published quarterly by the university of borås, sweden

vol. 27 no. 3, September, 2022

The use of information behaviour research in human-computer interaction

Hamid R. Jamali and Majid Nabavi

Introduction. Information behaviour research is criticised for its lack of applicability in practice. An area that can potentially benefit from information behaviour research is human computer interaction. We investigate the extent to which information behaviour is used (cited) in human computer interaction research.
Method. We retrieved 21,720 human computer interaction articles published from 2011 to 2020.
Analysis. We searched for information behaviour articles in 880,533 references cited by human computer interaction articles. A random sample of 400 citations was drawn and their citation type was categorised as affirmation, negation, application, perfunctory, and review.
Results. Only 0.5 per cent of references in human computer interaction were information behaviour sources. 11.2% (2,432 out of 21,720) of human computer interaction papers cited information behaviour sources. Although the most common citation type was review (45%), a considerable number of citations were of application type (31.3%), and the rest were perfunctory (19%), affirmation (3.9%) and negation (0.7%). Negation and affirmation citations were more likely to occur in the conclusion of articles.
Conclusions. The use of information behaviour research in human computer interaction is promising given the amount of application citations. Human computer interaction is an area where information behaviour research can influence practice and convergence and collaboration between the two fields can improve the usability of information behaviour research.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47989/irpaper937


Information behaviour is a broad umbrella term that encompasses the study of how people need, seek, use, and share information in various contexts (Gorichanaz and Venkatagiri, in press). While information behaviour research increases our understanding of how humans interact with information, many information behaviour studies are ultimately meant to have benefits for the improvement of the design and delivery of information sources and services. In other words, they aspire to have some practical applications.

Designing effective information systems and services or reasonably utilising information in any society requires a thorough understanding of users and their information behaviour (Dervin and Nilan, 1986; Vakkari, 2008). Much research effort has been dedicated to reaching such an understanding over the last four decades. There used to be so much research focus on users that Wilson wrote “[a]part from information retrieval there is virtually no other area of information science that has occasioned as much research effort and writing as “user studies” (1981, p. 3).

While information behaviour literature has grown massively over the years and we know considerably more about users and their information behaviour, the influence of research on practice and the usability of research results is in doubt. For instance, Case et al. (2016) in their extensive review of the literature of the field maintained that “yet to read some of today’s information seeking research it would seem that we have now reached the point where the scholarliness of the studies correlates with their degree of uselessness for institutional purposes”. This is not a new problem, even as early as 1980 researchers were criticising information behaviour research for not being usable. Mick et al. (1980) described much of such research done during three decades before 1980 as descriptive that had “little or no utility for either the designers of information systems or the managers of people involved in information work” (p. 348). They also said that “in short, the reason information innovations are technology and content-driven is because information behaviour studies have failed to provide information which can be used in the design of systems and services” (p. 380).

Various other researchers have made a similar point about the lack of applicability of information behaviour research results (Fidel, 2012; Haider and Sundin, 2019; Ingwersen and Järvelin, 2005; Julien and O'Brien, 2014). Fisher et al. (2005) called for greater attention to applied research and some studies while Julien et al.(2011) highlighted gaps between the worlds of the academy and practice. Vakkari (2008) thought that the gap between theory and practice is a result of too much focus on descriptive studies and less focus on explanatory studies. This results in our inability to understand human information behaviour more deeply and therefore less able to recommend practical applications of research findings. Some of abovementioned criticisms are more than a decade old and things might have changed over time. However, some more recent studies also echo some of that criticism. For instance, Huvila et al. (2022) stated that it is not always easy to translate findings of information behaviour research to workable design recommendations.

One of the areas that could potentially benefit from information behaviour research is human-computer interaction. This field deals with the design, construction, and evaluation of computer-based interactive systems and given that much of the use of and interaction with information nowadays occurs through computer devices, one can assume that relevant information behaviour research could find its way into human-computer interaction. Moreover, recently Gorichanaz and Venkatagiri (in press) argued that the two fields of information behaviour and human-computer interaction have commonalities and have begun to converge.

Therefore, this research aims to find out the extent to which information behaviour research literature has been used in human-computer interaction research literature, and to determine the nature of the use of information behaviour literature in human-computer interaction articles. This will give a better understanding of the usability of information behaviour research for one of the relevant adjacent fields, i.e., human-computer interaction and also reveal if the convergence of information behaviour and human-computer interaction, as Gorichanaz and Venkatagiri (in press) maintained, is happening in the literature level. The research seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. To what extent is information behaviour research cited in human-computer interaction literature?
  2. What type of citation is employed by human-computer interaction researchers when citing information behaviour research?
  3. What are the topics of cited information behaviour and citing human-computer interaction publications?

About human-computer interaction

Hartson (1998) defined human-computer interaction as "a field of research and development, methodology, theory, and practice, with the objective of designing, constructing and evaluating computer-based interactive systems (including hardware, software, input/output devices, displays, training and documentation) so that people can use them efficiently, effectively, safely, and with satisfaction" (p. 103). He also said the entire field of human-computer interaction shares the single goal of achieving high usability for users of computer-based systems, and that information searching is the most significant kind of web usage (Hartson, 1998).

Human-computer interaction has been evolving as a field and its definition has also evolved over the years. A more recent definition is the one by Gurcan et al. (2021) that describes it as a multidisciplinary and dynamic filed of research that deals with the study of the humans (users) and computers, and designing interfaces that can enable their interaction effectively. They maintain that human-computer interaction, more specifically, seeks to find the best solutions for designing, building, implementing, and evaluating of the human-centred interactive computer systems and increase the usability, effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of the interfaces between users, computers, and other elements surrounding them. Human-computer interaction research has shifted its way from machine-centred systems to human-centred ones and this indicates its future movement toward context-aware adaptive system (Dix, 2017).

Literature review

Citation studies of human-computer interaction literature

There have been several studies on human-computer interaction literature in the past. Most of these studies were motivated by investigating the emergence, evolution or maturity of human-computer interaction as a distinct discipline. Some of them were more focused on the evaluation of researchers and research outputs by institutions or countries as well as co-authorship. They measured the quantity or citation impact of publications. Such studies give an understanding of scholarship and publications in human-computer interaction, but we do not discuss them here in details as they do not tell us about research topics or the use of resources. Examples of such studies are the evaluation of human-computer interaction research output in India (Kumar, 2013), the world (Bartneck and Hu (2009), New Zealand (Nichols and Cunningham, 2015), Brazil (Barbosa et al., 2017) and in Nordic-Baltic countries (Sandnes, 2021). There are bibliometric studies of individual outlets such as articles published in Human Factors (Lee et al., 2005).

However, there are two other groups of studies that have more relevance to our discussion. One group are those that have looked at the references of human-computer interaction literature to find out how they interact with other fields. The other groups are studies that have done topical analyses of human-computer interaction literature to find out about its structure and themes.

Concerning citation analysis studies, a key and probably the first study is by Dillon (1995) that looked at the references of papers published in three human-computer interaction journals from 1991 to 1993. Human-computer interaction was an emerging field at the time, and he found that the papers mostly cited articles from computer science, information systems, psychology, and human factors or ergonomics. He concluded that human-computer interaction was becoming a distinct field. Interestingly Information Processing & Management (IP&M) and Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIS&T) were among the top forty-one journals cited in the three human-computer interaction journals, attracting sixteen and fourteen citations (out of 1561 citations analysed) respectively.

A more recent study by Mannocci et al. (2019) analysed 50 years of papers from two human-computer interaction venues (the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (IJHCS) and the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)) to find out how human-computer interaction had evolved. As part of their analysis, they looked at references from these papers and citations to these papers. While none of the journals we might consider as library and information science journals were among the top sources referenced in IJHCS and human-computer interaction papers, JASIS&T and IP&M were among the top thirty sources that cited IJHCS. In the latest study in this group, Wang et al. (2021) looked at references from and citations to 836 accessibility papers from two human-computer interaction related conferences (CHI and ASSETS). There was no library and information science related journal or conference among references (outbound) or citations (inbound) for accessibility papers.

The studies that have done topical analysis (keyword or co-word analysis) indicate that some of the topics and themes in human-computer interaction over the years are topic areas that information science researchers have also shown interest in. Chen et al. (2006) looked at the evolution of human-computer interaction using topic analysis and author co-citation analysis among other techniques. One of the outcomes of the study relevant to our discussion here was that two of the main topical areas in human-computer interaction literature appeared to be user-centred design. As research in this area focuses on users it can potentially benefit from many user studies conducted in the field of information behaviour. User-centred design, user studies, and user modelling also appeared among topic areas in the analysis of 20 years of human-computer interaction conferences by Henry et al. (2007).

Other studies have found research themes and topics that have some overlap with information science, including user-centred design, user modelling, and more importantly information foraging and information scent, digital libraries, information retrieval, user studies, emotion and affect, social networking (Liu et al., 2014), web searching (Padilla et al., 2014), user interface and e-learning (Barbosa et al., 2017; Mannocci et al., 2019), Knowledge management (Mannocci et al., 2019; Wang et al., 2021), and literacy and ebooks (Giannakos et al., 2020). These topics are areas that information science researchers also address, although their approach and problems might be different from those of human-computer interaction researchers.

Citation and application of information behaviour literature

There have been multiple bibliometric studies on information behaviour literature. Such studies on information behaviour literature mostly deal with citation links among information behaviour theories (Jamali, 2013), impact and influence of prolific authors in information behaviour (González-Teruel et al., 2015; Soheili et al, 2017; 2018), interdisciplinarity of the field (Deng and Xia, 2020; Julien et al. 2011; Julien and O’Brion, 2014), and citation exchange among information behaviour researchers (McKechnie et al., 2005), or general bibliometric study of information behaviour literature (Akakandelwa, 2016).

Only a few studies have looked at the application of information behaviour in other fields, mostly focusing on specific models or theories of information behaviour. Chang (2013) looked at citations to Taylor’s paper on question-negotiation and information needs and found that the concept of “four levels of information needs” received the most attention from information retrieval researchers. González-Teruel and Abad-García (2018) looked at citations to Chatman’s three theories of information poverty theory, life in the round theory and normative behaviour theory and found out that there were more empirical papers citing these theories and fewer theoretical or methodological papers. In a similar study, González-Teruel and Pérez-Pulido (2020) looked at the citations to the everyday life information seeking model of Savolainen to understand to what extent and how it’s been used. They found that only 13.7 per cent of the citations to the model appeared in theory or methods sections of citing documents and 37 per cent of the citing documents contained no concept relating to the model. About 72% of citing documents were from computer science (based on the subject classification of journals).

Wilson (2018) looked at papers on information behaviour since the 1960s and analysed in which fields (as determined by the subject categories of journals) they were published. He also looked at the citations to four influential information behaviour researchers including Dervin, Kuhlthau, Savolainen, and himself and found that 310 citations out of a total of 2,364 (13.1%) were citations outside information science. In the most recent study, Wilson (2020) again looked at how a selection of works by himself, Savolainen, and Kuhlthau have been used in other fields. He analysed a sample of citations made mainly in the literature of computer science, information systems, health fields, and education to these three key information behaviour researchers. He considered two types of citing authors including exporters (information science researchers publishing in other fields) and importers (researchers in other disciplines importing ideas from information science). He also categorised citations as affirmation, negation, application, perfunctory, and review. The results showed most citing authors in the four disciplines studied were importers (i.e., researchers in other disciplines importing ideas from information science). This suggests that information behaviour research is making a significant impact in those disciplines. The most common citation type was the review (44% of the total), followed by perfunctory (36%). The application type of citation was most numerous in the health-related field. No negation citations were found.

An analysis of the impact of information behaviour theories by Lund (2019) showed that Kuhlthau's information search process and Bates’ berrypicking were the most cited information behaviour theory publications. Taylor's question-negotiation article also received many citations. A study by Chen et al. (2020) on the impact of the Chinese library and information science literature showed that studies containing the keyword information behaviour keyword received more citations from soft science including social science and humanities.

A group of studies have looked at the citations to library and information science research that also includes information behaviour. Cronin and Pearson (1990) analysed the contribution of six information science grandees to other academic fields and found that information science has exported some methods of information retrieval and bibliometrics to other fields and more than 90% of its ideas are not formally used in other disciplines. Meyer and Spencer (1996) showed that computer science, medicine, psychology, social sciences, and general sciences were the fields that cited library and information studies. Odell and Gabbard (2008) replicated Meyer and Spencer’s study to cover citations to library and information science journals from 1994 afterwards and found that library and information science journals had been cited more in computer science, management, business, and medicine.

Cronin and Meho (2008) studied citation exchanges between information studies and other disciplines for 30 years from 1977-2006. They found that 52% of citations to information studies came from other disciplines and have increased over time. Computer science, business and management, and medicine were the top three disciplines citing information studies literature. Tabatabaei and Beheshti (2008) analysed 209 highly cited papers published in eighteen library and information science journals and found that computer science and its different subfields, management and business, and medicine were the most highly citing subject categories citing those papers. Lund (2020) showed library and information science has an impact on educational technology.

Ding et al. (in press) explored the knowledge diffusion of library and information science using Essential Science Indicator’s citation data and found that library and information science knowledge is spread across twenty-one Essential Science Indicator disciplines, mainly in four soft or applied fields including social sciences, psychology, economics and business.

The review of the literature shows while there has not been a study particularly on information behaviour and human-computer interaction, information science and particularly information behaviour research has been cited by a range of disciplines including computer science and its subfields.


Human-computer interaction papers

Past bibliometric studies on human-computer interaction literature (Koumaditis and Hussain, 2017; Kumar, 2013) have used mostly keyword searching to retrieve publications from databases such as Scopus. They have used phrases such as HCI, human-computer interaction user interaction, and so on to find relevant publications. This method can be problematic. It can result in a lot of noise for some of the terms (e.g., human factors) might appear in articles that are not specifically about human-computer interaction, especially if the outlets are not restricted to journals relevant to the field of human-computer interaction. It can also result in missing relevant publications because studies that focus on narrow topics within the field might not use these terms. Another approach, as used by Sandnes (2021) is to retrieve all publications published in human-computer interaction journals and conferences. To do that one needs to decide which journals and conferences are dedicated to human-computer interaction. Journal classification in databases is usually broad and lacks precision. For instance, in Scopus, human-computer interaction is one of the minor subject categories that includes more than 110 journals. A journal such as AI and Society is also in that list while human-computer interaction is not even listed in its scope statement.

Since the priority in this study is the representativeness of human-computer interaction publications rather than the comprehensiveness of the dataset, we decided to use a limited set of journals and conferences that specifically have human-computer interaction as their main focus. We followed the method used by Sandnes (2021) with some minor changes. Instead of using journal classifications of databases, we used the lists of journals maintained by some human-computer interaction experts. Mathias Rautenberg, co-founder and co-editor of Entertainment Computing (http://www.idemployee.id.tue.nl/g.w.m.rauterberg/hci-journals.html) maintains a list of human-computer interaction journals. There is also an HCI Bibliography journal list (http://www.hcibib.org/hci-sites/JOURNALS.html).

We used these lists plus those used in Sandnes’ (2021) study and came up with an initial list of journals. Then we visited the journals’ homepage and read their scope statement to ensure that the focus of the journal was primarily human-computer interaction. Technical journals not primarily focusing on human-computer interaction were omitted such as IEEE Transactions on System, Man and Cybernetics.

As we wanted to retrieve the data from Scopus, we chose journals that are indexed in Scopus. Scopus was chosen because past research (Meho and Rogers, 2008) showed it has better coverage of human-computer interaction, primarily due to coverage of relevant ACM and IEEE peer-reviewed conference proceedings. Meho and Rogers (2008) concluded that Scopus can be used as a sole data source for citation-based research and evaluation in human-computer interaction, especially when citations in conference proceedings are sought.

Although the study by Meho and Rogers is more than a decade old, the results are still valid for when we compared Scopus with the Web of Science we found that it also includes more journals related to human-computer interaction. For instance, the International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, a dedicated human-computer interaction journal, is indexed in Scopus but not in Web of Science. The other reason was that the data exported from Scopus includes the title of cited references while in Web of Science, such data does not include titles of cited references. The final list included seventeen journals (Table 1). For conferences, we searched Scopus for conferences that focused primarily on human-computer interaction and did not include other topics or areas in their title. The final list included the three main conferences in the field. The list of journals and conferences is presented in the Table 1.

Table 1: List of journals and conferences related to human-computer interaction
1 ACM Transactions on Computer Human Interaction
2 ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems
3 Advances in Human-Computer Interaction
4 Behaviour and Information Technology
5 Computers in Human Behavior
6 Foundations and Trends in Human-Computer Interaction
7 Human-centric Computing and Information Sciences
8 Human-Computer Interaction
9 International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction
10 I com
11 Interacting with Computers
12 International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
13 International Journal of Human-Computer Studies
14 International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction
15 Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
16 Universal Access in the Information Society
17 User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction
18 BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference (BCS HCI)
19 International Conference on Human Computer Interactions (HCII)
20 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)

We retrieved all articles, reviews, conference papers and editorials from these journals and conferences from 2011 to 2020. We chose the last decade as that would give us a reasonable period for the analysis.

The data collection process resulted in 10,401 conference papers and 11,319 journal items, a total of 21,720 records distributed over different years as illustrated in Table 2.

Table 2: Number of human-computer interaction papers per year
Year Number of papers
2011 1,550
2012 1,324
2013 1,822
2014 2,105
2015 2,104
2016 2,482
2017 2,418
2018 2,515
2019 2,694
2020 2,706
Total 21,720

Information behaviour references

The cited references of these records were separated which included 880,533 cited references. To find items among these references that were related to human information behaviour we adopted the broad definition of information behaviour by Case and Given (2016). They stated that:

Information behaviour encompasses information seeking as well as the totality of other unintentional or serendipitous behaviours (such as glimpsing or encountering information), as well as purposive behaviours that do not involve seeking, such as actively avoiding information (p. 6).

Case and Given (2016) argues that information practices can be thought of as a synonym for information behaviour (though has some differences) and information experiences is a label used by some scholars concerned with different literacies and covers a range of concepts similar to those studied in information behaviour (p. 6). Information sharing is also relevant, as behaviour is usually individual but sharing is about dealing with information in groups (p. 134).

Gonzalez-Teruel et al. (2015) developed a keyword list that they used to search for information behaviour research. We used that list and expanded it to make it more exhaustive. To expand the list, we used the abovementioned definition of information behaviour and also looked at the titles of all the works cited in the seminal review of information behaviour literature by Case and Given (2016) (the list of references at the end of the book) to find relevant terms. The result was the keywords presented in Table 3 that we searched in the title of the cited references which resulted in 4,470 records. The search in 'titles' of cited references was a practical decision as only titles of cited references were available. We used formulas in Excel to find the references by searching for these terms in titles. The question mark and asterisk were used as wildcards for one and multiple characters.

Table 3: List of human information behaviour keywords
information behavio* information?seek* information need* information us* information sharing
information search* information encounter* encountering information information experience* information practice*
information disclosure information habit information exchange information consum* information ground*
information discovery information acquisition information gathering discovery of information using information
use of information seeking information seek information information tasks information avoidance
information-related behavio* information foraging access to information information access user need*
information activities information?retrieval behavio* information horizon seeking behavio* searching for information
finding information avoiding health information information barrier* search behavio* searching behavio*
online search, web search.

Besides the following terms, we also tested the use of the following terms. But after scrutinising the results of a search for these terms we decided not to include them as either they resulted in no record (e.g., environmental scanning) or the result was mostly irrelevant to information behaviour (e.g., information work).

Avoiding information, overload, user study, browse, information evaluation, information source*, information work, information anxiety, serendipit*, information resource*, information literacy, information outcome, environmental scanning, information provision, brows*, information overload, information interchange, information gatekeepers, information action*.

A random sample of 400 citations (out of 4,470) was chosen for citation analysis. The sample size was calculated based on a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error which leads to a sample size of 354. We rounded up the sample size to 400.

The full-text of each citing article was found using Google Scholar, then it was checked to find out how many times and in which sections the information behaviour article was cited and what type of citation each of the in-text citations was. For the type of citations, we used the same categories that were used by Wilson (2020), and they were based on categories developed by Small (1982) and Stremersch et al. (2015). The categories were:

One of the authors did all of the citation type codings. To check for reliability, the second author also coded thirty citations and the comparison showed there was 83 per cent agreement between the two coders. This is an acceptable agreement rate and considered as strong agreement (McHugh, 2012). The inconsistencies between coders were mainly related to perfunctory and application citation types.

For sections of articles, we used the following sections:


Cited sources

The information behaviour references cited in human-computer interaction articles included 1,900 unique sources that were cited a total of 4,470 by 2,432 unique articles. Self-citations are also included in the analysis. Figure 1 shows the frequency of citations to information behaviour sources, which follows a long tail pattern with 1,161 sources being cited only once and fifty-five references being cited ten or more times.

Frequency of citations of information behaviour references
Figure 1: Frequency of citations of information behaviour references

The sources that published information behaviour literature could be divided into two groups. One group includes journals or conferences that can be categorised as library and information science sources. The other group includes non-library and information science journals and conferences. Table 4 shows the top ten library and information science sources and Table 5 shows the top ten non-library and information science sources. JASIS&T is the top source with 217 (4.9%) citations followed by IP&M, Journal of Documentation and Information Research. Many information behaviour research is published in these top ten journals. It should be noted that these journals are not homogenous in terms of the number of papers they publish in a year, IP&M is a large journal while Journal of Documentation has fewer issues and fewer articles per issue. The size might impact on their positions in this list.

The top source in the non-library and information science list is the SIGCHI conference proceeding followed by Computers in Human Behavior. Although library and information science researchers make considerable contribution to information behaviour research, researchers in other fields such as health, psychology, consumers, and human-computer interaction also do research related to information behaviour. Moreover, some of the information behaviour research done by library and information scientists might be published outside library and information science. The list in Table 5 reflects this very well as two of the journals are related to health and another two are related to consumer studies.

Table 4: Top ten library and information science source titles
Source N %
Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIS&T) 217 4.9
Information Processing and Management (IP&M) 138 3.1
Journal of Documentation 65 1.5
Information Research 46 1.0
Library and Information Science Research 46 1.0
Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 30 0.7
Journal of Information Science 14 0.3
Aslib Journal of Information Management 13 0.3
Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 12 0.3
Library Quarterly 9 0.2

Table 5: Top 10 non-library and information science source
Source N %
Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 178 4.0
Computers in Human Behavior 165 3.7
Cyberpsychology Behavior and Social Networking 77 1.7
Psychological Review 63 1.4
Information Systems Research 53 1.2
Journal of Consumer Affairs 49 1.1
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 46 1.0
Journal of Medical Internet Research 42 0.9
Journal of Consumer Research 32 0.7
Journal of Health Communication 30 0.7

In terms of the age of the information behaviour sources cited in human-computer interaction articles, the oldest was Taylor’s article entitled “Question negotiation and information seeking in libraries”. The average age at the time of the citation was 9.2 years and the median was 7. Figure 2 shows the distribution of references by age. Fifty-eight of them were cited in the same year when they were published (age = 0). About 38% of references (1,712) were five or fewer years old, and 7.7% of them (347) were 20 or more years old. The average and median age are not far from the findings of some other studies on age of cited publications (Larivière et al., 2008) and the diagram shows while more recent literature is cited more widely, the older literature is not obsolete and used to a certain extent.

Frequency of cited papers by their age
Figure 2: Frequency of cited papers by their age

Topics of cited and citing sources

The top ten most cited information behaviour references are listed in Table 6. The first two are related to information sharing and information disclosure on Facebook. The third one is Pirolli’s article on information foraging in Psychological Bulletin. His book on information foraging is also among the top ten (number five). The rest covers information disclosure, web searching, collaborative information seeking, mobile information needs and health information. It would be interesting to find out why certain information behaviour theories and works are more widely used in human-computer interaction. Information foraging, for instance, that appears in this list twice, and also appears among the main topics of cited references, was found elsewhere (Lund, 2019) to be among the top twenty-five highly cited information behaviour theories.

Table 6: Top ten cited references
Title N %
Imagined communities: awareness, information sharing, and privacy on Facebook 89 2.0
Information disclosure and control on Facebook: are they two sides of the same coin or two different processes? 66 1.5
Information foraging 56 1.3
The privacy paradox: personal information disclosure intentions versus behaviors 47 1.1
Information foraging theory: adaptive interaction with information 38 0.9
A diary study of mobile information needs 28 0.6
What are you looking for: an eye-tracking study of information usage in web search 27 0.6
Collective information practice: exploring privacy and security as social and cultural phenomena 25 0.6
Using information scent to model user information needs and actions on the web 20 0.4
Understanding together: sensemaking in collaborative information seeking 20 0.4
Consumer health information seeking on the internet the state of the art 19 0.4

To better understand the topics of cited information behaviour references, Table 7 presents the frequency and percentage of topics of cited references. These topics are based on the keywords appearing in the titles of the cited references. The top topic is information seeking followed by information searching which includes web search behaviour. Sharing information is the third most frequent topic following by information disclosure (mostly in the context of social network platforms) and information use. The topics might have some overlap as a paper could be on more than one topic. The keyword list we used for searching for information behaviour references might have had some impact on the list in Table 7. Nevertheless, the table gives an overall view of topics in information behaviour research that human-computer interaction researchers use.

Table 7: Topics of cited references
Topics N %
Information seeking 1155 25.8
Information searching 854 19.1
Information sharing 495 11.1
Information disclosure 324 7.2
Information use 294 6.6
Information needs 266 6.0
Information exchange 227 5.1
Information access 216 4.8
Information foraging 204 4.6
Information behaviour 176 3.9
Information practice 92 2.1
Information acquisition 62 1.4
Information gathering 38 0.9
Information discovery 32 0.7
Information consumption 30 0.7
Finding information 29 0.6
Information encounter 14 0.3
Information grounds 11 0.2
Information avoidance 8 0.2
Information experience 3 0.1

A topic analysis of human-computer interaction papers that cited information behaviour papers could help us understand the topics of some areas in human-computer interaction that use information behaviour. Figure 3 illustrates a network of keywords from the titles of human-computer interaction papers that was created using the co-word analysis technique with VOSviewer software. The clusters of keywords show a few research areas including privacy and information disclosure, visualisation of information, usability and accessibility, design, navigation, social networking use and personality traits, online health information and its credibility, information sharing and recommendation.

Co-word analysis network of terms in titles of citing HCI papers
Figure 3: Co-word analysis network of terms in titles of citing human-computer interaction papers

Citation types

The analysis of a random sample of 400 articles and their in-text citations or citation mentions (689 citation mentions) showed that as expected the majority of in-text citations (73.4%) were located in the introduction (which includes background). Conclusion had 15.4% of in-text citations. Results had the fewest in-text citations (2.8%) (See Table 8). Review (45%) was the most common type of citation followed by application (31.3%). As Figure 4 illustrates, in Methods and Results sections, citations are more likely to be of application type. There were only 5 negation citations and they occurred in results or conclusion which makes sense as in these sections authors might compare their findings with the past and refute the findings or conclusions of past studies. Affirmation citations were also more likely to occur in results or conclusion.

Table 8: Number and percentage of citation types by section of paper
Citation type >
Article section
Introduction Method Results Conclusion Total
Review 255 (82.3%) 21 (8.4%) 5 (1.6%) 29 (9.4%) 310 (100%)
Application 141 (65.3%) 29 (13.4%) 9 (4.2%) 37 (17.1%) 216 (100%)
Perfunctory 110 (84%) 7 (5.3%) 1 (0.8%) 13 (9.9%) 131 (100%)
Affirmation 0 1 (3.7%) 2 (7.4%) 24 (88.9%) 27 (100%)
Negation 0 0 2 (40%) 3 (60%) 5 (100%)
Total 506 (73.4%) 58 (8.4%) 19 (2.8%) 106 (15.4%) 689 (100%)
Percentage of type of citation in each article section
Figure 4: Percentage of type of citation in each article section


To find out if human information behaviour research is used in human-computer interaction research, we searched for information behaviour references among 880,533 references of 21,720 human-computer interaction articles published from 2011 to 2020. We found that only 0.5 per cent of references in human-computer interaction (4,470 out of 880,53) were information behaviour sources. We also found that 11.2% of human-computer interaction papers (2,432 out of 21,720) cited information behaviour sources. This might not seem a large percentage, but it is promising given that the method we used to identify information behaviour references, such as relying on the presence of certain keywords in article titles, has limitations and the real number might be larger. The nature and type of citations are probably more important than the number of citations. Further research is needed to find out for what purposes human-computer interaction researchers use information behaviour studies. However, the analysis of topics of human-computer interaction indicated that a good number of human-computer interaction studies use information behaviour research for practical issues such as web navigation, recommendation systems, visualisations and design.

As Table 9 shows, citation type distribution in this study was slightly different from past studies, including Wilson (2020), in that, in this study, the percentage of application citations was higher than all the other studies. This might be because of the nature of the human-computer interaction field that is mostly an applied field aiming to improve systems design. This large number of application citations is promising, and it is an indication of the impact of information behaviour on human-computer interaction. Perfunctory citations were found to account for 19%, which is lower than the rate identified by previous studies. Wertsch (1995) stated the perfunctory citations tended to be between 20 and 60 per cent.

Table 9: Comparison of citation types in this study and Stremersch et al., 2015 and Zhao et al., 2017, Wilson, 2020. (partially adopted from Wilson, 2020)
Study Affirmation Application Perfunctory Review Negation
Wilson 5% 15% 36% 44% 0%
Stremersch et al. 5% 10% 32% 53% 1%
Zhao et al. 17% 11% 16% 52% 5%
This study 4% 31% 19% 45% 1%

Aligned with other studies (Dillon, 1995; Mannocci, 2019) our study revealed that JASIS&T and IP&M were among the top library and information science journals cited by human-computer interaction papers. Past studies have shown that these journals are among the key journals that publish much of the information behaviour-related literature (Thakuria and Chakraborty, 2021).

An interesting finding was that among the top 10 non-library and information science sources that published cited information behaviour studies, one was directly relevant to human-computer interaction (International Journal of Human-Computer Studies). Moreover, we should note that some conferences such as ACM CHIIR are in the intersection of human-computer interaction and information behaviour (or at least interactive information retrieval). These conferences might demonstrate more focussed interaction between the two fields. We did not include those conferences in our data, but an investigation of those conferences might provide further evidence of the interaction of the two fields.

Moreover, it should be noted that several fields contribute to information behaviour research and information behaviour is not just an information science sub-field. It is possible that fields such as human-computer interaction also conduct research in information behaviour issues that concern them and use that research to inform their human-computer interaction research and practice. The fact that none of the top cited items presented in Table 4 was published in information science outlets indicate that some information behaviour research that is useful for human-computer interaction researchers does not originate from information science.

Most of the citations to information behaviour research in human-computer interaction articles are to recent research as the age of cited references indicated. This is probably not surprising as information behaviour is massively influenced by information technology that changes rapidly. An implication of this is that information behaviour research needs to keep up with all the technology development if it is to remain relevant and useful for human-computer interaction researchers.

Although some information behaviour theories and works that are generally highly cited such as Kuhlthau's information search process, Bates’ berrypicking and Taylor’s question-negotiation were not highly cited in human-computer interaction, they were present among the citations. Information foraging appeared to be the most highly cited theoretical work in human-computer interaction. Further research is needed to understand the impact on and the application of information foraging in human-computer interaction research. However, looking at the titles of citing works it was clear that many of them deal with users’ attention to information items and several studies were eye-tracking studies. User modelling and different aspects of information system design such as user-centred design, and interface design are among the major research themes in the human-computer interaction (Liu et al, 2014) and information behaviour can be used to inform these areas.

This study had some limitations. The obvious limitation is related to data. We were selective in choosing journals and conferences to retrieve human-computer interaction articles. This was done to reduce noise and to ensure the papers included were indeed human-computer interaction papers. This would mean that there are more human-computer interaction papers that are published in other journals and conferences which we did not include. Moreover, relying on searches for keywords in titles of cited references for finding human information behaviour papers was not perfect. Although many relevant terms were included in the search query, there might be information behaviour papers that do not use any of those terms in their titles.


Given the number and nature of citations to information behaviour research which included a considerable number of application citations, it can be argued that information behaviour already has an impact on the human-computer interaction research. As suggested by Huvila et al. (2022), information behaviour has the potential to contribute to system design, but whether its contribution to practice and actual design has materialised or not is difficult to know. What is clear is that there is already engagement and interaction between the two fields of human-computer interaction and information behaviour. The call for more convergence between human-computer interaction researchers and information behaviour researchers and collaboration between them might improve the usefulness of the results of information behaviour research for practice.

About the authors

Dr Hamid R. Jamali is an Associate Professor at the School of Information and Communication Studies at Charles Sturt University, Australia. His research interests are in the broad areas of scholarly communication and bibliometrics. He can be contacted at h.jamali@gmail.com
Dr Majid Nabavi is an Assistant Professor at Department of Knowledge and Information Science at Shiraz University, Iran. His research interests include information organization, information management, and scholarly communication. He can be contacted at (nabavi.5151@gmail.com


How to cite this paper

Jamali, H. R., & Nabavi, M. (2022). The use of information behaviour research in human-computer interaction Information Research, 27(3), paper 937. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/27-3/paper937.html (Archived by the Internet Archive at https://bit.ly/3qg6kpD) https://doi.org/10.47989/irpaper937

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