Dissertation Information for Lauren Harrison
- Lauren Harrison
- Library and Information Science
- Rutgers University (USA) (1998)
- James D. Anderson
- Nicholas Belkin
- Lea Stewart
- Nancy Roth
- Tefko Saracevic
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: The impact of thesauri on information retrieval
Abstract: The effectiveness of an information retrieval (IR) process depends on the outcome of a match of terms used to describe an information need with the terms used in the representation of documents. The translation of information needs into query terms is called query formulation; a problem associated with query formulation is the inconsistency of terms used to represent identical or similar concepts. Research suggests that searchers' success can be greatly improved by increasing the number of search terms per concept, especially when aided by tools such as thesauri and other controlled vocabulary lists.
The goals of this project were to assess the impact of the use or non-use of thesauri on search results, to extend the knowledge on the effectiveness of indexing thesauri in online searching and to assess the impact of individual differences among searchers on thesaurus use.
Twelve online searchers at an international pharmaceutical company conducted searches on Roscopes, an proprietary product literature database on DataStar, utilizing Emtree, the Embase (Excerpta Medica) thesaurus. Results show that there was no significant difference in satisfaction with the searches performed with thesauri or without. In this environment inexperienced searchers used the thesaurus more than experienced searchers. In some cases experienced searchers appear to have used controlled thesaurus terms without needing to consult the thesaurus. There were significant differences in the searching behavior associated with searches performed with thesauri and without (more search statements were associated with searches conducted with thesauri than without and searches performed with thesauri retrieved fewer records than those performed without thesauri).