Studying Collaborative Information Seeking: Experiences with Three Methods

  • Jette HyldegårdEmail author
  • Morten Hertzum
  • Preben Hansen
Part of the Computer Supported Cooperative Work book series (CSCW)


Collaborative information seeking (CIS) has lately produced interesting empirical studies, describing CIS in real-life settings. While these studies explore how and why CIS manifests itself in different domains, discussions about how to study CIS have been scarce. The research area of CIS may, however, benefit from a discussion of methodological issues. This chapter describes the application of three methods for collecting and analyzing data in three CIS studies. The three methods are Multidimensional Exploration, used in a CIS study of students’ information behavior during a group assignment; Task-structured Observation, used in a CIS study of patent engineers; and Condensed Observation, used in a CIS study of information-systems development. The three methods are presented in the context of the studies for which they were devised, and the experiences gained using the methods are discussed. The chapter shows that different methods can be used for collecting and analyzing data about CIS incidents. Two of the methods focused on tasks and events in work settings, while the third was applied in an educational setting. Commonalities and differences among the methods are discussed to inform decisions about their applicability in future CIS studies and, more generally, to foster methodological discussions in CIS research.


Collaborative information seeking Qualitative methods Observation Diaries 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jette Hyldegård
    • 1
    Email author
  • Morten Hertzum
    • 1
  • Preben Hansen
    • 2
  1. 1.Royal School of Library and Information ScienceUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Computer and Systems SciencesStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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