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Evaluating the suitability of Web search engines as proxies for knowledge discovery from the Web

Many researchers use the Web search engines’ hit count as an estimator of the Web information distribution in a variety of knowledge-based (linguistic) tasks. Even though many studies have been conducted on the retrieval effectiveness of Web search engines for Web users, few of them have evaluated them as research tools. In this study we analyse the currently available search engines and evaluate the suitability and accuracy of the hit counts they provide as estimators of the frequency/probability of textual entities. From the results of this study, we identify the search engines best suited to be used in linguistic research.

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