Types of information search – exploratory and focalized

Types of Information Search
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Types of information search – exploratory search and focalized search


There are different types of information search.This post looks at two of the different types and the factors surrounding them.

How People Search

For a lot of people, performing a search involves keying in some words or a phrase and then hoping that what they are looking for will be returned.

If they are the person is lucky, this works … Often it doesn’t.

Search Approaches 

When it comes to Search, there are different search approaches.

To name a few:

  • web,
  • e-commerce,
  • enterprise,
  • desktop,
  • mobile,
  • social, and real-time,
  • discovery and
  • information governance.

Types of Information Search - Search uses

Search Goals

As well as the various search approaches, users have different search goals. That is – of these, the following have different purposes:

  • search – “Show me what you’ve got
  • relevance ranking“Show me the most relevant results
  • relevance feedback – “Show me what’s popular”,
  • user interaction – “I want to search for something in a way that is most appropriate to what I’m doing
  • result navigation – “I want to be able to navigate through the search results” 
  • document viewing – “Show me the document that you have listed”

Each works in a different way, depending on the purpose of the search.


Different Types of Information Search

There are, essentially two types of Information search:

  1. Focalized Search
  2. Exploratory Search


Focalized search:

Types of Information Search - Focalized search

Focalized search is one of the types of Information 

With focalized search, the user knows exactly what they are looking for. They know where to find it. And they are, generally, only interested in the best document or website.

Examples of focalized search engines are Web-search engines. And are best suited for web portals, personal search, mobile or social search.

These engines return the best results (and not all possibly relevant results). As such, they don’t have advanced navigation. And relevance feedback is based on what’s popular.

With these search engines you can’t use wildcards, or do fuzzy searches. The “find more” or “find similar” search techniques might be present, but often become very slow on larger collections of information.

Exploratory search

Types of Information Search - exploratory
Exploratory search is another type of Information search.

It includes situations where searchers either:

  1. need to learn about the topic in order to understand how to achieve their goal, or
  2. they don’t know how to achieve their goals (either the technology or the process), or
  3. they don’t even know what their goals are in the first place.

Examples of this include:

  • discovery,
  • compliance,
  • investigative,
  • intelligence and
  • information governance search applications.

Users generally combine querying and browsing strategies to foster learning and investigation.

For exploratory search to be used effectively, things such as content analytics, text-mining technology and advanced result navigation and visualization come into play. As do document based relevant feedback, taxonomy support and extensive meta-data management.

Exploratory search makes use of faceted search. With faceted search, users are able to explore search results further by “drilling down”, or filtering, on the results that are available.

This ability to filter,or drill-down, makes use of the metadata of the item that is listed. (Metadata is “extra information” that each item has.For example, the  “author”, the “publisher”, the “department” that the information belongs to, etc)


Were you paying attention?

Just to see if you were paying attention, see if you can match up the search approaches with the search goals and the type of search that would be best suited.

Click here to download the PDF.

Want to learn more?

Below is a selection of resources that I personally feel are relevant to this blog post, and will allow you to get more in-depth knowledge. I do earn a commission if you purchase any of these, and for that I am grateful. Thank you. (Important Disclosure)

See more …

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