Formal experiments in causal attire: Case studies in information exploration

Abstract

This paper addresses the issue of how research methodology can be developed for the specific needs of research into information exploration behavior, based on a four year program of research on individual strategies in information exploration. We propose a meta-experimental framework where research is carried out through a dynamic interaction between what and why questions, and between confirmatory and exploratory analyses. This approach preserves many of the advantages of formal experimentation, while permitting a more holistic examination of phenomena that is characteristic of ethnography. The application of the meta-theoretical framework is illustrated in three case studies that examined new information exploration functionalities and interfaces and their relationship to expertise and exploration strategy.