E-Government and the Digital Divide: A Study of English-as-a-Second-Language Users’ Information Behaviour

David Brazier, Morgan Harvey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Internet-based technologies are increasingly used by organisations and governments to offer services to consumers and the public in a quick and efficient manner, removing the need for face-to-face conversations and human advisors. Despite their obvious benefits for most users, these online systems may present barriers of access to certain groups in society which may lead to information poverty. In this study we consider the information behaviour of ten ESL (English as a Second Language) participants as they conduct four search tasks designed to reflect actual information seeking situations. Our results suggest that, despite a perception that they have a good understanding of English, they often choose documents that are only partially or tangentially relevant. There were significant differences in the behaviour of participants given their perceived confidence in using English to perform search tasks. Those who were confident took riskier strategies and were less thorough, leading to them bookmarking a larger proportion of non-relevant documents. The results of this work have potentially profound repercussions for how e-government services are provided and how second-language speakers are assisted in their use of these.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Information Retrieval
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-56607-8
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2017

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Electronic)0302-9743


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