Needle in a hyperstack: Searching for information on the world wide web

Raft Nachmia, Amir Gilad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the process ofsearchingfor information on the Internet by (a) assessing participants' success in finding specific information on rhe Web, (b) identifYing the characteristics of the information search process (e.g., search dvmttiorz, m:mber ofsteps used), and (c) identifYing the search strategies used and assessing thtir effer.:tiveness. Subjects were 54 graduate students who were asked to accomplish three reia::iveiy simple search tasks: (a) find a picture of the Mona Lisa, (b) find a complete text of Robinson Crusoe or David Copperfield, and (c) find a recipe of an apple pie that was accompanied by a photograph. All search processes performed by each participant were recorded ar.d fully logged by tracking software. Findings showed that overall success in searching information was low. About 46% of the search tasks were not accomplished successfully, and only 15% of rhe students succeeded in all three tasks. Further analysis reveals nine diffirent search strategies used by the students. The distribution of their usage and effectiveness are presented and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-486
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research on Technology in Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Searching for information
  • User behavior
  • World Wide Web


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