Answering a research question (recovery/discovery)

At some point during the piloting and editing phase, I met with Andrew and Misti and go over the protocol (the portion of the instrument that participants interact with). Andrew was concerned about the type of search tasks that we were using: in his experience, discovery searches tended to yield better results than recovery. In the grand scheme of the research process, the difference probable negligible–either you find the thing you need, or you don’t. But they are two fundamentally different (and opposed) types of searches.

A recovery search, also called a known-item search, is pretty simple: “find a book called Pride and Prejudice.” You know an item exists, you just have to go into the database and recover it using some detail(s) about it (title, author, publication).

Discovery searches deal with evaluating resources against more abstract needs. This is where you go into the search bar with a general topic, search based on some related keywords, and discover potentially relevant resources. There is no predetermined endpoint.

This was an important consideration for us as a team because it lays at the heart of the study. Misti and I made the argument that (1) these searches are representative of the types of things music students search for and (2) the recovery aspects are actually more complex than than a typical recovery search (i.e. formats, editions, languages, and so on).

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