Information retrieval: Solving mismatching vocabulary in closed document collections

  • Kyle Andrew Fitzgerald Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Andre Charles de la Harpe Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Corrie Susanna Uys Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Andrew John Bytheway University of Western Cape


During a search, phrase-terms expressed in queries are presented to an information retrieval system (IRS) to find documents relevant to a topic. The IRS makes relevance judgements by attempting to match vocabulary in queries to documents. If there is a mismatch, the problem of vocabulary mismatch occurs. The aim is to examine ways of searching for documents more effectively, in order to minimise mismatches. A further aim is to understand the mechanisms of, and the differences between, human and machine-assisted, retrieval. The objective of this study was to determine whether IRS-H (an IRS using the hybrid indexing method) and human participants agree or disagree on relevancy judgments, and whether the problem of mismatching vocabulary can be solved. A collection of eighty research documents and sixty-five phrase-terms were presented to (i) IRS-H and four participants in Test 1, and (ii) IRS-H and one participant (aided by search software) in Test 2. Statistical analysis was performed using the Kappa coefficient. IRS-H and the four participants’ judgements disagreed. IRS-H and the participant aided by search software judgments did agree. IRS-H solves the problem of mismatching vocabulary between a query and a document.
Research Articles