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UNC professors awarded NSF grant to develop systems that utilize search trails


Have you ever been struggling to find information on a particularly complex topic and thought “I can’t possibly be the first person to look for this”? You probably were not, and the searchers who preceded you may have left valuable “search trails” – including queries issued, results clicked, pages viewed, pages bookmarked, and annotations entered – that could help you locate what you need.

Rob Capra and Jaime Arguello, professors at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), recently received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant worth nearly $500,000 to develop and evaluate systems that will automatically display relevant search trails as a form of search assistance to users. The project has the potential to improve a broad range of systems, including web search engines used by millions, digital libraries, and enterprise and website-specific search engines.

“Prior research has suggested the usefulness of search trails, but has not answered key research challenges required to design and implement them,” Capra said. “The system needs to predict when to display search trails to a user, which trails to display, and how to display them in a way that supports the user’s goal.”

Capra and Arguello will execute their project in three phases. Phase 1 will determine which factors of the user, task, and system influence whether a searcher wants help, for what purpose, and whether they are able to gain useful information. Phase 2 will develop models for predicting when to show trails to a user based on user and task features, as well as behavioral measures that indicate whether a searcher is having difficulty. Finally, Phase 3 will develop models for predicting which trails to show for the current search session.

Read more on the UNC iSchool website.


Berkeley’s iSchool Review Seeks Contributions from Masters’ Students


The iSchool at the University of California, Berkeley has issued a Call for Contributions to the third issue of The iSchool Review. The publication debuted two years ago, designed specifically for work from master’s students in professional degree programs.

The Call for Contributions contains complete submission guidelines. Submissions will be reviewed in two rounds, with Round 1 submissions due Oct. 27, 2017 and Round 2 due Nov. 17, 2017. Submissions from students at any iSchool will be considered.

Those interested in learning more about the publication are invited to review issue #2 online.

The iSchool Review is a publication of the iSchool at Berkeley, a member of iSchools Organization; the iSchools Organization endorses the publication, but is not responsible for its content.


iSchools Welcome Two New Members


The iSchools are pleased to announce two new additions to its consortium of institutions dedicated to leading and promoting the information field. The new schools are the Wayne State University School of Information Sciences, and the State University of New York at Buffalo’s Department of Library and Information Studies.

With these additions, iSchools membership now totals 86 institutions, with several more currently undergoing consideration.

“The continued growth of the iSchools organization is a testament to the increasing momentum of the iSchools movement worldwide,” said iSchools Executive Director Michael Seadle.

About the iSchools
The iSchools organization was founded in 2001 by a collective of Information Schools dedicated to advancing the information field in the 21st Century. It has since grown into a consortium of more than 80 universities and institutions spanning five continents.

The iSchools organization supports and recognizes student achievement through its annual Doctoral Colloquium and Doctoral Dissertation Award, as well as other special contests and mentoring opportunities. The iSchools also provide collaboration tools and other support to assist faculty in their teaching and research endeavors. Every year, the iSchools organization presents the iConference, a forum in which information scholars, researchers and professionals share their insights on critical information issues in contemporary society. The next iConference is scheduled to take place March 25-28, 2018 in Sheffield, UK, under the theme “Transforming Digital Worlds.”


UMD iSchool’s Dr. Marciano receives Emmett Leahy Award for pioneering work in records and information management


The Emmett Leahy Award annually honors a pioneer in the field of records and information management. The 2017 award recognizes Dr. Richard Marciano’s outstanding and sustained work in digital records and information management. His insightful development of cyberinfrastructure to support records management has resulted in new methodologies, experimental systems, and analytics – producing new knowledge and new ways to understand the past. Dr. Marciano’s work has led to innovative advancements in record keeping for the humanities, sciences, and archives.

Dr. Marciano is a professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, Director of the Digital Curation Innovation Center (DCIC), and Director of the Sustainable Archives and Leveraging Technologies (SALT) lab. Prior to that, he conducted research at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego for over a decade with an affiliation in the Division of Social Sciences in the Urban Studies and Planning program. His research interests center on digital preservation, sustainable archives, cyberinfrastructure, and big data.

Click here for more on the UMD website.


Your last weekend to finalize iConference submissions


The iConference 2018 submission deadline is Monday, Sept. 18, 2017. This is the last weekend for authors to finish up papers, posters, doctoral colloquium applications and other submissions.

The conference will accept submissions throughout the day on Monday, Sept. 19. When the time/date code at the top of the secure submission website rolls over to Tuesday, the conference will close to further submissions.

iConference 2018 will take place March 25-28, 2018, in Sheffield, UK. This is the iSchools’ thirteenth annual gathering of scholars, researchers and professionals who share an interest in the critical information issues of contemporary society. The 2018 theme is “Transforming Digital Worlds,” and the aim is to bring together thinkers and leaders from academia, industry and not-for-profit organizations, to discuss emerging challenges and potential solutions for information and data management in our rapidly changing world.

Accepted 2018 papers will be published in Springer’s Lecture Notes in Computer Science series and will therefore be indexed by major services such as Web of Science and Scopus. The papers will be published as Green Open Access allowing them to be deposited in institutional repositories as well as in the open access Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS).

iConference 2018 is jointly organised by two of the UK’s iSchools: The University of Sheffield’s Information School and the iSchool at Northumbria. iConference 2018 will be hosted in Sheffield, a city of stunning landscapes – the greenest in Europe, creative, welcoming and rich in culture and history, but with a modern outlook and lots to see and do.

The iConference is presented by the iSchools organization, a worldwide consortium of information schools dedicated to advancing the information field, and preparing students to meet the information challenges of the 21st Century. Affiliation with the iSchools is not a prerequisite of participation; we encourage all information scholars and practitioners to take part in the conference.


Nominations Sought for Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award


Nominations for the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award are being sought by the iSchool at Illinois. The deadline for nominations has been extended to October 10, 2017.

The annual award acknowledges individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it impacts libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or a long-term interest in and dedication to the cause of intellectual freedom.

The Downs Award was established in 1969 by the Illinois iSchool’s faculty to honor Dean Emeritus Robert B. Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on the occasion of his twenty-fifth anniversary as director of the school.

The Downs Award recipient will receive an honorarium from Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO Publishing Company. The honoree will be recognized during the 2018 American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Nomination instructions and a list of past recipients can be found on the Downs Award website.


Maryland iSchool Teams Up with Others to Tackle the Big Data Free-for-All


From mobile phone apps to website search engines, wearable technology to social platforms, consumer information has become highly trackable and available, resulting in an ethically questionable free-for-all in research and marketing. But consumers aren’t the only ones concerned about how their personal information is being collected and used. The University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies has formed a project team with five other research institutions to explore the ethics of how these data are captured and used.

The four-year project, PERVADE (Pervasive Data Ethics for Computational Research), was awarded a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation in August 2017. Prior research on ethics of large and pervasive data has hit roadblocks caused by a lack of empirical knowledge. The PERVADE team looks to “reveal ethical practices and norms to guide those who utilize big data and to inform policy-making and regulation,” says Dr. Katie Shilton, Associate Professor in the College of Information Studies at UMD and principal investigator on the grant.

PERVADE brings together a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in computational science, research ethics, data practices, law and policy, health information, social computing, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and data privacy:
Dr. Katie Shilton – College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park
Dr. Jessica Vitak – College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park
Dr. Matthew Bietz – Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine
Dr. Casey Fiesler – Department of Information Science, College of Media, Communication and Information at University of Colorado Boulder
Dr. Jacob Metcalf – Data & Society Research Institute
Dr. Arvind Narayanan – Department of Computer Science at Princeton University
Dr. Michael Zimmer – School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The project’s research focus will extend across consumers, big data researchers, commercial providers, and regulators, both domestically and internationally, to explore how these diverse stakeholders understand their ethical obligations and choices, and how their decisions impact data system design and use.

Specific issues that the PERVADE team will examine include how people experience the reuse of their personal data; what social factors influence people’s willingness to share their data; how and when consent should be given; and how consumers’ concerns can be shared with data system designers and big data researchers.

Click here for more on the University of Maryland iSchool website.


2017 iFellows Doctoral Fellowship Competition


The iFellows Doctoral Fellowship Program will award a two-year fellowship of $50,000 to selected iSchool PhD students during the 2017 – 2018 academic year to pursue independent dissertation research that supports the goals of the Coherence at Scale Program. Coherence at Scale is a broad-based program aimed at coordinating and aggregating national-scale digital projects in order to promote the development of new technology environments to support advanced scholarship across disciplines.

iFellows will be selected following a two-step application process that consists of a Letter of Intent and, if invited to do so, a Full Proposal. The Letter of Intent should demonstrate how the student’s dissertation topic aligns with and complements a topic of interest to the Coherence at Scale project.

Dissertation research relevant to elucidating technology and organizational issues related to Coherence at Scale goals would include topics bearing broadly on interoperability issues of scalable digital infrastructures, the information lifecycle, new scholarly workflows, and Internet accessible, open source tools, and resources for computation and data-intensive digital scholarship.

The Coherence at Scale Program is led by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh will serve as the administrative organization for the iFellows Program. Funding support is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Applicants must be currently enrolled at an iSchools member-institution. Other eligibility requirements are listed on the program website. The application deadline is October 31, 2017.

For more information, visit


UI iSchool’s Prof. Twidale named Outstanding Information Science Teacher by ASIS&T


University of Illinois Professor Michael Twidale, program director for the UI iSchool’s MS in information management, is the 2017 recipient of the Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award from the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). The award recognizes Twidale’s unique teaching contributions through his methods of explaining highly technical material to students in various learning environments.

According to nominator Linda C. Smith, UI professor and associate dean for academic programs, Twidale “has been an outstanding information science teacher throughout his twenty years at Illinois, with his impact extending literally around the world. In courses such as Interfaces to Information Systems, Entrepreneurial IT Design, and Museum Informatics, whether face to face, online, or hybrid, he consistently performs as a master teacher with a strong commitment to students.”

Twidale will be presented with the award at the 2017 ASIS&T Annual Meeting, which will be held from October 27 to November 1 in Washington D.C.

“I am thrilled to receive this award from my professional association. It is an honor to be recognized for my efforts in developing innovative methods to engage and inspire students,” Twidale said.

Read the complete story on the University of Illinois website.


UNC health informatics program awarded $3.1 million from NIH-NLM


The Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP) has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-National Library of Medicine (NLM) T15 Biomedical Informatics and Data Science Training grant. Only a handful of U.S. organizations were selected for this highly-competitive and prestigious award, which will provide approximately $3.1 million for doctoral student support, post-doctoral appointments, and short-term summer training for undergraduate students. The grant will serve as a significant resource for CHIP’s recently established PhD in health informatics.

“CHIP has already made great strides in improving health data analytics and analytics systems usability through our master’s degree and certificate programs,” said CHIP Director and UNC Professor Javed Mostafa, who is the lead investigator on the T15 grant. “Research by doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows, guided by CHIP’s world-class, interdisciplinary faculty, will advance this success even further, helping to improve the quality of health care for North Carolina citizens and the world.”

The UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) is a lead partner in the CHIP program, which draws faculty and expertise from units across campus, including the UNC School of Medicine, Gillings School of Global Pubic Health, UNC School of Nursing, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, UNC School of Dentistry, and Computer Science Department. Read more>