User evaluation of searchling: A visual interface for bilingual digital libraries

Ali Shiri, Stan Ruecker, Matt Bouchard, Amy Stafford, Paras Mehta, Karl Anvik, Ximena Rossello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - This paper seeks to describe a qualitative user study of Searchling - an experimental visual interface that allows users to leverage a bilingual thesaurus for query formulation and enhancement. Design/methodology/ approach - The design of Searchling is based on theories of thesaurus-based interface design, combined with the principles of rich-prospect browsing. The Searchling interface provides the user with three working spaces on one screen: the Thesaurus space, Query space, and Document space. A total of 15 graduate and faculty researchers at the University of Alberta, were interviewed, who carried out three structured tasks in a thinkaloud protocol, with simultaneous audio recording and screen capture. Findings - The participants identified a number of significant advantages to the researchers provided by Searchling, including the value of having an interface that could help with identifying search terms, suggesting preferred terms, and giving bilingual search support. They also suggested areas for future improvement, primarily related to the assumption that common knowledge of thesauri would be sufficient to make the various features clear, if they were described using standard vocabulary from the thesaurus field. Practical implications - The interface can be implemented as an operational user interface to support users' exploratory and browsing behaviours. Originality/value - The paper describes a new visual way of incorporating a thesaurus into a user interface with the ability of browsing, querying and examining the results all at the same time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-89
Number of pages19
JournalElectronic Library
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Digital libraries
  • Information retrieval

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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