Do Clarity Scores for Queries Correlate with User Performance?

Turpin, A. and Hersh, W.

    Recently the concept of a clarity score was introduced in order to measure the ambiguity of a query in relation to the collection in which the query issuer is seeking information [Cronen-Townsend et al. Proc. ACM SIGIR2002, Tampere Finland, August 2002]. If the query is expressed in the 'same language' as the whole collection then it has a low clarity score, otherwise it has a high score, where the similarity is the relative entropy of the query and collection models. Cronen-Townsend et al. show that clarity scores correlate directly with average precision, hence a query with a high clarity score is likely to produce relevant documents high in a list of resulting documents. Other authors, however, have shown that high precision does not necessarily correlate with increased user performance. In this paper we examine the correlation between user performance and clarity score. Using log files from user experiments conducted within the framework of the TREC Interactive Track, we measure the clarity score of all user queries, and their actual performance on the searching task. Our results show that there is no correlation between the clarity of a query and user performance. The results also demonstrate that users were able to slightly improve their queries, so that subsequent queries had slightly higher clarity scores than initial queries, but this was not dependent on the quality of the system they used, nor the user's searching experience.
Cite as: Turpin, A. and Hersh, W. (2004). Do Clarity Scores for Queries Correlate with User Performance?. In Proc. Fifteenth Australasian Database Conference (ADC2004), Dunedin, New Zealand. CRPIT, 27. Schewe, K.-D. and Williams, H. E., Eds. ACS. 85-91.
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