The kind of information required by the user, methods adopted in searching information, environment affected, time spent, problems faced and solutions made, the satisfaction/dissatisfaction arising from the information gathered and the relationship of the user with the system--all come under purview of a user study. A user study is the means for systematic examination of the characteristics of information behaviour of the users.
Progress in information technology has offered today's information seekers different opportunities to access the information resources in variety of formats, including commonly-available electronic information sources, such as CD-ROMs, databases, Web-OPACs, and the Internet. In some instances these are replacing the print-based information sources as the primary media for the storage and communication of recorded information.
The increase in information available on the Web has affected information-seeking behavior, with many types of information in many different locations all available in one place. (1) Information-seeking behaviour involves personal reasons for seeking information, the kinds of information which are being sought, and the ways and sources with which needed information is being sought. (2) ICT has caused changes in the representation of knowledge, from analog to digital. The shift has led to:
* New information formats: Multimedia information can be created, stored and distributed in digital format as CD-ROM or on hard disks, removable hard disks (external hard disk, pen drives) flash cards and other digital storage media.
* New ways of distributing and accessing information : Tools to access information, fulltext and multimedia information can be accessed from remote sites via telecommunications facilities.
* New information services: Tools to access information can be used even from remote sites via LANs and WANs
The need for information is one of the cognitive needs of humankind. Information need causes information-seeking behaviour and these concepts complement one another. Information need and information-seeking behaviour are affected by many factors. Information -seeking behaviour is expressed in various forms, from reading printed material to research and experimentation. Scholars, students, and faculty actively seek current information from the various sources available in libraries, e.g., encyclopedias, journals and, more currently, electronic media. (3)
Information -seeking behavior dependes on the reasons for seeking information and the starting knowledge of the individual. Marchionini describes it as, "Information-seeking is a special case of problem solving. It includes recognizing and interpreting the information problem, establishing a plan of search, conducting the search, evaluating the results, and if necessary, iterating through the process again." (4)
Numerous theoretical treatments have been proposed to characterize the information-seeking behaviour, which is complex cognitive process (Belkin et al., 1982, Kuhlthau, 1991, Marchionini, 1995, Saracevic, 1997, Sutcliffe and Ennis, 1998, Jarvelin and Ingwersen, 2004). Information seeking is a basic activity indulged in by all people and manifested through a particular behaviour. It is also an aspect of scholarly work of most of the academic librarians who strive to develop collections, services, and organizational structures that facilitate information seeking.
Review of Literature
The literature review plays a very important role in the research process. It is extremely difficult to review the entire body of user research. Many significant contributions have been made by psychologists, sociologists, behavioural scientists and others in addition to library and information science personnel. As a result, the literature is scattered across many disciplines and wide-ranging resources.
Krikelas (1983) examines the elements of user studies and presents them as unified concepts within a model of information-seeking behaviour. (5) The concept of information -seeking behaviour, information needs, information gathering, information giving and source preference are discussed. User Information seeking behaviour and user Characteristics in seeking information are two entities. These two entities are studied and gave emphasis on correlation of these two entities in information-seeking by Sridhar (1987).6 Author used multiple investigation methods and data collection tools and techniques in his study to determine the characteristics and information-seeking behaviour of the users and relate such behaviour to their characteristics.
Marchionini (1995) explains information-seeking behaviour and changing environment, including the ways that the electronic environment has influenced users. (7) He highlights the human-computer interaction for information-seeking.
Ellis and Haugan (1997) discuss the different models of information-seeking patterns. They explore the role of information and information-seeking. (8) Authors identified eight major characteristics in the information-seeking patterns; surveying; chaining; monitoring; browsing; distinguishing; filtering; extracting and ending. They identify identical or very similar categories of information -seeking behaviour to those of previous studies of academic researchers.
Wilson (1999) presents an outline of models of in formation seeking and other aspects of information behaviour. (9) He shows the relationship between communication and information behaviour in general with information-seeking and information searching in information retrieval systems. Author also presents an alternative problem solving model for information searching and various levels of information behaviour.
Study of communication patterns and information-seeking behaviour of users working in ICMR institutes is made by Basimalla (2000). (10) Seeking Information from the Internet often starts from a search engine, using either its organized directory structure or its text query facility. Thelwall and et al. (2001)11 give new approach for specific information where a website that enables a user to search the individual websites. The Google, Altavista and Hotbot offer the facility to integrate additional information into a more advanced request.
Research in information-seeking behaviour, motivation, critical thinking, and learning theory was explored by Weiler (2005). (12) Author compared in a search for possible motivating factors behind students' dependence on television and the internet for their information needs. The research indicates that only a very small percentage of the general...