Thursday, May 26, 2011

Asking the right question

Greetings from the famous room N101 at the ANU in Canberra, where Dr Ying-Hsang Liu from Charles Sturt University is talking about "Query reformulation, individual difference and search performance over query sessions", or in other words, what do people ask web search engines? People with different backgrounds and different levels of expertise will ask different questions. Also they will ask a different question if their first search does not give the results they wanted. researchers are looking at how to evaluate the search algorithms and optimise them.
Query reformulation is the useras articulation of information needs after the initial search. In this talk I will report on findings from a larger study that was designed to assess the effectiveness of MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) terms when used by different types of searchers in an interactive search environment. I will examine the characteristics of queries formulated by different types of searchers, exemplified by different levels of domain knowledge and search training. Using several effectiveness measures, such as MAP and nsDCG (normalised session DCG), I will discuss the relationship between individual difference and search performance over query sessions.

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