Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



DeeAnn Allison

Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in portal: Libraries and the Academy, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2002), pp. 145–153. Copyright © 2002 by The Johns Hopkins University Press. Used by permission.


This study compares searches in two different keyword indexes with similar content. Search results are dependent on the quality of the search strategy, the search engine execution, and the content the search is run against. This study examines the degree to which changing the search engine execution with only slight changes in index content would have on search results. The results indicate that search engine execution has a dramatic impact on the number of matches for most searches. Analysis also reveals that user search strategy did not change even though the way the search engine executes the search changed dramatically and new features and commands that they could use to refine their searches were added. Users appear to be ignoring search help screens and continue to do basic searches that negatively affect the number of relevant matches. Providing more features for constructing better searches will not necessarily result in better search strategy.