A major problem for information retrieval research in the past three decades has been methodology, even though some progress has been made in obtaining useful results from methodologically sound experiments. Within a methodology, potential problems include artificial data generated by the researcher, small sample size interpretation of findings. Critics have pointed out that some room exists for improving methodology of information retrieval research; using existing data, having big enough sample size, including large numbers of search queries, introducing more control in relation to variables, utilizing more appropriate performance measures, conducting rests carefully and evaluating findings properly. Relevance judgments depend entirely on the perception of the user and on the situation of the moment. In an experiment, the best judge of relevance is a user with a well defined information need. Normally more than two categories for relevance judgments are desirable becase there are degrees of relevance. In experimental design, careful control of variables is meeded for internal validity. When no single database exists for comparison, existing operational databases should be used cautiously, Careful control for the variations of search queries, inter-searcher sonsistency, intra-searcher consistency and search strategies is necessary. Parametric statistics requiring rigid assumptions are not appropriate in information retrieval research and non-parametric statistics requiring few assumptions are necessary. Particularly, the sign test and the Wilcoxon test are good alternatives.
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