Writing in the library: Exploring tighter integration of digital library use with the writing process

Michael B. Twidale, Anatoliy A. Gruzd, David M. Nichols

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Information provision via digital libraries often separates the writing process from that of information searching. In this paper we investigate the potential of a tighter integration between searching for information in digital libraries and using those results in academic writing. We consider whether it may sometimes be advantageous to encourage searching while writing instead of the more conventional approach of searching first and then writing. The provision of ambient search is explored, taking the user's ongoing writing as a source for the generation of search terms used to provide possibly useful results. A rapid prototyping approach exploiting web services was used as a way to explore the design space and to have working demonstrations that can provoke reactions, design suggestions and discussions about desirable functionalities and interfaces. This design process and some preliminary user studies are described. The results of these studies lead to a consideration of issues arising in exploring this design space, including handling irrelevant results and the particular challenges of evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-580
Number of pages23
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Ambient search
  • Digital libraries
  • Integrating search with writing
  • User interfaces
  • Writing support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Library and Information Sciences


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