Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Quantitative Research Methods

First Advisor

Peter Organisciak

Second Advisor

Nick Cutforth

Third Advisor

Erin Elzi

Fourth Advisor

Maria Riva


Grounded theory, Information behavior, Information seeking process, Search experience, Search process


This Grounded theory study explores US adults' modern information search process as they pursue information through digital search user interfaces and tools. To study the current search process, a systematic grounded theory methodology and two data collection methods, a think-aloud protocol and semi-structured interviews, are used to develop the theory. The emerging theory addressed two tightly connected research questions that asked, “What is the process by which humans search and discover information?” and “What is the process by which search and discovery interfaces and tools support the modern search process?”

The study collects participant data from US adults who have recently completed internet-based searches or were employed as reference librarians or information specialists that regularly support internet-based searches. The 40 data collection events, 20 interviews, and 20 think-aloud search activities are constant comparatively analyzed. This analysis shows the importance of validating information during the search process as 1) establishing accurate information needs and 2) verifying information results. This theory and study findings can be applied to modern search interface designs or used to update modern information literacy curriculums.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Nicolas Armando Parés

File size

94 pgs

File format





Information science, Educational evaluation, Computer science