A Multi-dimensional Approach to the Study of Online Annotation

Rick Kopak, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, Univers; Chia-Ning Chiang, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, University of British Columbia

Abstract


In this study we are investigating the relative value (combining frequency of use and user rating) of online annotation according to combinations of form (behaviour) and function (cognitive state) in relation to the prospective audience for the annotations (i.e. private, work group, and larger public). We are also investigating the patterns of behavior and cognitive states of readers while annotating.

Using a prototype annotation and linking module developed for the Open Journal Systems, we are carrying out a field study to collect data on patterns of highlighting, annotating, linking and link-typing behavior. In the study participants are asked to read a number of articles provided in OJS, and perform three general tasks: general reading/browsing, directed reading, and confirmatory reading. Data collection on each of these tasks consists of screen capture of the annotation and linking process, retrospective protocols with interviews to elicit reader comments on their own behavior, and pre-/post- questionnaires. Among other findings, it is anticipated that the results of the analysis will provide useful information concerning the frequency with which annotation functions are matched to form, and to the number and kinds of link types that are consistently employed.

Furthermore, Dillon’s (1999) TIME framework is being used in conjunction with our understanding of annotation and linking to assess the prototype system and to understand what makes the annotation tools usable, the likely problems and usability issues in their design, and how various ways of presenting the information changes the users’ experience.