Applied Informetrics for Information Retrieval Research

Gobinda G. Chowdhury (Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Informatics, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 1 September 2004




Chowdhury, G.G. (2004), "Applied Informetrics for Information Retrieval Research", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 218-219.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

A large number of research papers, monographs and textbooks have appeared in the past four decades covering different areas of information retrieval (IR). Similarly, research on bibliometrics and informetrics that cover all aspects of quantitative study of recorded information have also appeared in the form of books and research papers, including chapters in the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology. However, very few books have covered both the area of information retrieval and informetrics. Wolfram's book fills this gap and it discusses the various applications of informetrics research on IR. The book contains eight chapters followed by a long list of references and an author‐subject index.

In the first chapter the author introduces the concepts of information retrieval and informetrics, and thus sets the background for the further chapters in the book. In this chapter the author also justifies the need for such a book and mentions that the main audience will comprise university students. Chapter 2 provides a brief but excellent overview of the field of IR including an explanation of the fundamental concepts of IR, various IR models, evaluation and other areas of research in IR. The origin of the term of informetrics, as well as its definition and connotation, are discussed in Chapter 3. This chapter also provides an overview of the field of informetrics including brief descriptions of the various informetric models and laws, citation and co‐citation analyses, co‐word analyses and obsolescence studies. Refuting the criticism that informetrics research is rather more theoretical, the author argues that there are many applications of the results of informetrics research and these are discussed in the subsequent chapters.

Chapter 4 discusses the techniques for the collection of data and building models for informetric studies. This chapter specifically discusses the techniques for the collection of data for informetric studies of IR systems. Beginning with the methods of sampling and data collection, this chapter discusses the software tools and techniques used for informetric data storage and processing. A number of mathematical models have been discussed in this chapter, though readers may require substantial mathematical knowledge to understand them; however, appropriate references for further clarification and readings are provided.

In Chapter 5, the author argues that from the point of view of informetric studies, an IR system can be conceived of having two sets of processes:

  1. 1.

    those that are associated with the documents indexed by the system; and

  2. 2.

    those that result from the user interactions with the IR systems.

Chapter 5 discusses informetric studies in the first area, i.e. those that are concerned with the textual documents and the corresponding indexes. In particular, this chapter discusses informetric studies concerned with the distribution of index terms, indexing exhaustivity, term co‐occurrences, and Webometric studies based on document citations and hyperlinks.

Chapter 6 discusses informetric studies of IR systems use and users. Specifically it discusses research on the distribution of query terms and term usage, co‐occurrence of query terms and so on. Chapter 7 discusses the applications of informetric research with special reference to the IR system design and development issues. In the final chapter of the book, the author discusses the future of informetric research in the context of IR systems. Given that the modern IR systems incorporate textual as well as multimedia information, the author argues that there is a need for informetric studies of multimedia IR. The author also proposes that the results of informetric studies of IR may provide additional input for visualisation of IR systems, and thus recommends this as a new area of research.

Overall the book has been written in a lucid language and the text has been supplemented with a number of figures and appropriate references. This book can definitely serve as a text for courses on informetrics, and also can act as a starting point for researchers in informetrics.

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