Discriminating Meta-Search: A Framework for Evaluation
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: Discriminating Meta-Search: A Framework for Evaluation
Abstract : There was a proliferation of electronic information sources and search engines in the 1990s. Many of these information sources became available through the ubiquitous interface of the Web browser. Diverse information sources became accessible to information professionals and casual end users alike. Much of the information was also hyperlinked, so that information could be explored by browsing as well as searching. While vast amounts of information were now just a few keystrokes and mouseclicks away, as the choices multiplied, so did the complexity of choosing where and how to look for the electronic information. Much of the complexity in information exploration at the turn of the twenty-first century arose because there was no common cataloguing and control system across the various electronic information sources. In addition, the many search engines available differed widely in terms of their domain coverage, query methods, and efficiency. Meta-search engines were developed to improve search performance by querying multiple search engines at once. In principle, meta-search engines could greatly simplify the search for electronic information by selecting a subset of first-level search engines and digital libraries to submit a query to based on the characteristics of the user, the query/topic, and the search strategy. This selection would be guided by diagnostic knowledge about which of the first-level search engines works best under what circumstances. Programmatic research is required to develop this diagnostic knowledge about first-level search engine performance. This paper introduces an evaluative framework for this type of research and illustrates its use in two experiments. The experimental results obtained are used to characterize some properties of leading searc...
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