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Academic year: 2022


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A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master in Library and Information Science

Kulliyah of Information and Communication Technology International Islamic University Malaysia

MARCH 2014




Sorting the retrieved results from the most relevant to the least relevant is the common option of an Information Retrieval System (IRS). This sorting mechanism or relevance judgment is computed by measuring closeness of query with its documents. The purposes of this study were to measure the relevance status of Index Islamicus, evaluate the semantic correlation between a query and documents, and inquire the basis of its rank. Forming up 100 queries on Islamic History and Civilizations, with two indexing elements (keyword and concept), a laboratory experiment was generated on its first 10 items of the rank. Throughout an experimental research design, Relevance Status Value (RSV) formula was used to measure system-computed rank and compare it with Mean Average Precision (MAP). The results showed that the average status value of Index Islamicus ranking on relevance criterion was 18%.

Despite several limitations where the study’s main focus was only on one subject domain and the items calculated were only 1000, this small percentage of its ranking mechanism proved that semantic correlations between queries with subject domain did not achieve the satisfactory level.



ثحبلا صخلم

،لقلأا لىإ ةلص رثكلأا نم ةعجترسلما جئاتنلا فينصت دعي ماظن في فورعمو روهشم رايخ

تامولعلما عاجترسا .

برقلا ةجرد سايق قيرط نع ةلصلا مكح وأ فينصتلا ةيلآ متت ثيح

اهقئثاو عم ملاعتسلإا ةملك ينب .

،ىملاسلإا ىوتلمحا ةلص ىدم سايق وه ثحبلا نم فدلها

ينب ليلادلا طابترلإا مييقتو قئثاولاو ملاعتسلإا ةملك

لا سسأ نع راسفتسلااو ، فينصت

. في

ليكشت تم ثحبلا اذه نيرصنع مادختسبا ،ةيملاسلإا ةراضلحاو خيراتلا نع ملاعتسإ 011

لمحا رصانع نم ىوت

( موهفم و ةيحاتتفإ ةملك )

، ح رشع لوأ ىلع لمعلما في ةبرتج تيرجأ ثي

بيتترلا قفو جئاتن .

ةلصلا ةميق ةغيص مادختسا تم ،بييرجتلا ثحبلا لحارم عيجم للاخ و

رت سايقل ةقدلا طسوتم عم هتنراقمو بياسلحا ماظنلا بيت

. ةميق طسوتم نأ ترهظأ جئاتنلا

وه ةلصلا يرياعم قفو يملاسلإا ىوتلمحا بيترت



،روصقلا ضعب دوجو نم مغرلا ىلع .

ابهاسح تم تيلا داولماو ،طقف دحاو يعوضوم قاطن وذ ةساردلل يسيئرلا زيكترلا ناك ثيح يه ينب ليلادلا طابترلاا نأ تتبثأ بيتترلا ةيللآ ةليئضلا ةبسنلا هذه نأ لاإ ،طقف 0111

يضرم ىوتسم ققتح لم عوضولما قاطن عم تاملاعتسلاا





I certify that I have supervised and read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Master of Library and Information Science.


Roslina Bt. Othman Supervisor

I certify that I have supervised and read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Master of Library and Information Science.

……..……….. ………

Noor Hasrul Nizan Mohammad Noor Examiner

This dissertation was submitted to the Department of Library and Information Science and is accepted as a fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Library and Information Science.


Wan Ali@Wan Yusuf Wan Mamat Head, Department of Library and Information Science

This dissertation was submitted to the Kulliyyah of Information and Communication Technology and is accepted as a fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Library and Information Science.


Abdul Wahab Bin Abdul Rahman Dean, Kulliyyah of Information &

Communication Technology




I hereby declare that this dissertation is the result of my own investigations, except where otherwise stated. I also declare that it has not been previously or concurrently submitted as a whole for any other degrees at IIUM or other institutions.

Muhammad Ashraf Ali

Signature………. Date……….





Copyright © 2014 by Muhammad Ashraf Ali. All rights reserved.


No part of this unpublished research may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,

photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder except as provided below:

1. Any material contained in or derived from this unpublished research may only be used by others in their writing with due acknowledgement.

2. IIUM or its library will have the right to make and transit copies (print or electronic) for institutional and academic purposes.

3. The IIUM library will have the right to make, store in a retrieval system and supply copies of this unpublished research if requested by other universities and research libraries.

Affirmed by Muhammad Ashraf Ali.

………. ………

Signature Date




My deepest gratitude to Almighty Allah, by HIS grace and mercy, finally I have managed to finish my thesis as a partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MLIS with sound and good health (Alhamdulillah).

I am particularly grateful to my supervisor, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Roslina Othman, for making this research possible. Her guidance and intellectual support made me indebted. Specially her pain-staking effort for my constant needs in writing, and my overanxious mood and temper to finish the thesis. Without her persistent help, patience and encouragement, I even could not put the topic together. May Allah bless you Dr. Ros!

I would like to express my gratitude to the staff of my department for the guidance provided in time whenever I needed; grateful to IIUM library, liaisons and staff at RSAR. Special thanks to my fellow classmates, friends and seniors for giving me insightful comments and suggestions all the time for my thesis. I have greatly benefited from all of you and very much thankful ever.

And, not forgetting to express my cordial appreciation to my friends who were always at my side throughout this research journey; scolded me when I behaved wrong, and pampered me when I did it right with overpraise always. Your appreciations cannot be forgotten my friends!

To Dr. Bui and Miss Fitriyah, whom I never met but the book and sincere suggestions made me feel we were in the same class and the same field of study.

Thanks for your generosity and instructions.

Last but not least, I would like to thank my family for their unconditional support, both financially and emotionally throughout my degree. This is blessings, no word be enough to express my appreciation. May Allah bless us all (Aameen)!





Abstract in Arabic…...……….………...…iii

Approval Page……….………...iv


Copyright Page……….vi


List of Tables………...x

List of Figures……….……...xi

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION……….……..…….…..1

1.1 Overview of This Study………...……….…...1

1.1.1 Index Islamicus……….………5

1.1.2 Relevance Status Value (RSV)………...5

1.2 Significance Of This Study……….6

1.3 Problem Statement………...….7

1.4 Research Objectives………..………..8

1.5 Research Questions………..………...…8

1.6 Assumptions………..…….………...…………....9

1.7 Definition of Terminology………...……….10

1.8 Limitations of This Study………....………..13


2.1 Background………..….…14

2.1.1 Early Studies on Information Retrieval System (IRS)…………....15

2.1.2 Ranking Mechanism of IRS and Relevance Status Value………..17

2.2 Analysis of Reviews…..………..….…20


3.1 Research Design………...…………...22

3.2 Research Instruments………..………..…....23

3.3 Analysis of Methods………...28

3.4 Pilot Test………...………..………....33

3.5 Data Collection………...………..………...…37

3.6 Data Analysis………..…………..…..…...….40


4.1 Keyword Search and Relevance Status Value……….…41

4.2 Concept Search and Relevance Status Value……….…..44


5.1 Introduction……….………...48

5.2 Discussion………...49

5.2.1 Research Objective One………..…...………...49

5.2.2 Research Objective Two………..…….…51



5.3 Limitations………....………..…...54

5.4 Recommendations……….………...55

5.5 Conclusion………..………....55

BIBLIOGRAPHY………..………....…………...…...57 APPENDIX





Table No. Page No.

3.1 Table of Objectives, Questions and Methods 22

3.2 Abbreviation of RSV notions 27

3.3 Pilot test Result (keyword) 35

3.4 Pilot Test Result (concept) 36

3.5 RSV Formula in Excel for Computation (Keyword) 40 3.6 RSV Formula in Excel for Computation (Concept) 40 4.1 Examples of a Keyword Search and System-Computed

Ranking With RSV 41

4.2 The Average Precision (AP) Of Each Query (Keyword) With RSV 42 4.3 Example of a Concept Search and System-Computed

Ranking With RSV Evaluation 44

4.4 The Average Precision (AP) Of Each Query (Concept) With RSV 45

4.5 The Total Experimental Results 46

5.1 Differences Between RSV Ranking and Index Islamicus’ System’s

Default Ranking 53

5.2 Differences Between RSV Ranking and Index Islamicus’ System’s

Default Ranking 53




Figure No. Page No.

1.1 Relevance Judgment Between Two Users 2

1.2 Relevance Judgment Between Two Users 3

3.1 Example of a query evaluation through keyword and concept 26

3.2 Behind the search (step 1) 29

3.3 After search (step 2) 30

3.4 Output of search (step 3, 4, 5) 31

3.5 Example of Mean Average Precision (MAP) 32 3.6 Example of Query Formation Through LCSH and Index Thesaurus 37





Information storage and retrieval refers to the preservation of information and provision of ways to access it. When information and publications are stored online, it is important that keywords or indexing terms are assigned to the stored documents so that users can easily find what they need (Abdulahhad, Chevallet & Berrut, 2012;

Chu, 2010 and Ouchetto, Ouchetto & Roudies, 2012). Kettani and Newby (2010: 1) stated that, “IR systems–is to provide a ranked list of the most relevant documents.

This list is created based on matching the human expression of information need – the query – to a set of documents”. This means that, when a query or a search term matches with a document stored in the database, that document is retrieved. The ranking list is set in order of most relevant to the query to the least relevant. All these matching activities and ranking orders are prepared by the system computed mechanism. If system computed ranking does not contain true relevance criteria where most shared elements of a query and documents are the most related, the user would be led to another title or document that he does not want really, or user’s expected title would appear at the bottom of the ranking list where it would escape his attention.

Therefore, after the indexing process is done, there must be an evaluation to test the effectiveness of the platform based on the level of suitability between the documents’ titles and the queries terms or vice versa (Meadow, Boyce & Kraft, 2007).

This study would like to perform an evaluation on Index Islamicus to test its default ranking model through Relevance Status Value (RSV) method that would examine the



system’s relevance to its query and documents’ titles. Such an evaluation has been generated on various databases or web searches in many previous researches.

Examples of these are CLEF test by Abdulahhad, Chevallet and Berrut (2011, 2012) through RSV; relevance ranking for e-government services retrieval or the work by Ouchetto, Ouchetto & Roudies (2012); the study of relevance ranking of video comments on YouTube by Serbanoiu and Rebedea (2013); and also the research on document ranking through Enterprise Search (ES) by Chunchen and Jianqiang (2012).

Despite all the studies and evaluations, the process of information retrieval and relevance judgment is always uncertain and subjective (Abdulahhad et al., 2012 and Manning, Raghavan & Schutze, 2009). For example, person A might see the relevance of his query ’sharia law’ with the title of ‘Sharia and national law in Saudi Arabia’, but to person B this title may not be relevant because he needs materials on the study of shariah law in general. Figure 1.1 shows how A considers his relevance search and Figure 1.2 shows how B considers his relevance search by the same query.

Figure 1.1 : Relevance judgment between two users



Figure 1.2: Relevance judgment between two users

In this case, information retrieval process is uncertain. It cannot satisfy everyone and always depends on user’s judgment (Ismail, Sembok & Zaman, 2000).

Nevertheless, according to Abdulahhad et al., (2012: 3), “to estimate the certainty of an implication and to offer a ranking mechanism, another component should be added” and that is the method of relevance status of the default rank by estimating the closeness of query and document. In another view point, there should be a method to check on the ranking mechanism of IRS (Meadow et al., 2007) to ensure its suitable performance.

However, since IRS always focuses on two sets of document: the relevance to query and the irrelevance documents to query (Abdulahhad et al., 2012 & Manning et al., 2009) and the suitability of the foundation of all IR models is “matching” (Chu, 2010), this research’s main target is to evaluate the matching model according to retrieval ranking of Index Islamicus (an online database) through RSV formula



(Relevance Status Value) of Abdulahhad et al., (2012). Accordingly, each information retrieval platform gives the opportunity to store data and let the user come up with their own query search term to find it and, when the user is able to perform a search through standard form of query, all the purposes of an IR is to find out the ‘match’ of that query with its existing documents and to give a comparative rank to the retrieved results (Chu, 2010).

Thus, this study would research on one of the popular online databases named

‘Index Islamicus’. It sets to find out the semantic relation of ‘Index Islamicus’ with natural query on a specific subject domain -Islamic History and Civilizations. Having searched on the system with some experimented queries, the matched or related titles would be justified throughout RSV. Then it would find out reasonable ranking of those retrieved results which are most ‘semantically related’ to the queries and comparatively show the relevance status value of history and civilizations subject domain in Index Islamicus.

The first chapter of this research explains the logic of RSV, the problem statement, significance of this study, objectives, research questions and the limitation and assumption of this research. The second chapter analyses the reviews of various scholars on matching model of IRS, ranking mechanism of IRS, RSV and semantic relationship of documents and queries according to first chapter. The third chapter explains the methodology of this research, data collection and pilot test as an example of entire method while the fourth chapter will discuss the process of evaluation, ranking and findings. Chapter five will serve logical explanation of the findings and recommendations which will end with a conclusion.


5 1.1.1 Index Islamicus

Index Islamicus is a bibliography database of publications about Islam and the Muslim world. It covers almost 100 years of publications on the world of Islam. Over 3,000 journals are monitored for inclusion in the database, together with conference proceedings, monographs, multi-authored works and book reviews. Journals and books are indexed down to the article and chapter level. Over 462,012 records exist in Index Islamicus according to July 2013 update. The publications have been covered since 1906, and it updates the entire database quarterly (Ahmad, 1981; Anwar, 2001 and CSA Illumina, 2013). The research is specifically done on the subject area of

“Islamic History and Civilizations”. In this domain, around 9,393 titles were found from the entire collection of 462,012. When it was searched with truncation character (“islam* history”), the total retrieved results were 13,002. So the approximate collection of Islamic History and Civilization in Index Islamicus is about 9,000 to 13,000 entries. This research would formulate some queries regarding this domain and search on Index Islamicus.

1.1.2 Relevance Status Value (RSV)

RSV (Relevance Status Value) is a method where relationship between a document and a query is measured. In RSV, documents are symbolized as ‘d’ and queries as ‘q’.

So the formula of RSV starts with d∩q, where the most shared elements in documents and queries are the base of RSV. The result of RSV determines whether the system should retrieve the document or not and ranks the retrieval results according to the highest match among all others throughout its relevance with queries (Abdulahhad et al., 2011 and Meadow et al., 2007). Hence, the Index Islamicus is evaluated on the subject of Islamic History and Civilizations. The database would retrieve the most



related results to the queries and put them in rank. The evaluation of this relation or rank would be justified by RSV, and then re-ranked the retrieved items through its formula to measure the semantic relation and show the Average Precision (AP).


In Information Retrieval System (IRS), the chances of a better match between documents and queries depend on its exhaustivity and specificity (Olson & Boll, 2001). In Information Representation and Retrieval (IRR), exhaustivity indicates when subject term covers broad extent of semantic correlation; which means, the recall of search result would be higher, but when the breadth of subject matter is absence, it means that exhaustivity is low and hence the result would be lower.

Accordingly, ‘specificity’ refers to a situation in IRR when the subject term is specific and focused, such as when the focused term of a document is missing from its concept, the query cannot be counted as relevant and hence the recall may be higher but precision will not be acceptable as expected (Abdulahhad et al., 2012; Blanke &

Lalmas, 2011; Kazai & Lalmas, 2006; and Xiaohui, Yuefeng, Lau, & Geva, 2010). To make the search effective, we need matched and represented information in the system with the query submitted by the user (Chu, 2010). According to Meadow et al. (2007), there should be a mechanism that can evaluate the matching relation between a user query and the document. One of the evaluative mechanisms is the Relevance Status Value (RSV) which allows the system to rank documents according to the match between document and query and gives the idea of a better index. Through this mechanism, users have a chance to evaluate the system’s ranking criteria by comparing the ranking of RSV which contributes to the method emphasizing the words repetitive occurring in the text, title and index.



Since history is heavily related with culture and heritage, the storage and retrieval process of this body of heritage on online database should consider the same factor. Across the globe, such as in the United States, the European countries, and the Middle East, research and projects on culture and heritage have gained priorities.

Hence, semantically correlation of user’s judgment (query) with the collection of Islamic History and Civilizations is a necessary thing to work on for the purpose of better retrieval.


The correlation of documents and queries is a significant point of an online database in serving its stored data to the users. In other words, when a document shares most of its elements with the query, the chances of that document to be in ordered or ranked results is high. Similarly, when a query is focused and more specific on a subject theme, the ranking list of retrieved documents for that query would be more accurate (Abdulahhad et al., 2012 and Chu, 2010). In order to comply with this requirement for a better relevance ranking, a database or IRS should contain highly specific index terms (Ismail et al., 2000) or thesaurus (Feldvari, 2005 and Sato, 2007). However, Index Islamicus is one of the oldest databases which started in 1958 covering the publications from 1906 and uses some controlled index terms in Islamic domain through ProQuest after the Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) (Salim, Farhana, Hashim and Aris, 2010). The ranking mechanism of retrieved result of this database works in two ways:

1. Through ProQuest four thesaurus (ERIC, MeSH, LISA and ProQuest (subject)).

2. Through Interaction with its index terms and citations (since Index Islamicus does not provide full text as well as abstract).



As none of its thesaurus (out of four) specialized on Islamic domain particularly and match making of query happens through its citations instead of full text document or abstract, the relevance ranking of this database may mislead the user when highly shared elements of a query match with much more words-containing-document (full text or abstract) rather than matching with a title and index terms (citations) only.

In addition, the evaluation of Index Islamicus ranking and retrieving mechanism has not been checked except for its index term descriptors (Kopycki, 2003). Therefore, this study performs an evaluation on its ranking mechanism through Relevance Status Value (RSV) method to measure its semantic relations with the queries and citations. The focus of this evaluation is the specific subject domain which is the Islamic History and Civilizations.


1) To determine Relevance Status Value (RSV) for Index Islamicus on the subject of Islamic History and Civilizations.

2) To examine the semantic relationship between documents and queries on the subject of Islamic History and Civilizations.


(1) Objective 1: “To determine Relevance Status Value (RSV) for Index Islamicus on the subject of Islamic History and Civilizations”.

1. What is the relevance judgment criteria commonly applied to the subject of Islamic History and Civilizations in Index Islamicus?

2. What are the available controlled vocabulary tools or thesaurus for Islamic History and Civilizations of Index Islamicus?



(2) Objective 2: “To examine the semantic relationship between documents and queries for the subject of Islamic History and Civilizations in Index Islamicus”.

3. What is the RSV for Islamic History and Civilizations in Index Islamicus?

4. What are the differences between RSV ranking and Index Islamicus system’s default ranking?


This research is conducted based on the hypothesis of the problem statement and the objective of the research where it is said that the more shared elements or concepts a document and a query have, the more related and closer they are (Chu, 2010 and Abdulahhad et al., 2011). In other words, the much more elements of a d (document) contain the q (query), the more closely or semantically related they are (d q) and that would result in the higher d in retrieval ranking. Kettani and Newby wrote, “The closer a document to a query is, the higher its rank” (2010: 2). Accordingly, the less closer a document with the queries, the lower its relevance ranking and which would be useless for the users (Chawla & Bedi, 2008).

By taking this hypothesis into account, the RSV will evaluate the matching function and ranking criteria of Index Islamicus with the query on the subject of Islamic History and Civilizations.



The terms used in this study are operationally defined as follows:

o Index Islamicus:

It refers to a bibliography database of publications about Islam and the Muslim world.

It covers almost 100 years of publications from 1906 up to today. Brill Academic Publishers are the copyright owner of this database. ProQuest electronic publisher provides this database online through search platform such as Proquest, CSA illumina, eLibrary and SIRS etc.

o RSV:

Relevance Status Value is a method to evaluate the systems’ ranking according to its relevance between documents and users’ query. Through this method, the retrieval perfection of a database can be judged to find better index terms. The ranking value of RSV is considered the ranking of database according to query and since queries are formed with two indexing elements for this research, the RSV ranking is the actual evaluation to justify the relevance status of this database (Index Islamicus). RSV shows how a document could be semantically closer to its query (Meadow et al., 2007 and Abdulahhad et al., 2012).

o Mean Average Precision (MAP):

Mean Average Precision is the most widely used evaluation function. It computes the relevance and irrelevance of queries in the system putting a measurement weight [0,1].

0 is when the item is irrelevant and 1 when it is relevant based on recall and precision (Cormack & Lynam, 2006; Park, 2011; Kak, 2013 and Robertson, Kanoulas &

Yilmaz, 2010). In this study, AP is evaluated through RSV computation to compare the accuracy of system-computed ranking.


11 o Islamic History and Civilizations:

It is a specific subject matter of Islamic works and publications on Index Islamicus. It refers to Islamic history, cultures, and heritages from the pre and post Islamic period until the modern period of time which means it covers works and publications related to Islam before Prophet and up to today. The subject area and the titles (to form query) have been collected from Index Islamicus. There exist almost 9000 to 13000 entries of Islamic History and Civilization in Index Islamicus. Among those titles, fifty titles have been picked up to formulate hundred queries on this subject throughout two indexing elements “keyword” and “concept”.

The following terms are operationally assigned based on the standard formula of RSV (Relevance Status Value) (Abdulahhad et al., 2011) such as

o Query:

Query refers to users’ language to search on the database. In this study, query indicates the searching value for Islamic History and Civilizations on Index Islamicus;

and it refers to “keyword” and “concept” which are used to compute RSV. In RSV, it is abbreviated as “Q” or “q”.

o Keyword:

Keyword is an uncontrolled natural form of word. For this research purpose, there are two keywords which are formed from each chosen title. All these keywords include stemming. In RSV, it is abbreviated as “K” or “k”.

o Concept:

A set of terms describe a perspective works or titles. The concept used in this research is the queries which were formed to search on the database. To have a better concept (query), Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) as well as ProQuest subject thesaurus are looked. In RSV formula, it is abbreviated as “C” or “c”.


12 o Documents:

Documents refer to any article/paper exist in Index Islamicus including in title form, abstract form or index term/subject heading form. In RSV, it is abbreviated as “D” or


o ║d∩q║

It refers to the total number of shared elements between d (document) and q (query) such as the similar words of query exists in document including title and index. The total number of similar words in document (title+index/subject heading) and query are referred by this symbol.

o N

N refers to the total collection of document in database.

o Nk /c

Nk refers to the number of total retrieved result through “keyword” search; and Nc

refers to the number of total retrieved result through “concept” search.

o fd,k/c

fdk refers to the number of occurrences of “keyword” (query) in the document (title+index term/subject heading since Index Islamicus provides only citation without abstract). fdk counts keyword (query) matches in title and subject heading of Index Islamicus only while fdc refers to the number of occurrences of concept (query) in the document.

o ║d║

║d║refers to the total number of words in document (title) only since Index Islamicus provides no abstract.

o ║ k║

║k║refers to the total number of words in a query (keyword/concept).



This study has several limitations. The area of this study has been narrowed down on one specific subject area since its only purpose is to examine the semantic relationship between documents on the subject of Islamic History and Civilizations. The database it evaluates to determine RSV is Index Islamicus, and the study is conducted as laboratory experiment since the queries are formed from 50 selected titles from Islamic History and Civilizations’ subject area instead of getting involved with real users. It examines the assignment of net values for the back-end. Therefore it is limited to Index Islamicus and Islamic History and Civilizations domain.



In addition to the introduction, this chapter includes fourteen main sections. Section 2.2 discusses value relevance; Section 2.3 and 2.4 presents literature related to the value


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