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Machine translation-supported cross-language information retrieval for a consumer health resource.

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National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through its National Library of Medicine, developed to provide the public with easy access to information on clinical trials on a wide range of conditions or diseases. Only English language information retrieval is currently supported. Given the growing number of Spanish speakers in the U.S. and their increasing use of the Web, we anticipate a significant increase in Spanish-speaking users. This study compares the effectiveness of two common cross-language information retrieval methods using machine translation, query translation versus document translation, using a subset of genuine user queries from Preliminary results conducted with the search engine show that in our environment, query translation is statistically significantly better than document translation. We discuss possible reasons for this result and we conclude with suggestions for future work.

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