Task Topic Knowledge vs. Background Domain Knowledge: Impact of Two Types of Knowledge on User Search Performance

Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 206)


Domain knowledge affects search success and behaviors but different aspects of domain knowledge, i.e., topic knowledge and background knowledge, has not normally been distinguished. We were interested in finding out if the two would have different effects on search performance for typical research search tasks, and we report empirical evidence from a user study. Participants’ topic knowledge and background knowledge were measured separately as different aspects of domain knowledge. Our results indicate that topic knowledge and background knowledge impact search performance at different levels. While topic knowledge was significantly correlated with performance measures for individual tasks, background knowledge was significantly correlated with performance at more general levels, over multiple task sessions. This finding furthers our understanding of the role of domain knowledge in search activities.


Personalization information retrieval domain knowledge search performance user studies 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Library and Information ScienceWayne State University DetroitDetroitUSA
  2. 2.School of Library and Information ScienceUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.School of Communication and InformationRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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