Identifying Behaviors Associated With Frustration While Searching Digital Libraries in Order to Design Better Help Systems

Colleen Cool, Kwong-Bor Ng


Effective use of the digital library requires that users possess competence in using interactive retrieval systems, which vary from one digital library to another, and often present a new and strange searching environment for people. One of the major problems in the design of Help systems in digital libraries systems is the identification of where in the search process users need help and what form of assistance might be best to offer at any given moment. This paper reports on early results of a project that attempts to identify behavioral sequences in search interactions that are associated with heightened degrees of searcher frustration, and for which it can be believed that Help system intervention might be useful. The larger focus of this project is the specification of design principles for intelligent Help system functionalities that will better support people in their uses of interactive information retrieval (IIR) systems, such as digital libraries, online databases and general web search engines. A major problem with currently existing Help systems is that they have not been designed to be useful interaction partners with IIR system users; rather, they have existed as static databases that users must query in order to obtain assistance. Problems of communication between searcher and Help systems have been recognized for decades in IIR research, with little significant improvement in Help system design. In this pilot study, we report on the feasibility of identifying different types of help needs, by linking interaction behaviors to self-expressed frustration levels at variable moments during digital library search interactions. The identification of behavioral indicators of help needs can then be used to signal automatic Help intervention from intelligent Help system functionalities. The following research questions are addressed in the study.

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