Benefits of Recommendations Improve the Search Experience (RISE)
The benefits from the RISE project are that it is easier to locate resources and that resources that users might not otherwise have found become visible. Evaluation showed that overall, user reaction was positive towards recommender systems. All of the students interviewed during the 1:1 sessions said that they liked the idea of getting recommendations on library e- resources. 100% said they preferred course related recommendations mainly because they would be seen to be the most relevant and lead to a quick find.
“I take a really operational view you know, I'm on here, I want to get the references for this particular piece of work, and those are the people that are most likely to be doing a similar thing that I can use.” - postgraduate education student
There is also an appreciation that recommendations may give a more diverse picture of the literature on a topic:
“I think it is useful because you run out of things to actually search for….You don't always think to look in some of the other journals… there’s so many that you can't know them all. So I think that is a good idea. You might just think “oh I'll try that”. It might just bring something up that you ’d not thought of.” - postgraduate psychology student
People using similar search terms often viewed was seen in a good light by some interviewees who lacked confidence in using library databases:
“Yes, I would definitely use that because my limited knowledge of the library might mean that other people were using slightly different ways of searching and getting different results.” - undergraduate English literature student
Their users also suggested the benefits could be enhanced through the following improvements:
- Make the recommendations more obvious, using either a right hand column or a link from the top of the search results.
- Indicate the popularity of the recommendations in some way, such as X percentage of people on your module recommended A. OR 10 People viewed this and 5 found it useful.
- Indicate the currency of the recommendations. If something was recommended a year ago it may be of less interest than something recommended this week.
- In order for students to trust the recommendations, it would be helpful to be able to select the module they are currently doing searching for. This would greatly reduce cross- recommendations which are generated from people studying more than one module.
- Integrate the recommendations into the module areas on the VLE.
- When asking students to rate a recommendation, make it explicit that this rating will affect the ranking of the recommendations, eg “help us keep the recommendations accurate. Was this useful to you?”