Information Search Process (ISP) Model

Authored by: Carol Collier Kuhlthau

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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The information search process (ISP) is a six-stage model of the users’ holistic experience in the process of information seeking. The ISP model, based on over two decades of empirical research, identifies three realms of experience: the affective (feelings), the cognitive (thoughts), and the physical (actions) common to each stage. These studies were among the first to investigate the affective aspects or the feelings of a person in the process of information seeking along with the cognitive and physical aspects. Central to the ISP is the notion that uncertainty, both affective and cognitive, increases and decreases in the process of information seeking. A principle of uncertainty for information seeking states that information commonly increases uncertainty in the early stages of the search process. Increased uncertainty indicates a zone of intervention for intermediaries and system designers.

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