Human-information interaction and collaborative information retrieval

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.


Fidel,Raya, Pejtersen,Annelise,M, Cleal,Bryan et al. (2004). A multidimensional approach to the study of human-information interaction: a case study of collaborative information retrieval. Retrieved on 4 February 2010



The study discussed about the human-information interaction focusing on the collaborative information retrieval. The purpose of this study is to identify the factors that affected information behavior as well as considering which factors played a role. It covers the population of design engineers at Microsoft in order to retrieve their needed information. For this field study, there were several instruments used to collect results regarding what had been researched.


Interviews and observation were the main techniques for the collection of data all throughout the project. What the research team did was they conducted an interview with the team manager as well as the individual team members at meetings. Besides that, they also observed interactions between team members at meetings and also at work. The communication network diagrams that were constructed based on team members' reports on the frequencies of their communications with each other and with people in related organizations were reviewed. Moreover, e-mail threads were monitored and examined as well and same goes to the documents regarding the teams and its project.


The questions being asked are regarding the elements outside that affect the organization in terms of its environment. Besides that, there are also questions on the goals of work domain, the constraints, priorities, functions as well as what physical processes take place and what kind of tools are employed. Other than that, how work is divided among teams is also questioned accompanied with the criteria used and the nature of organization, hierarchical, democratic and chaotic as well as the organizational values.


The type of data gathered for this study is based on different dimension, namely the environment, work domain, organizational analysis, task analysis in work domain terms, task analysis in decision-making terms, task analysis in terms of strategies that can be used and actor's resources and values. There are also some examples of questions regarding the analysis.


This study involved multiple approaches such as the psychological approach, the social approach and multidimensional approaches. Based on the searching behavior, nearly all the variables echo the psychological approach. This shows that the psychological variables were uttered in large details, such as the understanding level of a database structure, cognitive style and number of errors. Meanwhile, there were also other dimensions of variables expressed on a general plane like the context, cultural background as well as social networks. All these reflect the existing approach among researchers in information behavior, which is psychological that focuses mainly on cognitive factors and to a much lesser degree on others like the affective and perceptual factors. As for social approach, its centre of attention is the study of social, organizational, political states and processes as a force for information behavior. It is not considering the concept of information need central to the understanding of information behavior, but it supposed that the study of information behavior cannot be considered in terms of isolated individuals or perhaps outside a specific context, but must also focusing on the social context and conditions, interaction and discourse from which human-information interaction occurs. When it comes to multidimensional approach, majority of the researchers in human-information behavior have been chosen to carry out their tasks within either the psychological or social approach. Even so, an increasing number of researchers consider that for a thorough understanding of human-information interaction, both are essential. The motivation of this approach is the need to account for the complexity that exists in human-information interaction in the reality. The dissimilarity to other encounters that focus on only one dimension and also reduce complexity as well, the fundamental assumption of this approach is that the better this complexity is understood and analyzed, the more relevant the outcomes of research will be in order to design information systems and services.


This particular case study is an element of a wide-scale study exploring the demonstration of collaborative information retrieval (CIR). In order to achieve this goal, three teams were investigated namely the design team in Microsoft, another in Boeing, and a customer-service team in Boeing. The one reported is regarding to the decision-making process done by one of the Microsoft design team's members. The understanding of the CIR concept has improved as the project steps forward. One thing is about the idea of collaboration whereby there are several circumstances in which people seek for information together. Take a library situation for example. In a library, a librarian will help the users. As for the study's situation, a customer-service engineer may contact a designer to help in looking for information. But according to the understanding of the study, information retrieval is mutual only if the user population involved is of colleagues whereby they are engaged in the similar work processes. Therefore, when two librarians, for instance, looking for information together, means that they are collaborating in information retrieval. Similarly, if a customer-service engineer receives help in order to look for information from team-mates, they are all collaborating.

It can be concluded that human-information interaction is a multifaceted occurrence that requires complex analyses. To date, research about human-information behavior has been dominated by one dimensional approach. Time has come for the field for the adoption of approaches that reflect on a number of dimensions simultaneously since the mentioned approaches may have been necessary for the field all throughout its initial steps.