May 18, 2022

Journal Article: “Studying Effectiveness of Web Search For Fact Checking”

The article linked below was recently published by the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST).


Studying Effectiveness of Web Search For Fact Checking


Maram Hasanain
Qatar University

Tamer Elsayed
Qatar University


Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST)
First Published: October 14, 2021
DOI: 10.1002/asi.24577


Web search is commonly used by fact checking systems as a source of evidence for claim verification. In this work, we demonstrate that the task of retrieving pages useful for fact checking, called evidential pages, is indeed different from the task of retrieving topically relevant pages that are typically optimized by search engines; thus, it should be handled differently. We conduct a comprehensive study on the performance of retrieving evidential pages over a test collection we developed for the task of re-ranking Web pages by usefulness for fact-checking. Results show that pages (retrieved by a commercial search engine) that are topically relevant to a claim are not always useful for verifying it, and that the engine’s performance in retrieving evidential pages is weakly correlated with retrieval of topically relevant pages. Additionally, we identify types of evidence in evidential pages and some linguistic cues that can help predict page usefulness. Moreover, preliminary experiments show that a retrieval model leveraging those cues has a higher performance compared to the search engine. Finally, we show that existing systems have a long way to go to support effective fact checking. To that end, our work provides insights to guide design of better future systems for the task.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.