Collaborative Exploratory Search

Multi-user search system

Explicit support for collaboration is becoming increasingly important for certain search tasks. In this research we are focused on small groups of people working toward a common search goal at the same time.

Explicit support for collaboration is becoming increasingly important for certain kinds of collection-building activities in digital libraries. We can represent collaboration in search on two dimensions synchrony and intent. Asynchronous collaboration means that people are not working on the same problem simultaneously; implicit collaboration occurs when the system uses information from others use of the system to inform new searches, but does not guarantee consistency of search goals. In this research project, we are concerned with the top-left quadrant of Figure 1 that represents small groups of people working toward a common goal at the same time. These synchronous, explicit collaborations could occur amongst remotely situated users, each with their own computers, or amongst a co-located group sharing devices; these spatial configurations add yet another dimension to be considered when designing collaborative search systems.

Synchronous COLLABORATIVE EXPLORATORY SEARCH REAL-TIME AWARENESS AND CONTINUAL CONTEXT UPDATE CONTEXT SYSTEMS
(E.g., Nokia, Imity)
Asynchronous GROUP ASYNCHRONOUS BROWSING COLLABORATIVE FILTERING SOCIAL SEARCH WEB 2.0 WISDOM OF CROWDS
EXPLICIT IMPLICIT
Figure 1. Taxonomy of collaborative search

Synchronous, explicit search has some interesting characteristics that distinguish it from other types of interaction shown in Figure 1. There is much more emphasis on interaction, as the system has to not only communicate search results to the user, but also mediate some forms of communication and data sharing among its users. There are new algorithms that need to be invented that use inputs from multiple people to produce search results, and new evaluation metrics need to be invented that reflect the collaborative and interactive nature of the task. Finally, we need to integrate the expertise of library and information science researchers and practitioners by revisiting real-world information seeking situations with an eye for explicit, synchronous collaborative search.

Related Publications

2016
Publication Details
  • Information Processing & Management
  • Jun 11, 2016

Abstract

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Search log analysis has become a common practice to gain insights into user search behaviour, it helps gain an understanding of user needs and preferences, as well as how well a system supports such needs. Currently log analysis is typically focused on the low-level user actions, i.e. logged events such as issued queries and clicked results; and often only a selection of such events are logged and analysed. However, the types of logged events may differ widely from interface to interface, making comparison between systems difficult. Further, analysing a selection of events may lead to conclusions out of context— e.g. the statistics of observed query reformulations may be influenced by the existence of a relevance feedback component. Alternatively, in lab studies user activities can be analysed at a higher level, such as search tactics and strategies, abstracted away from detailed interface implementation. However, the required manual codings that map logged events to higher level interpretations prevent this type of analysis from going large scale. In this paper, we propose a new method for analysing search logs by (semi-)automatically identifying user search tactics from logged events, allowing large scale analysis that is comparable across search systems. We validate the efficiency and effectiveness of the proposed tactic identification method using logs of two reference search systems of different natures: a product search system and a video search system. With the identified tactics, we perform a series of novel log analyses in terms of entropy rate of user search tactic sequences, demonstrating how this type of analysis allows comparisons of user search behaviours across systems of different nature and design. This analysis provides insights not achievable with traditional log analysis.
2013
Publication Details
  • SIGIR 2013
  • Jul 28, 2013

Abstract

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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.
2010
Publication Details
  • Information Processing & Management, 46 (6), pp. 629-631
  • Nov 1, 2010

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This special issue brings together papers that describe some of the many ways that collaborative information seeking manifests itself. Some papers report on collaborative practices in a range of domains, including medical (Hertzum), legal (Attfield et al.), and online Q&A (Gazan). Others propose and evaluate models of collaborative activity (Evans and Chi; Evans et al.; Wilson and schraefel; Foley and Smeaton), and others describe systems and algorithms that support collaboration in various ways (Boydell and Smyth; Fernandez-Luna et al., Halvey et al., Morris et al.; Shah et al.).

Role-based results redistribution for collaborative information retrieval

Publication Details
  • Information Processing & Management, 46 (6), pp. 773-781
  • Nov 1, 2010

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We describe a new approach for algorithmic mediation of a collaborative search process. Unlike most approaches to collaborative IR, we are designing systems that mediate explicitly-defined synchronous collaboration among small groups of searchers with a shared information need. Such functionality is provided by first obtaining different rank-lists based on searchers' queries, fusing these rank-lists, and then splitting the combined list to distribute documents among collaborators according to their roles. For the work reported here, we consider the case of two people collaborating on a search. We assign them roles of Gatherer and Surveyor: the Gatherer is tasked with exploring highly promising information on a given topic, and the Surveyor is tasked with digging further to explore more diverse information. We demonstrate how our technique provides the Gatherer with high-precision results, and the Surveyor with information that is high in entropy.
Publication Details
  • IIiX 2010
  • Aug 18, 2010

Abstract

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Exploratory search is a difficult activity that requires iterative interaction. This iterative process helps the searcher to understand and to refine the information need. It also generates a rich set of data that can be used effectively to reflect on what has been found (and found useful). In this paper, we describe a framework for unifying transitions among various stages of exploratory search, and show how context from one stage can be applied to the next. The framework can be used both to describe existing information-seeking interactions, and as a means of generating novel ones. We illustrate the framework with examples from a session-based exploratory search system prototype that we have built.
2009
Publication Details
  • Proceedings of TRECVID 2008 Workshop
  • Mar 1, 2009

Abstract

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In 2008 FXPAL submitted results for two tasks: rushes summarization and interactive search. The rushes summarization task has been described at the ACM Multimedia workshop [1]. Interested readers are referred to that publication for details. We describe our interactive search experiments in this notebook paper.
2008
Publication Details
  • Fuji Xerox Technical Report
  • Dec 15, 2008

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We have developed an interactive video search system that allows the searcher to rapidly assess query results and easily pivot off those results to form new queries. The system is intended to maximize the use of the discriminative power of the human searcher. The typical video search scenario we consider has a single searcher with the ability to search with text and content-based queries. In this paper, we evaluate a new collaborative modification of our search system. Using our system, two or more users with a common information need search together, simultaneously. The collaborative system provides tools, user interfaces and, most importantly, algorithmically-mediated retrieval to focus, enhance and augment the team's search and communication activities. In our evaluations, algorithmic mediation improved the collaborative performance of both retrieval (allowing a team of searchers to find relevant information more efficiently and effectively), and exploration (allowing the searchers to find relevant information that cannot be found while working individually). We present analysis and conclusions from comparative evaluations of the search system.

Cerchiamo: a collaborative exploratory search tool

Publication Details
  • CSCW 2008 (Demo), San Diego, CA, ACM Press.
  • Nov 10, 2008

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We describe Cerchiamo, a collaborative exploratory search system that allows teams of searchers to explore document collections synchronously. Working with Cerchiamo, team members use independent interfaces to run queries, browse results, and make relevance judgments. The system mediates the team members' search activity by passing and reordering search results and suggested query terms based on the teams' actions. The combination of synchronous influence with independent interaction allows team members to be more effective and efficient in performing search tasks.
Publication Details
  • SIGIR 2008. (Singapore, Singapore, July 20 - 24, 2008). ACM, New York, NY, 315-322. Best Paper Award.
  • Jul 22, 2008

Abstract

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We describe a new approach to information retrieval: algorithmic mediation for intentional, synchronous collabo- rative exploratory search. Using our system, two or more users with a common information need search together, simultaneously. The collaborative system provides tools, user interfaces and, most importantly, algorithmically-mediated retrieval to focus, enhance and augment the team's search and communication activities. Collaborative search outperformed post hoc merging of similarly instrumented single user runs. Algorithmic mediation improved both collaborative search (allowing a team of searchers to nd relevant in- formation more efficiently and effectively), and exploratory search (allowing the searchers to find relevant information that cannot be found while working individually).
Publication Details
  • ACM Conf. on Image and Video Retrieval (CIVR) 2008
  • Jul 7, 2008

Abstract

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We have developed an interactive video search system that allows the searcher to rapidly assess query results and easily pivot on those results to form new queries. The system is intended to maximize the use of the discriminative power of the human searcher. This is accomplished by providing a hierarchical segmentation, streamlined interface, and redundant visual cues throughout. The typical search scenario includes a single searcher with the ability to search with text and content-based queries. In this paper, we evaluate new variations on our basic search system. In particular we test the system using only visual content-based search capabilities, and using paired searchers in a realtime collaboration. We present analysis and conclusions from these experiments.

FXPAL Collaborative Exploratory Video Search System

Publication Details
  • CIVR 2008 VideOlympics (Demo)
  • Jul 7, 2008

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This paper describes FXPAL's collaborative, exploratory interactive video search application. We introduce a new approach to information retrieval: algorithmic mediation in support of intentional, synchronous collaborative exploratory search. Using our system, two or more users with a common information need search together, simultaneously. The collaborative system provides tools, user interfaces and, most importantly, algorithmically-mediated retrieval to focus, enhance and augment the team's search and communication activities.

Collaborative Information Seeking in Electronic Environments

Publication Details
  • Information Seeking Support Systems Workshop. An Invitational Workshop Sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Available online at http://www.ils.unc.edu/ISSS/
  • Jun 26, 2008

Abstract

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Collaboration in information seeking, while common in practice, is just being recognized as an important research area. Several studies have documented various collaboration strategies that people have adopted (and adapted), and some initial systems have been built. This field is in its infancy, however. We need to understand which real-world tasks are best suited for collaborative work. We need to extend models of information seeking to accommodate explicit and implicit collaboration. We need to invent a suite of algorithms to mediate search activities. We need to devise evaluation metrics that take into account multiple people's contributions to search.

1st International Workshop on Collaborative Information Retrieval

Publication Details
  • JCDL 2008
  • Jun 20, 2008

Abstract

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Explicit support for collaboration is becoming increasingly important for certain kinds of collection-building activities in digital libraries. In the last few years, several research groups have also pursued various issues related to collaboration during search [4][5][6]. We can represent collaboration in search on two dimensions - synchrony and intent. Asynchronous collaboration means that people are not working on the same problem simultaneously; implicit collaboration occurs when the system uses information from others' use of the system to inform new searches, but does not guarantee consistency of search goals. In this workshop, we are concerned with the top-left quadrant of Figure 1 that represents small groups of people working toward a common goal at the same time. These synchronous, explicit collaborations could occur amongst remotely situated users, each with their own computers, or amongst a co-located group sharing devices; these spatial configurations add yet another dimension to be considered when designing collaborative search systems.
Publication Details
  • 1st International Workshop on Collaborative Information Retrieval. JCDL 2008.
  • Jun 20, 2008

Abstract

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People can help other people find information in networked information seeking environments. Recently, many such systems and algorithms have proliferated in industry and in academia. Unfortunately, it is difficult to compare the systems in meaningful ways because they often define collaboration in different ways. In this paper, we propose a model of possible kinds of collaboration, and illustrate it with examples from literature. The model contains four dimensions: intent, concurrency, depth and location. This model can be used to classify existing systems and to suggest possible opportunities for design in this space.
Publication Details
  • TRECVid 2007
  • Mar 1, 2008

Abstract

Close
In 2007 FXPAL submitted results for two tasks: rushes summarization and interactive search. The rushes summarization task has been described at the ACM Multimedia workshop. Interested readers are referred to that publication for details. We describe our interactive search experiments in this notebook paper.
2007

Collaborative Exploratory Search

Publication Details
  • HCIR 2007, Boston, Massachusetts (HCIR = Human Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval)
  • Nov 2, 2007

Abstract

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We propose to mitigate the deficiencies of correlated search with collaborative search, that is, search in which a small group of people shares a common information need and actively (and synchronously) collaborates to achieve it. Furthermore, we propose a system architecture that mediates search activity of multiple people by combining their inputs and by specializing results delivered to them to take advantage of their skills and knowledge.