User-centered Non-factoid Answer Retrieval

Published in SIGIR, 2022

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In this research, we aim to examine the assumptions made about users when searching for non-factoid answers using search engines. That is, the way they approach non-factoid question-answering tasks, the language they use to express their questions, the variability in their queries and their behavior towards the provided answers. The investigation will also examine the extent to which these neglected factors affect retrieval performance and potentially highlight the importance of building more realistic methodologies and test collections that capture the real nature of this task. Through our preliminary work, we have begun to explore the characteristics of non-factoid question-answering queries and investigate query variability and their impact on modern retrieval models. Our preliminary results demonstrate notable differences between non-factoid questions sampled from a large query log and those used in QA datasets. In addition, our results demonstrate a profound effect of query variability on retrieval consistency, indicating a potential impact on retrieval performance that is worth studying. We highlight the importance of understanding user behaviour while searching for non-factoid answers, specifically the way they behave in response to receiving an answer. This should advance our understanding of the support users require across different types of non-factoid questions and inform the design of interaction models that support learning and encourage exploring.


If you find this paper useful, please cite it using the following BibTeX:

author = {Alaofi, Marwah},
title = {User-Centered Non-Factoid Answer Retrieval},
year = {2022},
isbn = {9781450387323},
publisher = {Association for Computing Machinery},
address = {New York, NY, USA},
url = {},
doi = {10.1145/3477495.3531689},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 45th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval},
pages = {3501},
numpages = {1},
keywords = {query formulation, non-factoid question-answering, user behaviour},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
series = {SIGIR '22}