Conference Proceedings

What We Talk About When We Talk About Information Retrieval

Justin Zobel

ACM SIGIR Forum | Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) | Published : 2018


The field of information retrieval (IR) is typically defined, in a variety of different wordings, as concerned with retrieval of documents that satisfy an information need. In this essay, I argue that these definitions are inaccurate, fail to capture major threads of activity in IR research, and in particular are flawed because they omit the element of human participation in the retrieval process. After outlining some perspectives to consider in formulating better definitions, I offer an option, as an illustration of how the field might be presented; this option is centred on the purpose of IR, namely, support of cognition. There is an obvious need for a clear statement of the purpose of the..

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