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This study was conducted with the purpose of exploring the earliest stage in information
searching identified as pre-online information searching (pre-searching). It has also gone further
to develop a naive model which could be useful in providing explanation and description about
the pre-searching phenomenon. So far, most would agree that information searching is a
constructive and evolving process that has several stages. owever, not all searchers including
research students were successful in the beginning of their information searching due to
differences in their prior !nowledge on a particular topic. "ne way to loo! at this problem is to
understand their information and learning tas!s in the beginning of information searching from a
wider perspective. #ased on few indications, pre-searching stage was found to have existed
much earlier than the starting stage which is !nown to be the first stage of the information
searching process. $ven though both stages could be considered as the beginning stage of
information searching but there is a lac! in our understanding on pre-searching phenomenon that
needs to be explored as compared to the starting stage. There were several %uestions raised in
relation to the present study interests on pre-searching stage. The main concern is to understand
what did the students do before they would start to engage the real information searching process
and how did they strategise their pre-searching. &ll these %uestions are important as pre-
searching could have some effects on the information searching success. The data gathering
activity involved a great length of research students pre-searching experiences which were
gathered through semi-structured interview sessions. The selection of twenty three research
students as participants started with purposive sampling which was used to draw the first
participant while subse%uent participants were selected based on theoretical sampling. 'ata was
later transcribed and interpreted according to the coding paradigm of the grounded theory
approach where emerging concepts were identified, arranged, lin!ed and presented in a
meaningful way. &t the same time, the constant comparative techni%ue was also applied
throughout the coding process which had helped to develop the emerging theory. &s a result, an
inductive theory describing the pre-searching phenomenon had been constructed. In actual, the
theory is based on five categories that had emerged during the analysis phase. The first two
categories that is exploring and venturing explains students activities related to the identification
and retrieval activities of their research topic. (hile enriching shows how students would
interact and learn from what they have retrieved from the first two categories. &nother category
that is ensuring describes how students would further enhance their learning and understanding
process. The last category is engaging which explains students) activities related to the
development of search terms that was used to engage pre-searching hence could also be seen as
the earliest encounter in preparing a candidate search terms to be used later during the real
information searching session. &ll emerging categories found in the present study are devoted in
answering an area which before this has little explanation and understanding thus is hoped to
contribute to the body of !nowledge and become the basis for future research.