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Wirth, Werner; Sommer, Katharina; Pape, Thilo von and Karnowski, Veronika (2016): Success in online searches: Differences between evaluation and finding tasks. In: Journal of the Association for information Science and Technology, Vol. 67, No. 12: pp. 2897-2908

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Several studies have identified important factors for search success in online searches, but until now it has not been determined whether the influence of these factors varies during the search process. This study analyzes (a) whether search expertise, prior topic knowledge, topic interest, or flow experience during a search of the World Wide Web (WWW) influence success in finding relevant information and (b) whether the effects of these predictors vary during the course of the search process. Two different search tasks are investigated: The evaluating task focuses on the selection of relevant websites from a large number of potentially relevant sites, whereas the finding task focuses on the difficulty of finding information in the case of a lack of potentially relevant websites. Survival analysis is applied to data from a quasi-experiment. This analysis considers not only the question of whether information is found, but also when. Findings show that search expertise and flow explain success in the evaluation task;however, flow is only influential in the first phase of the search process. For the finding task, the predictors have no explanatory strength.

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