n Mousaion - Relevance assessment for digital libraries




This article discusses a study carried out on the relevance of information use as perceived and experienced by doctoral students. Relevance is studied with the use of phenomenographic methodology. Twenty-one students were interviewed with the aim of interpreting their relevance judgments. Analyses are presented in terms of the potential for new patterns of relevance for digital libraries research. Selected results are interpreted from the viewpoint of perception, emotions, metaphors of relevance, criteria, strategies in electronic environment, and organisation of information. In perceptions of relevance, ideas of importance, utility, and value prevail. Metaphors refer to cleaning from the non-substantial, surprise, and understanding as a spontaneous experience. Multiple criteria are applied intuitively as part of situated actions. Emerging patterns of relevance in the electronic environment indicate the need for flexibility, interactivity and collaborative use. Hierarchy and associations of knowledge organisation support relevance judgments. At the same time, creativity and discovery should be allowed. The final conceptual model of the perception and experience of relevance points to a need for participation and decision-making frameworks. Backtracking, serendipity and interaction between individual and collective spaces can add value to relevance patterns for digital library use.


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