Evaluation of Thesaurus Enhanced Search Systems



Evaluation of Retrieval, BHI


The first search that I did in the thesaurus was for the term 'art history'. As this is a multi-word term I could not search the rotated display, so I decided to use the hierarchical display first, then the alphabetical to see the difference in results.

The specific term was shown immediately below the search box. The top half of the screen remained the same throughout the time in the thesaurus. The term has some relationships (UF Art Historians, BT Historians, RT Art Criticism), but not many. If I were trying to decide how the art world connects, or to find a specific type of criticism this would not be helpful. 'Art' itself is not even listed as a related term. Trying this search through the alphabetical display generated better results, but only those that began with the word 'art'. The term 'art historians' does not have a selection box beside it since it is a non-preferred term. there is a UF notation under the 'art history' hierarchical display on the previous page. There are no notations anywhere within the thesaurus about how many results are indexed with those terms.

Moving from the thesaurus to the database the descriptors are part of the main record of each article. Usually they are not that prominent and are on the full record. I decided to see what would happen if I used the database search to look for 'art historians' as a descriptor. The answer was that there was no automatic reference to the thesaurus and there were articles that were indexed under the non-preferred term, but not since 2003. This brings up the question of why there are not scope notes. From both an indexer's and a searcher's points of view it would be good to know that while the term was not preferred this was a fairly recent development. Once in the results section there is no link back to the thesaurus except to start over at the beginning. It would be interesting to have the descriptors linked back to the thesaurus so that the searcher could check if there was a related term that fit their goals better.


Contact Author
School of Library and Information Studies - University of Alberta