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Strategies for effective social media information seeking: New research framework, taxonomy and multilevel testing

Principal Investigator (PI): Asst Prof Joanna Sin

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI): Assoc Prof Lee Chei Sian, Professor Theng Yin Leng

Collaborators: Nil

Start Date: Nov 2014

End Date: On-going

Abstract: With the rapid growth in social media, information seekers can now resolve their information needs by posting their questions to individuals worldwide. However, not all information seekers are skilful enough to fully leverage the information potential offered by social media. In order to prepare a skilled citizenry, there is a strong need to research what active inquiry strategies contribute to successful social media information seeking (SMIS) in different knowledge domains and social contexts.

This project aims to build a new research front, an Information Seeking as Speech Act (ISSA) framework, which focuses on the interaction patterns among questioners and responders. The project will uncover the question-response patterns of SMIS and test the individual and community factors contributing to successful inquiry. Specifically, the project will: (1) Develop a social media speech act taxonomy; (2) Code and identify the speech act patterns in different domains; (3) Test which speech acts correspond with higher numbers of helpful answers; (4) Conduct multilevel analyses on factors affecting the number of helpful answers received by an individual; (5) Survey users on their views of effective strategies; and (6) Develop an ISSA research agenda and a list of effective strategies for information literacy training. The project will use multiple research methods, including data mining, content analysis, social network analysis and a user survey. Inferential statistical tests including ANOVAs and multilevel analyses will also be used.

The academic community will benefit from this project in that it will build a novel research framework to study a hitherto unexamined area. Additionally, it will advance the information behaviour field towards an ecological paradigm. The project is particularly significant to Singapore, where social media usage is high, and where the nation has identified information literacy as a critical 21st century competency. This project’s will contribute toward building this crucial competence.