Search characteristics in different types of Web-based IR environments: Are they the same?
Transaction logs from four different Web-based information retrieval environments (bibliographic databank, OPAC, search engine, specialized search system) were analyzed for empirical regularities in search characteristics to determine whether users engage in different behaviors in different Web-based search environments. Descriptive statistics and relative frequency distributions related to term usage, query formulation, and session duration were tabulated. The analysis revealed that there are differences in these characteristics. Users were more likely to engage in extensive searching using the OPAC and specialized search system. Surprisingly, the bibliographic databank search environment resulted in the most parsimonious searching, more similar to a general search engine. Although on the surface Web-based search facilities may appear similar, users do engage in different search behaviors.