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Dissertation Information for Ruth C. Morris

NAME:
- Ruth C. Morris

DEGREE:
- Ph.D.

DISCIPLINE:
- Library and Information Science

SCHOOL:
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (USA) (2001)

ADVISORS:
- Joan C. Durrance

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
- Brenda Dervin
- Amy Warner
- Jose-Marie Griffiths
- Anthony Tobin Siebers

MPACT Status: Fully Complete

Title: Online tables of contents for books: The user's perspective

Abstract: This study is an intensive analysis of how users respond to online tables of contents (TOC) for books. TOC is an under-studied, under-recognized convention that is becoming a major search aid for online work. The findings give information professionals and administrators strong reasons for enriching their collections through adding online TOC. User-centered approaches require a method sensitive to the ways in which individuals construct information from the encounter with data. Dervin's Sense-Making Methodology offered a theory-based practice for analyzing the experience of participants who encountered TOC.

A preliminary TOC study included as an appendix indicated that books containing online TOC were more likely to circulate than books without online TOC. Impact upon circulation, however, did not indicate what use participants made of TOC. The central purpose of this study was to focus upon users.

Data consisted of interview responses to online TOC for books. Interviews were conducted following a search of the online catalog by twenty-five researchers at an academic medical library. Data were analyzed using grounded theory-based inductive theme analysis and attention to metaphor. Major findings indicated that users employ TOC for decision-making, eliminating materials, moving ahead, saving time, and finding unexpected items. Attention to metaphor (based on the work of Lakoff and Johnson) is the most innovative contribution that the study makes to LIS, to applications of Sense-Making Methodology, and to studies of TOC. The study suggests that metaphor is a powerful tool for exposing and exploring the affective experience of subjects and their often-unnoticed or unarticulated cognitive presuppositions.

Implications suggest that authors, publishers, and system designers should consider several changes needed to enhance the effectiveness of online TOC: (1) increasing attention to the language and terminology employed in TOC so that chapter headings are more specific; (2) designing systems so that users have less difficulty in returning to earlier search steps; and (3) involving information professionals in the design of systems to represent the perspective of users. Interviews showed that users (even highly qualified professional researchers) were often confused in using the online catalog, a finding that implies the need for additional training.

MPACT Scores for Ruth C. Morris

A = 0
C = 0
A+C = 0
T = 0
G = 0
W = 0
TD = 0
TA = 0
calculated 2008-01-31 06:19:16

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Students under Ruth C. Morris

ADVISEES:
- None

COMMITTEESHIPS:
- None