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Boolean vs. Semantic Search Interfaces: Which Work Better? Brandy E. King, MLIS Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH) Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health How Much Media Do Kids Use in an Average Day?

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boolean vs semantic search interfaces which work better

Boolean vs. Semantic Search Interfaces: Which Work Better?

Brandy E. King, MLIS

Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH)

Children’s Hospital Boston,

Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health

how much media do kids use in an average day3
How Much Media Do Kids Use in an Average Day?

Today, the American child between

the ages of 8 and 18 years spends

6 hours and 21 minutes

of every day using media

If you include the time they spend media multitasking,

their total daily exposure rises to

8 hours and 33 minutes

More time than they spend

in school or with parents

history of media effects research
Types of Media

Television

Advertising

Video Games

Music Lyrics

Music Videos

Internet

Cell Phones

Researched Outcomes

Violence

Sexual Behavior

Commercialization

Alcohol

Tobacco

Obesity

Fear

History of Media Effects Research
center on media child health mission
Center on Media & Child Health Mission

To advance scientific research,

clinical interventions, and education

on the subject of media and their effects,

positive and negative,

on the physical, mental, and social health

of children and adolescents

cmch database of research
CMCH Database of Research
  • To bring together all existing research on the effects of media on child health
  • To be searchable by researchers from any discipline
  • To be searchable by novice users from the general public
challenges
Challenges
  • Multiple Disciplines
  • Multiple Vocabularies
  • Multiple Audiences
  • with varying levels of search experience
search engine
Search Engine

Needed a search mechanism to translate:

  • across disciplines
  • across vocabularies
  • across audiences

Semantic Search of CMCH Database

what is an ontology10
What IS an Ontology?

An approved vocabulary containing

defined concepts and the

describable relationships between them

what is an ontology11
What IS an Ontology?

Dictionary

Concepts and their definitions

= Definition

Concept

what is an ontology12
What IS an Ontology?

Thesaurus

Concepts and their synonymous relationships

=

=

Concept

Concept

Concept

what is an ontology13
What IS an Ontology?

Taxonomy

Concepts arranged in hierarchical relationships

Concept

Concept

Concept

what is an ontology14
What IS an Ontology?

Ontology

Concepts connected to each other

through a variety of relationships

Concept

Concept

Concept

Concept

Concept

Concept

Concept

what is an ontology15
What IS an Ontology?

Over 150 possible relationships:

brought_about_by diagnosed_by

has_ingredient result_of

spatially_related_to traversed_by

Most common relationship

Is_A = is a type of

Human Is_A Mammal

ontology entry example
Ontology Entry Example

Instant Messaging

what s the difference
What’s the Difference?

Semantic Search

Searches for

ideas

Relies on the

ontology

Boolean Search

Searches for

words

Relies on the

searcher

vs.

so which works better
So Which Works Better?
  • Methodology
  • Chose 5 reference questions I’d been asked in the past year
so which works better20
So Which Works Better?
  • Methodology
  • Chose 5 reference questions I’d been asked in the past year
  • Performed an “ideal” search, thoroughly examining abstracts. Made a list of the citations that best answered the question.
so which works better21
So Which Works Better?
  • Methodology
  • Chose 5 reference questions I’d been asked in the past year
  • Performed an “ideal” search, thoroughly examining abstracts. Made a list of the citations that best answered the question.
  • Performed a semantic search using the natural language query. Made a list of the results.
so which works better22
So Which Works Better?
  • Methodology
  • Chose 5 reference questions I’d been asked in the past year
  • Performed an “ideal” search, thoroughly examining abstracts. Made a list of the citations that best answered the question.
  • Performed a semantic search using the natural language query. Made a list of the results.
  • Performed a Boolean search constructing a search statement from the question. Made a list of the results.
so which works better23
So Which Works Better?

Example

Semantic query: Does playing violent video games cause increased aggression?

Boolean query: Keyword Group = Violence (Media Content) AND Keyword Group = Video Games AND Keyword Group = Aggression

so which works better24
So Which Works Better?

Results

The Boolean search was consistently more

precise than the semantic search

BUT

The semantic search picked up results

missed through human error

in cataloging and searching

so which works better25
So Which Works Better?

Example

Semantic query: How do music lyrics impact adolescents?

so which works better26
So Which Works Better?

Example

Semantic query: How do music lyrics impact adolescents?

Boolean query: Keyword Group = Lyrics

AND

Age Group = Adolescents

so which works better27
So Which Works Better?

Boolean search missed this article:

Lacourse, E., et al (2001). Heavy metal music and adolescent suicidal risk.

so which works better28
So Which Works Better?

Boolean search missed this article:

Lacourse, E., et al (2001). Heavy metal music and adolescent suicidal risk.

Semantic search found it:

Celebrities

Musicians

Rock Music

Music

Actors

Actresses

Rap Music

consists_of

Country Music

Lyrics

so which works better29
So Which Works Better?

Boolean search missed this article:

  • Anderson, C. A., et al (2003). Exposure to violent media: The effects of
    • songs with violent lyrics on aggressive thoughts and feelings.
so which works better30
So Which Works Better?

Boolean search missed this article:

  • Anderson, C. A., et al (2003). Exposure to violent media: The effects of
    • songs with violent lyrics on aggressive thoughts and feelings.

Semantic search found it:

Teenagers

Young Adults

Teens

Adolescents

Adults

Preteens

Tweens

College

Students

Conceptually_related_to

so which works better31
So Which Works Better?

Conclusions

  • Boolean search is more consistently precise than a semantic search
  • Semantic search can make up for human error in cataloging and searching
  • Researchers aiming for comprehensive searching should use a combination of both search methods
so what does this mean for you
So What Does This Mean for You?
  • If your patrons are novice searchers or members of the general public, you might consider adding a semantic search interface if you have the option.
so what does this mean for you33
So What Does This Mean for You?
  • If your patrons are novice searchers or members of the general public, you might consider adding a semantic search interface if you have the option.
  • If your patrons are advanced searchers or need comprehensive searches, encourage them to use both types of search when available.
so what does this mean for you34
So What Does This Mean for You?
  • If your patrons are novice searchers or members of the general public, you might consider adding a semantic search interface if you have the option.
  • If your patrons are advanced searchers or need comprehensive searches, encourage them to use both types of search when available.
  • If you come across a database or website with semantic search available, use it to find information you might have missed in your own search.
so what does this mean for you35
So What Does This Mean for You?
  • If your patrons are novice searchers or members of the general public, you might consider adding a semantic search interface if you have the option.
  • If your patrons are advanced searchers or need comprehensive searches, encourage them to use both types of search when available.
  • If you come across a database or website with semantic search available, use it to find information you might have missed in your own search.
  • If you have the opportunity to build an ontology, make it as expressive as possible. The relationships in the ontology can make up for human error in searching or cataloging.