Conversation in information seeking contexts: A test of an analytical framework

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This article develops an analytical framework to support the analysis of conversations in information-seeking contexts. The framework brings together linguistic and sociolinguistic issues such as vocabulary, cohesion, coherence, turn taking, turn allocation, overlaps, gaps, openings, closings, frames, repairs, role specification, and stylistic features. These issues serve as viewpoints for exploring how information-seeking conversations differ from casual conversation and conversations in restricted conversational domains (e.g., teacher-student, and physician-patient). A sample of nine conversations from two information-seeking contexts (i.e., school library media center, and public library) is used to test the utility of the analytical framework and explore possible characteristics of information-seeking conversations. The findings support the utility of the framework for various purposes including: training of information specialists, feedback on their performance, design of human-computer dialogues, elicitation of decision-making processes during information seeking, and support for natural language processing.