User perceptions of information quality in world wide web information retrieval behaviour

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Business and Law


In less than a generation, the World Wide Web has grown from a relatively small cyber play-ground of academic "geeks" into an 11.5 billion-page collection of heterogeneous, inter-connected, network of information and collective knowledge. As an information environment the World Wide Web is informatically representative of all that is good and bad about the human need to both absorb and transmit knowledge. The 'open' nature of the Web makes instantly available to anyone who can "log-on", a boundless digital library of information, the quality of which cannot be enforced before, during, or even after its publication. Scrutiny of Information Quality (IQ), is therefore left up to those publishers conscientious enough to care about the quality of the information they produce and the users who choose to employ the Web as an information retrieval tool. The following thesis is a qualitative investigation of how the users of information make value-judgments about the information they encounter and retrieve from the Web. Specifically, it examines perceptions of IQ from the perspective of eighty "academic" high-end users, who regularly engage the Web and its search engines to search for and retrieve high-quality information related to their research, teaching and learning. The investigation has adopted an inductive approach in the qualitative analysis of quantitative ( 10,080 separate pieces of user-data) data in the context of such established frameworks as Davis' ( 1986, I 989) Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), and Wang & Strong's ( 1996) contextual IQ framework that conceptualised dimensions of quality into four IQ categories, namely: intrinsic; representational; contextual; and accessibility IQ. Through the detailed analysis of the driving theory behind these, and other associated models of: (I) user IT acceptance; (2) Information Seeking Behaviour (ISB}; and (3) multi–dimensional characteristics of IQ; the researcher has sought to find synergies and develop an innovative framework by which to explore the impact of users' attitudes, expectations and perceptions of IQ on their Web information retrieval behaviours. The findings associated with the thesis are consistent with the proposal of a new Ongoing Technology Acceptance Model (OTAM), which facilitates the measurement of users perception of the predictability of their technology interactions, and has the capacity to more accurately investigate user individual differences. Importantly, the OTAM allows the constructs of the original TAM, along with a new construct “Perception of Interaction" (Pol) to be used to investigate users ongoing use of technologies. Findings associated with user perceptions of information quality are also explored and discussed in relation to a proposed life-cycle model of IQ.

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