Autocomplete as Research Tool: A Study on Providing Search Suggestions

David Ward, Jim Hahn, Kirsten Feist


As the library website and on its online searching tools become the primary “branch” many users visit for their research, methods for providing automated, context-sensitive research assistance need to be developed to guide unmediated searching towards the most relevant results.  This study examines one such method, the use of autocompletion in search interfaces, by conducting usability tests on its use in typical academic research scenarios.  The study reports notable findings on user preference for autocomplete features, and suggests best practices for their implementation.

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