Precision and Recall - Patent Searching Basics

If you want to learn one piece of jargon today, this is it!

Next time you are asked to perform a patent search and you are asked to perform a 'narrow' or a 'broad' search, you can use these fancy, though technically correct, terms, and make an impression.

These terms are 'Precision' and 'Recall'.

Almost everyone who has conducted a patent search wants to be able to cover everything relevant and minimize junk (irrelevant references).

A narrow search is supposed to get you the most relevant items with minimum junk, while missing a significant portion of relevant references it fails to cover.

A broad search may very well cover a large part of the relevant references, while giving you a lot of junk.

How do you technically measure the 'efficiency' of your search strategy?

RECALL is the ratio of the number of relevant records retrieved to the total number of relevant records in the database. It is usually expressed as a percentage.

PRECISION is the ratio of the number of relevant records retrieved to the total number of irrelevant and relevant records retrieved. It is usually expressed as a percentage.

If the goal of the search is to find everything on a topic, you strategy should have a high RECALL

If the goal is to find just a few relevant papers, your strategy must have a high PRECISION

Get these terms in your vocab from today.