Querytogether: Enabling entity-centric exploration in multi-device collaborative search

Salvatore Andolina*, Khalil Klouche, Tuukka Ruotsalo, Patrik Floréen, Giulio Jacucci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
93 Downloads (Pure)


Collaborative and co-located information access is becoming increasingly common. However, fairly little attention has been devoted to the design of ubiquitous computing approaches for spontaneous exploration of large information spaces enabling co-located collaboration. We investigate whether an entity-based user interface provides a solution to support co-located search on heterogeneous devices. We present the design and implementation of QueryTogether, a multi-device collaborative search tool through which entities such as people, documents, and keywords can be used to compose queries that can be shared to a public screen or specific users with easy touch enabled interaction. We conducted mixed-methods user experiments with twenty seven participants (nine groups of three people), to compare the collaborative search with QueryTogether to a baseline adopting established search and collaboration interfaces. Results show that QueryTogether led to more balanced contribution and search engagement. While the overall s-recall in search was similar, in the QueryTogether condition participants found most of the relevant results earlier in the tasks, and for more than half of the queries avoided text entry by manipulating recommended entities. The video analysis demonstrated a more consistent common ground through increased attention to the common screen, and more transitions between collaboration styles. Therefore, this provided a better fit for the spontaneity of ubiquitous scenarios. QueryTogether and the corresponding study demonstrate the importance of entity based interfaces to improve collaboration by facilitating balanced participation, flexibility of collaboration styles and social processing of search entities across conversation and devices. The findings promote a vision of collaborative search support in spontaneous and ubiquitous multi-device settings, and better linking of conversation objects to searchable entities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1182-1202
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Co-located search
  • Collaborative search
  • Exploratory search
  • Multi-device

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