Improving the retrieval effectiveness of very short queries

Carolyn J. Crouch, Donald B. Crouch, Qingyan Chen, Steven J Holtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This paper describes an automatic approach designed to improve the retrieval effectiveness of very short queries such as those used in web searching. The method is based on the observation that stemming, which is designed to maximize recall, often results in depressed precision. Our approach is based on pseudo-feedback and attempts to increase the number of relevant documents in the pseudo-relevant set by reranking those documents based on the presence of unstemmed query terms in the document text. The original experiments underlying this work were carried out using Smart 11.0 and the lnc.ltc weighting scheme on three sets of documents from the TREC collection with corresponding TREC (title only) topics as queries. (The average length of these queries after stoplisting ranges from 2.4 to 4.5 terms.) Results, evaluated in terms of P@20 and non-interpolated average precision, showed clearly that pseudo-feedback (PF) based on this approach was effective in increasing the number of relevant documents in the top ranks. Subsequent experiments, performed on the same data sets using Smart 13.0 and the improved Lnu.ltu weighting scheme, indicate that these results hold up even over the much higher baseline provided by the new weights. Query drift analysis presents a more detailed picture of the improvements produced by this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-36
Number of pages36
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2002

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Pseudo-feedback
  • Query drift
  • Reranking
  • TREC
  • Very short queries

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