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What Makes a Good Summary? Reconsidering the Focus of Automatic Summarization

12/14/2020
by   Maartje ter Hoeve, et al.
19

Automatic text summarization has enjoyed great progress over the last years. Now is the time to re-assess its focus and objectives. Does the current focus fully adhere to users' desires or should we expand or change our focus? We investigate this question empirically by conducting a survey amongst heavy users of pre-made summaries. We find that the current focus of the field does not fully align with participants' wishes. In response, we identify three groups of implications. First, we argue that it is important to adopt a broader perspective on automatic summarization. Based on our findings, we illustrate how we can expand our view when it comes to the types of input material that is to be summarized, the purpose of the summaries and their potential formats. Second, we define requirements for datasets that can facilitate these research directions. Third, usefulness is an important aspect of summarization that should be included in our evaluation methodology; we propose a methodology to evaluate the usefulness of a summary. With this work we unlock important research directions for future work on automatic summarization and we hope to initiate the development of methods in these directions.

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