Leveraging user query sessions to improve searching of medical literature.

Shiwen Cheng, Vagelis Hristidis, Michael Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Published reports about searching medical literature do not refer to leveraging the query context, as expressed by previous queries in a session. We aimed to assess novel strategies for context-aware searching, hypothesizing that this would be better than baseline. Building upon methods using term frequency-inverse document frequency, we added extensions such as a function incorporating search results and terms of previous queries, with higher weights for more recent queries. Among 60 medical students generating queries against the TREC 9 benchmark dataset, we assessed recall and mean average precision. For difficult queries, we achieved improvement (27%) in average precision over baseline. Improvements in recall were also seen. Our methods outperformed baseline by 4% to 14% on average. Furthermore, the effectiveness of context-aware search was greater for longer query sessions, which are typically more challenging. In conclusion, leveraging the previous queries in a session improved overall search quality with this biomedical database.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-223
Number of pages10
JournalAMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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