Search behaviour in electronic document and records management systems: An exploratory investigation and model
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Introduction. Organisations implement records management programmes and invest in electronic document and records management systems so that information can be accessed by the right person, at the right time, with the least amount of effort and cost. One of the key factors that predicts the effectiveness of these systems relates to the degree to which users successfully identify the records they wish to retrieve. In this paper we offer a deeper insight into how knowledge workers employ these systems to address their information needs. Method. Four records managers were interviewed to determine how records management principles were applied in their systems. Interviews were also conducted with ten users from each organisation to map their search behaviour. Additionally, protocol analysis was used to observe how participants verbalised their thought processes and actions when they conducted their simple and difficult searches in the systems. Results. A comprehensive model of search behaviour when using electronic document and records management systems was developed from the study. Seven key search stages were identified, illustrating the different ways in which searchers approach their information problem. Conclusions. The study highlights some key differences between users of these systems and other forms of information search behaviour, including different methods of addressing simple or difficult search needs, and user approaches around identifying search strategies. The particular challenges that arise in retrieving information from these systems are also explored.
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