Rethinking ‘Advanced Search': A New Approach to Complex Query Formulation


The Easter conference season is now fully upon us, and I am delighted to report that this week we will be presenting 2dSearch at the 41st European Conference on Information Retrieval (ECIR) in Cologne. For those unfamiliar with ECIR, it is described as “The premier European forum for the presentation of new research results in the field of Information Retrieval. ECIR provides an opportunity for both young and established researchers to present research papers reporting new, unpublished, and innovative research results.”

We will be presenting alongside seven other demo applications. I can’t be there in person, so I am pleased to confirm our presentation will rest in the capable hands of long-time collaborator and co-author Udo Kruschwitz

This event follows quite rapidly on from our previous demo at CHIIR in March. However, while that demo focused primarily on healthcare use cases and challenges, in this demo we will be focusing more broadly on the task of structured searching and in particular the challenges associated with the recruitment profession. So with that in mind, I am pleased to share our peer-reviewed submission, which is published as part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series. The conference proceedings are currently free to download from the ECIR website, although I understand this may be for a limited time only. 

As scientists and researchers one of our core principles is a commitment to working closely with the scholarly community, and publishing as much of our work as possible in open access publications. In that context, we welcome your thoughts and feedback. 

Russell-Rose T., Chamberlain J., Kruschwitz U. (2019) Rethinking ‘Advanced Search’: A New Approach to Complex Query Formulation. In: Azzopardi L., Stein B., Fuhr N., Mayr P., Hauff C., Hiemstra D. (eds) Advances in Information Retrieval. ECIR 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11438. Springer, Cham.


Knowledge workers such as patent agents, recruiters and media monitoring professionals undertake work tasks where search forms a core part of their duties. In these instances, the search task often involves the formulation of complex queries expressed as Boolean strings. However, creating effective Boolean queries remains an ongoing challenge, often compromised by errors and inefficiencies. In this demo paper, we present a new approach to query formulation in which concepts are expressed on a two-dimensional canvas and relationships are articulated using direct manipulation. This has the potential to eliminate many sources of error, makes the query semantics more transparent, and offers new opportunities for query refinement and optimisation.