A comparison of unimodal and multimodal models for implicit detection of relevance in interactive IR

Roberto González-Ibáñez, Aileen Esparza-Villamán, Juan Carlos Vargas-Godoy, Chirag Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Implicit detection of relevance has been approached by many during the last decade. From the use of individual measures to the use of multiple features from different sources (multimodality), studies have shown the feasibility to automatically detect whether a document is relevant. Despite promising results, it is not clear yet to what extent multimodality constitutes an effective approach compared to unimodality. In this article, we hypothesize that it is possible to build unimodal models capable of outperforming multimodal models in the detection of perceived relevance. To test this hypothesis, we conducted three experiments to compare unimodal and multimodal classification models built using a combination of 24 features. Our classification experiments showed that a univariate unimodal model based on the left-click feature supports our hypothesis. On the other hand, our prediction experiment suggests that multimodality slightly improves early classification compared to the best unimodal models. Based on our results, we argue that the feasibility for practical applications of state-of-the-art multimodal approaches may be strongly constrained by technology, cultural, ethical, and legal aspects, in which case unimodality may offer a better alternative today for supporting relevance detection in interactive information retrieval systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1223-1235
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences


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