Hostname: page-component-758b78586c-t6tmf Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-11-27T19:42:23.177Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

The usability of semantic search tools: a review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2007

Knowledge Media Institute, Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK, e-mail:,,,,
Knowledge Media Institute, Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK, e-mail:,,,,
Knowledge Media Institute, Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK, e-mail:,,,,
Knowledge Media Institute, Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK, e-mail:,,,,
Knowledge Media Institute, Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK, e-mail:,,,,
Centro Richerche FIAT, strada Torino 50, 10043 Orbassano (Torino), Italy, email:


The goal of semantic search is to improve on traditional search methods by exploiting the semantic metadata. In this paper, we argue that supporting iterative and exploratory search modes is important to the usability of all search systems. We also identify the types of semantic queries the users need to make, the issues concerning the search environment and the problems that are intrinsic to semantic search in particular. We then review the four modes of user interaction in existing semantic search systems, namely keyword-based, form-based, view-based and natural language-based systems. Future development should focus on multimodal search systems, which exploit the advantages of more than one mode of interaction, and on developing the search systems that can search heterogeneous semantic metadata on the open semantic Web.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Aleman-Meza, B., Halaschek-Weiner, C., Arpinar, I. B., Ramakrishnan, C. & Sheth, A. P., 2005 Ranking complex relationships on the semantic Web. IEEE Internet Computing 9(3), 3744.Google Scholar
Athanasis, N., Christophides, V. & Kotzinos, D. 2004 Generating on the fly queries for the semantic web: the ICS-FORTH graphical RQL interface (GRQL). In 3rd International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC'04). Hiroshima, Japan, pp. 486–501.Google Scholar
Bamba, B. & Mukherjea, S. 2005 Utilizing Resource Importance for Ranking Semantic Web Query Results, In Semantic Web and Databases, LNCS Volume 3372/2005. pp. 185–198.Google Scholar
Bernstein, A. & Kaufmann, E. 2006 GINO-a Guided Input Ontology Editor. In Proceedings of the International Semantic Web Conference. pp. 144–157.Google Scholar
Buscaldi, D., Rosso, P. & Sanchis Arnal, E. 2005 A WordNet-based queryexpansion method for geographical information retrieval. In CLEF 2005 Workshop at GeoCLEF 2005. Vienna, Austria.Google Scholar
Catarci, T., Di Mascio, T., Franconi, E., Santucci, G. & Tessaris, S. An ontology based visual tool for query formulation support. In 16th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI-04). 2004. Valencia, Spain, pp. 308–312.Google Scholar
Cimiano, P. 2004 ORAKEL: A natural language interface to an f-logic knowledge base. In 9th International Conference on Applications of Natural Language to Information Systems (NLDB). pp. 401–406.Google Scholar
Corby, O., Dieng-Kuntz, R., Faron-Zucker, C. & Gandon, F. 2006 Searching the semantic web: approximate query processing based on ontologies. IEEE Intelligent Systems 21(1), 2027.Google Scholar
Ding, L., Finin, T., Joshi, A., Pan, R., Cost, R. S., Peng, Y., Reddivari, P., Doshi, V. C. & Sachs, J. 2004 Swoogle: a search and metadata engine for the semantic web. In Thirteenth ACM Conference on Information and Knowledge Management. pp. 652–659.Google Scholar
Ding, L., Pan, R., Finin, T., Joshi, A., Peng, Y. & Kolari, P. 2005 Finding and ranking knowledge on the semantic web. In 4th International Semantic Web Conference, LNCS 3729 2005 pp. 156–170.Google Scholar
Euzenat, J. & Shvaiko, P. 2007 Ontology Matching, Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
Gruber, T. R. 1995 Towards principles for the design of ontologies used for knowledge sharing. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 43(5-6), 907928.Google Scholar
Guha, R., McCool, R. & Miller, E. 2003 Semantic search. In 12th International Conference on World Wide Web. pp. 700–709.Google Scholar
Hyvonen, E., Saarela, S. & Viljanen, K. 2003 Ontogator: combining view-and ontology-based search with semantic browsing. In XML Finland 2003, Open Standards, XML, and the Public Sector. Kuopio, Finland, pp. 82–85.Google Scholar
Kelly, D. & Teevan, J. 2003 Implicit feedback for inferring user preference: a bibliography. SIGIR Forum 32(2), 1828Google Scholar
Lee, J. & Goodwin, R. 2005 The semantic webscape: a view of the semantic web. In WWW'05: Special interest tracks and posters of the 14th International Conference on World Wide Web. New York, pp. 1154–1155.Google Scholar
Lei, Y., Uren, V. & Motta, E. 2006 SemSearch: a search engine for the semantic web. In 15th International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management Managing Knowledge in a World of Networks (EKAW 2006). Podebrady, Czech Republic, pp. 238–245.Google Scholar
Lopez, V., Pasin, M. & Motta, E. 2005 AquaLog: an ontology-portable question answering system for the semantic web. In 2nd European Semantic Web Conference (ESWC 2005). Heraklion, Crete, Greece, pp. 546–562.Google Scholar
Lopez, V., Motta, E., Uren, V. 2006 PowerAqua: fishing the Semantic Web. In European Sematic Web Conference (ESWC 2006). Budva, Montenegro, pp. 393–410.Google Scholar
Lopez, V., Sabou, M., & Motta, E. 2006 PowerMap: mapping the real semantic web on the fly. In ISWC. Athens, GA, USA, pp. 414–427.Google Scholar
Marchioni, G. 2006 Exploratory search: from finding to understanding. Communications of the ACM, 49(4), 4146.Google Scholar
Mc Guinness, D. 2004 Question answering on the semantic web. IEEE Intelligent Systems 19(1), 8285Google Scholar
Mihalcea, R. & Moldovan, D. 2005 Semantic indexing using wordnet senses. In Proceedings of the ACL-2000 workshop on Recent advances in natural language processing and information retrieval: held in conjunction with the 38th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics. pp. 35–45.Google Scholar
Motta, E. & Sabou, M. 2006 Next generation semantic web applications. In 1st Asian Semantic Web Conference. Beijing.Google Scholar
schraefel, m.c., Wilson, M., Russell, A., & Smith, D.A., 2006 mSpace: improving information access to multimedia domains with multimodal exploratory search. Communications of the ACM 49(4), 4749.Google Scholar
Shneiderman, B. 1998 Designing the user interface: strategies for effective human-computer interaction, Reading, MA; Harlow: Addison Wesley.Google Scholar
Sinha, V., Karger, D. R. 2005 Magnet: supporting navigation in semistructured data environments. In 2005 ACM SIGMOD International Conference on Management of Data. Baltimore, Maryland, ACM Press, pp. 97–106.Google Scholar
Stuckenschmidt, H., Giunchiglia, F. & van Harmelen, F. 2005 Query Processing in Ontology-Based Peer-to-Peer Systems, In Tamma, V.Cranefield, S.Finin, T.Willmott, S. (eds.), Ontologies for Agents: Theory and Experiences, Birkhäuser. pp. 145–168.Google Scholar
Uren, V., Cimiano, P., Iria, J., Handschuh, S., Vargas-Vera, M., Motta, E. & Ciravegna, F. 2006 Semantic Annotation for Knowledge Management: requirements and a Survey of the State of the Art. Journal of Web Semantics 4(1), 1428.Google Scholar
Vallet, D., Fernández, M. & Castells, P. 2005 The Quest for Information Retrieval on the Semantic Web. Upgrade Journal, Monograph: The Semantic Web 6(6), 1923.Google Scholar
White, R.W., Kules, B. & Bederson, B. 2005 Exploratory Search Interfaces: Categorization, Clustering and Beyond. Report on the XSI 2005 Workshop at the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, University of Maryland. ACM SIGIR Forum 39(2), pp. 5256.Google Scholar
Wu, H., Cheng, G., Qu, Y. 2006 Falcon-S: An ontology-based approach to searching objects and images in the Soccer domain. Supplemental Proceedings of ISWC, Nov. 2006.Google Scholar