Image needs in the context of image use: An exploratory study

Eunkyung Chung, Jungwon Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


As a way of understanding the image needs of users, researchers in the image retrieval field have investigated contextual factors affecting image needs and search behaviours. In terms of both general users' groups and non-domain-specific collections on the web, the purpose of this study is to investigate how image needs are interwoven with intended uses which are in varying degrees of image use purposes. Thus, the image-seeking questions posted in a social Q&A service were analysed for their content. The findings of this study indicate that image uses as sources of objects are found more frequently than image uses as sources of data. Moreover, in order to analyse a more detailed underlying structure of image needs and uses, image attributes were examined in terms of three categories including semantics (e.g. ofness and aboutness), non-visual features (e.g. bibliographic information) and syntactic features (e.g. focal point). This study indicates that abstract attributes and specific attributes were distinctively recognized depending on image uses, even though proportion generic attributes were found more frequently. Users are likely to seek images using abstract attributes when they intend to use images as sources of object and specific attributes when using the images as sources of data. More importantly, among the contextual attributes, a similarity component was found to be a universal attribute that was used in all seven image uses, while the attributes in the non-visual and syntactic categories were not frequently used. The findings of this study can be applied to image retrieval systems in terms of improving image indexing practices and expanding search interfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-177
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Information Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • contextual image information needs
  • image attribute
  • image information needs
  • image retrieval
  • image use


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