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Understanding the Reference Transaction 211 Understanding the Reference Transaction: A Systems Analysis Perspective

By John V. Richardson

Abstract

The reference transaction can be understood as a system and modeled as such. By adopting a problem-solving paradigm other than the one traditionally used in this area (i.e., flowcharting), a systems analysis of the question-answering process can yield new insights. In particular, this article identifies fifteen functional requirements of the process as well as fit criteria to measure success in question negotiation. In addition, the process is graphically illustrated using four diagrams of the reference transaction and provides a top-level perspective of the process. n this article, the author proposes that the process of question answering, technically called the reference transaction in the field of library and information science, be defined as a face-to-(inter)face process involving an inquirer and a librarian, or surrogate, within an informationseeking environment (i.e., a library-like setting). Although the process can readily be defined as such, it has not been so clearly conceptualized or successfully modeled by reference practitioners or researchers. Witness the thirty years of reference evaluation studies that suggest a low level of reference accuracy (about 50%), which could be attributed to a poor conceptualization of the question-answering process. Furthermore, several different graphical representations have bee

Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.134.5325
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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