Users' perspectives on the usefulness of structure for XML information retrieval

The widespread use of the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) on the Web and in digital libraries has led to a drastic increase in the number of XML Information Retrieval (IR) systems being developed. XML IR approaches exploit the logical structure of documents for their querying, retrieval and presentation to the user. Despite their abundance, there remains uncertainty regarding the advantages that structural information may bring to IR. In this paper we report on a user study exploring questions around the potential benefits of structure to users, such as: Is structural information useful when searching for relevant information? Can the structure of a document help to locate relevant information when browsing inside a document? Does the role of structural information depend on the length of a document? Our investigation was conducted as part of the INEX 2006 interactive track experiment, which we supplemented with questionnaires. Our qualitative analysis of the data collected from seven participants aims to identify how users will interact with XML IR systems. We do this by drawing parallels with paper based information searching, Web searching, and digital library searching. What we find is that XML IR users are unlike Web users – they use advanced search facilities, they prefer a list of results supplement with branch points into the document, and they need better methods of navigation within long documents

In  Studies in theory of information retrieval (Proceedings of ICTIR 2007)


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