Knowledge-based intermediary system for information retrieval: Requirements specification

Eero Sormunen, Riitta Nurminen, Matti Hämäläinen, Mikko Hiirsalmi

Research output: Book/ReportReport


Online database searching has traditionally been a task of professional intermediaries. Unstandardized command languages and database structures cause problems that are severe for a casual searcher. As the amount of databases and retrieval systems increases continuously, the situation is becoming more diffkult even for the professionals. Online servkes and database producers have not been active in standardizing their systems. Consequently, independent search aid programs and servkes have to be developed. This report lists the requirements for a prototype intermediary system to be developed in the project "Knowledge-Based Intermediary System for Information Retrievat - KISIR". The functional requirements are based on an analysis of the tasks of a standard search. This includes database selection, search profile formulation, search execution, evaluation of results, and editing of the search profile. The support facilities needed by different types of users in each task are outlined. The prototype is intented to offer access to all major Finnish online servkes. It will offer an unified interface to the servkes and help the user to prepare the search profile and conduct the search. Generality and expansibility of the intermediary system are considered to be important features, because the user should be able to specify new retrieval systems, databases and user specifk settings to the intermediary system. The intermediary system to be developed in the KISIR project is based on a modeless user interface. This means that the system does not have separate modes for skilled and unskilled users, but has a variety of tools of whkh the user can select the ones he or she finds useful. For instance, the user may browse various information sources (e.g. data base descriptions), edit search profile or text file containing retrieved records, view search session history, or save search profiles to archives. The intermediary system converts the search profiles the user has formulated using the system to the correct command syntax of target systems. Automatk features for search term truncation and profile reformulation are also available. The bask idea of the intermediary system is that the user needs to know only what to search; the intermediary system takes care of how to search.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
ISBN (Print)951-38-3021-7
Publication statusPublished - 1987
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

Publication series

SeriesValtion teknillinen tutkimuskeskus. Tiedotteita


  • information services
  • information retrieval
  • artificial intelligence
  • user interfaces
  • information systems


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