Modern Information Retrieval
Chapter 10: User Interfaces and Visualization


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1. Lists of Collections

starting points!lists of collections

Typical online systems such as LEXIS-NEXIS  require users to begin any inquiry with a scan through a long list of source names and guess which ones will be of interest. Usually little information beyond the name of the collection is provided online for these sources (see Figure [*]). If the user is not satisfied with the results on one collection, they must reissue the query on another collection.

Figure: The LEXIS-NEXIS source selection screen.

Frequent searchers eventually learn a set of sources that are useful for their domains of interest, either through experience, formal training, or recommendations from friends and colleagues. Often-used sources can be stored on a `favorites' list, also known as a bookmark  list or a hotlist  on the Web. Recent research explores the maintenance of a personalized information profile for users or work groups, based on the kinds of information they've used in the past [#!freeman95!#].

However, when users want to search outside their domains of expertise, a list of familiar sources is not sufficient. Professional searchers such as librarians learn through experience and years of training which sources are appropriate for various information needs. The restricted nature of traditional interfaces to information collections discourages exploration and discovery of new useful sources. However, recently researchers have devised a number of mechanisms to help users understand the contents of collections as a way of getting started in their search.

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Modern Information Retrieval © Addison-Wesley-Longman Publishing co.
1999 Ricardo Baeza-Yates, Berthier Ribeiro-Neto