Search as a journey

Project Info Literacy:
Why is search so difficult for college students, especially the first few steps of search?

Peter Morville:
This finding is emblematic of the intimate relationship between search, learning, and decision making, and it brings to mind the paradox of choice. After all, the search box offers unrivaled selection. You can ask it any question. Or at least it often feels that way. For a student, this freedom can be simultaneously exhilarating and totally paralyzing.

Also, most students lack a useful mental model of search. They don’t know how search works or what’s being searched, which may be fine for casual Googling but not for navigating dozens of research databases.

Finally, selecting a topic is inherently difficult. It’s like buying a house or finding a spouse. The process is fuzzy and uncomfortable because we’re not sure what we want. So, all too often, we procrastinate. We wait until the last minute to begin, which is a shame because getting started is half the battle.

The key is to recognize that search can be an iterative, interactive journey of discovery that not only helps us find what we need but also lets us learn what we want to find. When we embrace this more playful model of exploratory search, it’s not so hard to get started.  (source)