ICT and Information

Information Seeking Behaviour Models: An Overview

Information Seeking:

A model may be described as a framework for thinking about a problem and may evolve into a statement of the relationships among theoretical propositions. Most models in the general field of information behaviour are of the former variety: they are statements, often in the form of diagrams that attempt to describe an information-seeking activity, the causes and consequences of that activity, or the relationships among stages in information-seeking behaviour. Rarely do such models advance to the stage of specifying relationships among theoretical propositions: rather, they are at a pre-theoretical stage, but may suggest relationships that might be fruitful to explore or test.

Information science has produced numerous models of information seeking. In 1994, Wilson called for ‘an integrative model of information need, information seeking behaviour and information use’. He said it should be a ‘person centered model, based largely on Dervin’s Sense-Making approach’, and in 1996 he presented the beginnings of such a model (Wilson 1997). An attempt will be made here to extend several of Wilson’s models, in particular to more fully incorporate Dervin’s theory of sense-making, her portrait of the human and her description of the conceptual gap between an individual’s inner reality and the external reality with which they find themselves confronted.

Models of information behaviour however appear to be fewer than those devoted to information seeking behaviour or information searching. Figure 1 is a variation on the model of 1996, developed by Wilson.

 Figure 1: Wilson’s Information Seeking Behaviour Model

Wilson’s 1996 model is a major revision of that of 1981, drawing upon research from a variety of fields other than information science, including decision making, psychology, innovation, health communication, and consumer research.

If these points are accepted, it is then possible to suggest a diagrammatic presentation of the model, as in Figure 2:

 Figure-2: A Process Model Based on Ellis’s ‘Characteristics’

Thus, the models of Wilson and of Ellis are intended to function at different levels of the overall process of information seeking and this fact is demonstrated by the ability to nest one within the other.

It is interesting to explore whether the Ellis and Kuhlthau models may be brought together, and this is attempted in Figure 3 below, where my representation of Ellis’s categories is accompanied by the stages of Kuhlthau (the latter in italic):

 Figure 3: A Comparison of Ellis’s and Kuhlthau’s Frameworks.

Original Reference Article:

  • Thammanna, H. N. (2017). Information gathering habits of contemporary Kannada Writers an analytical study.

Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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