Critical incident technique and explicitation interviewing in studies of information behavior

Alison Yeoman, Janet Cooper, Chris Armstrong, Roger Fenton, Ray Lonsdale, Siân Spink, Christine Urquhart, Rhian Thomas, Anne Barker, Ann Light

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This article discusses two related techniques, critical incident technique and explicitation, used in a variety of social science research settings, and critically reviews their application to studies of information behavior. The current application of both techniques is compared to Flanagan’s early guidelines on the critical incident technique and is discussed in relation to recent experience in the use of (1) the critical incident technique in the JUSTEIS and VIVOS projects, and (2) explicitation in projects concerned with text entering on interactive Web sites. JUSTEIS is identifying trends, and reasons for those trends, in the uptake and use of electronic information services in higher education in the UK, and the article examines experience gained over the first two cycles, 1999/2000, and 2000/2001. VIVOS evaluated virtual health library services. Comparison of the experiences gained on the various projects suggests that critical incident methods could usefully be extended and enriched by some explicitation methods, to elicit the degree of evocation required for current and future studies of Internet use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-88
Number of pages26
JournalLibrary and Information Science Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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