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Modeling the Information Seeking of Professionals: A General Model Derived from Research on Engineers, Health Care Professionals, and Lawyers

Drawing upon existing research and previous attempts at modeling the information-seeking behavior of specific professional groups, this article posits an original model of information seeking that is applicable to all professionals. The model was developed through a careful analysis and interpretation of empirical studies on the information habits and practices of three groups: engineers, health care professionals, and lawyers. The general model and its six major components are presented in detail. These six components are (1) work roles, (2) associated tasks, and (3) characteristics of information needs and three factors affecting information seeking: (4) awareness, (5) sources, and (6) outcomes. In turn, each component contains a number of variables that are described with examples from the literature. The complexity of the information-seeking process is conceptualized in terms of the interaction and simultaneous occurrence of the model's components and variables, including a feedback mechanism. The article concludes with suggestions as to the potential usefulness of the model.