Strategies for Searching Online Finding Aids: A Retrieval Experiment
PublisherAssociation of Canadian Archivists
The archival community has recently been increasing its efforts to establish a presence on the World Wide Web; one aspect of this of particular interest is the move to make finding aids available online. For example, the emerging Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard is one approach to this effort. This article is a report of a retrieval experiment, using finding aids available through the web sites at the San Diego and Berkeley campuses of the University of California, that was designed to test various methods of searching online archival descriptions. The precision and recall measures of four searching methods were compared: searching entire finding aids, searching introductory material to finding aids, searching introductory material to finding aids enhanced by controlled vocabulary terms, and searching collection-level catalogue records. As expected from similar studies in library and information science, recall increased and precision decreased as the length of the description increased. Significantly, however, the decrease in precision was sharper than the corresponding increase in recall, and the retrieval success of summary descriptions (introductory material and catalogue records) was higher than might have been expected. Implications of these findings, and suggestions for further research, are discussed.
CitationTim Hutchinson, 1997. Strategies for Searching Online Finding Aids: A Retrieval Experiment. Archivaria, 44 (Fall 1997): 72-101; errata: Archivaria, 45 (Spring 1998): 4.
archival finding aids
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