I think that's quite possible.
Here are a couple references I am familiar with.
Walker/Janes/Tenopir's Online Retrieval is a bit dated but it does discuss
the subject of precision and recall in bibliographic database searching.
Beyond bibliographic databases, Baeza-Yates/Riberio-Neto's discusses the
subject in a broader context.
On Fri, Jun 3, 2011 at 10:53 AM, Fleming, Declan <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi - I'm wondering if she is using a definition of "database" that seems to
> be common in libraries, that means "a resource on the web that we pay for".
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
> Alain Borel
> Sent: Friday, June 03, 2011 10:24 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Precision and Recall
> Dave Caroline <[log in to unmask]> a écrit :
> > The questions seem related to search engines or should you be googling
> > for full text indexes or the other more correct name inverted index.
> > Because in the normal scheme of events databases return exactly what
> > you ask for.
> One could argue that the same thing happens with search engines. After all,
> both databases and search engines are deterministic programs that provide a
> set of records in response to a query.
> Precision and recall are not determined by what you ask - what defines them
> is how relevant the output records are with respect to a real-life question.
> It isn't tied to a technology. Of course, it can be more or less difficult
> to translate this question into a query, and the program might be more or
> less "smart" while processing the query.
> Both aspects affect precision and recall, in my opinion.
> Anybody who ever used a bibliographic database using Google-like queries
> can testify that a database can have extremely poor precision and recall in
> some use cases ;-)
> Best regards,
> Alain Borel
> EPFL Bibliothèque
> Rolex Learning Center
> 1015 Lausanne (Switzerland)