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Impact of COVID-19 on search in an organisation.

Cleverley, Paul H.; Cousins, Fionnuala; Burnett, Simon


Paul H. Cleverley

Fionnuala Cousins


COVID-19 has created unprecedented organisational challenges, yet no study has examined the impact on information search. A case study in a knowledge-intensive organisation was undertaken on 2.5 million search queries during the pandemic. A surge of unique users and COVID-19 search queries in March 2020 may equate to ‘peak uncertainty and activity’, demonstrating the importance of corporate search engines in times of crisis. Search volumes dropped 24% after lockdowns; an ‘L-shaped’ recovery may be a surrogate for business activity. COVID-19 search queries transitioned from awareness, to impact, strategy, response and ways of working that may influence future search design. Low click through rates imply some information needs were not met and searches on mental health increased. In extreme situations (i.e. a pandemic), companies may need to move faster, monitoring and exploiting their enterprise search logs in real time as these reflect uncertainty and anxiety that may exist in the enterprise.


CLEVERLEY, P.H., COUSINS, F. and BURNETT, S. 2023. Impact of COVID-19 on search in an organisation. Journal of information science [online], 49(1), pages 43-58. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 4, 2021
Online Publication Date Jan 21, 2021
Publication Date Feb 28, 2023
Deposit Date Jan 25, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jan 29, 2021
Journal Journal of Information Science
Print ISSN 0165-5515
Electronic ISSN 1741-6485
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Issue 1
Pages 43-58
Keywords Coronavirus; Enterprise search; Search behaviour; Uncertainty
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CLEVERLEY 2023 Impact of COVID-19 (VOR) (3.8 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
The final version of this paper has been published in Journal of Information Science, 49(1), February 2023 by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. © The Author(s) 2021. It is available at:

Final VOR uploaded 20.03.2023

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