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Biology library guide to information searches

Precision and recall

Precision and recall

When evaluating your search results you need to consider two factors:

  1. Precision: Are the search results relevant to your research question?
  2. Recall: Have you found all (or most) relevant publications relevant to your research question?

If the precision is low (i.e. the results are not what you were looking for), you need to modify your search query, perhaps try other search terms.

If the recall is low (i.e. you don't get enough results or you suspect that you are missing something), you need to expand your search, perhaps include more search terms to better capture all relevant research within the subject.

Collect more keywords from the relevant publications that you have found. Look in the reference list to find other publications in the same subject and collect keywords from these. You can also ask a teacher or a researcher what kind of words are used within the field to describe the phenomenon you are interested in.