FollowIR: Evaluating and Teaching Information Retrieval Models to Follow Instructions

Published on Mar 22
· Featured in Daily Papers on Mar 25


Modern Large Language Models (LLMs) are capable of following long and complex instructions that enable a diverse amount of user tasks. However, despite Information Retrieval (IR) models using LLMs as the backbone of their architectures, nearly all of them still only take queries as input, with no instructions. For the handful of recent models that do take instructions, it's unclear how they use them. We introduce our dataset FollowIR, which contains a rigorous instruction evaluation benchmark as well as a training set for helping IR models learn to better follow real-world instructions. FollowIR builds off the long history of the TREC conferences: as TREC provides human annotators with instructions (also known as narratives) to determine document relevance, so should IR models be able to understand and decide relevance based on these detailed instructions. Our evaluation benchmark starts with three deeply judged TREC collections and alters the annotator instructions, re-annotating relevant documents. Through this process, we can measure how well IR models follow instructions, through a new pairwise evaluation framework. Our results indicate that existing retrieval models fail to correctly use instructions, using them for basic keywords and struggling to understand long-form information. However, we show that it is possible for IR models to learn to follow complex instructions: our new FollowIR-7B model has significant improvements (over 13%) after fine-tuning on our training set.


This is an automated message from the Librarian Bot. I found the following papers similar to this paper.

The following papers were recommended by the Semantic Scholar API

Please give a thumbs up to this comment if you found it helpful!

If you want recommendations for any Paper on Hugging Face checkout this Space

You can directly ask Librarian Bot for paper recommendations by tagging it in a comment: @librarian-bot recommend

Sign up or log in to comment

Models citing this paper 1

Datasets citing this paper 4

Spaces citing this paper 0

No Space linking this paper

Cite in a Space to link it from this page.

Collections including this paper 4