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What is the influence of genre during the perception of structured text for retrieval and search?

Clark, Malcolm John


Malcolm John Clark


Stuart Watt

Ayse Goker

David Harper

Patrik Holt

Ian Ruthven


This thesis presents an investigation into the high value of structured text (or form) in the context of genre within Information Retrieval. In particular, how are these structured texts perceived and why are they not more heavily used within Information Retrieval & Search communities? The main motivation is to show the features in which people can exploit genre within Information Search & Retrieval, in particular, categorisation and search tasks. To do this, it was vital to record and analyse how and why this was done during typical tasks. The literature review highlighted two previous studies (Toms & Campbell 1999a; Watt 2009) which have reported pilot studies consisting of genre categorisation and information searching. Both studies and other findings within the literature review inspired the work contained within this thesis. Genre is notoriously hard to define, but a very useful framework of Purpose and Form, developed by Yates & Orlikowski (1992), was utilised to design two user studies for the research reported within the thesis. The two studies consisted of, first, a categorisation task (e-mails), and second, a set of six simulated situations in Wikipedia, both of which collected quantitative data from eye tracking experiments as well as qualitative user data. The results of both studies showed the extent to which the participants utilised the form features of the stimuli presented, in particular, how these were used, which ocular behaviours (skimming or scanning) and actual features were used, and which were the most important. The main contributions to research made by this thesis were, first of all, that the task-based user evaluations employing simulated search scenarios revealed how and why users make decisions while interacting with the textual features of structure and layout within a discourse community, and, secondly, an extensive evaluation of the quantitative data revealed the features that were used by the participants in the user studies and the effects of the interpretation of genre in the search and categorisation process as well as the perceptual processes used in the various communities. This will be of benefit for the re-development of information systems. As far as is known, this is the first detailed and systematic investigation into the types of features, value of form, perception of features, and layout of genre using eye tracking in online communities, such as Wikipedia.


CLARK, M.J. 2014. What is the influence of genre during the perception of structured text for retrieval and search? Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jan 29, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jan 29, 2015
Keywords Genre; Perception; Information; Seeking; Retrieval; Structure; Texts; Email; Wikipedia; Eyetracking
Public URL
Award Date Oct 31, 2014


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