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Academic articles on the web: Reading patterns and formats

Rho, Y.J. and Gedeon, T.D. (2000) Academic articles on the web: Reading patterns and formats. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 12 (2). pp. 219-240.

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This article explores user reading activities and user preferences in the formats of Web-based academic articles by using the data from 2 online surveys. Researchers use the Web as a resource for academic articles. Despite this popular use, no generally agreed format exists on the Web. The Web environments of distributed users encourage the use of online remote evaluation. We applied an e-mail-based survey and a Web-based survey to the evaluation of some concepts for Web-based academic articles. The participants of the surveys were researchers in information technology and related areas. Our survey results show that readers take an overview of a Web-based academic article from the screen, print it out, and then read the printed article. The results also show that the formats employed by most of the Web sites for academic articles are against readers' preferences. The simple 2-frame format among the 5 given formats was most preferred by 47% of our respondents, but the cascaded page-windows format was regarded as the worst by 65% because of its high visual complexity on the screen. An interesting result is that 26% of the respondents regarded the paperlike format as the worst, but this format is widely used for Web-based articles. In addition, the importance of interactive examples embedded in a Web-based questionnaire was revealed from the 2 consecutive surveys. Details are discussed in this article. In the online remote surveys, the issues of Web-based academic articles were successfully addressed. The methods used in the surveys would be useful for usability tests of various concepts of other Web genres at an early design or redesign stage.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Information Technology
Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Copyright: © 2000 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
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