Web Search Behavior and Results Selection by Non-Native English Searchers

Author/Creator ORCID




Information Systems


Human Centered Computing

Citation of Original Publication


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Speakers of many languages have limited content available on the web in their native languages and thus, look for information on the Internet in English. Query formulations, search results selection decisions, credibility judgments on results, and other aspects of information seeking and retrieval have been found to be difficult when conducting the search in a language and culture other than the searcher'snative one. The purpose of this research is to further understand non-native English speakers? information search behavior and content selection decisions. In the initial study phase, qualitative methods are applied to examine selection decisions about web search results. The results align with search result selection criteria from prior work and identify some web content selection criteria that non-native English language searchers employ. During the second phase of the research, an understudied population is targeted and the research questions extended in order to provide a thick, rich description. An exploratory interview is conducted to better understand the research context and information-seeking practices. Interviews are conducted to investigate general aspects around the information search process, Internet use, modes of Internet access and search result selection decisions. In-depth, in person interviews, an Internet search task and a self-reported survey are administered to investigate context, selection decisions and credibility perceptions around web content. The results outline the context of technology-mediated information seeking for middle class web searchers in the developing region and the impacts of the characteristics of this context on information seeking behavior. Findings reveal a complex context of expensive, limited Internet access leading to complex coping strategies such as deliberate interactions, device sharing, SIM card swapping, and data-intensive searching with free access. The research highlights criteria that the web searchers consider when selecting content including: author and source credentials, reputation, recommendations from others, comprehensive content, highly ranked content on the search engine and professionally presented content. The research further reveals criteria influencing a site'scredibility perceptions including: comprehensive content sources, recommendations from trusted parties, professional and appropriate designs, authoritative and respected sources, the existence of reachable entities behind the site, and site affiliations via links and references.