Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Yang-Woo, Kim
Title: Typology of Ambiguity on Representation of Information Needs.
Publication Full: Reference & User Services Quarterly
Year: 2014 Volume: 53 Issue: 4
Start Page: 313 Other Pages: 325
Descriptors: Information Needs, Electronic Reference, Virtual Reference
The first part of the paper develops a framework explaining the need to disambiguate user inquiries to improve information systems and services. Theoretical grounds for this framework are explained for how questions are categorized on the basis of their ambiguity type, while the relevant literature is reviewed including both the traditional and the digital information service environment. The second part of the paper categorizes a set of questions (400 Qs), originally collected for TREC 8 and 9 QA Tracks, according to ambiguity type. Three types and two dimensions of ambiguity are identified by the author with the acceptable levels of inter-coder agreements presented. The last part of the paper discusses three aspects of information systems and services, mainly related to user-system and user-information intermediary (i.e., a reference librarian) interactions, on the basis of the results of categorization. Those three aspects include (1) increasing user input to make initial queries less ambiguous, (2) reducing search space by disambiguating queries, and (3) clustering search results based on the characteristics of prospective answers. In each of the three aspects, discussions on the evolving environments of virtual reference services were presented.
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