Beale et al., 2014 – “Choosing and using methodological search filters: searchers’ views”
Search filtering, though simple compared to the multitude of data-perusing techniques, is both a powerful and – according to Beale et al. – already widely used skill among information specialists. Their data, including more than 15 interviews and 90 questionnaires, seems to encourage further and more elaborate study into the importance of and theory behind filtering methods and archetypes.
Nearly all participants in the aforementioned claimed to use search filters, and roughly half claimed to amend published filters to suit their specific needs – suggesting that not only is filtering a widespread practice, but one understood and applied in depth by a multitude of information specialists.
Beale et al. make particular note of the difference between filters written for high-precision searches versus those written for high-sensitivity applications. The struggle between comprehensiveness and relevance is a timeless one for any field which relies on sorted information, and the art of filtering it by string queries is no exception. Nearly all participants in the authors’ study claim to use different search filters based on whether precision or sensitivity was most immediate to their investigation, suggesting that users of such techniques are far from oblivious to that struggle.
Insofar as improving the practical applications of search filtering, participants suggested that the explanations and terminology for them ought be made less technically obscure – a very reasonable perspective for any poor soul who has ever attempted to make a search by regular expressions or decode the symbols and keywords in a particularly elaborate Google query. Likewise, there appears to be much interest from this study in methods for validating the performance of given filters and understanding, as well as in developing meaningful result rating systems.