Custom interfaces for advanced queries in search engines

Paper proposing an experimental "advanced search" approach. Published in the proceedings of Aslib, The Association for Information Management. Full text is only available to subscribers of Aslib Proceedings.

By Mike Thelwall, Ray Binns, Gareth Harries, Teresa Page-Kennedy, Liz Price and David Wilkinson,
School of Computing and Information Technology, University of Wolverhampton, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1SB, UK

Those seeking information from the Internet often start from a search engine, using either its organised directory structure or its text query facility. In response to the difficulty in identifying the most relevant pages for some information needs, many search engines offer Boolean text matching and some, including Google, AltaVista and HotBot, offer the facility to integrate additional information into a more advanced request. Amongst web users, however, it is known that the employment of complex enquiries is far from universal, with very short queries being the norm. It is demonstrated that the gap between the provision of advanced search facilities and their use can be bridged, for specific information needs, by the construction of a simple interface in the form of a website that automatically formulates the necessary requests. It is argued that this kind of resource, perhaps employing additional knowledge domain specific information, is one that could be useful for websites or portals of common interest groups. The approach is illustrated by a website that enables a user to search the individual websites of university level institutions in European Union associated countries.