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Inf Retr Boston. 2009;12(1):69-80.

Evaluation of Query Expansion Using MeSH in PubMed.

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  • 1National Center for Biotechnology Information, NCBI, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD, 20894 USA, E-mail: luzh@ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.


This paper investigates the effectiveness of using MeSH(®) in PubMed through its automatic query expansion process: Automatic Term Mapping (ATM). We run Boolean searches based on a collection of 64 topics and about 160,000 MEDLINE(®) citations used in the 2006 and 2007 TREC Genomics Tracks. For each topic, we first automatically construct a query by selecting keywords from the question. Next, each query is expanded by ATM, which assigns different search tags to terms in the query. Three search tags: [MeSH Terms], [Text Words], and [All Fields] are chosen to be studied after expansion because they all make use of the MeSH field of indexed MEDLINE citations. Furthermore, we characterize the two different mechanisms by which the MeSH field is used. Retrieval results using MeSH after expansion are compared to those solely based on the words in MEDLINE title and abstracts. The aggregate retrieval performance is assessed using both F-measure and mean rank precision. Experimental results suggest that query expansion using MeSH in PubMed can generally improve retrieval performance, but the improvement may not affect end PubMed users in realistic situations.

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