Researchers at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT have developed a new search engine that outperforms current ones, and helps people to do searches more efficiently.
The SciNet search engine is different because it changes internet searches into recognition tasks, by showing keywords related to the user’s search in topic radar. People using SciNet can get relevant and diverse search results faster, especially when they do not know exactly what they are looking for or how to formulate a query to find it.
Once initially queried, SciNet displays a range of keywords and topics in a topic radar. With the help of the directions on the radar, the engine displays how these topics are related to each other. The relevance of each keyword is displayed as its distance from the centre point of the radar – those more closely related are nearer to the centre, and those less relevant are farther away. The search engine also offers alternatives that are connected with the topic, but which the user might not have thought of querying. By moving words around the topic radar, users specify what information is most useful for them.
When people are uncertain about a topic, they are typically reluctant to reformulate the original query, even if they need to in order to find the right information. With the help of a keyword cloud, people can more quickly infer which of the search options they receive is more significant for them because they do not need to visit the pages offered by the search engine to find new search words and start again.