Challenging conventional assumptions of automated information retrieval with real users: Boolean searching and batch retrieval evaluations

William (Bill) Hersh, Andrew Turpin, Susan Price, Dale Kraemer, Daniel Olson, Benjamin Chan, Lynetta Sacherek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Two common assumptions held by information retrieval researchers are that searching using Boolean operators is inferior to natural language searching and that results from batch-style retrieval evaluations are generalizable to the real-world searching. We challenged these assumptions in the Text Retrieval Conference (TREC) interactive track, with real users following a consensus protocol to search for an instance recall task. Our results showed that Boolean and natural language searching achieved comparable results and that the results from batch evaluations were not comparable to those obtained in experiments with real users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-402
Number of pages21
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001



  • Evaluation
  • Information retrieval (IR)
  • Text retrieval Conference (TREC)
  • User studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences

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