Does query expansion limit our learning? A comparison of social-based expansion to content-based expansion for medical queries on the internet

Christopher Pentoney, Jeff Harwell, Gondy Augusta Leroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Searching for medical information online is a common activity. While it has been shown that forming good queries is difficult, Google's query suggestion tool, a type of query expansion, aims to facilitate query formation. However, it is unknown how this expansion, which is based on what others searched for, affects the information gathering of the online community. To measure the impact of social-based query expansion, this study compared it with content-based expansion, i.e., what is really in the text. We used 138,906 medical queries from the AOL User Session Collection and expanded them using Google's Autocomplete method (social-based) and the content of the Google Web Corpus (content-based). We evaluated the specificity and ambiguity of the expansion terms for trigram queries. We also looked at the impact on the actual results using domain diversity and expansion edit distance. Results showed that the social-based method provided more precise expansion terms as well as terms that were less ambiguous. Expanded queries do not differ significantly in diversity when expanded using the social-based method (6.72 different domains returned in the first ten results, on average) vs. content-based method (6.73 different domains, on average).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)976-983
Number of pages8
JournalAMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium
Volume2014
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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