About the Study


Since mid-2004, we have been conducting a Delphi study which focuses on the variables that should be included in studies of online searching behaviors. While the focus is limited to online searching behaviors, multiple facets related to the area are being included, such as variables related to the person/user (demographic variables, the user's understanding/knowledge, and psychological/ personality variables) and variables related to the search process (search topics/tasks, search behaviors, and search outcomes). Researchers with research interests in any of these areas were invited to participate.

Delphi studies involve responding to multiple iterations of a questionnaire, rating the importance of particular topics of interest. In each iteration, the aggregated results of the previous round are reported to the participants, in an attempt to establish a consensus. In the current study, the first questionnaire was based on notes from the discussion at the 2002 SIGUSE symposium, regarding the variables that should be included in studies of online searching behavior. Participants were asked to rate the importance of each variable; they were also asked to suggest additional variables to be added for the next round and comment on those variables included in the questionnaire. In the second round, participants received the aggregated results from the first round and were asked to re-rate the variables.

A third (and final) round is now underway. In this round, participants are being asked to identify the strengths and weaknesses of measures that might be used for particular variables (those rated as most important in previous rounds), and to suggest additional measures.

Preliminary reports of the results from the first round and the second round of the questionnaire are avilable. A list of definitions of all variables rated in the second round is also available.


This study is conducted by: