Subject Searching in Online Catalogs: Metaknowledge Used by Experienced Searchers
Creators:Connell, Tschera Harkness
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Citation:Tschera Harkness Connell, "Subject Searching in Online Catalogs: Metaknowledge Used by Experienced Searchers," Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 46, no. 7 (August, 1995): 506-518.
This paper begins to identify and characterize the knowledge used by experienced librarians while searching for subject information in online catalogs. Ten experienced librarians performed the same set of six subject searches in an online catalog. Investigated was the knowledge used to solve retrieval problems. This knowledge represents expertise in the use of the catalog. Data were collected through the use of think-aloud protocols, transaction logs, and structured interviews. Knowledge was defined as knowledge of objects (factual knowledge), knowledge of events (experiential knowledge), knowledge of performance (process knowledge), and metaknowledge. Metaknowledge is the sense of whole derived from the integration of factual, process, and experiential knowledge about the search and the conditions under which it is performed. The focus of this paper is on metaknowledge. For evidence of metaknowledge the data were examined for explanations that participants gave for their actions and observations, and for ways that participants evaluated their own progress during the process of searching. Reasons and explanations given by searchers were related to all phases of the library information retrieval process from the user's receipt of material to policies for collection development, and not just events directly related to the performance of a particular search task.