Looking Ahead: Query Preview in Exploratory Search

Abstract

Exploratory search is a complex, iterative information seeking activity that involves running multiple queries, finding and examining many documents. We introduced a query preview interface that visualizes the distribution of newly-retrieved and re-retrieved documents prior to showing the detailed query results. When evaluating the preview control with a control condition, we found effects on both people’s information seeking behavior and improved retrieval performance. People spent more time formulating a query and were more likely to explore search results more deeply, retrieved a more diverse set of documents, and found more different relevant documents when using the preview. With more time spent on query formulation, higher quality queries were produced and as consequence the retrieval results improved; both average residual precision and recall was higher with the query preview present.