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The Searchbench - Combining Sentence-semantic, Full-text and Bibliographic Search in Digital Libraries

Ulrich Schäfer; Bernd Kiefer; Christian Spurk; Jörg Steffen; Rui Wang; Benjamin Weitz; Magdalena Wolska
In: LIBER quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 4, Pages 285-309, Association of European Research Libraries, 2/2013.


We describe a novel approach to precise searching in the full content of digital libraries. The Searchbench (for search workbench) is based on sentence-wise syntactic and semantic natural language processing (NLP) of both born-digital and scanned publications in PDF format. The term born-digital means natively digital, i.e. prepared electronically using typesetting systems such as LaTeX, OpenOffice, and the like. In the Searchbench, queries can be formulated as (possibly underspecified) statements, consisting of simple subject-predicate-object constructs such as ‘algorithm improves word alignment’. This reduces the number of false hits in large document collections when the search words happen to appear close to each other, but are not semantically related. The method also abstracts from passive voice and predicate synonyms. Moreover, negated statements can be excluded from the search results, and negated antonym predicates again count as synonyms (e.g. not include = exclude). In the Searchbench, a sentence-semantic search can be combined with search filters for classical full-text, bibliographic metadata and automatically computed domain terms. Auto-suggest fields facilitate text input. Queries can be bookmarked or emailed. Furthermore, a novel citation browser in the Searchbench allows graphical navigation in citation networks. These have been extracted automatically from metadata and paper texts. The citation browser displays short phrases from citation sentences at the edges in the citation graph and thus allows students and researchers to quickly browse publications and immerse into a new research field. By clicking on a citation edge, the original citation sentence is shown in context, and optionally also in the original PDF layout.


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