The concept of relevance in IR



This article introduces the concept of relevance as viewed and applied in the context of IR evaluation, by presenting an overview of the multidimensional and dynamic nature of the concept. The literature on relevance reveals how the relevance concept, especially in regard to the multidimensionality of relevance, is many faceted, and does not just refer to the various relevance criteria users may apply in the process of judging relevance of retrieved information objects. From our point of view, the multidimensionality of relevance explains why some will argue that no consensus has been reached on the relevance concept. Thus, the objective of this article is to present an overview of the many different views and ways by which the concept of relevance is used—leading to a consistent and compatible understanding of the concept. In addition, special attention is paid to the type of situational relevance. Many researchers perceive situational relevance as the most realistic type of user relevance, and therefore situational relevance is discussed with reference to its potential dynamic nature, and as a requirement for interactive information retrieval (IIR) evaluation.