingoflibrarysurveys.Amongthese,theusemadeofuniversitylibrariesconstituteda
majorsubfield,somuchsothatitwarrantedareviewoftheliteraturebyFordintheJournal's
ProgressinDocumentationseriesin1973[27].Tenyearsearliertherehadbeenanumberof
investigations,someofwhichhaveaveryarchaicringtothemtoday.Forexample,Bowyer
begantheconclusiontohispaperbynotingthat:
"Thedoctrinethattheprovisionofbooksforundergraduatesisaproperfunctionofa
university library is becoming accepted by university librarians and teaching staff."
[28]

Hardlyamatterfordebatethesedays!Bowyer'spaperwasanarrativepiecebasedonstudies
undertakenatLeeds[29]in1961andLSE[30]in1962andalsooninterviewswith"theheads
(orarepresentative)oftwentydepartmentsintheFacultiesofScience,Arts,andCommerce"at
theUniversityofBirminghamduring1962,toelucidateanswerstoquestionnairescirculated
earlier.Acommonconcernofallofthesestudieswastheextenttowhichundergraduateswere
buyingbooks:Bowyerfoundthat"inonlyaveryfewdepartmentswasthepurchaseofbooksby
students,inanyrealsense,obligatory",whereasOppenheimfoundmorebookbuyingthanhad
beenanticipated,withwomenstudentsbuyinglessthanmen.

TheOppenheimstudywasofparticularinterest,havingbeenundertakenbyasocialresearcher
(andauthorofawellknowntextonquestionnairedesign)ratherthanbyalibrarianand,
perhapsforthatreason,wastheonlyonewithaclear,socialscienceorientedresearchdesign.
Theaimwastocomparefirst,secondandthirdyearstudents,tocomparemenandwomen,and
tocomparetheimpactofthecoursebeingtakenbythestudent.Apartfromtheresultonbook
buying,notedabove,thestudyshowedheavyrelianceonthelibrary,withwomenratingthe
attitudeofstaffandprovisionofseatslowerthandidmen.Again:

"There was some evidence to suggest that those who disliked the LSE library would
seem to dislike reading generally: they owned somewhat fewer books, read somewhat
less,andwerelesspronetoreadabookfromcovertocover.Theyalsolessoftenused
thelendinglibrary,andinextracurricularreadingtheirtastemoreoftenrantofiction,
especiallycrime,detection,westerns,andmysteries."

Alsointhe1960s,LinewasalsoundertakingstudiesatSouthamptonUniversityreplicatingthe
TuckerandOppenheimstudiestosomedegree,butfocusingmoreontheattitudesofstudents
towardsthelibraryanditsstaffandtheeasewithwhichmaterialswerefound.Thefirststudy
[31]producedfindingssimilartothoseofotherstudieslowbookbuying,difficultyinfinding
books,extensiveuseoftheneighbouringpubliclibrary.Thesecondinvestigation[32]found
verylittledifferenceandsuggestedthatseminarsonlibraryusehadlittleeffect,thattheuseof
HallofResidencelibrarieshaddeclined,ashadthatofthepubliclibrary.Thefashionfor
investigationsofthiskindwasnotrestrictedtotheU.K.Salvan[33]inaresponsetoBowyer's
papernoted,essentially,thatthesameproblemsexistedinFranceandthatitscentralized
directionofuniversitylibrariesenabledacommonresponsetothoseproblems.

Itisdifficulttoestablishwhatnoticewastakenoftheresultsintermsofeffectingchangesinthe
systemsunderstudy.Somechanges,ofcourse,didtakeplace:anincreaseinusereducation
programmes,theextensionofshortloancollections,and,insomeplaces,thebuildingof
undergraduatelibraries.Howfarthediffusionoftheseideaswastheresultoftheresearchand
howfartheresultofotherfactorsisverydifficulttodetermine:itmaybesimplythatthechange
inuniversitiestowardsundergraduatelibraryservices(indicatedbyBowyer'scomment)was
alreadyintrainandthattheresearchonlydescribedwhatwashappening,ratherthanleading
thatchange.
Universitylibrarieswerenottheonlytypeoflibrarytobesurveyedintheperiod:bothpublic
andspeciallibrariesexperiencedaninterestinthiskindofresearch.perhapsthemost
significantpieceofworkwasthatcarriedoutbyClements[34]in1967.Clementsreportedonan
OSTIsupportedsurveyof33publicreferencelibrariesusingtwoquestionnairesonefor
personalvisitors,theotherfortelephone,telexandmailenquiries.Thiswasanother"system
study",butrathermoreinterestingthanmostbecauseitwasabletoquantifythenatureof
demand(fromtheanalysisofalmost30,000responseforms)andalsoprovidedsomeanalysis
ofthedegreeofsatisfactionwithservices.Themainneedwasforspecificfacts(33.4%),
followedbyinformationonasubject(17.8%).Employedpersonsweregenerallyseeking
information(ratherthanfacts)and70%foundwhattheywanted:almost76%oftelephoneand
relatedenquirieswerefullysatisfied.

Speciallibraries,too,providedabaseforwork.Amongthemoreinterestingexampleswasthe
studyofusersatShellResearch,[35]which,promptedbyAllen'sworkonthe"gatekeeper"
concept,didmorethansimplyprovidestatisticaldataonthatuse.Thereportnotedthatthose
whomadeuseofthegreaternumberofservicestendedtobetheaboveaverageusersofeach
service,andthattheaboveaverageusewassharedbyasmallnumberofusers:

"Thismeansthatsomeofthoseresearchworkerswhoreadmorejournalsthanaverage
alsoreadmorethantheaveragenumberofreports,andatthesametimeaskmorethan
the average number of questions. This therefore suggests that they also carry a
proportionofthetotalworkloadwhichisaboveaverage."

Somestudies,ofcourse,wereconductedacrossinformationagenciesofdifferentkindsinitially
concerningtheinformationseekingbehaviourofscientists.Oneoftheearliestwascarriedout
in1965:thiswasasurveyonbehalfoftheAdvisoryCouncilonScientificPolicy.Thesampleof
6,194scientistsproduceda48.77%responserate.Althoughthetextrefersto"information
seekingandusing"ratherthaninformationneeds,Iwoulddescribeitasasystemstudy
coveringtheuseofsources,especiallyabstracts,patents,reviews,journalpapers,libraryuse,
andtheuseofabstractingjournals.Thereport[36]includedsuggestionsforfutureworkand
suggestionsforaction,includingmorereviews,trialpublications,aneedforbalanceof
abstractingand"titles"journals,thedevelopmentofaformalizedpersonalcontactsystem,and
morepositivereaderservicefromlibrarians.

Therewasalsosomethingofafashionforwhatmightbecalledalevelofmicroexploration:the
informationtheuserbroughttothecatalogueandhowheorsheusedthecatalogue.Again,
however,thiswasanoldconcernMcDiarmid,forexample,citestheworkofAkersin1931,[37]
whichexaminedwhichelementsofLibraryofCongresscataloguecardsstudentsactuallyused.
Inmorerecenttimes,Ayresetal.[38]showedthattheuser'sinformationwasgenerallyaccurate
andsuggestedthattitlecataloguesmightaidtheuser,whileKenneyinastudyatthe
InternationalLabourOfficelibrary[39],showedthatthesubjectheadingswerethepreferred
formforsubjectsearches.Ofcourse,thesestudies(amongothers)relatedtothecardcatalogue,
whichhasallbutdisappearedtodayanditwasinterestingtoseepapersbyAkeroyd[40]and
HancockBeaulieu[41,42]ontheimpactofOPACsonusersearchbehaviour,updatingthiskind
ofinvestigation.

HancockBeaulieufoundthattheuseofanonlinecataloguedoesnotappeartohaveincreased
theextentofsubjectsearching(infact,seemstohavedecreasedit).ThemanualPRECISindex
supportedthecontextualapproachforbroadandmoreinteractivesearchformulations,whereas
theOPACencouragedamatchingapproachandnarrowformulationswithfewer,butuser
generated,formulations.Successrateoftheonlinecataloguewasslightlybetterthanthatofthe
manualtools,but,curiously,feweritemswereretrievedattheshelves.Nonusersofthe
bibliographictoolsseemedtobejustassuccessfulinfindingwhattheywantedafactthat
raisesotherinterestingresearchquestions,suchasWhatsearchstrategiesdothosenonusers
adopt,andhowdotheydifferfromthoseofusers?

Userfocusedstudies

Asnotedearlier,workoninformationusersandtheirneedsismuchscarcerthanthatontheuse
ofsystemsandservices,althoughthesituationhaschangedagooddealoverthepasttenyears
orso.However,aconsiderablenumberofinvestigationshavedealtwithallaspectsoftheuseof
informationsystemsandsourcesand,frequently,withafocusuponparticulardisciplinesor
workroles.Theseconstituteagroupthatliemidwaybetweenthesystemorientedprojectsand
thepersoncentredstudies.

InThescientist'sviewofhisinformationsystem[43],Rowlandreportedonsurveysundertaken
forRoyalSocietyCommitteeonScientificInformationandconcludedthat:

"Theoverallimpressiongivenbytheseresultsisoneofconservatism,withtraditional
attitudes and practices continuing to prevail.... Presented with a series of doomsday
scenarios,...theywelcomedonlythosepossibilitiesthatrepresentedminimalchange."

But:

"Contrasting with the general conservatism, a liking for the recently developed online
computerbasedmethodsofinformationretrievalwasclear."

Unsatisfieddemandinthisarearesultednotfromthelackoffunds,butfromlackofaccessto
terminals.

Somewhatearlier,inthepubliclibrarysector,amajorinterviewstudy(506interviews)of
readinghabitsinthreeLondonboroughs,[44]whichcoveredreadingingeneralbutalsolooked
atpubliclibrarymembershipanduse,revealedgenderdifferencesininformationusewith,for
example,49%ofmenchoosing"Scientificandtechnicalinformationtodowithyourjobor
hobbies",and38%ofwomenchoosing"Runningahouse".36.5%ofwomenand27%ofmen
chosereadingmaterialsinthefieldof"Healthandhygiene".

SometwentyyearslateramajorstudywascarriedoutinBaltimore,U.S.A.intotheinformation
needsofordinarycitizens[45].Intermsofoverallresearchdesignanddevelopmentofthe
researchinstrument,thisstudystandsasabenchmarkforlargescaleinvestigationsofthis
kind.Thestudyaddressedthefollowingissues:

1."Whataretheinformationneedsoftheurbancommunity?
2.Howaretheseinformationneedspresentlysatisfied?
3.Couldinstitutionalformsbedevisedtobettersatisfytheseneeds(i.e.,more
effectivelyandeconomicallyfromthepublic'sviewpoint)?"
withinaconceptualmodeldevelopedbyDervin,whichlinkedtheurbanresidenttoinformation
needs,informationsolutionstoproblems,andinformationsources,andwhichidentifiedthe
psychological,intellectual,institutional,andsocietalbarrierstothesatisfactionofneeds.This
frameworkstructuresDervin'sreviewoftheliteratureinthereport(Chapter2)and,morethan
twentyyearslater,isstillareasonablycomprehensivepictureoftheresearchsituation.

Mostfrequentlymentionedtopics Rank
Neighbourhood 1
Consumer 2
Housing/maintenance 3
Crimeandsafety 4
Education 5
Employment 6
Transportation 7
Finance/publicassistance 8
Health 9
Miscellaneous 10
Recreation 11
Discrimination 12
Legal 13

Table1:Rankedlistofproblemareas

ThemainmethodologicaldevelopmentintheBaltimorestudywastheapproachtoinformation
needsfromthedirectionoftheordinarylifeandworkexperiencesofurbanresidents.Theywere
notaskedtostatetheirinformationneeds,buttoidentifytheproblemstheyexperienced,and
thenhowtheywentaboutsolvingthem.

Therankorderofmajorinformationproblemsorquestionscitedbyresidentswouldprobably
standtoday,althoughissuesrelatingtoCrimemightbesomewhathigherupthelistshown
above.

Thesurveydesignwasrigorous,withtheinterviewscheduleundergoingfourpilottestsbefore
beingused.Thesampleof1,615householdswasdrawnaccordingtoastrategyusedbytheU.S.
BureauofCensusandresultedinarefusalrateof16%andavacancyrate(i.e.,thehousehold
addresswasunoccupied)of3.8%.Theresultingdatawereanalysedbyavarietyofstatistical
techniquesandtheresultsrevealednotonlywidevariationintheabilityofresidentstofind
answerstotheirproblems,butalsothelackofknowledgeofurbanresidents'problemsonthe
partofinformationprofessionals.

PartlyasaresultofDervin'sinvolvement,theBaltimorestudysparkedoffotherstudies[46],
whichwerereviewedbyChen&Hernonintheirworkontheinformationneedsofresidentsin
sixnortheasternstatesoftheU.S.A.[47]:Connecticut,Maine,Massachusetts,NewHampshire,
RhodeIsland,andVermont.

Inthespeciallibrariessector,Mote(whohadcarriedouttheworkatShellResearch,referredto
above)hadsoughttocharacterizeusersinanattempttounderstandtheirdifferencesin
informationuse[48].MoteidentifiedthreegroupsofscientistsatShellResearchLtd.according
tothecharacterofthedisciplinewithinwhichtheywereworking:
1.thoseworkinginfieldswithwelldevelopedunderlyingprinciples,wellorganized
literature,andwelldefined"width"ofsubject(e.g.,organicchemistry)
2.thoseconcernedwithawidersubjectareawithlesswellorganizedinformation
(e.g.,anorganicchemistwhoisnowconcernedwithboththephysicsandthe
chemistryoflubricants)and
3.an"exaggeratedform"of2)above,ascientistwhocoversmoresubjects,with
problemsinvolvinggreatervariation,andalmostnonexistentorganizationofthe
literature.

Thehypothesiswasformedthattherewouldbeincreasingneedforinformationthroughthe
threegroups,withamaximumforgroup3).Researcherswereidentifiedandassignedtothe
subjecttypes,theirenquiryrecordswerechecked,andsupportforthehypothesiswasfound.
Moteconcludedthatlibrary/informationservicesmightbeplannedaccordinglyselfservice
librariesforcategory1)usersandmoreintensive,informationworkersupportforcategories2)
and3).

CategorizationwasalsoafeatureofBrember&Leggate's[49]studyofmedicallibraryusers'use
ofdifferentkindsofinformationsources,whichadoptedCheckland'sSoftSystemsMethodology
[50].Threeusertypeswerederived:thepractitioner,theresearcher,andthepractitioner
researcher.

Morerecently,Palmer[51]usedsemistructured,indepthinterviewstoprobepersonality,
disciplineandorganizationalstructureasrelatedtotheinformationbehaviourofbiochemists,
entomologistsandstatisticiansworkinginagriculturalresearch.Clusteranalysiswasusedto
grouprespondents,andfivegroupsemerged,whichPalmercalled:

nonseekers(mainlystatisticians)forwhominformationwaseitheraproblem,
becauseofthedifficultyoffindingit,or"wasalmostdisregardedsinceitwasrarely
soughtforproblemsolving."
lone,widerangers(fivestatisticiansandthreeentomologists),whowerelonger
servingmembersoftheorganization,subscribedtomorejournals,andregularly
scannedoutsidetheirownsubjectfields
unsettled,selfconsciousseekers,whowereeithernewtotheorganizationornewto
theproblemareawithwhichtheywereconcernedtheyusedthelibrarymore
heavilythananyothergroup
confidentcollectors(mainlyentomologists),whohadabandonedregular
informationgathering,butwhokeptpersonalfilesandusedavarietyofways
(includingpersonalnetworks)tocollectinformationand
hunters(allbiochemists)whomaintainedregularroutinestomakesurethatnothing
relevantescapedthem.

Discipline,workrole,timespentinthesubjectfield,andorganizationwerethemostimportant
determinantsoftheextentofinformationbehaviourandthereweresomeindicationsof
male/femaledifferences.
Asacorrectivetotheconsiderableattentiondevotedtoscienceandtechnology,astudyofthe
InformationRequirementsoftheSocialSciences(INFROSS)waslaunchedin1969.Thisstudy
mightbedescribedasthelastofthelargequantitativestudiesofinformationseeking
behaviour,andexhibitedboththestrengthsandtheweaknessesofthatapproach.Thestrengths
wereintheadoptionofasoundsurveymethodology,withfollowuptoimprovetheresponse
rate,andascientificallydrawnsampleof2,602socialscienceresearchersfromtheU.K.
populationofresearchers.Thelowresponserate(41.8%),however,markedoneofthepotential
weaknessesofsuchstudiestheinabilitytorepresenttheviewsofmorethan50%ofthe
sample.Nonresponseisaffectedbymanyfactors,butoneofthecontributingfactorsinthecase
ofINFROSS,asLineacknowledges,couldwellhavebeenthesize(20pages)ofthe
questionnaire[52].

Thequestionnaireresultswereaugmentedbyasmallscaleinterviewsurvey(125persons)and,
aspartofanotherproject,byobservationofthedaytodaybehaviourofsocialscience
researchersmakinguseofanexperimentaluniversityinformationservice.

Someofthefindingssupportedthoseofotherstudies:forexample,thereweresimilaritiesinthe
distributionofusageoverdifferentsourcesofinformation,andthesurveymethodallowedthe
correlationofvariables,leadingtosuchfindingsasthepositiveassociationbetweenageand
perceivedsatisfaction,andthenegativeassociationbetweensatisfactionandtheneedfor
historicalanddescriptivematerial.Lineandhiscolleaguesconcludedthatthemaindeficiency
wastheunderdevelopedstateofinformationservicesforsocialscientistshencethe
experimentalprojectreferredtoabove.Inpressingthisviewoftheneedforsuchservices,
INFROSShadasuccessfuloutcome:manyU.K.universitiesintroducedsocialsciences
informationservicestomirrorthosealreadyestablishedforscience[53].

WiththestartofastudyatSheffieldUniversityintoinformationneedsandinformationseeking
behaviourinsocialservicesdepartments(theINISSProject)in1975,researchtookanew
direction.INISSwasconceivedasan"actionresearch"programme,inwhichthefactfinding
phaseswouldbefollowedbyastageinwhichinnovationssuggestedbytheresearchwouldbe
implementedinsocialservicesdepartments.Withfundingfrom,first,theBritishLibraryR.&D.
DepartmentandthenfromtheDepartmentofHealthandSocialSecurity,thisprogrammewas
carriedthroughbetween1975and1980[54,55].

Inreactingtotherelativesterilityofsurveybasedresearch,INISSwasalsoconceivedasa
qualitativeresearchprogramme,usingobservationandindepthqualitativeinterviewing.These
methods,coupledwiththeparticipativeresearchmodeintheactionphase,allowed
"triangulation"ofthedata,providingarichpictureofthenatureofcommunicationinsocial
servicesdepartmentsandtheroleofinformationseekinginrelationtotheperformanceofsocial
worktasksandthemanagementofdepartments.Thefocusuponcommunication,workroles,
andrelatedinformationinanareaofappliedsocialsciencesallowedtheresearcherstofocuson
typesofinformation,regardlessofsourceorformat,ratherthanonformallypublished
documentation,whichhadtendedtobethefocusinpreviousinvestigations.

Attheendoftheinvestigation,theresearchersconcludedthat:

"...theactionresearchstrategygaveconsiderablescopeforthecreationofcondidtions
in which the [users' information] requirements could be met. The collaborative
approachwhichgrewupinthecourseoftheProjectamountyedtoaredefinitionofthe
role of the information specialist in relation to this user group. Instead of the
introductionofarangeofcentralized(and,tothefieldworkers,peripheral)information
services based upon traditional library and information work, it proved possible to
'tailor make' simple services for people on the basis of their diagnosis of their
informationproblems."[56]

ForthoseinvolvedinProjectINISS,itisinterestingtoseerecentpaperonhowinformation
servicesmightmakeuseoftheextensiveliteratureoninformationseekingbehaviour[57].

Inasubsequentinvestigation,thetoolsdevisedinthecourseofProjectINISSwereadaptedto
otherlocalgovernmentsettingsandtheresultswerepublishedastwo"doityourself"manuals
[58,59]:ameansofdisseminatingresearchresultsinawaythatcouldactuallyleadto
innovationininformationservices.

FAILURE
Thestudiesofuniversitylibraryuseledtoanotherlineofresearch:thesocalledshelf
availabilitystudiesundertakenbytheCambridgeLibraryManagementResearchUnit[60,61].
Thesestudiesrelieduponselfselectedrespondents(i.e.,thosewhochosetofollowthedesired
procedures)and,asaresultarelativelysmallproportionof"eager"usersprovidedthelarger
proportionofresponses.However,thefindingswereofinterest,revealingthatmostinstancesof
failurewerenottheresultofusers'incompetence,butsimplyduetothefactthatthewanted
materialswerealreadybeingusedbysomeoneelse.

Anotherinvestigationexploredfailureinanothersense:Martyn[62]exploredthecoststo
scientificresearchanddevelopmentoffailuretofindrelevantmaterialsatthestartofaproject.
Thestudycovered647scientistsengagedinresearchandhadan88%responserate.23.3%of
therespondents(144scientists)reportedfindinginformationtoolateforittobeuseful43of
thosescientistsreportedthat,asaresult,theyhadunintentionallyduplicatedotherwork.Ina
briefreportfortheNewScientist[63]Martynmadethe"admittedlycrude"estimatethatsuch
unintentionalduplicationofworkcostthecountry0.9%ofthetotalR&Dfunds6,000,000in
1962.Henotedthattheestimatewasextremelyconservativeandthatthetruecostscouldbe
doublethatfigure.In1987,Martynreplicatedhis1964research[64]andfoundthesituation
verysimilar.Hissamplewassmallerandtheresponseratenotasgood,but26.8%of
respondentsreportedlatediscovery:Martynsuggestedthatthecostsoffailuretodiscover
informationwereprobablyofthesameproportionoftotalR&Dfundsastheyhadbeenin1964.

INFORMATIONUSE
Themainstrategyfordeterminingwhatinformationhasactuallybeenusedoverthepastfifty
yearshasbeencitationanalysis.OneoftheearliestsuchstudiesintheJournalwasthatbyEarle
&Vickery[65]whichanalyzedasampleofcitationsinthe1965U.K.socialscienceliteratureby
subject,bibliographicform,country,languageanddate,andmadecomparisonswithcitations
fromscienceandtechnologyliterature.TheauthorscomparedusebydemandontheNational
LendingLibrary(nowtheB.L.DocumentSupplyCentre)withcitations,andconcludedthat
"neithercitationnorloandemandisanadequatemeasureofliteratureusebyalarge
community.Eachisonlyanindicator,illuminatingsomeaspectsofusebutwithitsown
inherentbias."Itwasfoundthatbooks(measuredbycitation)accountedforabout70%ofsocial
sciencecitations,whileperiodicalsaccountedforabout30%andthatsocialscienceciting
differedfromcitationstoscientificandtechnicalliteratureinhavingalowernumberofjournal
titles,andagreaterdegreeofselfcitation.

However,therehavebeenotherinvestigationsintohowinformationisusedmostnotablyin
policyresearch.Forexample,Caplanetal.[66],inexaminingtheuseofsocialscience
knowledgeinpolicydecisions,found,notsurprisingly,thatthepoliticalimplicationsofresearch
findingsdeterminedhowfartheywereputtouse.

Otherstudieshavereportedadivisionofuseintotwokinds,whicharedescribedbyCole[67]as
"direct"and"indirect".Coleanalysedtherecordsofinformationenquiriesfromscientists
workinginindustryandfoundthat48%relateddirectlyto"operatinginformation",orsuch
topicsasplantdesignandoperation,while22%wasgatheredasbackgroundinformationor
"briefing".

Cole'sresultspresentaninterestingcontrasttothosereportedbyWilson[68]inhisstudyofthe
usemadeofjournalarticlesacquiredthroughscanningacurrentawarenessbulletininthefield
ofsocialwork.Respondentswerepresentedwithcopiesofdocumentstheyhadrequested
throughthesystemandaskedwhatusetheyhadmadeoftheinformation.In58%ofcasesthe
documenthadbeenusedtoprovidebackgroundinformationofonekindoranother:addingto
theperson'sgeneralknowledgeofthefield,confirmingorclarifyingideas,andallowing
comparisonwiththeideasorpracticeofothers.Afurther12%wereusefortrainingorpersonal
development.Thus,thesetwocategoriescovered70%ofthecasesverydifferentfromthe22%
reportedbyCole.In5%ofcasesthedocumentgavepracticalguidanceonhowtodosomething,
andafurther17%contributeddirectlytoaspecifictask,suchaswritingareport,providingthe
basisforaproject,orbeingquotedtosupportapointmadeinameeting.

Itis,ofcourse,timeconsumingtofollowupdocumentuse,sinceinterviewingisabsolutely
necessarytosecurethenecessaryinformationfromauser.However,themethodologyusedby
WilsonandStreatfielddemonstratesthatitispossible.Theresultsofstudiesofinformationuse
couldbeused,ofcourse,toaideitherquestioningbyintermediaries,orthedesignofmore
effectiveinterfacesforhuman/computerinteraction.

INFORMATIONTRANSFERANDEXCHANGE
Althoughthistopichasrarelybeenthesubjectofspecificinvestigations,thetransferof
information(i.e.,thedeliverytoothersofinformationbelievedtobeofrelevancetothembythe
initialrecipientofthatinformation)anditsexchange,thatis,itsuseinabarteringortrading
arrangement,havebeentoucheduponinawidevarietyofstudies.

Allen'sstudyofinformationtransferanduseinresearchlaboratories[69]isawellknown
exampleofthiskindofinvestigation,andhisPh.D.thesis,almostthirtyyearsafteritsfirst
publication,isaclassic.Init,Allendevelopedhisconceptofthe"gatekeeper"thememberofa
teamwhoactsasthechannelforcommunicationofideasfromoutside,andfromwithin.This
wasanextensionintotheresearchlaboratoryofthe"twostepflowofcommunication"concept
developedbyLazerfeld,Berelson&Gaudetin1948[70].Amongotherthings,Allenshowedthat
thecommunicationbehaviouroftechnologistsdifferedfromthatofscientists.Thelattermade
greateruseofformalcommunicationmedia(scientificjournals,reviews,advancedtextbooks)
thanofinformal,interpersonalcommunication,whilethesituationwasreversedforthe
technologists.
Inrecentyears,electroniccommunicationhasbecomecommoninmanyfieldsofspecialization
withthegrowthofnationalnetworks,suchasJANETintheU.K.,andinternationalnetworks
suchasINTERNET(originallybasedontheacademicnetworkintheU.S.A.)Inanupdatetothe
RoyalSociety's1982reviewofthescientificcommunicationsystem,Meadows&Buckle[71]
notethat:

"The most obvious changes have occurred in informal communication between


scientists, reflecting the rapid expansion of electronic networking in recent years... At
the same time, the formal communication system has posed an increasing number of
problems(e.g.,informationoverload,rapidincreasesincosts)."

Thereare,ofcourse,networkdevelopmentsthatwillformalizecommunication,suchasthe
creationofelectronicjournalswitheditorialboardsandpeerreview,anditseemslikelythat
thesetrendswillintensifyasthenetworksputmorecapacityinplaceandastoolsfornavigating
thenetworkandextractingtheinformationneededbecomemoreuserfriendly.

Oneinvestigation(Schrader[72])dealtwiththisareafromabusinessperspective.Thiswasa
studyofinformaltechnologytransferbetweencompanies.Schradernotedthatinformation
exchangebetweencompetingcompaniesisusuallyregardedasdisadvantageousandthatitis
usuallydescribedas"informationleakage".Shrader,however,preferstheterm"information
trading"notingthatitcancreateeconomicbenefitsforacompanyandthat,"Itisadvantageous
ifemployeesareawareofwhentoexchangeandwhentohideinformationandiftheyact
accordingly."And,further:

"Information trading creates incentives to innovate. Internally generated technical


knowledgeisusednotonlywithinafirm,butalsobarteredforfurtherknowledgeas
longasthebenefitsoutweighthecost."

USERSATISFACTION
Althoughmanydifferentkindsofstudieshavepaidpassingattentiontohowsatisfiedusersare
withtheinformationtheyreceive,therehavebeenfewstudiesthathavedealtspecificallywith
satisfaction.Mostofwhatexistsrelatestotheevaluationofinformationretrievalsystems,
includingonlineinformationservicesanareawhich,ingeneral,Ihaveexcludedfromthis
review.However,theprinciplesarethesame,whethertheuserissatisfied(ornot)bythe
outputofaninformationretrievalsystem,orbybrowsinginthelibrary.

Fortunately,areviewofthisarea[73]hasappearedrecentlyinanotherjournal:inthis,
Applegatesetsoutthreemodelsofusersatisfactionandrelatestheliteraturetothesethree
models.Theyare,first,thematerialsatisfactionmodel,wheretheperformanceofthe
information"product"intermsofrelevance,pertinence,recall,andprecision,isbelievedtolead
to"use",whichisameasureof"materialsatisfaction".Secondly,thesinglepath,emotional
satisfactionmodel,wherebymaterialsatisfaction(derivedfromproductperformance)isseento
leadto"emotionalsatisfaction",which,inturnleadseithertorepeatuseand/orcomplaintabout
lackofsatisfaction.Finally,themultiplepath,emotionalsatisfactionmodel,themostcomplexof
thethree,inwhichemotionalsatisfactiondependsuponmaterialsatisfaction,the"product
setting"(i.e.,price,interpersonalskillsoftheintermediary,etc.],and"disconfirmation"the
extenttowhichtheuser'sexpectations(derivedfrominnatefactorssuchasdemographicand
psychologicalcharacteristics,andacquiredcharacteristicssuchasinformationaboutthe
product)areconfirmedordisconfirmed.Again,emotionalsatisfactionleadstobehaviour.

ThisisthemostcomprehensiveaccountIhaveseenofmodelsofusersatisfactionand,clearly,
offersmanyideasforfurtherresearchinthisarea.

METHODOLOGICALPERSPECTIVES
AlthoughIhavetakenapragmaticapproachtothissurveyofthepastfiftyyears,itwouldbe
wrongtogivetheimpressionthattherehasbeennoprogressintheoreticalterms.Althoughit
wouldbetruetosaythatthroughoutmostoftheperiodtheorientationofinvestigatorswasvery
practicalinthattheywereseekingguidelinesforthedevelopmentofinformationsystemsand
servicesitisthecasethatattemptstoprovideatheoreticalframework,or,atleast,tothinkin
termsofcausation,didoccurfromtimetotime.Forexample,thestudybyMote,referredto
earlier[74]anattemptwasmadetolinkinformationusetocharacteristicsofthedisciplineof
theuser.Again,Oppenheim'sstudyofstudentlibraryuse[75]soughttofinddistinctions
accordingtosex,yearofstudyandthenatureofthecourse,andStuartalsoidentified
male/femaledifferences[76]inhisstudyofreadinginthreeLondonboroughs.

ItwasthereviewsintheAnnualReviewofInformationScienceandTechnology,however,that
begantoimposeconceptualframeworksontheworkthathadbeendone.Inthefirstofthese,
[77]Menzelevolvedatypologyofuserstudiesandalsosingledoutforcommenttwo
"methodologicalimprovements":solutiondevelopmentrecordsandpairedresearchteams,both
ofwhichhadbeenusedbyAllen[78]atM.I.T.Menzel'stypologywasnotusedagain,but,two
yearslater,Paisley[79]evolvedamodelof"thescientistwithinsystems(withinsystems)",aset
often"almostconcentriccircles",whichwasslightlymodifiedthefollowingyearbyAllen[80],
andbothofthesehavebeenreferredtofrequentlysince.However,themajorityofstudiesthat
reviewershavehadavailabletothemovertheyearshavebeen(asnotedearlier)studiesofthe
useofsystemswhetherlibrarysystems,informationsystems,orthetotalsystemofscientific
andtechnicalcommunication.Asanumberofrecentauthorshavenoted,[81]themovement
awayfromsystemcentredstudiestopersoncentredstudiesdidnotbeginuntilthe1980s,and
thevariousmodelsfororganizingtheliteraturewere,consequently,systemoriented.

Themovetowardspersoncentredstudiesappearstohavebeeninitiatedmoreorless
independentlybyanumberofresearchers:Belkin[82],Dervin[83],andWilson[84]arethose
mostcommonlycredited[85]withinitiatingthemove.Theseresearchersaregenerallyheldto
approachtheproblemofinformationneedsandusefromacognitiveperspective,butitis
importanttonoteadistinctionbetweenthosewhoconsiderthecognitivestateoftheinformation
user,andthosewhoconsiderhisorhercognitivestyle.Theformerisvariable,dependentupon
thecontextofthesituationofinformationseekingandinformationuse,whereasthelatteris
heldtobeaninnatecharacteristicoftheindividual.

ThiscanbeexemplifiedbyreferencetoBelkin'swork,whichwasdesignedtoleadtothe
developmentofmoreeffectiveinformationretrievalsystems,andpostulatedan"anomalous
stateofknowledge"intheuser,whichthesystemmustseektomatch,ifretrievalwastobe
effective.Thus,ananomalousstateofknowledgewoulddepend,notuponthecognitivestyleof
theindividual,butuponthecircumstancesthatledtoagapinhisorherunderstandingofa
situation.Ford,ontheotherhand,althoughdefininginformationneedinmuchthesamewayas
Belkin:
"TheapproachIhavetakentodescribean'informationneed'isanawarenessofastate
of 'not knowing' or some conceptual incongruity in which the learner's cognitive
structureisnotadequatetothetask."[86]

ismoreinterestedintheextenttowhichdifferent,innatecognitivestyleswillleadtodifferent
strategiesofinformationseeking.

Thedistinctionisanimportantone,particularlyasthecognitivestylesperspectivehasbeen
employedtoasignificantextentinresearchintothedesignofmanagementinformationsystems
(MIS)anddecisionsupportsystems(DSS).Huberreviewedthisliteraturesometenyearsago
andconcludedthat:

"(1)thestudyofcognitivestyleasabasisforderivingoperationalguidelinesforMIS
andDSSdesignshasnotbeenfruitfuland(2)suchstudyislikelynottoprovefruitful."
[87]

Huber'scaseforhisconclusionsiscloselyarguedandworthexaminationbyinformation
scientists.However,hedoesseearolefortheconceptofcognitivestyleinrelationtoMIS/DSS,
notingthat,ifbetterinstrumentsfortheassessmentofcognitivestylewereforthcoming,they
couldbeusedtoidentifythe"naturalpropensities"ofsystemusers,andsoaidtraininginthe
useofappropriateroutinesfordecisionmaking.

Thissuggestionthatcognitivestyleinstrumentscouldaidtraininghasrecentlybeenthefocusof
investigationbyateamintheDepartmentofInformationStudies,UniversityofSheffield.The
teamconcluded:

"Learningandcognitivestyleshavebeendemonstratedtobeasignificantcomponentof
individualbehaviourwithinthehypertextenvironment.Thiscomponentisnot,however,
rigidandinflexibleanddoesnotnecessarilyenforceaparticularstyleofusageupona
particular individual. Providing a variety of tools optimised for particular preferred
modesofusagecreatesaroughequalityofoveralltaskrelatedperformance,andallows
theusertoevolveanappropriatestrategyforeffectiveperformance."[88]

Dervinapproachestheproblemofinformationseekingbehaviourasacommunications
researcher,ratherthanasaninformationscientist,andadoptsa"sensemaking"approach,
whichshedefinesas:

"...alabelforacoherentsetofconceptsandmethodsusedina...programmaticeffortto
studyhowpeopleconstructsenseoftheirworldsand,inparticular,howtheyconstruct
informationneedsandusesforinformationintheprocessofsensemaking...Inthemost
generalsense,sensemaking...isdefinedasbehavior,bothinternal(i.e.,cognitive)and
external (i.e., procedural) which allows the individual to construct and design his/her
movement through timespace. Sensemaking behavior, thus, is communicating
behavior."[89]

Thecentralconceptsofthesensemakingapproacharethoseofsituations,gaps,andusesor
helps.Tothisauthor'smind,theapproachismorephenomenologicalthansimplycognitive.
Situationreferstothepositioninspaceandtimewheresenseisbeingmadegapsarethepoints
atwhichquestionsneedtobeaskedtoresolvebarrierstounderstandingortomakeprogressin
makingsenseanduses/helpsarethewaysinwhichanswerstothequestionsareputtouseby
thesensemaker.Dervin'saimistoapplytheseconceptsasageneralmodel,applicableinall
communicativesituations.

AlthoughWilsonhasbeenidentifiedwiththecognitiveapproach,hisviewofinformationneeds
andinformationseekingbehaviourisphenomenologicalincharacter,derivedfromtheworkof
AlfredSchutz.Fromthephenomenologicalperspective,individualsconstructtheirownsocial
"world"fromtheworldofappearancesaroundthem(seeSchutz'sPhenomenologyoftheSocial
World[90]).However,theycanonlydosowiththehelpofotherswhohavealreadyplaceda
cognitivestructureontheworldofappearances.Thus,allofthedeviceswecreatetoorganizethe
cognitivestructuresoftheworld(libraries,retrievalsystems,encyclopaedias,etc.)aresocially
constructedandhelptheindividualtoconstructhisorherown"meanings".Wecansee
informationneeds,therefore,asderivedfromtheindividual'sattemptstomakesenseofthe
world(asDervin),andinformationseekingbehaviourasalmostalwaysfrustratedinsome
degreebythedivisionbetweenthemeaningsembeddedininformationsystemsandthehighly
personalmeaningoftheinformationseeker'sproblem.

Clearly,whereacommunityofmeaningshasahighdegreeofconsensusforagroup(say,
particlephysics),itislikelythatthesearchforinformationrelativetoproblemscanbetested
againstinformationresourcesthathavebeenorganizedaroundthesameconsensus.Wherethe
communityofmeaningsisweaker,informationsystemsaremorelikelytofailtheuser.Schutz
describestheindividualasneedingtoconsulthis"stockofknowledgeonhand"andWagner's
[91]commentonthisisilluminatingfortheinformationscientist:

"Hecannotinterprethisexperiencesandobservations,hecannotdefinethesituationin
whichhefindshimself,andhecannotmakeanyplansforeventhenextminuteswithout
consultinghisownstockofknowledge."

WithSchutzinmind,Wilsonexpressedtheviewthat:

"ourconcerniswithuncoveringthefactsoftheeverydaylifeofthepeoplebeing
investigated
byuncoveringthosefactsweaimtounderstandtheneedsthatexistwhichpressthe
individualtowardsinformationseekingbehaviour
bybetterunderstandingofthoseneedsweareablebettertounderstandwhat
meaninginformationhasintheeverydaylifeofpeopleand
byalloftheforegoingweshouldhaveabetterunderstandingoftheuseandbeable
todesignmoreeffectiveinformationsystems."[92]

Inhis1981paperWilsonpresentedamodeloftheinformationseekingprocess(Figure2)which
hasbeenamendedfromtheoriginalversiontoshowhowtheworkofanotherresearcher,Ellis,
[93]canbeincorporatedintotheoverallmodel.Thisturnsouttobequiteeasy,sinceEllisis
concernedsolelywiththeinformationseekingprocess,ratherthanwiththeanalysisofthe
needsthatmotivatesearchbehaviour.Ellishasrecentlyextendedhisworkfromthesocial
sciences(hismodelwasbasedonthesearchbehaviourofsocialscienceresearchers)tophysics
andchemistry[94]andhasfoundthattheoriginalmodelfitsbehaviourinthesefieldswithvery
littlemodification.Henowidentifiesthestagesininformationseekingbehaviouras:Starting,
Chaining(followingcitationlinkages),Browsing,Differentiating,Monitoring,Extracting,
Verifying,andEnding.


Figure2:Theinformationseekingprocess

InFigure2thedrivetoseekinformationispostulatedtobesomemorebasicneedinthe
individual,drawingparticularattentiontothefactthatinformationcouldbeusedtoaidthe
satisfactionofaffective(oremotional)needs,ratherthanonlycognitiveneeds.Thisfactwas
derivedfromexperienceininterviewingtheusersofacurrentawarenessserviceinthefieldof
socialworkwhoreportedonthewaytheyhadusedinformationprovidedintheformof
photocopieddocuments[95].Subsequently,Kulthaucarriedoutaseriesofstudies(summarized
as"Insidethesearchprocess:informationseekingfromtheuser'sperspective"[96]),using
Kelly'spersonalconstructtheory[97].

Kulthau'sworksupplementsthatofEllisbyattachingtothestagesofthe"informationsearch
process"theassociatedfeelings,thoughtsandactions,andtheappropriateinformationtasks.
Thisassociationoffeelings,thoughtsandactionsclearlyidentifyKulthau'sperspectiveas
phenomenological,ratherthansimplycognitive.ThestagesofKulthau'smodelare:Initiation,
Selection,Exploration,Formulation,CollectionandPresentation,and,forexample,the
"initiation"oftheprocessissaidtobecharacterizedbyfeelingsofuncertainty,vagueand
generalthoughtsabouttheproblemarea,andisassociatedwithseekingbackground
information:the"appropriatetask"atthispointissimplyto"recognize"aneedforinformation.
Theremainingappropriatetasksare:Identify,Investigate,Formulate,Gather,andComplete.

AlthoughEllis'sandKulthau'smodelsdonotmapdirectlyontooneanother,thereisa
relationship:ineffect,Ellis'sstagesareanelaborationofthe"tasks"describedbyKulthau.Thus,
theSelection/IdentificationstageiscloselyassociatedwithEllis'sStartingphasewhich
encompasses"activitiescharacteristicoftheinitialsearchforinformation"or,asKulthauputsit,
"Somemaymakeapreliminaryscanforanoverviewofalternativetopics."Again,the
Exploration/InvestigationandCollection/GatheringstagesareassociatedwithEllis'sChaining,
Browsing,Differentiation,andMonitoring.Finally,Presentation/Completionisequivalentto
VerifyingandEndinginEllis'slatestformulationofhismodel.

Westbrook'sreviewofthefield[98]presentsasynthesisofvariousstagemodelsderivedfrom
Belkin,Dervin,EllisandKulthau,andextendingtheKulthau/Ellismodelstoincludethe"Need"
stateand,beforeEllisintroduced"Ending",a"Closing"stage.Westbrook'sfullsetis:Needing,
Starting,Working,DecidingandClosing.

Itisclear,therefore,thatweareseeingtheemergenceofacommontheoreticalpositionvisvis
informationseekingbehaviour,underarelativelynew,"personcentred"paradigm[99],which
is,perhaps,abettertermthan"thecognitiveapproach".

Intermsofoverallmethodologicalorconceptualframeworks,wehaveseenagradualmoveaway
fromquantitativestudiestotheuseofqualitativemethods.Thequantitativeapproachwas
associatedwithideasofpositivisminsocialscience,althoughtheinvestigatorsrarelymadethis
apparentintheirwork,perhapsbecause,ingeneral,theywerephysicalorlifescientists
attemptinga"scientific"explorationofwhatis,essentially,asocial/behaviouralphenomenon.
However,theyarehardlytobecriticisedinthis,aspositivismwasthedominantphilosophyof
socialscience,particularlyintheU.S.A.Themovetoqualitativemethodswasanaturalone,as
thepersoncentredapproachrequiredmoreindepthinformationonpeople'sbehaviourthan
couldbeprovidedbymailsurveys.Investigatorswereseekingunderstandingofprocessesand
behaviour,ratherthandescriptionofsystemuse.

Asnotedearlier,oneofthefirstU.K.studiestoadoptaqualitativeapproachwasProjectINISS
[100],whichadoptedamultimethodapproach,andwhichincorporated"illuminative
evaluation"intotheassessmentofthetrialinformationservices[101].Thishadaninfluenceon
theworkundertakenbyCRUSandreferredtoearlier,inthat,forexample,indepth,qualitative
interviewswereusedinanumberofinvestigationswhere,previously,surveysmighthavebeen
employed.Wilson,togetherwithWhite,wentontodevelopacasestudyapproachtothestudyof
informationneedsinindustry,withindepthinterviewsofseniormanagersinadozensmallto
mediumsizedmanufacturingfirmsinSheffield[102],andthequalitativeapproachwasused
(andcontinuestobeused)intheDepartmentofInformationStudiesatSheffieldinbothfunded
projectsandPh.D.research[103].Itisprobablynottoomuchofanexaggerationtosaythat
since1975,qualitativemethodshavebecomealmostthestandardininformationneedsresearch
intheU.K.and,particularly,intheNordiccountries[104]andinrecentyears,therehasbeena
rathermoreenthusiasmforsuchmethodsintheU.S.A.[105]

RELATEDWORKINOTHERDISCIPLINES
Alldisciplinestendtobeinwardlookingsomenecessarilysobecausethepossibilityofthem
interactingwithanyotherdisciplineisremote,others,presumably,becausethetaskoftryingto
accountforallrelatedresearchwouldproduceanoverwhelminginformationload.Information
sciencesharesthischaracteristicandnowhereistheconsequencemoreevidentthaninthefield
ofuserstudies.Therehasbeenahistoryofcomingtogripswithwhatotherfieldshavetooffer
inmethodologicaltermsbutwehavestilltocometotermswiththefactthatthebehaviourin
whichwehaveaninterestisnotahighlyspecializedbranchofinformationscience,butpartof
themoregeneralfieldofcommunicationstudies.Figure1isnotlimitedinitsapplicationtoa
researcherlookingforinformationonaprojectproblem:itcouldalsobeappliedtoaconsumer
lookingforaproduct,orapersonsufferingfrom,say,theonsetofAlzheimer'sdisease,seeking
advice.

Itispossible,infact,toidentifyatleastsixotherfieldsofstudy(whichoverlapamong
themselves)whereworkisbeingcarriedout,whichisofdirectrelevancetowhatinformation
scientistscall"userstudies".Here,Ishallidentifyonlyrepresentativeexamplesoftheseareas,
butareviewofcurrentworkinthesefieldswouldbeusefulonanotheroccasion.

Organizationaldecisionmaking

First,thereisthefieldoforganizationaldecisionmaking,where,forexample,O'Reilly[106],a
prominentresearcherinorganizationalcommunication,setoutthe"contextualandindividual
variablesaffectingtheuseofinformationbyorganizationaldecisionmakers".Theseincluded
variablesthattheresearcherintouserneedswouldfindfamiliar,suchas:communication
networks,roles(think,e.g.,ofPaisley'sscientistwithinsystems),informationavailability
(quantity,quality,saliency,content,formandcredibility),andindividualinformationprocessing
variables(perceptualset,criteriaused,andprocessingstyle).

Fromhisreview,O'Reillyevolvedanumberofpropositionswhichofferrichpossibilitiesfor
furtherresearch.Therearetoomanypropositions(eleveninall)toquoteinfull,butthe
followingwillgivesomeideaoftheirpotency:

"Proposition3:Informationismorelikelytobeusedbydecisionmakersifit
is:
a.readilyaccessible
b.summarized
c.presentedorally
d.fromasourcedeemedascredible,thatistrustworthy."
"Proposition4:Informationismorelikelytobeusedbydecisionmakersifthe
information:
a.issupportiveoftheoutcomesfavoredbythedecisionmakers.
b.doesnotleadtoconflictamongthesetofrelevantactors.
c.cannotbeattackedbythoseinopposition."

and
"Proposition7:Giventhesameinformationset,differentdecisionmakerswill
usedifferentpartsindifferentwaysthatis,judgeswillselectandweight
informationdifferentially."

Interestingly,Wilson&Streatfield[107]hadconfirmedProposition3intheirstudyofsocial
workersandsocialworkmanagerssomesixyearsbeforeO'Reilly'sreview.

Marketing

Secondly,marketingstudiesfrequentlyinvolveaconsiderationofinformationneeds.For
example,TimkoandLoyns[108]exploredtheneedforeconomicinformationbygrainfarmers
inManitoba,settingout24categoriesofgrainmarketinformation,from"Federalregulationson
grain"to"Grainpriceforecasts".Aconceptualframeworkwasdeveloped,whichrelatedmacro
andmicroeconomicinformationtofarmmanagementdecisionmakingandtheresultsshowed
thatwhethermacroormicroeconomicinformationwasneededdependeduponthemarketin
whichtheproducerwasoperating.Availabilityofinformationwasnotperceivedtobeanissue,
butsomerespondentscommentedonaccessibilityandconvenience.Finally,thefarmers
perceivedaneedformoreinformation.Inotherwords,byadoptingadecisionmaking
frameworkforthestudy,theresearcherswereabletoidentifyinformationtypeswithout
difficultyandthefarmerswereabletomakejudgementsamongthosetypes.

Theinformationseekingbehaviourofconsumershasalsobeenstudiedundertheheadingof
marketing.Ozanne,BrucksandGrewalexaminedhowconsumersfitnewproductsintotheir
existingknowledgebases[109]inalaboratorybasedexperiment.Theydemonstratethatwhen
peoplearefacedwithnewproducts,aseriesofinvertedUrelationshipsarefoundbetween
varioussearchvariables,suchasbreadthanddepthofsearch,timespentinsearching,andthe
typeofinformationsought.Inotherwords,whenthediscrepancyisatamoderatelevel,people
spentmoretimeandeffortanalyzingalimitedsetofattributesofproducts,ratherthanseekinga
broaderrangeofinformation,and,alsoatthemoderatelevelofdiscrepancy,soughtmore
informationonthoselimitedattributes.Theextensionoftheseideasforsearchingotherkindsof
informationthanproductinformationcouldwellbeuseful.

Personality

Thirdly,andmoretheoretically,studiesofpersonalityhavedealtwithinformationprocessing
andcognition.Forexample,a"needforcognition"testhasbeendevisedbyCacioppo,Petty&
Kao[110]tomeasureageneraltrait,relatedtoanindividual'smotivationtoengageincognitive
acts.Verplankenetal.[111]haveusedaDutchversionofthisinstrumenttoexplorethe
relationshipsbetweenneedforcognition(NC)andtheamountofeffortexpendedonexternal
informationsearching.Theycomment:

"More specifically, we hypothesized that high NC individuals expend more effort and
searchmoreinformationthanlowNCindividuals."

Giventhedefinitionof"needforcognition",Ithinkitwouldhavebeensurprisingifnosuch
relationshiphadbeenfound,but,intheevent,thehypothesiswasconfirmedinalaboratorytest
(atestcloselyrelatedtomarketinginthatitconcernedinformationrelatingtoaproduct).

Intheirconclusions,theauthorssuggestthat:
"It can be hypothesized..., that given the fact that need for cognition appeared to be
related to search effort, individuals differing in need for cognition may also differ in
informationsearchstrategiesprecedingadecision."

Allowingfortheapparentcircularityoftheexercise,thislatterhypothesiscouldbeworthtesting
in,forexample,onlinesearchingbyendusers.

InanotherpsychologicalstudyPrinceEmbury[112]examinedtherelationshipbetweenvarious
informationrelatedfactors,perceptionofcontroloverone'slife,andsymptomsofpsychological
illness.ThesettingwastheThreeMileIslandreactorincidentandtheinformationbehaviour
concernedsessionsdesignedtoinformpeopleabouttheincidentanditsprobableeffects.
PrinceEmburyfoundthat"understandingofinformation"wastheonlyfactorrelatedto
psychologicalsymptoms:inotherwords,thosewhounderstoodmoreofwhattheyweretold
showedfewersymptoms.

Ofcourse,PrinceEmburydidnottestfor"needforcognition"anditmaybethecasethatallof
thoseattendingthemeetingswouldhavemeasuredhighlyonthatscale,butthetwopapers,
takentogether,doraiseinterestingquestionsabouthowfarinformationseekingbehaviourcan
leadtoeffectiveinformationuseiftheinformationmaterialsusedareabarrierto
understanding.

Informationrequirementsforcomputersystems

Fourthly,computerscience,hasanalmostidenticalfieldofinvestigationwhichisreferredtoas
informationrequirementsstudies.Thisisaveryextensivefield,buttheflavourcanbegivenby
acoupleofexamples:Symonetal.[113]usedamultimodalapproachtodefininguser
requirementsofahospitalinformationsystem.Theyemployedinterviews,prototyping,group
discussions,questionnaire,documentation,a'tracer'study,andanevaluationquestionnaire,
because,"Giventhesizeoftheprojectandthediversityofissuesinvolved,noonemethodof
derivinginformationrequirementswouldhavebeenadequate."

Theresultinguserrequirementsmodelwasstructuredaround"thetwoprincipalconstituentsof
thehospital"patientsandresources,andrelatedinformationrequirementstofourcategories:
information(thedataheldonpatientsandresources),operationalcontrol(i.e.,controllingthe
flowofpatientsandresourcesinthehospital),communications(persontoperson
communicationwhichcanoverrideformalsystemsbecausedealingwithpatientsrequireshigh
flexibilityofresponse),andmanagement(i.e.,theprocessesofmonitoringandevaluatingtotal
organizationalperformance).Theresultingdefinitionofinformationsystemsrequiredfor
hospitalmanagementandpatientcareshowsthenecessityforafullyintegrated
communicationssystemtoensureaccessibilityofinformationtoall.

Asomewhatsimilar,multimethodapproachtorequirementsdefinitionisdescribedby
WilloughbyandGardner[114].Notingthat,"...informationscientistshavenotalwayslooked
beyondthetoolsusedbytheirowndisciplinetoconsiderthepotentialoftoolsusedbyother
disciplines...",theauthorsusedinterviews,an"informationenvironmentalanalysis"(an
analysisoftheworktasksthatusedorgeneratedinformation),aDelphisurvey,andgeneration
andsortingoftypicalquestionsusersexpectedtoputtoamanagementinformationsystem.

Thesystem,asaresultoftheseprocesses,was:
"...centeredaroundthesubjectorientationofusersandpropensityforsortingquestions
by information type. The four information types used were bibliographic, numeric,
programmatic,andauthority."

Thisareaiscloselyassociatedwiththatofdecisionmaking,dealtwithabove.Forexample,
Martin[115]usesthestructuredapproachofSystemDynamicstoshowhowadecisionsupport
systemcouldbecreatedfordetermininghowmanyjurorstocallforserviceonagivenday.The
approachusesdecisiongraphstobreakdownthedecisionsneededintosubdecisionsandthen
identifiesthequestionsthatneedtobeansweredateachsubdecisionstage.Fromthose
questions,theinformationneededtoprovidedecisionsupportmaybedetermined.Clearly,this
approachtodetermininginformationrequirementsassumesahighlystructureddecision
processwhichisnotalwaysthecase.

Mediastudies

Fifthly,mediastudies,dealswiththeinformationneedsindividualsareseekingtosatisfy
throughexposuretothemedia.Forexample,Chew[116]carriedoutastudytoexplore,"...the
informationneedsofthepublicduringtwotypesoftelevisionnewsinordertoshedfurtherlight
onhowviewersprocesstelevisionnews."Shefoundthatinformationneedsvariedaccordingto
thenatureofthenewsprogramme:"Duringroutinenewsthereweremorebasicawareness
questions,whileduringseriousnewsthereweremorequestionsregardingdecisionmaking,
opinionformation,andcheckingforaccuracy."Thisfindingmaybeaninstanceofthemore
generalphenomenon,ofinformationusersselectinginformationsourcesonthebasisofthe
natureoftheirneed,althoughweknowthatusersoftenformulatetheirproblemstatementin
moregeneraltermsthantheyneedand,hence,mayselectsourcesthatareinappropriate.

Healthcommunicationstudies

Finally,healthcommunicationstudies,constituteamajorfieldofinvestigationinthehealth
sciences.Theissueshererelatetosuchmattersashowvarious"atrisk"groupsobtainanduse
informationontheirmedicalproblemsandhowpublicityandinformationprogrammes
addressedtosuchgroupssucceed(orfail)intheiraims.Theresearchisreportedalmostentirely
inhealthsciencesjournals,ratherthanintheinformationscience,and,consequently,israrely
reviewedbyinformationscientists.However,themodelsusedmainlybysocialscientists
workinginthisareaareofconsiderableinterestandtheirfindingsarerelevanttothefieldof
userstudiesingeneral.

Forexample,Snider[117]examinedwhathecalled"predisposingfactors"and"enabling
factors"inastudyoftheknowledgebaseofelderlypersonsinEdmonton,Canada.Predisposing
factorswerethosethatcreateaneedformedicalservices,suchashealthandage,whileenabling
factorswerethosethatenableaccesstosuchservices.Hefoundthattheenablingfactors
(particularlyage,educationallevel,andprevioususeofanagency)weremoreimportantin
determiningpeople'sknowledgeofwhatwasactuallyavailablethanthepredisposingfactors.

Studiessuchasthisareoftendirectedatevaluatingagencies'effortstoinformapopulation
aboutitsservices,inmuchthesamewayaslibraryandinformationsystemsseektoinformtheir
usergroupsoftheirservices.Itwouldbepossibletoidentifysetsofpredisposingandenabling
factorsforlibraryorinformationsystemuseandexploreapopulationinthesameway.
AnotherstudybyKenkel[118]defined"information"asthelevelofknowledgeanindividual
possessedoncertainmedicalproblems.Hethenconstructedaneconometricmodelofthe
relationshipbetweenhealthinformationandthedemandformedicalservices,confirmingthe
anticipatedrelationshipthatbetterinformedpeopleusemoremedicalcare.Thestudywas
focusedonthepurchaseofmedicalcareand,inthepresentclimateofconcernwiththepurchase
ofinformationservices,thefollowingfindingisinteresting:

"Thefindingthatmoreinformedindividualsaremorelikelytousecare,combinedwith
the symptomsresponse calculations that all individuals use less medical care than
experts believe is appropriate, suggest that people systematically underestimate the
marginalproductofmedicalcare.Apparently,physicianscannotevenconvincepeople
tobuyenoughcare,muchlessinducethemtobuymorethanenough."

Iftherearestubbornbarrierstothepurchaseofhealthcare,whatistheprospectforsellersof
informationservices,wherethe"marginalproduct"ismuchmoredifficulttocalculate?

Finally,underthisheading,Rakowskietal.[119]soughttodiscoverwhether"information
seeking"couldbeusedasafactorintheanalysisofhealthrelatedpracticesofcitizensinRhode
Island.Theynoted:

"Atpresent,informationseekingisnotpreciselydefinedbyastandardsetofquestions.
Instead, it is a concept generally viewed as being a tendency to find out about health
from sources such as television, radio, printed media, friends and family, health
professionals, and systematic personal observation. Surveys of preventive health
behaviorhaveusuallynotincludedspecificquestionsaboutinformationseekingintheir
instruments."

Therefore,theydevisedsuchasetofquestionsandfoundthatinformationseekingbehaviours
didemergeasafactorinthesubsequentfactoranalysisofdata.Specifically,theydefinedtwo
indicesofinformationseeking,"InformationPositive",consistingofpositiveresponsestothe
questions,and"InformationNegative",consistingofnegativeresponses.Theyfoundthat,
althoughneitherindexlinkedtogeneralmedicaltesting,whichwasusuallypromptedby
telephonecallsormailfrompractitioners,bothwererelatedto"PersonallyConductedHealth
Activities",suchasbreastselfexamination,regularexercise,flossingteeth,andlimiting
exposuretosunlight.Thosewitha"positive"informationindexweremorelikelytoengagein
theseactivitiesthanthosewitha"negative"index.

Theauthorsconcludethat,

"Having information does not guarantee that behavior change will occur. However,
being an active informationseeker may be a significant distinction compared with
acquiring information in more passive ways such as what is now almost inescapable
exposure to health messages from multiple media channels, and even healthrelated
conversationinone'ssocialnetwork."

Theynotethatthemeansofdefiningactiveinformationseekerswillneedtochangeasthe
natureoftheinformationsocietychangesandthatfuturebenchmarkscouldinclude:
"...notonlythevarietyofsourcesutilized,butalsoconsiderationsfor:thelevelofdetail
atwhichinformationisgathered,theintegrationofinformationfrommultiplesources,
andthemannerinwhichconflictinginformationisresolved."

CONCLUSION
Thereareseveralkindsofconclusiontobedrawnfromthisreview:first,itisclearthatinthe
earlypartoftheperiod,thestudieswereessentiallysystemstudies,ratherthanpersoncentred
studies.Notonlythattheylackedanycommontheoreticalunderpinningandwere
predominantlydescriptive.Theyuseddifferentmethods,differentscalesfordescribing
behaviourandrelativelycrudeformsofstatisticalanalysis.Consequently,verylittleoflasting
interestcanbefoundinthem.Thisisnottosaythatdescriptive,systemstudiesarenecessarily
uselessseveralideasforpossiblestudiescometomind,whichwouldcomparethesituations
thenandnow:

1.Giventheextenttowhichtheuniversitylibrarystudiesfoundthatthepubliclibrary
wasasourceofsupplywhenmaterialswerenotavailableintheuniversitylibrary,
whathasbeentheeffectonundergraduatesofthepastfifteenyearsofreduced
publicspendingonbothuniversityandpubliclibrarysystems?
2.Inthesamecontext,howhasundergraduatebookbuyingchangedoverthesame
period,andwhatstrategiesareteachersusingtohelpstudentsovercomethe
problemsofsupply?
3.Sofarasuniversityresearchersinallfieldsareconsidered,whatmeanshavethey
foundtogainaccesstotheliterature,whensomanyjournalshavebeencancelled,
andwhatroleiselectroniccommunicationwithfellowresearchersplaying?
4.Whatwouldastudyofthemajorpublicreferencelibrariesnowreveal,compared
withthe1967studybyClements?

Ifsuchstudiesarecarriedout,however,oneoftheotherdefectsofsometheearlier
investigationsshouldbeavoided:thatis,thegenerallyineptsurveymethodologiesemployed.If
quantitativemethodsaretobeemployed,theyshouldbeusedproperly:samplesshouldbe
drawnscientificallytorepresentthetotalpopulation(thatis,usingrandomorquasirandom
methods,nothaphazardsampling)followupshouldbeusedtoincreasetheresponserateand
thestatisticalanalysisshouldmakeuseofmultivariatemethodstoexplorepossiblecausative
factors.Myformercolleague,Dr.NormanRoberts,alsosuggests[120]thatjournaleditorsmight
dowelltobearthesepointsinmindindecidingwhetherornottoacceptpapersforpublication.

Thesecondgeneralconclusionisthatthereisaneedforanintegrativemodelofinformation
need,informationseekingbehaviourandinformationuse.Thatintegrativemodelisalready
almostcomplete:itisapersoncentredmodel,basedlargelyonDervin's"sensemaking"
approach,butwithextensions(actualandpotential)intomodelsofinformationseeking
behaviour,themulticontextualcharacterofinformationneeds,andthenatureofuser
satisfaction.Readingthelibrarysurveysofthe1960stoday,oneisstruckbyhowirrelevantthey
areforpresentconditions,andhowevenlessrelevanttheyarelikelytoseemwithinaveryshort
spaceoftime.Thisbringstoone'sattentionthefactthatagreatdealofuserbehaviouris
dependentuponthenatureofthesystembeingused.Allinformationseekingbehaviouris
learnt,nothingisinnate:eventhewaysinwhichinformalcommunicationnetworksareusedto
getinformationmustbelearntthroughthenormalinteractionbywhichwealllearntofunction
inacommunity,aworkplace,aprofessionalgroup,orwhatever.Anyintegrated,theoretical
modelmustalsofindaplaceforthechangingcharacterofinformationsystems.

Thethirdconclusionisthatearliersuggestions[121]thatouruseoftheword"information"
hidesthefactthatthesubjectisactually"communication"andthatinformationscience,
particularlyinrelationtothestudyofuserbehaviour,canderivemuchbenefitfromacloser
liaisonwithcommunicationstudies.Thebriefsurveyofworkinrelateddisciplinessuggeststhat
therearemanyapproachesandmanymodelsofcommunicationbehaviourthatcouldbe
incorporatedintothestudyofinformationseekingbehaviour,andthereisaneedforamore
comprehensivesurveyofthisliterature.

Thefinalconclusionisthattherehasbeenprogressoverthepastfiftyyears.True,muchtime
hasbeenwastedanditoughtnottohavetakenaslongtogettothepresentposition.However,a
firmertheoreticalbasenowexiststhanwasthecasefifty(oreventwenty)yearsagoandthe
guidestotheliteraturethathavebeenreferredtointhispaperoughttopreventanyresearcher
fromdiggingoveroldgroundatleastwithouttheintentionofraisingsomethingnew.

Acknowledgements
IamgratefultoDr.NormanRobertsforhishelpfulcommentsonearlierdraftsofthispaper.

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Howtocitethispaper

Wilson,T.D.(1994).Informationneedsanduses:fiftyyearsofprogress,in:B.C.Vickery,(Ed.),
Fiftyyearsofinformationprogress:aJournalofDocumentationreview,(pp.1551)London:
Aslib.[Availableathttp://informationr.net/tdw/publ/papers/1994FiftyYears.html]

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