Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Security) Honours

School

School of Computer and Security Science

Faculty

Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Second Advisor

Mr Jeffrey Corkill

Abstract

Since the introduction of the World Wide Web (WWW), a large amount of information has become available and accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Where in the past, the art of the intelligence profession was finding scarce information, currently information gathering is more focused on sorting relevant information from the available abundance. The purpose of the current study was to gain a better understanding of how information is gathered on the Web by potential intelligence analysts. Although the WWW is used by many people to search for information daily, relatively little research exists on how this source should be used and what to consider when using it in the intelligence context. As the intelligence profession mostly recruits university graduates as analysts, the current study aimed to investigate how information collection skills differ between security science students who are at different stages of a three-year tertiary intelligence course.

A mixed-method approach was employed using three cohorts of students with 40 participants. Each participant was asked to gather information on a defined problem utilising resources available on the WWW, to list all information gathered and the search terms used. In addition, each participant was asked to specify search strategies employed to address the problem, which were analysed qualitatively. Statistical tests were used to determine statistically significant differences between the three levels of cohorts concerning volume of information gathered, number of search terms utilised and number of clicks used. It was found that the second year cohort utilised a statistically significant greater number of search terms than the first year cohort. Qualitative data were analysed to identify that eight strategies overall, varying in frequency of use and level of sophistication, were used by participants at different stages of the course. The greatest searching skill acquisition was found to occur in the first year of the course, followed by further refinements of skills throughout the second and third year of the course. Replication of the study is recommended and future research directions are suggested.

Share

 
COinS