Information seeking is a cognitive and purposeful process undertaken by individuals to actively acquire new knowledge, expand their understanding, or address specific information needs. It involves a series of actions and behaviors aimed at seeking out relevant information sources and resources to change or enhance one’s state of knowledge. Unlike mere information retrieval, information seeking is a more dynamic and human-oriented concept that encompasses the active pursuit of information rather than simply accessing pre-existing knowledge.
The term “search” is often used to describe the observable behaviors associated with information seeking, encompassing both the efforts made by individuals as well as the actions performed by computer systems to match and present information objects. However, information seeking goes beyond a simple search for known information; it embodies a problem-solving approach where individuals actively engage with information sources to find solutions, explore new ideas, or gain deeper insights.
Information_seeking is driven by the recognition of an information gap or a specific information need. It involves formulating well-defined questions or problems, identifying relevant sources of information, and employing various strategies and techniques to gather and evaluate information. These strategies may include searching online platforms, consulting experts or professionals, accessing physical or digital libraries, attending educational events, conducting experiments or research, and collaborating with others.
According to Gary (1995), “Information_seeking is a process in which humans engage to purposefully change their state of knowledge. The process is inherently interactive as information seekers direct attention on adapt to stimuli, reflect on progress, and evaluate the efficacy of knowledge base of the information seeker. Information seeking is thus a cybernetic process in which knowledge state is changed through inputs, purposive outputs, and feedback”.
Critical thinking and information literacy skills play a crucial role in the information-seeking process. Individuals need to critically evaluate the credibility, reliability, and relevance of the information they encounter to make informed decisions and judgments. They must assess the quality of information sources, consider different perspectives, and synthesize the acquired knowledge to address their information needs effectively.
Furthermore, information_seeking is an iterative process, often involving multiple cycles of searching, evaluation, and refinement. As individuals progress in their quest for information, they may refine their search strategies, modify their questions, or explore alternative sources to gain a comprehensive and well-rounded understanding of the topic.
The purpose of information seeking
The purpose of information_seeking is multifaceted and driven by the specific needs and goals of individuals. It encompasses various motivations such as task completion, decision-making, problem-solving, knowledge enhancement, validation, planning, personal interest, and entertainment. Whether it is to accomplish a work assignment, make an informed decision, find a solution to a problem, acquire new knowledge, verify facts, strategize for the future, pursue personal interests, or seek entertainment, information seeking serves as a means to bridge the gap between existing knowledge and the desired information. Understanding the purpose behind information_seeking enables the design of effective information systems and services that cater to users’ needs, facilitating efficient access to relevant and reliable information.
Methods of information Seeking
Methods of information seeking are the diverse approaches individuals employ to search for and obtain the information they need. These methods encompass a range of techniques and strategies, each with its own advantages and suitability for different situations. By utilizing various methods, individuals can enhance their chances of finding relevant and reliable information. Here, we explore some common methods of information seeking:
- Online Searching: The advent of the internet has revolutionized the way we seek information. Online searching involves using search engines, databases, and digital resources to retrieve information. With a few keystrokes, individuals can access a vast array of websites, articles, blogs, and other online sources to find the information they require.
- Library Research: Libraries remain valuable repositories of knowledge. Library research involves utilizing library catalogs, databases, and physical collections to locate books, journals, articles, and other printed materials. By employing effective search strategies and understanding the library’s resources, individuals can uncover a wealth of information relevant to their needs.
- Expert Consultation: Seeking guidance and insights from subject experts can provide valuable information. Experts may include professors, librarians, professionals, or experienced individuals who possess specialized knowledge. Consulting with these experts can offer unique perspectives, direct individuals to relevant resources, and help clarify complex concepts.
- Peer Communication: Engaging in discussions and interactions with peers, colleagues, or online communities is a valuable method of information seeking. Through conversations, individuals can exchange ideas, share experiences, and obtain information from others who have knowledge or expertise in a particular domain. Peer communication can provide fresh insights, diverse viewpoints, and real-world experiences.
- Literature Review: Conducting a comprehensive literature review is a systematic approach to information seeking. It involves searching and reviewing existing scholarly articles, research papers, books, and other publications related to a specific topic. By critically analyzing and synthesizing the available literature, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the subject and identify gaps in knowledge.
- Observation and Experiments: In certain fields, information seeking involves direct observation, data collection, or conducting experiments. Scientists, researchers, and field experts may seek information through firsthand observation, experiments, or data gathering to explore and understand phenomena. This method allows for the discovery of new information and the validation of existing knowledge.
- Professional Networks and Conferences: Participating in professional networks, attending conferences, workshops, or seminars offers opportunities for information seeking. These events bring together individuals with shared interests and expertise, providing platforms for knowledge exchange, collaborative discussions, and exposure to the latest research and trends in a particular field.
- Social Media and Online Communities: Social media platforms and online communities have become increasingly important for information seeking. Individuals can join groups, follow experts, participate in discussions, and access niche communities focused on specific topics. Social media platforms offer a dynamic environment for seeking information, sharing resources, and connecting with like-minded individuals.
It is important to note that the effectiveness of these methods may depend on various factors, such as the nature of the information sought, the individual’s preferences, available resources, and the specific context. Often, a combination of multiple methods yields the best results, as different methods offer unique advantages and access to diverse sources. By employing a range of information-seeking methods, individuals can broaden their knowledge, make informed decisions, and stay abreast of the latest developments in their fields of interest.
- P, Y. (2018). Information Needs and Information Seeking behaviour of Software Professionals of Chennai TamilNadu An Evaluative Study.