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The paper highlights the ever increasing complexity in the evaluation of IR systems which has arisen over the last decade. Relevance, cognition, user behaviour, interaction and a changing view of the boundaries of the system are considered to be contributory factors. Issues such as laboratory versus operational systems, black-box versus diagnostic experiments, and qualitative and quantitative methods, are discussed and supported by examples drawn from three groups of evaluative experiments:doi:10.1016/0306-4573(92)90004-j fatcat:qpi33c2y25fyfftdtwe2ggehca