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Dissertation Information for Kathleen L. Maciuszko

NAME:
- Kathleen L. Maciuszko

DEGREE:
- Ph.D.

DISCIPLINE:
- Library and Information Science

SCHOOL:
- Case Western Reserve University (USA) (1987)

ADVISORS:
- Miranda Pao

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
- [Indecipherable1]
- Sarah Scott Gibson
- Tefko Saracevic

MPACT Status: Complete - Except Indecipherables

Title: Hardcopy versus online searching: A study in retrieval effectiveness

Abstract: This study examined retrieval effectiveness from the perspective of hardcopy and online searching. Several major questions undergirded the experiment. Should hardcopy and online searching coexist? Could online searching replace hardcopy searching? The investigation was undertaken in response to two current trends of thought which point in the direction of online searching. There are those who advocate a paperless society where all data would be stored electronically. thus, there would be no need for hardcopy indexes. Moreover, there are others who promote the great power and advantages of the online systems. they imply that there is no reason to search in the hardcopy indexes.

The experiment tested the following hypothesis; Hardcopy searching is a more effective way to search by subject for bibliographic information than is online searching. its primary aim was to compare hardcopy searching with online to determine which mode was more effective for processing queries of the type commonly encountered in a general reference department of an academic or public library. The study was unique in several ways. First, it was conducted at the time when online systems were commonly n use in many libraries and the cost of searching had dropped. This was not true of the past studies. Second, unlike past studies, this one made use of two equivalent databases to study two different modes of retrieval. In contrast to its predecessors, this study concentrated on information sources available to the general public as opposed to a specialized audience such as scientists. Moreover, it covered three broad subject areas and involved twelve different libraries, 6 academic and 6 public. Lastly for the first time, three performance criteria- relevance, utility, and effort- were examined together in one experiment for the primary purpose of comparing two modes of searching.

The methodology involved three steps: creating a set of questions, searching them in hardcopy indexes and their online counterparts, and evaluating the results. Six different college students furnished 22 test questions. Two students formulated 8 questions covering the field of biology. two other supplied 7 questions in the field of business. Another 2 formulated questions of popular interest. librarians in academic and public libraries searched the 22 test questions in hardcopy bibliographic indexes and their equivalent online versions for a two-year period. The experiment yielded a total of 88 search results. the following H.W. Wilson indexes and their Online counterparts (available through Wilsonline) were used: Biological and Agricultural Index, Business Periodicals Index, and Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature.

In general, the findings did not support the assumption that hardcopy searching produced between search results than online searching. It was not a more effective was to search by subject for bibliographic information than was online. neither mode showed an overall noteworthy advantage over the other.

Specifically, the experiment revealed the following:

1) recall and precision were affected by the mode. they were generally not affected by the type of library conducting the search. they were only slightly affected by the type of question searched and the subject of the search.
2) regardless of the mode, recall and precision were generally low, an established finding for online searches.
3) Hardcopy searches resulted in better recall ratios while online searches resulted in better precision ratios.
4) The retrieved items from the hardcopy and online search modes tended to be complementary. there was little duplication of citation among the modes.
5) Students had a difficult time choosing which system, in general, produced the best search results. However, when asked to rate the value of the results, citation by citation, a definitive preference for the online emerged.
6) There were some connections between relevance, utility, and effort.
7) Searchers did not expend a large amount of effort in presearch preparation or browsing in either mode. Likewise, students did not exercise a great deal of effort in interpreting search results from either mode.
8) There was an underutilization of some search features unique to each mode. Only free text searching in the online mode and "see" references in the hardcopy searches were heavily used.
9) There was a direct relationship between the length of a list of citations and how a student rated the ease with which the results were interpreted.

The most striking finding of the experiment was that neither mode of searching offered an overall noteworthy advantage over the other. It was interesting to note that there was very little duplication of citations between the modes and that retrieval results were low for both modes. neither finding was new with regard to online searches. However, placed in the framework of this experiment, they gain added significance because the same results surfaced with respect to the hardcopy searches. Without a doubt, regardless of the mode, the effectiveness level of information retrieval systems is not where it should be.

Based upon the findings of the experiment, this investigator recommends that, until such time when the online systems performance clearly exceeds that of the hardcopy indexes, libraries would be well advised to continue to make available both the hardcopy and online versions of indexes, whenever possible.

The results of the experiment have implications for library school curricula and for practicing librarians. Future research has to address the questions of why both modes perform at such a low level and why there is so little overlap in search results between the modes. Improving the effectiveness of information retrieval systems should be the number one research priority of the library profession.

MPACT Scores for Kathleen L. Maciuszko

A = 0
C = 0
A+C = 0
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2008-01-31 06:01:34

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Students under Kathleen L. Maciuszko

ADVISEES:
- None

COMMITTEESHIPS:
- None