Assessing thesaurus-based query expansion using the UMLS Metathesaurus.

W. Hersh, S. Price, L. Donohoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Assess query expansion using thesaurus relationships and definitions in the UMLS Metathesaurus for improving searching performance. METHODS: The queries from a MEDLINE test collection (OHSUMED) were expanded using synonym, hierarchical, and related term information as well as term definitions from the UMLS Metathesaurus. Documents were retrieved from a word-statistical retrieval system and assessed for recall and precision based on relevance judgments from the test collection. RESULTS: All types of query expansion degraded aggregate retrieval performance as measured by recall and precision, although 38.6% of the queries with synonym expansion and up to 29.7% of the queries with hierarchical expansion showed improvement. CONCLUSIONS: Thesaurus-based query expansion causes a decline in retrieval performance generally but improves it in specific instances. Further research must focus on identifying instances where performance improves and how it can be exploited by real users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-348
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings / AMIA ... Annual Symposium. AMIA Symposium
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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