Introduction to the special issue
Information Processing & Management
This special issue brings together papers that describe some of the many ways that collaborative information seeking manifests itself. Some papers report on collaborative practices in a range of domains, including medical ( Hertzum), legal (Attfield et al.), and online Q&A (Gazan). Others propose and evaluate models of collaborative activity (Evans and Chi; Evans et al.; Wilson and schraefel; Foley and Smeaton), and others describe systems and algorithms that support collaboration in various
... s (Boydell and Smyth; Fernandez-Luna et al., Halvey et al., Morris et al.; Shah et al.). Our perspective is that the high-level goal of this research is to improve the way that people manage their collaborative information seeking online. Thus we study how people work to help us understand the range of problems and opportunities, we build models and theories to make sense of the observed phenomena, and we build and evaluate systems to test our understanding. In this context, it is worthwhile to consider the notion of computer-mediated collaborative information seeking broadly, before diving into the details. The term "collaborative search" has been used to describe a wide range of people's behaviors and the computer systems used to support them. Here we will focus on only those situations when the collaboration was mediated in some important way by computer-based tools. Thus we consider the use of generic communication tools, recommendation systems, Q&A systems, social search that leverages social networks for information seeking, co-browsing and link sharing, and more complex CSCW systems. While these situations all differ in important ways --important for those who use them and for those who design for them --they also have significant commonalities (Pickens and Golovchinsky, 2007; Golovchinsky et al., 2009) .