Applying an information-seeking dialogue model in an interactive information retrieval system

Xiaojun Jenny Yuan, Nicholas J. Belkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose – People often engage in different information-seeking strategies (ISSs) within a single information-seeking episode. A critical concern for the design of information retrieval (IR) systems is how to provide support for these different behaviors in a manner which searchers can easily understand, navigate and use, as they move from one ISS to another. The purpose of this paper is to describe a dialogue structure that was implemented in an experimental IR system, in order to address this concern. Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted a user-centered experiment to evaluate the IR systems. Participants were asked to search for information on two different task types, with four different topics per task, in both the experimental system and a baseline system emulating state-of-the-art IR systems. The authors report here the results related explicitly to the use of the experimental system’s dialogue structure. Findings – For one of the task types, most participants followed the search steps as predicted in the dialogue structures, and those who did so completed the task in fewer moves. For the other task type, predicted order of moves was often not followed, but participants again used fewer moves when following the predicted order. Results demonstrate that the dialogue structures the authors designed indeed support effective human information behavior patterns in a variety of ways, and that searchers can effectively use a system which changes to support different ISSs. Originality/value – This study shows that it is both possible and beneficial, to design an IR system which can support multiple ISSs, and that such a system can be understood and used successfully.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)829-855
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Documentation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Adaptive information retrieval
  • Dialogue structure
  • Interactive information retrieval
  • Personalization
  • Searching


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