If at first you don't succeed, let the search engine try

Jun 05, 2009

No matter how good a search engine is, it is sometimes necessary to change the search terms to get the information you need. But what if you did not have to change the search terms yourself? What if the search engine could do that for you?

A Penn State researcher analyzed nearly 1 million Web searches to detect patterns of query reformulation and create models to predict them -- models that may help create more advanced search engines.

"The key finding in the research is that we are moving from descriptive aspects to predictive models in Web searching," said Jim Jansen, associate professor of information sciences and technology and one author of the paper "Patterns of Query Reformulation during Web Searching," published in the online edition of the Journal of the American Society for and Technology and scheduled for the July issue.

Researchers found that the search terms in 22 percent of queries were reformulated or changed to more precisely convey the information for which the user was searching.

"They typically moved to narrow their query at the start of the session, moving to reformulation in the mid and latter portions of the sessions," Jansen said. "It appears that the assistance to narrow the query and alternate query terms would be most beneficial immediately after the initial query submission."

Researchers also found low rates of users asking for system assistance in helping to find the desired information -- perhaps because they are too focused on using their own search terms to find information.

"The implication is that system assistance should be most specifically targeted when the user is making a cognitive shift because it appears users are open to system intervention," Jansen said.

Jansen said this research is a critical step in helping to design more advanced search engines.

"Given that one can predict future states of query formulation based on previous and present states with a reasonable degree of accuracy, one can design information systems that provide query reformulation assistance, automated searching assistance systems, recommender systems and others," Jansen said.

Jansen co-authored the paper with Danielle Booth, Penn State information sciences and technology student and Amanda Spink, Queensland University of Technology, Australia.

Provided by Pennsylvania State University (news : web)

Explore further: Ride-sharing could cut cabs' road time by 30 percent

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers classify Web searches

Apr 10, 2008

Although millions of people use Web search engines, researchers show that – by using relatively simple methods – most queries submitted can be classified into one of three categories.

Branding matters -- even when searching

Jun 28, 2007

Web searchers who evaluated identical search-engine results overwhelmingly favored Yahoo! and Google, providing evidence that branding matters as much on the Internet as off, according to a Penn State study.

Recommended for you

Ride-sharing could cut cabs' road time by 30 percent

Sep 01, 2014

Cellphone apps that find users car rides in real time are exploding in popularity: The car-service company Uber was recently valued at $18 billion, and even as it faces legal wrangles, a number of companies ...

Avatars make the Internet sign to deaf people

Aug 29, 2014

It is challenging for deaf people to learn a sound-based language, since they are physically not able to hear those sounds. Hence, most of them struggle with written language as well as with text reading ...

Chameleon: Cloud computing for computer science

Aug 26, 2014

Cloud computing has changed the way we work, the way we communicate online, even the way we relax at night with a movie. But even as "the cloud" starts to cross over into popular parlance, the full potential ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

magpies
1 / 5 (1) Jun 05, 2009
All about making the media fit your agenda huh?