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Investigating religious information searching through analysis of a search engine log

TitleInvestigating religious information searching through analysis of a search engine log
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWan-Chik, R, Clough, P, Sanderson, M
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
KeywordsBuddhism, Christianity, Digital, Hinduism, information, Islam, Judaism, queries, religion, search behavior, search engine

In this paper we present results from an investigation of religious information searching based on analyzing log files from a large general-purpose search engine. From approximately 15 million queries, we identified 124,422 that were part of 60,759 user sessions. We present a method for categorizing queries based on related terms and show differences in search patterns between religious searches and web searching more generally. We also investigate the search patterns found in queries related to 5 religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. Different search patterns are found to emerge. Results from this study complement existing studies of religious information searching and provide a level of detailed analysis not reported to date. We show, for example, that sessions involving religion-related queries tend to last longer, that the lengths of religion-related queries are greater, and that the number of unique URLs clicked is higher when compared to all queries. The results of the study can serve to provide information on what this large population of users is actually searching for.