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Experimental components for the evaluation of interactive information retrieval systems

Pia Borlund (Department of Information Studies, Royal School of Library and Information Science, Birketinget 6, DK 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 1 February 2000

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Abstract

This paper presents a set of basic components which constitutes the experimental setting intended for the evaluation of interactive information retrieval (IIR) systems, the aim of which is to facilitate evaluation of IIR systems in a way which is as close as possible to realistic IR processes. The experimental setting consists of three components: (1) the involvement of potential users as test persons; (2) the application of dynamic and individual information needs; and (3) the use of multidimensional and dynamic relevance judgements. Hidden under the information need component is the essential central sub‐component, the simulated work task situation, the tool that triggers the (simulated) dynamic information needs. This paper also reports on the empirical findings of the metaevaluation of the application of this sub‐component, the purpose of which is to discover whether the application of simulated work task situations to future evaluation of IIR systems can be recommended. Investigations are carried out to determine whether any search behavioural differences exist between test persons‘ treatment of their own real information needs versus simulated information needs. The hypothesis is that if no difference exists one can correctly substitute real information needs with simulated information needs through the application of simulated work task situations. The empirical results of the meta‐evaluation provide positive evidence for the application of simulated work task situations to the evaluation of IIR systems. The results also indicate that tailoring work task situations to the group of test persons is important in motivating them. Furthermore, the results of the evaluation show that different versions of semantic openness of the simulated situations make no difference to the test persons’ search treatment.

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Citation

Borlund, P. (2000), "Experimental components for the evaluation of interactive information retrieval systems", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 56 No. 1, pp. 71-90. https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000007110

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MCB UP Ltd

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