Searching for information is often nonlinear and iterative, requiring the evaluation of a range of information sources and the mental flexibility to pursue alternate avenues as new understanding develops.
The act of searching often begins with a question that directs the act of finding needed information. Encompassing inquiry, discovery, and serendipity, searching identifies possible relevant sources and the means to access those sources. Experts realize that information searching is a contextualized, complex experience that affects, and is affected by, the searcher’s cognitive, affective, and social dimensions. Novice learners may search a limited set of resources, and experts may search more broadly and deeply to determine the most appropriate information within the project scope. Likewise, novice learners tend to use few search strategies; experts select from various search strategies, depending on the sources, scope, and context of the information need.