Assessment of a search interface enabled with automatic query expansion
Introduction
In this activity, you will explore a web application that allows you to search for Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) documents relevant to your specified query. However, unlike typical search systems, this application will automatically expand your original query by suggesting synonymous or semantically related terms. Upon selecting such suggested terms, you will find that the system augments the initial set of search results with additional documents.

The motivation behind such automatic query expansion is the benefit potentially gained from showing the user not only documents matching the original query but also those which mention other semantically relevant species which e.g., share similar habitat or taxonomic classification. For instance, when a user searches for documents pertaining to “lion”, it might be useful for him/her to find documents mentioning not only “lion” but also “Panthera leo”—the scientific name of “lion”, and “jaguar”—a big cat similarly belonging to the Panthera genus.

This feature was implemented as part of our aim to help a BHL user broaden the coverage of his/her search while hopefully keeping unwanted, noisy results to a minimum. With this survey, we are asking for your help with evaluating whether we have achieved this aim.

Before you proceed, please take time to watch the following video demonstrating the interface.

A few notes before you start
Currently, you can search for documents using only species names as queries, i.e., searching for other types of biodiversity-relevant concepts, e.g., habitat and anatomical parts, is not supported. Please also bear in mind that you can enter only one species name at a time in the search box.

We request you to explore this search system using six different species names (scientific or vernacular names) as queries before completing the questionnaire below. Whilst three of the queries are pre-supplied by us (listed in your invitation email), for the other three you can enter your own preferred species names, as long as they belong to any of the following three taxonomic classes: “Aves” (birds), “Mammalia” (mammals), and “Magnoliopsida” (flowering plants). If using scientific names, please provide them according to the binominal nomenclature, i.e., specify only the genus and epithet, e.g., Lepus timidus and Spizella passerina. In exploring the results of each query, please select a few of the terms automatically suggested by the interface, in order to get an appreciation of the effects of the query expansion feature.

You may now go ahead and access the interface (with either Chrome or Safari), first with the three names provided to you and then with three of your own:
http://nactem10.mib.man.ac.uk/va/MiBio/Search/queryExpansion.html?prot=thumb

For our own reference, please list down your three provided and three chosen names: *
Your answer
Questionnaire
According to your experience with the query expansion interface, please rate your answer in a range from very useful/helpful to not useful/helpful at all for the following questions.
1. In general, did you find the suggested terms useful for this type of search? *
Not useful at all
Very useful
2. Were the illustrated images helpful in the selection of suggested terms? *
Not helpful at all
Very helpful
3. Was the relatedness indicator for suggested terms helpful? *
Not helpful at all
Very helpful
4. Was the frequency indicator for suggested terms helpful? *
Not helpful at all
Very helpful
5. Were the different background colours (white and light blue for initial and augmented search results, respectively) useful in identifying the additionally retrieved documents? *
Not useful at all
Very useful
6. Do you think that the suggested additional species names helped you retrieve documents that you may not have found otherwise? *
Not helpful at all
Very helpful
7. Was it helpful to be presented with suggestions of species names that are not necessarily synonyms but may be related in terms of shared habitat, taxon or geographic location? For example, suggesting ‘jaguar’ when searching for ‘lion’. *
Not helpful at all
Very helpful
8. Expansion of the original query with additional terms broadens the scope of the search results. Did you find this useful? *
Not useful at all
Very useful
Optional
We would appreciate if you can give us your comments on the interface.
9. What would you suggest in order to improve the interface?
Your answer
10. What did you like the most from the interface?
Your answer
11. Other comments (if any)
Your answer
Thank you so much for your time.
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