Purpose – Access to related information is a key requirement for exploratory search. The purpose of this research is to understand where related information may be found and how it may be explored by users. Design/methodology/approach – Earlier research provides sufficient evidence that web graph neighborhoods of returned search results may contain documents related to users' intended search topic. However, in the literature, no interface mechanisms have been presented to enable exploration of these neighborhoods by users. Based on a modified web graph, this paper proposes tools and methods for displaying and exploring the graph neighborhood of any selected item in the search results list. Important issues that arise when implementing such an exploration model are discussed and utility of the proposed system is evaluated with user experiments. Findings – In user experiments first, information related to intended search topic was often found in the web neighborhood of search results; second, exploring these graph neighborhoods with the proposed tools improved users' ability to reach the information they sought. Research limitations/implications – The test participants are computer science graduate students. Their skills may not be representative of the broad user population. Originality/value – The lessons learned from this research point to a potentially fruitful direction for designing new search engine interfaces that support exploratory search.
International Journal of Web Information Systems – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 21, 2011
Keywords: Exploratory search; User interfaces; Search engines; World Wide Web; Information retrieval; Internet