A survey on the use of relevance feedback for information access systems

Ian Ruthven, Mounia Lalmas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

266 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Users of online search engines often find it difficult to express their need for information in the form of a query. However, if the user can identify examples of the kind of documents they require then they can employ a technique known as relevance feedback. Relevance feedback covers a range of techniques intended to improve a user's query and facilitate retrieval of information relevant to a user's information need. In this paper we survey relevance feedback techniques. We study both automatic techniques, in which the system modifies the user's query, and interactive techniques, in which the user has control over query modification. We also consider specific interfaces to relevance feedback systems and characteristics of searchers that can affect the use and success of relevance feedback systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-145
Number of pages50
JournalKnowledge Engineering Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003


  • relevance feedback
  • information access systems
  • databases

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