The aim of this special issue is to explore the importance and the many possibilities of evaluating Web search engines. This includes a wide spectrum of topics, but we are especially interested in papers dealing with new approaches to search engine evaluation, as well as papers describing thoroughly conducted empirical studies.

A Web search is clearly the foremost method for finding information today. According to ComScore, more than 130 billion search queries were posed to search engines in a single month in 2009. This explains why search engine research is not only of interest to a community working on improving them, but also to a society whose members rely heavily on search engines. In contrast to the importance of search engines, there are still relatively few studies dealing with their quality. The question is how search engines can be best evaluated considering their wide use and the typical user behaviour towards them.

Search engines are not only used for general-purpose queries, but in many different contexts. The spectrum of queries ranges from trivial to highly specific; the usage scenarios range from private to professional. Therefore, evaluations should not only focus on the general user, but on certain user groups and/or search topics.

While there are only a few major search engines determined to cover the whole of the web, there are specialized engines focussing on certain parts of the web (e.g., language areas or individual topics). However, it remains unclear how much these add to the quality of Web search. 

While the quality of results is surely the most important factor when evaluating search engines, there are other areas of interest as well. The quality of a search engine’s index is important to determine whether this engine would be suitable to produce relevant results. For the professional searcher, the quality of the search features also is important. Mal-functioning search features can have a negative effect on the results for less sophisticated queries. Last, but not least, the usability of search engines must be considered in evaluations. Usability is a major factor for users in deciding which search engine to use.

Topics of interest may focus on but are not restricted to:

•       Retrieval effectiveness
•       Reliability of search results
•       Language handling
•       Index sizes and overlap comparisons
•       Query log analysis
•       User behaviour
•       Results presentation
•       User surveys
•       User guidance in the search process
•       Ability of search engines to deal with different query types
•       Index and/or results freshness
•       Diversity of results
•       Search features comparison
•       Influence of search engine optimization (SEO) on results quality

Papers must spell out the implications of the findings for online information (these should be discussed in the introduction, discussion and conclusion sections of your paper).

In general only research-based submissions will be considered. Such submissions may be any type of research, including technical or conceptual. Viewpoints, literature reviews or general reviews are generally not acceptable. 

Papers should ideally be 4000 to 6000 words in length and references and citations should be in our journal style. Please see our author guidelines at for more details and submission instructions. Following these guidelines closely will avoid delay in your paper being assessed and improve your chances for acceptance. Please ensure that you submit your paper under the special issue rather than the regular journal issue.

Important dates

Deadline for authors to submit papers: 15 September 2010
Notice of review results: 15 December 2010
Revisions due: 31 January 2011
Author notification: 15 February  2010

About the journal
Online Information Review is a refereed, ISI-ranked journal devoted to research in the broad field of online information, including both transactional and transformational aspects, in the academic, corporate, government, scientific and commercial contexts. It addresses issues related to online resources, systems and services, information quality, content and evaluation, with a particular focus on online and digital information creation, storage, retrieval and applications (including social, political and ethical aspects).
Journal information page:


Prof Dirk Lewandowski
Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
Department Information
Berliner Tor 5
D – 20099 Hamburg

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