Evaluating the impact of MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) terms on different types of searchers

Ying Hsang Liu, Nina Wacholder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


To what extent do MeSH terms improve search effectiveness for different kinds of users? We observed four different kinds of information seekers using an experimental information retrieval system: (1) search novices; (2) domain experts; (3) search experts and (4) medical librarians. Participants searched using either a version of the system in which MeSH terms were displayed or another version in which they had to formulate their own terms. The information needs were a subset of the relatively difficult topics originally created for the Text REtrieval Conference (TREC). Effectiveness of retrieval was based on the relevance judgments provided by TREC. The results of the study provide experimental evidence of the usefulness of MeSH terms and further identify the significant relationship between the user characteristics of domain knowledge and search training and the search performance in an interactive search environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-870
Number of pages20
JournalInformation Processing and Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Media Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Library and Information Sciences


  • Controlled vocabulary
  • Domain knowledge
  • Information retrieval evaluation
  • Medical Subject Headings
  • User characteristics


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating the impact of MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) terms on different types of searchers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this