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A non-linear model of information seeking behaviour

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Author(s): Allen E. Foster

Journal: Information Research: an international electronic journal
ISSN 1368-1613

Volume: 10;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 222;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: Information seeking behaviour

ABSTRACT
The results of a qualitative, naturalistic, study of information seeking behaviour are reported in this paper. The study applied the methods recommended by Lincoln and Guba for maximising credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability in data collection and analysis. Sampling combined purposive and snowball methods, and led to a final sample of 45 inter-disciplinary researchers from the University of Sheffield. In-depth semi-structured interviews were used to elicit detailed examples of information seeking. Coding of interview transcripts took place in multiple iterations over time and used Atlas-ti software to support the process. The results of the study are represented in a non-linear Model of Information Seeking Behaviour. The model describes three core processes (Opening, Orientation, and Consolidation) and three levels of contextual interaction (Internal Context, External Context, and Cognitive Approach), each composed of several individual activities and attributes. The interactivity and shifts described by the model show information seeking to be non-linear, dynamic, holistic, and flowing. The paper concludes by describing the whole model of behaviours as analogous to an artist's palette, in which activities remain available throughout information seeking. A summary of key implications of the model and directions for further research are included.
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