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The effects of topic familiarity on user search behavior in question answering systems

By A. Al-Maskari and M. Sanderson

Abstract

This paper reports on experiments that attempt\ud to characterize the relationship between users\ud and their knowledge of the search topic in a\ud Question Answering (QA) system. It also\ud investigates user search behavior with respect\ud to the length of answers presented by a QA\ud system. Two lengths of answers were\ud compared; snippets (one to two sentences of\ud text) and exact answers. A user test was\ud conducted, 92 factoid questions were judged\ud by 44 participants, to explore the participants’\ud preferences, feelings and opinions about QA\ud system tasks. The conclusions drawn from the\ud results were that participants preferred and\ud obtained higher accuracy in finding answers\ud from the snippets set. However, accuracy\ud varied according to users’ topic familiarity;\ud users were only substantially helped by the\ud wider context of a snippet if they were already\ud familiar with the topic of the question, without\ud such familiarity, users were about as accurate\ud at locating answers from the snippets as they\ud were in exact set

Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:4506

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