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Developments in searching

At the latest Enterprise Search Europe meeting, three priorities for the development of searching were suggested.

The consensus is that, although many search engines are falling short of locating the focussed information required by commercial and other organisations, there is little that the user can do other than to develop improved methods of evaluating results. Elaine Toms, Professor of Information Science at the University of Sheffield, suggested the need for systematic evaluation — that is, designing a set of criteria and applying them rigorously to the sources retrieved.

From discussions in the Knowlead Consulting and Training workshops on web searching, it is evident that few participants are confident in their abilities to evaluate sources and fewer still have given serious thought to the need.

Essentially, evaluation strategies should be considered alongside the development of search statements: the one is a reflection of the other and should take account of any limits one wishes to place on the search. Knowlead Consulting and Training will continue to include evaluation in its web workshops and will, moreover, highlight the need for, and the means of constructing, suitable evaluation strategies.

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