A user-centred mobile diary study approach to understanding serendipity in information research

Xu Sun, Sarah Sharples, Stephann Makri

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction. While serendipity is gaining increasing attention in the context of information research these years, there is a lack of empirical evidence to demonstrate the nature of serendipity in literature. Method. We conducted a diary study with eleven participations to understand serendipity in information research. A mobile diary application was developed which allows participants to rapidly capture how serendipity happens in their daily life and the context in which they experience serendipity for one week. Their diary entries were discussed during post-study interviews. Analysis. An Emergent Themes Analysis was conducted to understand our data. Results. We identified: 1) some key elements to support understanding of serendipity, 2) the influential role of context in serendipitous experiences, 3) a framework of understanding how serendipity happens and 4) the positive impacts of serendipity in people's information research. Conclusions. Our research suggests that a framework for classifying serendipity should consider aspects associated with the activity, the value of the information, the source of the information and the interaction between the individual and the context.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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