The effect of inter-assessor disagreement on IR system evaluation: A case study with lancers and students

Tetsuya Sakai*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This paper reports on a case study on the inter-assessor disagreements in the English NTCIR-13 We Want Web (WWW) collection. For each of our 50 topics, pooled documents were independently judged by three assessors: two "lancers" and one Waseda University student. A lancer is a worker hired through a Japanese part time job matching website, where the hirer is required to rate the quality of the lancer's work upon task completion and therefore the lancer has a reputation to maintain. Nine lancers and five students were hired in total; the hourly pay was the same for all assessors. On the whole, the inter-assessor agreement between two lancers is statistically significantly higher than that between a lancer and a student. We then compared the system rankings and statistical significance test results according to different qrels versions created by changing which asessors to rely on: overall, the outcomes do differ according to the qrels versions, and those that rely on multiple assessors have a higher discriminative power than those that rely on a single assessor. Furthermore, we consider removing topics with relatively low inter-assessor agreements from the original topic set: we thus rank systems using 27 high-agreement topics, after removing 23 low-agreement topics. While the system ranking with the full topic set and that with the high-agreement set are statistically equivalent, the ranking with the high-agreement set and that with the low-agreement set are not. Moreover, the low-agreement set substantially underperforms the full and the high-agreement sets in terms of discriminative power. Hence, from a statistical point of view, our results suggest that a high-agreement topic set is more useful for finding concrete research conclusions than a low-agreement one.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-38
    Number of pages8
    JournalCEUR Workshop Proceedings
    Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1
    Event8th International Workshop on Evaluating Information Access, EVIA 2017 - Tokyo, Japan
    Duration: 2017 Dec 5 → …


    • Inter-assessor agreement
    • P-values
    • Relevance assessments
    • Statistical significance

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Computer Science(all)


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