Exploring the Effect of Query Translation when Searching Cross-Language

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A usability study of Clarity, a cross language information retrieval system for rare languages, is presented. Clarity aims at investigating CLIR for so-called low-density languages, those with few translation resources. The usability study explored two different levels of feedback and control over the query translation mechanism. Techniques like word-by-word translation of title and keywords were also tested. Although it would appear that a greater control over query translation enables users to retrieve more relevant documents a great difference among participants, topics, and tasks was discovered. Indeed the user engagement with the searching task is extremely subjective and variable, thus affecting the homogeneity of the results and preventing any statistical validity. A revision of the current evaluation schema is important to get a better understanding of user-CLIR interaction and some issues on different ways of measuring user’s performance are outlined in this perspective.