The IIiX 2010 Doctoral Consortium was a rather intense ten hours filled with great ideas and discussion. We had 11 students and six advisers, representing a broad range of universities and areas of interest related to information seeking. Each student made a 20-25 minute presentation, followed by questions from the advisers and from other students; in addition, there were two 45 minute one-one-one sessions during which students received feedback from an adviser, and also from another student.
This discussion raised a range of interesting (and sometimes in quite challenging) issues, including:
- How do you evaluate the effectiveness of personalized recommendations for health-related searches? Challenges include dealing with privacy and establishing whether information needs have been truly satisfied. (Anushia Inthiran, School of Information Technology, Monash University Sunway Campus)
- What features are effective for relevance feedback?(Emanuele Di Buccio, Department of Information Engineering, University of Padua)
- How do you operationalize serendipity so that systems that support information seeking can trigger leaps of insight without offering people spurious or distracting information? (Lori McCay-Peet, Information Management and Computer Science, Dalhousie University)
- Can you build a principled model of information seeking based on observing and grouping behaviors that reflect a searcher’s plans and actions (in the congitive modeling sense)? (Michael J. Cole, School of Communication & Information, Rutgers University)
- Can implicit measures of relevance be tailored to specfic retrieval contexts to offer personalized relevance feedback for different kinds of tasks? This work highlights the challenges of collecting effective implicit relevance feedback; this is an area that has received some attention in the past ten years, and it will be interesting to see if significant progress can be made, or whether the low-hanging fruit have all been collected. (Chang Liu, School of Communication & Information, Rutgers University)
- Social workers in the child protection area face particular challenges with respect to their information needs. This work seems to be situated at the intersection of information seeking, CSCW, and HCI. (Saila Huuskonen, Department of Information Studies and Interactive Media, University of Tampere)
- What are the cultural aspects that affect people’s understanding of documents that have been found through information seeking? Do people with different cultural backgrounds interpret various document genres differently, and how can these differences be surfaced in information seeking support systems?(Min-Chun Ku, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University)
- What is the role that social media plays in supporting the work practices of management consultants? Are there pragmatic benefits for incorporating social media into their work practices, or is it just a post-modern distraction? (Matthias Görtz, Institute of Information Science and Language Technology, University of Hildesheim)
- Children who browse on search on the web represent a distinct user population with particular needs for information filtering and for presentation. There are many challenges around evaluation of such specialized systems, in part due to lack of good test collections. (Sergio Duarte Torres, Database Group, University of Twente)
- Groups pose specific challenges for collaborative information seeking; this work seeks to understand group dynamics and information use of students working collaboratively on class assignments. It contrasts ongoing and short-term aspects of collaborative information seeking. (Sandra L. Toze, iLab, Faculty of Management, Dalhouise University)
- Folders that we use to store files on operating systems may be more effective finding aids if their names are incorporated into indexes of files they contain. One tension here is that folders are named in a different cognitive context than when they are used; allowing multiple tags to be associated with folders (or deriving the tags from folder names) may be some steps toward mitigating premature commitment in naming folders. (Hong Zhang, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
I am hoping that we will be able to collect the presentations and make them available online.
It’s exciting to see the breadth of intellectual ambition in these plans, even though much will need to be pruned in the process of producing a dissertation in a manageable amount of time. I hope that the doctoral consortium students enjoyed and benefited from this experience, and I encourage others to apply for these programs at relevant conferences. It’s a good way to get sanity checks on your ideas, and to meet peers and mentors in a friendly environment. But do come prepared: in putting together this post, I was unable to find appropriate web pages for some of the participants. This is a bad thing, and particularly ironic for information science researchers. Having a web presence through which others can learn about your work is an important aspect of your academic career. Don’t neglect it!