Faculty Use of the World Wide Web: Modeling Information Seeking Behavior in a Digital Environment Page: 26
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Until the 1980s, retrieval systems and computer retrieval programs were rated on
how successful they were in gaining relevancy/precision (the number of relevant
documents out of total number of documents retrieved) and on recall (number of relevant
documents retrieved from the total number of relevant documents in the system) (Ellis,
1996b, p. 7). One of the important outcomes of the Cranfield tests was the establishment
of an empirically based rationale for testing computer retrieval systems. "In this respect,
they [Cranfield tests] mark a historical change in consciousness from a philosophical and
speculative approach to information retrieval system design to an empirical and
experimental one" (Ellis, 1996b, p. 19).
From these first 30 years of research, an "implicit model" of information seeking
behavior slowly developed. Ellis (1990a, p. 23) described it as "a user recognizes an
information need. The user comes to an information retrieval system with a request based
on that need. The retrieval system matches the request against representations of
documents in the system. The task of the system is seen as that of presenting to the user
the text or texts most likely to satisfy the user's need." The user then had the task of
sifting through these recommended texts for items relevant to satisfying the information
need. If the need remained unmet, then the user would start the process over and begin a
new search request in the retrieval system.
Frants and Brush (1988) described two types of information needs: concrete
information needs and problem-oriented needs (p. 88). Concrete information needs had
the features of clearly defined boundaries; stated in exact words; usually there was only
one pertinent document; and once that document was located, the need was satisfied.
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Fortin, Maurice G. Faculty Use of the World Wide Web: Modeling Information Seeking Behavior in a Digital Environment, dissertation, December 2000; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc2723/m1/33/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .