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Searchers' assessments of task complexity for web searching

Bell, David J. and Ruthven, Ian (2004) Searchers' assessments of task complexity for web searching. In: Advances in information retrieval. Lecture Notes in Computer Science . Springer-Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg, pp. 57-71. ISBN 3540213821

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The complexity of search tasks has been shown to be an important factor in searchers' ability to find relevant information and their satisfaction with the performance of search engines. In user evaluations of search engines an understanding of how task complexity affects search behaviour is important to properly understand the results of an evaluation. In this paper we examine the issue of search task complexity for the purposes of evaluation. In particular we concentrate on the searchers' ability to recognise the internal complexity of search tasks, how complexity is affected by task design, and how complexity affects the success of searching.