Brunel University

Project Description

Individual differences and information retrieval from the Internet

Project Abstract

User personalization of Web resources has developed in response to the ever-increasing availability of information on the Web. [1]. Traditionally the focus has been the targeting of content to users, based on their interests, and in the case of e-commerce their buying patterns. [2]. There are two main areas of research, the personalization of autonomous Web resources, and the retrieval of personalized content from Web search engines. Three broad methods have emerged for the characterization of individuals and their Web usage to enable personalization; the categorization of previous Web usage patterns, the development of user profiles based on requirements such as context or interest, and thirdly the study of the effects of individual differences.
The study into the effects of individual differences on the ability to retrieve information from hypermedia systems in general and the Web in particular has largely concentrated on cognitive and learning styles and their equivalents [3]. However to a lesser extent other individual differences have been studied, such age gender and system knowledge [4].
Domain knowledge, is one such individual difference. However it has rarely been considered as a major factor, despite the fact that domain knowledge has a major influence on many cognitive tasks [5], including the way in which people search for information [6]. Where domain knowledge has been studied as a primary factor, it has been found to be beneficial for the retrieval of information [7], [8].
This study will examine domain knowledge in an exemplar domain, where subjects possess varying degrees of domain knowledge. The benefits of domain knowledge for the retrieval of information will be confirmed, and methods for improving information retrieval where domain knowledge is limited or non-existent will be developed. The outcome will be a set of design guidelines for autonomous web resources, which will apply to both the exemplar domain, Bioinformatics, as well as to other areas where a lack of domain knowledge has been found to hinder the retrieval of information [9]

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