Investigating Conversational Search Behavior for Domain Exploration

Phillip Schneider, Anum Afzal, Juraj Vladika, Daniel Braun, Florian Matthes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Conversational search has evolved as a new information retrieval paradigm, marking a shift from traditional search systems towards interactive dialogues with intelligent search agents. This change especially affects exploratory information-seeking contexts, where conversational search systems can guide the discovery of unfamiliar domains. In these scenarios, users find it often difficult to express their information goals due to insufficient background knowledge. Conversational interfaces can provide assistance by eliciting information needs and narrowing down the search space. However, due to the complexity of information-seeking behavior, the design of conversational interfaces for retrieving information remains a great challenge. Although prior work has employed user studies to empirically ground the system design, most existing studies are limited to well-defined search tasks or known domains, thus being less exploratory in nature. Therefore, we conducted a laboratory study to investigate open-ended search behavior for navigation through unknown information landscapes. The study comprised of 26 participants who were restricted in their search to a text chat interface. Based on the collected dialogue transcripts, we applied statistical analyses and process mining techniques to uncover general information-seeking patterns across five different domains. We not only identify core dialogue acts and their interrelations that enable users to discover domain knowledge, but also derive design suggestions for conversational search systems.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Information Retrieval - 45th European Conference on Information Retrieval, ECIR 2023, Proceedings
EditorsJaap Kamps, Lorraine Goeuriot, Fabio Crestani, Maria Maistro, Hideo Joho, Brian Davis, Cathal Gurrin, Annalina Caputo, Udo Kruschwitz
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9783031282379
StatePublished - 2023
Event45th European Conference on Information Retrieval, ECIR 2023 - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 2 Apr 20236 Apr 2023

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume13981 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference45th European Conference on Information Retrieval, ECIR 2023


  • Conversational interfaces
  • Dialogue study
  • Exploratory search


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