Collaboration and synergy in hybrid Q&A: Participatory design method and results

Chirag Shah, Marie L. Radford, Lynn Silipigni Connaway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Virtual reference services (VRS) and social question and answer (SQA) are two different platforms that share many facets of their functionality, leading to an opportunity to create synergic solutions by bringing complimentary aspects of these services together. This article describes the use of participatory design, a method commonly used in human-computer interaction (HCI), for investigating design and deployment challenges to create a new hybrid question-answer (Q&A) system. A set of three design sessions was conducted with 17 experts from academia and industry. These semi-guided discussions asked the experts for their opinions and suggestions on various issues concerning what a potential hybrid Q&A system could look like. In addition, the participants were encouraged to provide design and implementation ideas based on expertise in their relative fields. The suggestions, comments, and ideas resulted in the development of 11 themes within three categories: (1) provision of more information; (2) provision of control; and (3) focus on user-friendly design. This paper provides details of the method, the sessions, and the design suggestions including the 11 themes and three broad categories. The paper provides a synthesis of the implications of the findings for virtual reference and social Q&A service providers and system designers. Finally, the participatory design method is compared to other methods, and implications for its use in library and information science are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-99
Number of pages8
JournalLibrary and Information Science Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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