Switching sources: A study of people's exploratory search behavior on social media and the web

Dongho Choi, Ziad Matni, Chirag Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Searching the Web for information via search engines is a ubiquitous phenomenon and a well-established field of study in Information Science. Social media sites also continue to evolve and by now have gained enough popularity and momentum to be used as not just vessels for communication with others, but also as important repositories of information. However, it is not clear if the information behavior of users of traditional search engines differ from those performing information searches strictly on social media sites. To address this, we examined data from two user studies on people's exploratory searching behavior: one group only used Web search engines, while the other exclusively used social media sites to search for information. Information search behaviors of both groups regarding exploratory tasks were observed and analyzed through search log and surveys. The results indicate that, while people using social media sites for exploratory search tasks find a smaller quantity and a less diverse set of documents than what they might discover when utilizing traditional Web search engines, they do perceive to end up with more relevant documents. They also report doing less work and feeling less challenged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Exploratory search
  • information search behavior
  • social media


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