Picture of person typing on laptop with programming code visible on the laptop screen

World class computing and information science research at Strathclyde...

The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde's Open Access research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including by researchers from the Department of Computer & Information Sciences involved in mathematically structured programming, similarity and metric search, computer security, software systems, combinatronics and digital health.

The Department also includes the iSchool Research Group, which performs leading research into socio-technical phenomena and topics such as information retrieval and information seeking behaviour.


What makes re-finding information difficult? A study of email re-finding

D. Elsweiler, M. Baillie and Ruthven, I. (2011) What makes re-finding information difficult? A study of email re-finding. In: 33rd European Conference on Information Retrieval (ECIR 2011). Springer-Verlag.

strath_cis_publication_2510.pdf - Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (273kB) | Preview


Re-nding information that has been seen or accessed before is a task which can be relatively straight-forward, but often it can be extremely challenging, time-consuming and frustrating. Little is known, however, about what makes one re-finding task harder or easier than another. We performed a user study to learn about the contextual factors that influence users' perception of task diculty in the context of re-finding email messages. 21 participants were issued re-nding tasks to perform on their own personal collections. The participants' responses to questions about the tasks combined with demographic data and collection statistics for the experimental population provide a rich basis to investigate the variables that can influence the perception of diculty. A logistic regression model was developed to examine the relationships be- tween variables and determine whether any factors were associated with perceived task diculty. The model reveals strong relationships between diculty and the time lapsed since a message was read, remembering when the sought-after email was sent, remembering other recipients of the email, the experience of the user and the user's ling strategy. We discuss what these findings mean for the design of re-nding interfaces and future re-finding research.