Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The present research project focuses on the user/system interface of on-line bibliographic search services and more specifically on the role of the human intermediary in the context of on-line searching. A quasi-experimental study was designed with 34 end-users and 22 intermediaries who performed 102 online searches in 6 different organizations (3 academic and 3 special libraries). Each end-user was given a one-day training session and then prepared three different search questions. An on-line search was performed for each question: one direct search (the end-user alone), one delegated search (the intermediary alone) and one combined search (the end-user and intermediary together).;Numerous characteristics of end-users, intermediaries and search questions were assessed. Nine outcome measures were recorded from evaluation questionnaires, printouts and output citations assessed for relevance. Results can be summarized as follows: The direct mode was found superior for total search time, overall user satisfaction and three specific satisfaction measures (number of citations, search mode, search utility), search efficiency, cost effectiveness, cost efficiency and search effort. The delegated mode showed best results on total search cost, connect time, connect cost, search effectiveness and searching efficiency. Finally, the combined mode was best for user satisfaction with the relevance of citations retrieved, and search utility.;Discriminant functions were computed to predict the search mode which would optimize each of the nine performance measures. The best predictor variables were: end-user's age, one specific search purpose (e.g. preparing a class project or term paper), the previous use of secondary journals (indexes or abstracts) by end-users, the previous use of the search service center by end-users, and end-users' experience (level) with online searching.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.