Marcia J. Bates

Publication Abstracts

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Bates, Marcia J. (2018). Concepts for the study of information embodiment. Library Trends, 66(3): 239-266.

The growing study in information science of the role of the body in human information practice may benefit from the concepts developed around a set of fundamental forms of information previously published by the author. In applying these concepts to the study of human information practice, we see a framework that nicely names and locates the major components of an understanding of information seeking of all types, including that related to the body. We see information in nature, what happens to information when it encounters a nervous system, and how that information is used within nervous systems to both encode and embody the experiences of life. We see information not only in direct encounters with the body, but also as it is experienced through extensions of the body, used for both input and output purposes. We also see information in the body in relation to a larger framework of forms of information encompassing both internal and external (exosomatic) information. Finally, a selective review is provided of related research and theory from biology, anthropology, psychology, and philosophy, which supports and deepens our understanding of the approach taken here to information embodiment.


Bates, Marcia J. (July 11, 2017). The heart of the information professions: What motivates our field? Webinar at Association for Information Science & Technology.

Information science is continually transforming through astounding changes in information technology and the social world. I have been studying, thinking, and writing about information science for nearly fifty years. What is the core? What motivates the activities of the field, both in research and in practice? What part of our core professional concerns will continue and what part will fall away? How will we look in fifty years?


Bates, Marcia J. (2016). Information and the Information Professions: Selected Works of Marcia J. Bates, volume I.  Berkeley, CA: Ketchikan Press.
Information is the focus of numerous disciplines and professions--information science, knowledge management, social studies of information, digital humanities, biomedical informatics, library science, archival science, information systems, and many more. In this collection of eighteen professional papers and other texts by Marcia Bates, this pivotal concept is addressed in depth, and its relation to the information professions developed and discussed.  Several professional and disciplinary issues are considered, including definitions of the fields, research paradigms and methodologies, the role of the doctorate in a profession, and the major research content areas of the several fields, with special attention to information science.  Finally, the distinctive experience of being a woman graduate student and professor, when that was still rare in American universities, is described.



Bates, M. J. Information and knowledge: An evolutionary framework for information science.
Bates, M. J. Fundamental forms of information.
Bates, M. J. Information. (Encyclopedia entry.)
Bates, M. J. Information: The last variable.

The Information Professions

Bates, M. J. The invisible substrate of information science.
Bates, M. J. The information professions: Knowledge, memory, heritage.
Bates, M. J. A tour of information science through the pages of JASIS.
Bates, M. J. & Maack. M.N. Introduction to the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Ed.
Bates, M. J. Topical table of contents. Encyclopedia of library and information sciences, 3rd Ed.
Bates, M. J. Many paths to theory: The creative process in the information sciences.
Bates, M. J. An introduction to metatheories, theories, and models.
Bates, M. J. The role of the Ph.D. in a professional field. (Lecture.)
Bates, M. J. A doctorate in library/information science.
Future directions for the library profession and its education. California Library Association Task Force on the Future of Librarianship.
Bates, M. J. A criterion citation rate for information scientists.
Bates, M. J. Information science at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960's: A memoir of student days.
Bates, M. J. Acceptance speech for the American Society for Information Science and Technology Award of Merit.
Bates, M. J. A note from Marcia J. Bates. In W. J. Wheeler (Ed.), Saving the time of the library user through subject access innovation: Papers in honor of Pauline Atherton Cochrane (pp. 5-6).
Author curriculum vitae. 


Bates, Marcia J. (2016).  Information Searching Theory and Practice: Selected Works of Marcia J. Bates, volume II.  Berkeley, CA: Ketchikan Press.
Searching for information--and succeeding in finding it--is a more interesting and complex process than is usually recognized.  Even the most sophisticated automated retrieval systems often fail to incorporate all that we know about human searching behavior.  These fifteen papers by Professor Marcia Bates of UCLA address these topics.


Search Vocabulary Use

Bates, M. J. Factors affecting subject catalog search success.
Bates, M. J. System meets user: Problems in matching subject search terms.
Bates, M. J. Subject access in online catalogs: A design model.
Bates, M. J. How to use controlled vocabularies more effectively in online searching.
Bates, M. J., Wilde, D. N., & Siegfried, S. An analysis of search terminology used by humanities scholars: The Getty Online Searching Project report no. 1.

Searching Behavior

Bates, M. J. Information search tactics.
Bates, M. J. Search techniques.
Bates, M. J. Locating elusive science information: Some search techniques.
Bates, M. J. The fallacy of the perfect thirty-item online search.
Siegfried, S., Bates, M.J., Wilde, D.N. A profile of end-user searching behavior by humanities scholars: The Getty Online Searching Project report no. 2.
Bates, M. J. The design of browsing and berrypicking techniques for the online search interface.
Bates, M. J. Speculations on browsing, directed searching, and linking in relation to the Bradford Distribution.
Bates, M. J. What is browsing—really? A model drawing from behavioral science research.
Bates, M.J. What is a reference book? A theoretical and empirical analysis.
Bates, M.J. Rigorous systematic bibliography.


Bates, Marcia J. (2016).  Information Users and Information System Design: Selected Works of Marcia J. Bates, volume III.  Berkeley, CA: Ketchikan Press.
Searching for information in an online retrieval system is part of a larger human process of problem solving, research, or entertainment that needs to be understood as a whole for good information system design.  UCLA's Professor Marcia Bates addresses these design requirements and possibilities in the sixteen papers published here.

Table of Contents:

Information Seeking and Interaction

Bates, M. J. Toward an integrated model of information seeking and searching.
Bates, M. J. Information behavior.
Bates, M. J., Wilde, D. N., & Siegfried, S. Research practices of humanities scholars in an online environment: The Getty Online Searching Project report no. 3.
Bates, M. J. The Getty end-user online searching project in the humanities: Report no. 6: Overview and conclusions. Bates, M. J. Learning about the information seeking of interdisciplinary scholars and students.
Bates, M. J. Learning about the information seeking of interdisciplinary scholars and students.
Kafai, Y., & Bates, M. J. Internet Web-searching instruction in the elementary classroom: Building a foundation for information literacy.
Bates, M. J., & Lu, S. An exploratory profile of personal home pages: Content, design, metaphors.
Mizrachi, D., & Bates M.J. Undergraduates' personal academic information management and the consideration of time and task-urgency.

User-centered Design of Information Systems

Bates, M. J. Another information system fails-Why? [Op-Ed].
Bates, M. J. The design of browsing and berrypicking techniques for the online search interface.
Bates, M. J. Where should the person stop and the information search interface start?
Bates, M. J. Design for a subject search interface and online thesaurus for a very large records management database.
Bates, M. J. The design of databases and other information resources for humanities scholars: The Getty Online Searching Project report no. 4.
Bates, M. J. Document familiarity in relation to relevance, information retrieval theory, and Bradford's Law: The Getty Online Searching Project report no. 5.
Bates, M. J. Indexing and access for digital libraries and the Internet: Human, database, and domain factors.
Bates, M. J. The cascade of interactions in the digital library interface.  


Bates, Marcia J. (2016).  Many paths to theory: The creative process in the information sciences.  In Diane H. Sonnenwald, (Ed.), Theory Development in the Information Sciences (pp. 21-49). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

The creative process, by its very nature, is unpredictable and surprising. Nonetheless, one can develop skills that will promote and enhance creativity, and will increase the likelihood of produc­ing fruitful ideas. My present purpose is to say something about this process, based on my own experience. Also, I will describe several re­search ideas that I think are promising and that I wanted to develop but did not have the time to pursue before my retirement. I hope that readers will draw on both the skills and the ideas presented here to produce further progress in the information sciences.


Bates, Marcia J. (2015). The information professions: Knowledge, memory, heritage. Information Research, 20(1), paper 655. Retrieved from

Introduction. Along with leading to growth in the numbers of people doing information work, the increasing role of information in our contemporary society has led to an explosion of new information professions as well. The labels for these fields can be confusing and overlapping, and what does and does not constitute an information profession has become unclear.
Method. We have available a body of theory and analysis that can form the basis of a review of this new professional landscape, and enable us to clarify and rationalise the array of emerging information professions.
Analysis. Work by the author and others on the philosophical nature, and core elements, of the information professions is drawn upon and applied to the current professional scene. The nature of information itself and of information-related activities are defined and closely analysed to produce models of the disciplines and the work elements within the disciplines of information.
Results. The analysis makes possible the incorporation of popular new information disciplines into an overarching framework that also includes pre-existing fields.
Conclusions. The analysis provides a perspective that clarifies the relationships among the information disciplines as well as their relationship to other professional activities in society.


Mizrachi, Diane & Bates, Marcia J.  (2013).  Undergraduates’ personal academic information management and the consideration of time and task-urgency. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 64(8): 1590-1607.

Young undergraduate college students are often described as “digital natives,” presumed to prefer living and working in completely digital information environments. In reality, their world is part-paper/part-digital, in constant transition among successive forms of digital storage and communication devices. Studying for a degree is the daily work of these young people, and effective management of paper and digital academic materials and resources contributes crucially to their success in life. Students must also constantly manage their work against deadlines to meet their course and university requirements. This study, following the “Personal Information Management” (PIM) paradigm, examines student academic information management under these various constraints and pressures. A total of 41 18- to 22-year-old students were interviewed and observed regarding the content, structure, and uses of their immediate working environment within their dormitory rooms. Students exhibited remarkable creativity and variety in the mixture of automated and manual resources and devices used to support their academic work. The demands of a yearlong procession of assignments, papers, projects, and examinations increase the importance of time management activities and influence much of their behavior. Results provide insights on student use of various kinds of information technology and their overall planning and management of information associated with their studies.


Bates, Marcia J., (Ed.). (2012). Understanding Information Retrieval Systems: Management, Types, and Standards.  Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

The 51 chapters in this volume address over 20 different types of information retrieval systems; further, they cover the management of information systems, including issues such as risk management, network management, data quality, digital content licensing, and preservation; and they address the numerous technical standards that enable computer and information systems to inter-operate, including XML, RDF, TEI, EAD, and OAIS, among others. World Wide Web-based systems are emphasized.


Bates, Marcia J. (2011). Birger Hjørland’s Manichean misconstruction of Marcia Bates’ work. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology,62(10): 2038-2044.

It is argued and demonstrated that Birger Hjørland's critiques of Marcia Bates' articles on the nature of information and the nature of browsing misrepresent the content of these articles, and further, frame the argument as a Manichean conflict between Hjørland's enlightened “discursive” and social approach versus Bates' benighted behavioral approach. It is argued that Bates' work not only contains much of value that has been ignored by Hjørland but also contains ideas that mostly complement, rather than conflict with, those of Hjørland.


Bates, Marcia J. (2010). "Information." In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Ed. Bates, Marcia J.; Maack, Mary Niles,Eds. New York: CRC Press, vol. 3, pp. 2347-2360. (Also available online at subscribing libraries.)

A selection of representative definitions of information is drawn from information science and related disciplines, and discussed and compared. Defining information remains such a contested project that any claim to present a unified, singular vision of the topic would be disingenuous. Seven categories of definitions are described: Communicatory or semiotic; activity-based (i.e., information as event); propositional; structural; social; multi-type; and deconstructionist. The impact of Norbert Wiener and Claude Shannon is discussed, as well as the widespread influence of Karl Popper’s ideas. The data–information–knowledge–wisdom (DIKW) continuum is also addressed.

Work of these authors is reviewed: Marcia J. Bates, Gregory Bateson, B.C. Brookes, Michael Buckland, Ian Cornelius, Ronald Day, Richard Derr, Brenda Dervin, Fred Dretske, Jason Farradane, Christopher Fox, Bernd Frohmann, Jonathan Furner, J.A. Goguen, Robert Losee, A.D. Madden, D.M. McKay, Doede Nauta, A.D. Pratt, Frederick Thompson.

Bates, Marcia J. (2010) "Information Behavior" In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Ed. Marcia J. Bates and Mary Niles Maack, Eds. New York: CRC Press, vol. 3, pp. 2381-2391. (Also available online at subscribing libraries.)

"Information behavior" is the currently preferred term used to describe the many ways in which human beings interact with information, in particular, the ways in which people seek and utilize information. The broad history of research on information seeking behavior over the last 50-60 years is reviewed, major landmarks are identified, and current directions in research are discussed.

Bates, Marcia J. (2007). "What is browsing – really? A model drawing from behavioural science research" Information Research, 12(4) paper 330. [Available at]

Introduction. It is argued that the actual elements of typical browsing episodes have not been well captured by common approaches to the concept to date.
Method. Empirical research results reported by previous researchers are presented and closely analysed.
Analysis. Based on the issues raised by the above research review, the components of browsing are closely analysed and developed. Browsing is seen to consist of a series of four steps, iterated indefinitely until the end of a browsing episode: 1) glimpsing a field of vision, 2) selecting or sampling a physical or informational object within the field of vision, 3) examining the object, 4) acquiring the object (conceptually and/or physically) or abandoning it. Not all of these elements need be present in every browsing episode, though multiple glimpses are seen to be the minimum to constitute the act.
Results. This concept of browsing is then shown to have persuasive support in the psychological and anthropological literature, where research on visual search, curiosity and exploratory behaviour all find harmony with this perspective.
Conclusions. It is argued that this conception of browsing is closer to real human behaviour than other approaches. Implications for better information system design are developed.

Bates, Marcia J. (2007). "Defining the information disciplines in encyclopedia development" Information Research, 12(4) paper colis29.

Introduction. Dramatic changes in society and in the information disciplines and professions constituted the basis for a re-conceptualization of the content of the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences.
Method. Marcia J. Bates and Mary Niles Maack, Editors of the forthcoming Third Edition, working with a fifty-person Editorial Advisory Board, developed the new, projected contents list for the encyclopedia, based upon principles developed in the re-conceptualization.
Analysis. Drawing on Bates’ "Invisible Substrate of Information Science" article, and other sources, the information disciplines are seen as consisting of the "disciplines of the cultural record" and the "information sciences." These disciplines are all concerned with the collection, organization and access to information, across the entire traditional spectrum of disciplines, such as the humanities and natural and social sciences.
Results. The disciplines covered in the encyclopedia are library and information science, archival science, records management, information systems, informatics, knowledge management, museum studies, bibliography, document and genre studies, and social studies of information. A variety of cognate disciplines are briefly covered as well.
Conclusions. The information disciplines are coming into their own in the 21st century. They are increasingly prominent in universities and in society generally, and, possibly with the help of the encyclopedia, may come increasingly to be seen as a set of related disciplines traversing a spectrum of their own.

Bates, Marcia J. "Fundamental Forms of Information," Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(8) (2006): 1033-1045.

Fundamental forms of information, as well as the term "information" itself, are defined and developed for the purposes of information science/studies. Concepts of natural and represented information (taking an unconventional sense of representation), encoded and embodied information, as well as experienced, enacted, expressed, embedded, recorded, and trace information are elaborated. The utility of these terms for the discipline is illustrated with examples from the study of information seeking behavior and of information genres. Distinctions between the information and curatorial sciences with respect to their social (and informational) objects of study are briefly outlined.

Bates, Marcia J. (2005). "Information and knowledge: an evolutionary framework for information science" Information Research, 10(4) paper 239, 2005 [Available at]

Background. Many definitions of information, knowledge, and data have been suggested throughout the history of information science. In this article, the objective is to provide definitions that are usable for the physical, biological, and social meanings of the terms, covering the various senses important to our field.
Argument. Information 1 is defined as the pattern of organization of matter and energy. Information 2 is defined as some pattern of organization of matter and energy that has been given meaning by a living being. Knowledge is defined as information given meaning and integrated with other contents of understanding.
Elaboration. The approach is rooted in an evolutionary framework; that is, modes of information perception, processing, transmission, and storage are seen to have developed as a part of the general evolution of members of the animal kingdom. Brains are expensive for animals to support; consequently, efficient storage, including, particularly, storage at emergent levels-for example, storing the concept of chair, rather than specific memories of all chairs ever seen, is powerful and effective for animals.
Conclusion. Thus, rather than being reductionist, the approach taken demonstrates the fundamentally emergent nature of most of what higher animals and human beings, in particular, experience as information.

Bates, Marcia J. "Information science at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960s: a memoir of student days." Library Trends 52.4 (Spring 2004): 683(19).

The author’s experiences as a master’s and doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley School of Library and Information Studies during a formative period in the history of information science, 1966-71, are described. The relationship between documentation and information science as experienced in that program is discussed, as well as the various influences, both social and intellectual, that shaped the author’s understanding of information science at that time.


Bates, M.J. (2002). Toward an integrated model of information seeking and searching. (Keynote Address, Fourth international Conference on Information Needs, Seeking and Use in Different Contexts, Lisbon, Portugal, September 11, 2002.) New Review of Information Behaviour Research 3, 1–15.

The emphasis in much information seeking research at the current time is on the social and cultural context of human interaction with information. This effort is highly desirable, but is incomplete. The model to be developed here has integration as its objective in two senses: 1) to provide a single model that incorporates both information seeking and searching within it, and 2) to integrate the social and cultural with the underlying biological and physical anthropological layers of human experience with respect to information seeking and searching.


Bates, Marcia J. "Indexing and Access for Digital Libraries and the Internet: Human, Database, and Domain Factors" Journal of the American Society for Information Science 49 (1998): 1185-1205.

Discussion in the research community and among the general public regarding content indexing (especially subject indexing) and access to digital resources, especially on the Internet, has tended to ignore a variety of factors that are important in the design of such access mechanisms. Some of these factors and issues are reviewed and implications drawn for information system design in the era of electronic access. Specifically the following are discussed: Human factors: description of information vs. access, subject searching vs. indexing, multiple terms of access, folk classification, basic-level terms, and folk access; Database factors: Bradford’s Law, vocabulary scalability, the Resnikoff-Dolby 30:1 Rule, Domain factors: role of domain in indexing.


Bates, Marcia J. "The Role of Publication Type in the Evaluation of LIS Programs." Library and Information Science Research 20 (1998): 187-198.

In evaluating library and information science programs, how important is it to differentiate publication types when counting faculty publications? Do books need to be counted along with journal articles? Drawing on data from an internal university review, publications and citations for a comparison cohort of senior faculty at four library and information science (LIS) programs, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Illinois-Champaign, Indiana Bloomington, and Michigan-Ann Arbor are presented. These results shed light on issues regarding publication types (and, to a lesser extent, use of citations) in studies of program quality in the field. It is suggested that faculty publication types should be differentiated in program evaluations, that book production by faculty is important to such evaluations, ant that the role of humanities-oriented LIS faculty may be misread or lost without attention to book production. Finally, based on these considerations, a formula is suggested for LIS program evaluation.


Kafai, Yasmin, and Marcia J. Bates. "Internet Web-Searching Instruction in the Elementary Classroom: Building a Foundation for Information Literacy." School Library Media Quarterly 25 (Winter 1997): 103-111.

The growing Internet accessibility for educational purposes has raised a range of issues regarding the means of integrating instruction about information access with the students’ other learning experiences, the nature of the skills needed by children in support of developing information literacy, and the role of the school library media specialist in this instruction. The "SNAPdragon" Project was created to investigate how elementary school children can interact with the Internet by asking them to build an annotated directory of World Wide Web sites for other children. Much was learned in this preliminary study of six elementary classrooms, grades one through six, about instructional arrangements, searching skills development, and critical thinking in relation to Internet use.


Bates, Marcia J. and Shaojun Lu. "An Exploratory Profile of Personal Home Pages: Content, Design, Metaphors." Online and CDROM Review. 21 (December 1997): 331-340.

An exploratory sample of 114 personal home pages, drawn from a home page directory available on the World Wide Web (People Page Directory,, was analyzed to detect patterns and trends in home page content and design. Covered in the analysis were types of informational content included in the home pages; internal organization and structure of the content, including type and number of hypertext links; miscellaneous content elements, such as "sign guestbook" and number of hits to the page; and physical design features such as photos, motion, and audio elements. Metaphors used in the design of the pages, and degree of self-revelation were also considered.

The home pages displayed a great variety of content and of specific types of formatting within broader formatting approaches. While some content elements were quite popular, none of them--not even name--was found on all home pages. Nor did the pages evidence reliance on any single dominant metaphor, such as home page as "home" in the sense of domicile. It appears that though certain features may be frequently found in it, the personal home page as a social institution is still very much under development.


Bates, Marcia J. "The Getty End-User Online Searching Project in the Humanities: Report No. 6: Overview and Conclusions." College & Research Libraries 57 (November 1996): 514-523.

Over a two year period, the Getty Information Institute (formerly Getty Art History Information Program) sponsored and carried out a major study of end-user online searching by humanities scholars. Complete logs of the searches and output were captured, and the twenty-seven scholars involved were interviewed in depth. An overview of the study and its results is presented, with particular emphasis on matters of interest to academic librarians. Implications are drawn for academic library reference service and collection development, as well as for cataloging in the online and digital environment.


Bates, Marcia J. "Learning about the Information Seeking of Interdisciplinary Scholars and Students." Library Trends 45 (Fall 1996): 155-164.

The information needs and information-seeking behavior of scholars and students in interdisciplinary fields has been studied very little. The few scattered studies available suggest that such fields may require striking and distinctive information-seeking adaptations by researchers that mark this area as different and very much deserving of research. Kinds of research needed at both basic and applied levels and with respect to both scholars and students are discussed.


Bates, Marcia J. "Document Familiarity in Relation to Relevance, Information Retrieval Theory, and Bradford’s Law: The Getty Online Searching Project Report No. 5." Information Processing & Management 32 (1996): 697-707.

The Getty Online Searching Project studied the end-user searching behavior of 27 humanities scholars over a two-year period. Surprising results were that a number of scholars anticipated--and found--that they were already familiar with a very high percentage of the records their searches retrieved. Previous familiarity with documents has been mentioned in discussion of relevance and information retrieval theory, but has generally not been considered a significant factor. These experiences, however, indicate that high document familiarity can be a significant factor in searching. Some implications are drawn regarding the impact of high document familiarity on relevance and information retrieval theory. Finally, some speculations are made regarding high document familiarity and Bradford’s Law.


Bates, Marcia J., Deborah N. Wilde, and Susan Siegfried. "Research Practices of Humanities Scholars in an Online Environment: The Getty Online Searching Project Report No. 3." Library and Information Science Research 17 (Winter 1995): 5-40.

Use of online databases by humanities scholars searching as endusers was monitored in a 2-year project conducted by the Getty Art History Information Program. Visiting scholars at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities in Santa Monica, California were offered the opportunity to do unlimited subsidized searching of DIALOG databases. This third report from the project presents results of interviews conducted with the scholars regarding their experiences with searching, the role the searching took in their broader research activities, and their attitudes about the future of online searching in the humanities. Scholars found the experience stimulating and novel, with comments ranging from its "addictive" properties to a "Sorcerer’s Apprentice" quality to complaints about the "industrialization of scholarship." Generally, the scholars saw DIALOG searching as supplementing their usual research methods, and not changing them in a fundamental way. Online searching was seen as particularly useful for interdisciplinary research, and as possibly setting a new standard for the extent of literature that should be reviewed. Identified problems were about equally divided between difficulties with the search interface and lack of desired types of resources. All foresaw online searching being used in the future by arts and humanities scholars.


Bates, Marcia J. "The Design of Databases and Other Information Resources for Humanities Scholars: The Getty Online Searching Project Report No. 4." Online and CD-ROM Review 18 (December 1994): 331-340.

Based on the results of a two-year study of online searching by humanities scholars, conducted by the Getty Art History Information Program, implications are drawn for the design of information products for the humanities. Scientists and humanities scholars not only have different kinds of information needs, they also relate to their own literatures in fundamentally different ways. As a result, humanities researchers need information products that do not arise out of the conventional assumptions and framework that have prduced the familiar databases and other information products in the sciences and industry. These characteristic differences of humanities scholars are first discussed; then design implications are considered in the following areas: design and content of databases, indexing vocabulary in humanities resources, and interfaces and command languages.


Siegfried, Susan, Marcia J. Bates, and Deborah N. Wilde and Deborah N. Wilde. "A Profile of End-User Searching Behavior by Humanities Online Searching Project Report No. 2." Journal of the American Society for Information Scienc44 (June 1993): 273-291.

The Getty Art History Information Program carried out a two-year project tot study how advanced humanities scholars operate as end users of online databases. Visiting scholars at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities in Santa Monica, California were offered the opportunity to do unlimited subsidized searching of DIALOG databases. This second report from the project analyzes how much searching the scholars did, the kinds of search techniques and DIALOG features they used, and their learning curves. Search features studied included commands, Boolean logic, types of vocabulary, and proximity operators. Error rates were calculated, as well as how often the scholars used elementary search formulations and introduced new search features and capabilities into their searches. The amount of searching done ranged from none at all to dozens of hours. A typical search tended to be simple, using one-word search terms and little or no Boolean logic. Starting with a full day of DIALOG training, the scholars began their search experience at a reasonably high level of competence; in general, they maintained a stable level of competence throughout the early hours of their search experience.


Bates, Marcia J., Deborah N. Wilde, and Susan Siegfried. "An Analysis of Search Terminology Used by Humanities Scholars: The Getty Online Searching Project Report No. 1." Library Quarterly 63 (January 1993): 1-39.

The Getty Art History Information Program carried out a two-year project to study how humanities scholars operate as end users of online databases. Visiting scholars at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities in Santa Monica, California were offered the opportunity to do unlimited subsidized searching of DIALOG databases. This first report from the project analyzes the vocabulary terms twenty-two scholars used in their natural language descriptions of their information needs and in their online searches. The data have been extracted from 165 natural language statements and 1,068 search terms.

Vocabulary categories used by humanities scholars were found to differ markedly from those used in the sciences, a fact which imposes distinctive demands on thesaurus development and the design of online information systems. Humanities scholars searched for far more named individuals, geographical terms, chronological terms, and discipline terms than was the case in a comparative science sample. The analysis provides substantial support for the growing perception that information needs of humanities scholars are distinct from those of scholars in other fields, and that the design of information-providing systems for these scholars must take their unique qualities into account.


Bates, Marcia J. "Design for a Subject Search Interface and Online Thesaurus for a Very Large Records Management Database." Proceedings of the 53rd ASIS Annual Meeting 27 (1990): 20-28.

A design for a subject search interface and online thesaurus is described which embodies several novel features:

- A subject search interface designed to feel simple enough to be used successfully by end users with only a high school education, and which is linked to an online thesaurus in such a way as to allow easy selection of desired terms and automatic creation of Boolean statements.

- A novel type of thesaurus designed specifically for the online environment and to be used online in real time by end users with little or no knowledge of online searching. The thesaurus contains groupings of related terms called clusters, and is intended to maximize recall.

- Integration of the thesaurus and search interface into a single system, thus eliminating the necessity of moving in and out of the thesaurus in order to identify search terms, and eliminating the necessity of reentering search terms that have been identified, as is often the case in existing systems.

- Design of this system for a multi-million item records management database. This system has been designed for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, for use by its 10,000 person staff, and is in the process of development now. Records management is an area of information retrieval system design that has been relatively neglected in information science. Design for such an environment has some interesting properties, which are dealt with in this article.


Bates, Marcia J. "Where Should the Person Stop and the Information Search Interface Start?" Information Processing & Management 26 (1990): 575-591.

Many users of online and other automated information systems want to take advantage of the speed and power of automated retrieval, while still controlling and directing the steps of the search themselves. They do not want the system to take over and carry out the search entirely for them. Yet the objective of much of current theory and experimentation in information retrieval systems and interfaces is to design systems in which the user has either no or only reactive involvement with the search process. It is argued here that the advanced information retrieval research community is missing an opportunity to design systems that are in better harmony with the actual preferences of many users-sophisticated systems that provide an optimal combination of searcher control and system retrieval power. The user may be provided effective means of directing their search if capabilities specific to the information retrieval process, that is, strategic behaviors normally associated with information searching, are incorporated into the interface. There are many questions concerning (1) the degree of user vs. system involvement in the search, and (2) the size, or chunking, of activities; that is, how much and what type of activity the user should be able to direct the system to do at once. These two dimensions are analyzed and a number of configurations of system capability that combine user and system control are presented and discussed. In the process, the concept of the information search stratagem is introduces, and particular attention is paid to the provision of strategic, as opposed to purely procedural capabilities for the searcher. Finally, certain types of user-system relationship are selected as deserving particular attention in future information retrieval system design, and arguments are made to support the recommendations.


Bates, Marcia J. The Design of Browsing and Berrypicking Techniques for the Online Search Interface. Online Review 13 (October 1989): 407-424.

First, a new model of searching in online and other information systems, called berrypicking is discussed. This model, it is argued, is much closer to the real behavior of information searchers than the traditional model of information retrieval is, and, consequently, will guide our thinking better in the design of effective interfaces. Second, the research literature of manual information seeking behavior is drawn on for suggestions of capabilities that users might like to have in online systems. Third, based on the new model and the research on information seeking, suggestions are made for how new search capabilities could be incorporated into the design of search interfaces. Particular attention is given to the nature and types of browsing that can be facilitated.


Bates, Marcia J. Rethinking Subject Cataloging in the Online Environment. Library Resources & Technical Service 33 (October 1989): 400-412.

The new search capabilities in online catalogs have numerous implications for (1) the use of subject cataloging in existing record, (2) the design of thesauri, and (3) the design of the online catalog user-system interface. All three areas are discussed. Online search capabilities are themselves seen as a form of indexing, and it is argued that access is determined by the total mix of pre-existing and added search capability indexing. The impact of title keyword searching on retrieval is discussed in some detail. The design of a Superthesaurus as a part of a friendly front-end user interface is described. Said thesaurus is geared to the needs of users, rather than indexers, and incorporates the findings of recent research on the patterns of description of subject by searchers. Its design also reflects the different demands of online searching as opposed to manual searching.


Bates, Marcia J. "How to Use Controlled Vocabularies More Effectively in Online Searching." Online 12 (November 1988): 45-46.

We have long recognized that powerful retrieval in online searching can be gained through the combined use of natural language and controlled vocabularies. The idea of a controlled vocabulary, however, does not represent a single theory or approach to indexing or classification. There are actually many types of controlled vocabularies in databases. Often a single database will contain several types. Effective use of these vocabularies requires a strategic understanding of which types of classification and indexing are involved, and taking advantage of the particular mix of vocabularies in a given database to achieve optimum retrieval. Most database controlled vocabularies date from the days when the databases were print products only, and represent a variety of theories of indexing and classification. In this article I will first describe and explain seven common types of subject vocabularies in databases. Secondly, I will describe some specific search techniques for taking advantage of the strengths of particular types of vocabularies. Finally, I will suggest an overall strategy for identifying and using vocabulary types when approaching a new database.


Bates, Marcia J. "Information: The Last Variable." Proceedings of the 50th ASIS Annual Meeting 24 (1987): 6-10.

In research in the behaviorally-oriented domains of information science, such as information seeking, search strategy, and human factors in online searching, we have borrowed the variables, appropriately enough, that are typically studied in behavioral science research--specifically, social, demographic, and cognitive variables. All these are valuable, but there is one last variable that is seldom studied--the information itself, specifically, the structure and organization of the information. In the occasional published behavioral studies which do examine this variable, highly significant results are found associated with it. Several areas of needed research on behavioral aspects of information and methods for studying this variable are discussed.


Bates, Marcia J. "How to Use Information Search Tactics Online." Online 11 (May 1987): 47-54.

In earlier articles the author described search tactics, i.e., moves made to further a search, that can be used in all kinds of information searching, both manual and online. In order to provide more guidance for the use of these tactics online, the author has selected tactics that are particularly useful for online searching, will discuss how to use these tactics, and will identity the points in a search at which they are most useful. At the end of the article an extended example will show how all the tactics may be used in an online search.


Bates, Marcia J. "An Exploratory Paradigm for Online Information Retrieval." In: Intelligent Information Systems for the Information Society. Proceedings of the Sixth International Research Forum in Information Science (IRFIS 6), Frascati, Italy, September 16-18, 1985, pp. 91-99. Edited by B. C. Brookes. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1986.

The conventional paradigm of information retrieval research, wherein document descriptions are matched with carefully formulated queries, is inadequate to describe unfocussed information seeking, such as browsing. It is argued that another paradigm is needed to describe exploratory information seeking. The rudiments of an exploratory paradigm for online information retrieval are thus described. The approach suggested by the paradigm is then applied to the design of online catalogs and database services. A "Front-end system mind", which promotes and aids exploration for information, is described and separately applied to online catalogs and online database searching.


Bates, Marcia J. "What Is A Reference Book: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis." RQ 26 (Fall 1986): 37-57.

Reference books have traditionally been defined administratively (e.g., as books that are noncirculating) or functionally (e.g., as books used for reference), rather than descriptively (i.e., in terms of the essential characteristics that distinguish reference books from other books). It is argued that in order to provide a scientific basis for the study of reference, as well as to promote the study of search strategy, a descriptive definition is needed. Such a definition - based on the organizational structure of reference books - is provided and defended. An empirical study was conducted in three libraries - academic, public and special - to identify types of book organization and to determine their frequency in reference departments and stack collections. The definition was strongly supported by the data, and the contents of books were found to fall in a surprisingly small set of forms of organization, across the three types of libraries, across national boundaries, and through time.


Bates, Marcia J. "Subject Access in Online Catalogs: A Design Model." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 37 ( November 1986): 357-376.

A model based on strikingly different philosophical assumptions from those currently popular is proposed for the design of online subject catalog access. Three design principles are presented and discussed: uncertainty (subject indexing is indeterminate and probabilistic beyond a certain point), variety (by Ashbys law of requisite variety, variety of searcher query must equal variety of document indexing), and complexity (the search process, particularly during the entry and orientation phases, is subtler and more complex, on several grounds, than current models assume). Design features presented are an access phase, including entry and orientation, a hunting phase, and a selection phase. An end-user thesaurus and a front-end system mind are presented as examples of online catalog system components to improve searcher success during entry and orientation. The proposed model is wrapped around existing Library of Congress subject-heading indexing in such a way as to enhance access greatly without requiring reindexing. It is argued that both for cost reasons and in principle this is a superior approach to other design philosophies.


Bates, Marcia J. "Locating Elusive Science Information: Some Search Techniques." Special Libraries 75 (April 1984): 114-120.

Contrary to widely held assumptions, a given body of scientific research results may be published in several places, not just one. The searcher who is unable to locate one source for the information may thus find the data in another. To do so, it is necessary to be familiar with the stages of the scientific publication cycle and the various parallel and sequential points at which the information may appear. That cycle and search techniques for locating such elusive science information are described.  


Bates, Marcia J. "The Fallacy of the Perfect 30-Item Online Search." RQ 24 (Fall 1984): 43-50.

Problems in determining output size are sometimes associated with the performance of online bibliographic searches for clients in academic and other libraries. These problems are examined through discussion of a fallacy in thinking that arises when searchers try to produce the "perfect thirty-item search" online search. Origins of the fallacy are explored by considering sources of misunderstandings between client and searcher and by identifying differences between manual and online searching. Several types of online searches are distinguished, and search techniques that avoid the fallacy are recommended for each search type.


Bates Marcia J. "A Criterion Citation Rate for Information Scientists." Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science Annual Meeting 17 (1980): 276-278.

Citation rates, as a measure of the quality of a researcher’s works, are influenced not only by the inherent value of the research, but also by the size of the pool of available citers in a given field. Proper evaluation of a researcher’s work should be in relation to a criterion rate of citation, the citation rate of the top researchers in that field. This paper 1) provides a criterion citation rate for information science (found to be 13.5 citations per year, 2) presents the names of the top researchers in the field by citation rate, and 3) compares these results to those of four earlier studies on information science researchers.


Bates, Marcia J. "Idea Tactics." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 30 (September 1979) : 280-289.

An information search tactic is a move made to further a search. In this article, 17 "idea tactics" are presented: tactics to help generate new ideas or solutions to problems in information searching. The focus of these tactics is psychological; they are intended to help improve the information specialist’s thinking and creative processes in searching. The tactics are applicable to all kinds of situations-both bibliographic and reference searches, and in both manual and on-line systems. Research leads for the study of idea tactics are suggested, and experimental design problems associated with the testing of all sorts of search tactics are discussed.


Bates, Marcia J. "Information Search Tactics." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 30 (July 1979): 205-214. (Winner: "Best JASIS Paper of the Year Award," 1980.)

As part of the study of human information search strategy, the concept of the search tactic, or move made to further a search, is introduced. Twenty-nine tactics are named, defined, and discussed in four categories: monitoring, file structure, search formulation, and term. Implications of the search tactics for research in search strategy are considered. The search tactics are intended to be practically useful in information searching. This approach to searching is designed to be general, yet nontrivial; it is applicable to both bibliographic and reference searches and in both manual and on-line systems.


Bates, Marcia J. "Factors Affecting Subject Catalog Search Success." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 28 (May 1977): 161-169.

The study examined the effects of two variables on success in searching an academic library subject catalog that uses Library of Congress headings. The variables were "subject familiarity," and "catalog familiarity" representing patron knowledge of a subject field and of the principles of the subject heading system, respectively. Testing was done in a laboratory setting which reproduced a real search situation. The n varied with the particular test, but about 20 university students in each of the following majors participated: psychology, economics, librarianship. Success was measured as degree of match between search term and term used by the library for desired books on the subject.

Catalog familiarity was found to have a very significant beneficial effect on search matching success, and subject familiarity a slight, but not significant, detrimental effect. An interview substudy of subject experts suggested causes for the failure of subject expertise to help in catalog search term formulation.

Surprising results were that overall matching success was strikingly low. Since the methodology used enabled a more precise determination of match success than has been typical of catalog user studies, it appears that people may be less successful than we have thought in using subject catalogs.


Bates, Marcia J. "System Meets User: Problems in Matching Subject Search Terms." Information Processing & Management 13 (1977): 367-375.

Sixty-one undergraduate and graduate students in psychology, economics and librarianship provided the subject terms they would use to search an academic library catalog in 30 hypothetical search instances. The subject indexing tested was that of the Library of Congress, which is used in most large libraries in the United States. The large number of responses on each search instance enabled an unusually detailed, systematic evaluation of various aspects of the LC approach. Results (including evidence of many inadequacies) were produced on see references, subject/place order, specific entry, direct entry, and a priori probability of subject term matching. It was found to be very difficult to develop a good strategy for searching a catalog using LC subject headings. The overriding conclusion was that the LC subject cataloging approach is badly in need of rationalization.