A task-oriented approach to information retrieval evaluation

William Hersh, Jeffrey Pentecost, David Hickam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


As retrieval systems become more oriented towards end-users, there is an increasing need for improved methods to evaluate their effectiveness. We performed a task-oriented assessment of two MEDLINE searching systems, one which promotes traditional Boolean searching on human-indexed thesaurus terms and the other natural language searching on words in the title, abstract, and indexing terms. Medical students were randomized to one of the two systems and given clinical questions to answer. The students were able to use each system successfully, with no significant differences in questions correctly answered, time taken, relevant articles retrieved, or user satisfaction between the systems. This approach to evaluation was successful in measuring effectiveness of system use and demonstrates that both types of systems can be used equally well with minimal training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-56
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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