The SST method: a tool for analysing Web information search processes
The article presents the search situation transition (SST) method for analysing Web information search (WIS) processes. The idea of the method is to analyse searching behaviour, the process, in detail and connect both the searchers' actions (captured in a log) and his/her intentions and goals, which log analysis never captures. On the other hand, ex post factor surveys, while popular in WIS research, cannot capture the actual search processes. The method is presented through three facets: its domain, its procedure, and its justification. The method's domain is presented in the form of a conceptual framework which maps five central categories that influence WIS processes; the searcher, the social/organisational environment, the work task, the search task, and the process itself. The method's procedure includes various techniques for data collection and analysis. The article presents examples from real WIS processes and shows how the method can be used to identify the interplay of the categories during the processes. It is shown that the method presents a new approach in information seeking and retrieval by focusing on the search process as a phenomenon and by explicating how different information seeking factors directly affect the search process.