New Report: "'If It Is Too Inconvenient, I'm Not Going After It:' Convenience as a Critical Factor in Information-seeking Behaviors"

 
Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Timothy J. Dickey, and Marie L. Radford explore empirical evidence for convenience as a critical factor in information seeking, using data from two IMLS-funded user studies.

Abstract

In today's fast-paced world, anecdotal evidence suggests that information tends to inundate people, and users of information systems want to find information quickly and conveniently. Empirical evidence for convenience as a critical factor is explored in the data from two multi-year, user studies projects funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The theoretical framework for this understanding is founded in the concepts of bounded rationality and rational choice theory, with Savolainen's (2006) concept of time as a context in information seeking, as well as gratification theory, informing the emphasis on the seekers' time horizons. Convenience is a situational criterion in people's choices and actions during all stages of the information-seeking process. The concept of convenience can include their choice of an information source, their satisfaction with the source and its ease of use, and their time horizon in information seeking. The centrality of convenience is especially prevalent among the younger subjects ("millennials") in both studies, but also holds across all demographic categories—age, gender, academic role, or user or non-user of virtual reference services. These two studies further indicate that convenience is a factor for making choices in a variety of situations, including both academic information seeking and everyday-life information seeking, although it plays different roles in different situations.

This work analyzes data from two multi-year IMLS-funded projects: Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-user, and Librarian Perspectives; and Sense-making the Information Confluence: The Whys and Hows of College and University User Satisficing of Information Needs.

In the sense-making study, data from non-users of virtual reference services revealed factors—prominently including convenience—in the information-seeking behaviors of the subjects; the seeking synchronicity study compared data on the information behaviors of the millennial generation and the "Baby Boomers." Both studies especially highlighted the millennials’ preference for Google and human sources for quick searches for information. A more focused examination of the data from the two projects for evidence of convenience-related findings informs the present investigation.

More Information

Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, Timothy J. Dickey, and Marie L. Radford. 2011. "'If It is Too Inconvenient, I'm Not Going After It.:' Convenience as a Critical Factor in Information-seeking Behaviors." Library and Information Science Research, 33: 179-190. doi:10.1016/j.lisr.2010.12.002 Pre-print (.pdf: 275 K/46 pp.)

Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Services from User, Non-user, and Librarian Perspectives
www.oclc.org/research/activities/synchronicity/default.htm

Sense-making the Information Confluence: The Whys and Hows of College and University User Satisficing of Information Needs
www.oclc.org/research/activities/past/orprojects/imls/default.htm

For more information:

Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
OCLC Research
lynn_connaway@oclc.org
+1-303-246-3623

Robert C. Bolander
Senior Communications Officer
OCLC Research
bolander@oclc.org
+1-614-761-5207

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