Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer and Information Sciences (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Computing

First Advisor

Dr. Karthikeyan Umapathy

Second Advisor

Dr. Lakshmi Goel

Third Advisor

Dr. Sandeep Reddivari

Department Chair

Dr. Sherif Elfayoumy

College Dean

Dr. Mark A. Tumeo


In the past decade, research efforts dedicated to studying the process of collaborative web search have been on the rise. Yet, a limited number of studies have examined the impact of collaborative information search processes on novices’ query behaviors. Studying and analyzing factors that influence web search behaviors, specifically users’ patterns of queries when using collaborative search systems can help with making query suggestions for group users. Improvements in user query behaviors and system query suggestions help in reducing search time and increasing query success rates for novices.

This thesis investigates the influence of collaboration between experts and novices as well as the use of a collaborative web search tool on novices’ query behavior. We used SearchTeam as our collaborative search tool. This empirical study involves four collaborative team conditions: SearchTeam and expert-novice team, SearchTeam and novice-novice team, traditional and expert-novice team, and traditional and novice-novice team. We analyzed participants’ query behavior in two dimensions: quantitatively (e.g. the query success rate), and qualitatively (e.g. the query reformulation patterns).

The findings of this study reveal that the successful query rate is higher in expert-novice collaborative teams, who used the collaborative search tools. Participants in expert-novice collaborative teams who used the collaborative search tools, required less time to finalize all tasks compared to expert-novice collaborative teams, who used the traditional search tools. Self-issued queries and chat logs were major sources of terms that novice participants in expert-novice collaborative teams who used the collaborative search tools used. Novices as part of expert-novice pairs who used the collaborative search tools, employed New and Specialization more often as query reformulation patterns.

The results of this study contribute to the literature by providing detailed investigation regarding the influence of utilizing collaborative search tool (SearchTeam) in the context of software troubleshooting and development. This study highlights the possible collaborative information seeking (CIS) activities that may occur among software developers’ interns and their mentors. Furthermore, our study reveals that there are specific features, such as awareness and built-in instant messaging (IM), offered by SearchTeam that can promote the CIS activities among participants and help increase novices’ query success rates. Finally, we believe the use of CIS tools, designed to support collaborative search actions in big software development companies, has the potential to improve the overall novices’ query behavior and search strategies.