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Dagobert Soergel
College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Important problems in information retrieval

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Draft for comment

August 1989

(Most of the work on this paper was done during the author's stays as visiting professor at the Graduate Library School, University of Chicago)

This paper gives a panoramic overview of problems that arise in the design of information retrieval systems and in information retrieval research and puts the individual problems in perspective. It can serve as a framework for research and for curriculum development. I hope to give the experienced reader some new perspectives and relationships not commonly thought about, and to the newcomer a sense of the spirit of the field.

Problem areas 1 and 2 deal with the user, her problems, information needs, and information processing behavior. Problem areas 3 - 5 deal with the design of systems that can produce helpful information packages. Problem areas 6 and 7 are concerned with a closer coupling between information systems and users' daily work. Finally, problem area 8 returns to the user: Did the information provided have the desired effect in terms of improved task performance?

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