Every innovation starts with insights. Today these insights are to a large extent inspired by the information and knowledge accessible online.
Whenever information needs arise, users employ search strategies to satisfy these needs in order to reduce their cognitive dissonance. The result of the search process is not only the search result itself, but also an insight into the investigated topic and its different facets surrounding the topic. This way knowledge workers learn throughout the process; even more so when information needs are pronounced and the value of new insights is high. Throughout this process the knowledge worker absorbs new information and processes it through either accommodation (i.e. the modification or change of existing knowledge structures) or assimilation (i.e. the addition of information to existing knowledge structures) (Piaget, 1952).
In research and practice there is no standard process of how to engage in in-depth web search. This research aims at collecting and classifying best practice search strategies of knowledge workers, and especially in academia. In doing so, this research helps understanding the unique strategies of knowledge workers to enhance their productivity, a factor that has been rated the “most important contribution of management […] in the 21st century.” (Drucker, 1999: p. 79).
Furthermore, the goal is to highlight potential shortcomings in information search and retrieval practices. In doing so we are able to point to better tools and practices that help knowledge workers to more efficiently and effectively access knowledge. This research could not be more relevant in a world of exponential knowledge growth, as knowledge only becomes useful the moment it could be accessed.
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