Querium

Investigative enterprise search

We are exploring the design space of information retrieval interfaces and algorithms to support exploratory, long-running, recall-oriented information needs.

This kind of information seeking is typically performed by academic researchers, patent agents, medical and pharmaceutical researchers, intelligence analysts, etc. It’s characterized by many queries run by one or more people. It is an on-going activity that spans many hours, days, or even longer periods of time. While typical web-based information retrieval systems focus on high-precision, known-item types of searches, we are interested in exploring more complex and demanding information retrieval tasks.

We can approximate a searcher’s actions with a flow chart shown on the right. Information seeking is an iterative process that consists of many steps; effective interfaces will support transitions among these steps with minimum extra effort required of the user. The more seamless the interactions, the more attention searchers can devote to the search task rather than to the search tool.

To support these kinds of interactions, we are building interfaces and algorithms that allow searchers to explore collections in a variety of ways. We’ve started with Querium, a session-based search framework that keeps track of queries, documents, and other activities that occur in a search session to help people reflect on what they have done and to allow them to pivot among documents, queries, and terms to discover new information. Querium can be configured to use a range of collections, including DocuBrowse, and the TREC newspaper corpus. Queruim uses Reverted Indexing to find documents similar to documents that a user has identified as useful.

Querium allows users to perform the following actions:

  • Search based on keywords
  • Search based on groups of one or more documents
  • Fuse results from multiple queries into a single list
  • Sort and filter results based on document metadata and on (retrieval) process metadata
  • Integrate inputs from multiple searchers working on a shared information need to implement collaborative search

More details about the approach can be found in this slide deck which was presented at the IIiX 2010 conference.

Interactive Information Seeking via Selective Application of Contextual Knowledge

Technical Contact

Related Publications

2013
Publication Details
  • EuroHCIR 2013
  • Aug 1, 2013

Abstract

Close
People often use more than one query when searching for information; they also revisit search results to re-find information. These tasks are not well-supported by search interfaces and web browsers. We designed and built a Chrome browser extension that helps people manage their ongoing information seeking. The extension combines document and process metadata into an interactive representation of the retrieved documents that can be used for sense-making, for navigation, and for re-finding documents.
2012
Publication Details
  • IIiX 2012
  • Aug 21, 2012

Abstract

Close
Exploratory search activities tend to span multiple sessions and involve finding, analyzing and evaluating information and collab-orating with others. Typical search systems, on the other hand, are designed to support a single searcher, precision-oriented search tasks. We describe a search interface and system design of a multi-session exploratory search system, discuss design challenges en-countered, and chronicle the evolution of our design. Our design describes novel displays for visualizing retrieval history infor-mation, and introduces ambient displays and persuasive elements to interactive information retrieval.

Designing a tool for exploratory information seeking

Publication Details
  • CHI 2012
  • May 5, 2012

Abstract

Close
In this paper we describe our on-going design process in building a search system designed to support people's multi-session exploratory search tasks. The system, called Querium, allows people to run queries and to examine results as do conventional search engines, but it also integrates a sophisticated search history that helps people make sense of their search activity over time. Information seeking is a cognitively demanding process that can benefit from many kinds of information, if that information is presented appropriately. Our design process has been focusing on creating displays that facilitate on-going sense-making while keeping the interaction efficient, fluid, and enjoyable.

Querium: A Session-Based Collaborative Search System

Publication Details
  • European Conference on Information Retrieval 2012
  • Apr 1, 2012

Abstract

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People's information-seeking can span multiple sessions, and can be collaborative in nature. Existing commercial offerings do not effectively support searchers to share, save, collaborate or revisit their information. In this demo paper we present Querium: a novel session-based collaborative search system that lets users search, share, resume and collaborate with other users. Querium provides a number of novel search features in a collaborative setting, including relevance feedback, query fusion, faceted search, and search histories
2011

Session-based search with Querium

Publication Details
  • HCIR 2011
  • Oct 20, 2011

Abstract

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We illustrate the use of Querium, a novel search system designed to support people's collaborative and multi-session search tasks, in the context of the HCIR 2011 Search Challenge. This report demonstrates how a Querium's interface and search engine can be used to search for documents in an open-ended, exploratory task. We illustrate the use of relevance feedback, faceted search, query fusion, and the search history, as well as commenting and overview functions.

Designing for Collaboration in Information Seeking

Publication Details
  • HCIR 2011
  • Oct 19, 2011

Abstract

Close
Information seeking is often a collaborative activity that can take can take many forms; in this paper we focus on explicit, intentional collaboration of small and explore a range of design decisions that should be considered when building Human-Computer Information Retrieval (HCIR) tools that support collaboration. In particular, we are interested in exploring the interplay between algorithmic mediation of collaboration and the mediated communication among team members. We argue that certain characteristics of the group's information need call for different design decisions.