Perceived usefulness of Boolean queries: A user-centered study
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This master thesis examines how users in an information retrieval situation perceive the usefulness of simple and advanced Boolean queries. Graduate students from an educational science program at a university in Norway were recruited to take part in the project. Participants were in the beginning of writing their master thesis at the time of data collection. Data collection methods consisted of pre-search interviews regarding the particpants’ master thesis topic and information needs, think-aloud interviews focusing on relevance assessements of retrieved results, and post-search interviews concerning their perceived usefulness and experiences with using Boolean queries when searcing. The results of one simple and one advanced Boolean query were assessed by the participants, who stated their relevance criteria and relevance assessments while interacting with the ERIC database via the EBSCOhost interface. Data collection was done digitally using the meeting service Zoom. A total of 7 participants assessed 149 results verbally. Results from a directed content analysis of the interview and interaction data indicates that percevied usefulness of Boolean queries should be understood in the light of information need types, and that situational relevance can inform this understanding.