Journals: Not Just for Feelings

Journals: Not Just for Feelings

A big congratulations to InfoSeeking’s own Jiqun Liu, a first-year doctoral student whose paper, “Towards a Unified Model of Human Information Behavior: An Equilibrium Perspective,” was accepted by the prestigious Journal of Documentation!

So what is the Journal of Documentation, anyway? A collection of people’s diaries? Not quite. In InfoSeeking-land (and academia, more generally) we strive to have our work accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals, or those serial publications that’s submissions are reviewed by respected members of a certain field. And when it comes to information science, the Journal of Documentation is about as good as it gets. It’s one of the longest-running information science publications and boasts a particular focus on theories and concepts.

Out of the many submissions sent to this journal, Jiqun’s was selected. How? Well, first he had to do his research. With this paper, Jiqun aimed to build a unified model of human information behavior (HIB) for integrating classical constructs and reformulating the structure of HIB theory. Sounds simple, right? HA. Essentially, Jiqun used a complex theory, known as the “equilibrium perspective,” to construct a new framework for HIB. And with this new framework, other scholars–perhaps even some InfoSeekers and Jiqun himself!–will be able to explore HIB from new, exciting perspectives. This is an intriguing possibility in information science, and the Journal of Documentation‘s reviewers agreed, because they accepted Jiqun’s paper!

This is a tangible example of how InfoSeekers innovate and shape the wider information science field. Keep an eye out for Jiqun’s article, which will be formally published in August.

Armed Conflict – a project with the United Nations

Armed Conflict – a project with the United Nations

Conflict is not inevitable, but disarmament is” – Tony Blair

In 2001 Wallensteen, & Sollenberg defined an armed conflict as a contested incompatibility that concerned a government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one was the government of a state, resulted in at least 25 battle-related deaths. However, thanks to the rapid evolution of the nature of conflicts, the above definition and most of our conception and previous studies of armed conflicts are rapidly becoming outdated. For example, their root cause is gradually shifting from territorial gains to other, far more pressing agendas such as gaining control of valuable natural resources including water, energy supplies, sources of rare earth minerals, etc. In this post, I will tell you a bit about armed conflicts and related research, and what myself and some other lab members are doing to contribute to conflicts’ end.

In the early 1970s, environmental issues emerged on the international political agenda. Since then there has been mounting concern that environmental disruption is likely to increase the number of disputes originating from competition for scarce resources (Gleditsch, 1998). Former Norwegian Defense Minister Johan Jørgen Holt (1989) echoed this idea when he cautioned the world that environmental stress was likely to become an increasingly potent contributing factor to major conflicts between nations.

However, that doesn’t mean that territorial claim has entirely lost its potency in terms of its contribution to the conflicts. Recently, economic zones have escalated the territorial conflicts. Disputes occur between countries in close proximity to the sea where tiny islands can sometimes assume monumental national interest because of their consequences for controlling maritime shipping lanes. For example, there are no less than six claimants to all or part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea (Denoon & Brams, 1997), where the use of force anytime cannot be ruled out.

Beyond motivations behind armed conflicts, the nature of war is also changing. For example, the last decade saw a major increase in the number of prolonged civil wars as opposed to short-term border skirmishes. Iraq and Syria provide prime examples. According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syria, facing probably the worst civil war crisis in centuries, has already witnessed at least 321,358 casualties since the war began in March 2011.

(Picture: Free Syrian Army fighters exchange fire with regime forces in the Salah Al Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 22. Credit: James Lawler Duggan)

In 2003, Richard Smalley identified war as the sixth (of ten) biggest problem facing humanity for the next fifty years. War usually results in significant deterioration of infrastructure and the ecosystem, a decrease in social spending, famine, large-scale emigration from the war zone and often the mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilians.

(Picture: A man sits amid debris after an apparently random air attack by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo. Credit: Hosam Katan/Reuters)

Still more disturbing is the fact that those who suffer most in wars are often children, who comprise our next generation. Taking note of the continuously degrading lives of children in war-torn countries, the then UN chief Ban Ki Moon opened the Security Council’s debate on children and armed conflict in August 2016 with, “In places such as Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, children suffer through a living hell.”

(Picture: France is mobilized on the issue of protection of children in armed conflicts. Credit: AFP/Simon Maina)

This is our effort to mitigate the chances of future conflicts by analyzing the characteristics of current world conflicts and studying their evolution from the historical data of previous violence, with the aim to predict what might cause future warfare. For example, we would like to gather information concerning how long conflicts last, casualties and factors contributing to conflicts’ initiation and end. We would like to draw correlations between types of countries, religion, types of parties in conflict, casualties, etc. A preliminary version of the analysis is already available at this link.

Cheers for CHIIR!

Cheers for CHIIR!

Once again, the InfoSeekers experienced great success at an international conference! Last week, many lab members traveled to Oslo, Norway for CHIIR 2017. Mortals may call it the annual Conference on Human Information Interaction & Retrieval.

It was a chilly week, but that didn’t stop anyone from doing what they do best: having fun with their research! Manasa Rath, Yiwei Wang, Shawan Sarkar and Jiqun Liu presented posters, while Long Lee presented a paper on Community Question & Answering services.

But it wasn’t all work and no play! Participants were able to enjoy a wonderful banquet with a rather scenic backdrop and even visit the Nobel Peace Center.

All in all, it was a conference well-spent! And guess what? Seekers won’t have to travel far for CHIIR 2018…it’s happening right in New Brunswick!

Announcing…. Social Information Seeking, the Book!

Announcing…. Social Information Seeking, the Book!

Are you a researcher or graduate student looking for an introduction to a new field in information science, or a developer or system designer interested in building interactive information retrieval systems or social/community-driven interfaces? Do you simply have a passion for hot topics in information science? Then have we got a surprise for you!

 

InfoSeeking’s fearless leader, Dr. Chirag Shah, has authored Social Information Seeking: Leveraging the Wisdom of the Crowd, a new book that summarizes his work on social information seeking (SIS), and at the same time serves as an introduction to the topic.

What is “social information seeking,” you may ask? It is a relatively new area of study concerned with the seeking and acquiring of information from social spaces on the Internet. It involves studying situations, motivations, and methods involved in seeking and sharing of information in participatory online social sites, such as Yahoo! Answers, WikiAnswers, and Twitter, as well as building systems for supporting such activities.

Want to find out more or preorder your copy? Visit Amazon or the Springer site!

 

Happy infoseeking!

 

Annnnnnd We’re Back! Happy 2017.

Annnnnnd We’re Back! Happy 2017.

Hello hello hello!

Happy New Year from the InfoSeeking Lab, and apologies for the gap in posts–we spent some time basking in winter break.

What do lab members do over break, you may wonder? To no one’s surprise, we manage to have some fun and do some work over the four-week gap. Here’s an idea of what lab members have been up to:

On the fun side, we visited with family and friends. Members traveled to North Carolina, Tennessee…even Disney World! And of course we spent time together, as well. Here’s a shot from the end-of-semester luncheon courtesy of our resident photographer, Souvick:

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Once we reigned in 2017, we resumed some work. Students submitting to the 2017 CHIIR conference and various journals have been busy finalizing their papers, while others traveled to conferences happening this month. We’re all particularly jealous of Matt, who went out to Hawaii!

If you want to see just how spectacular 2016 was for Team InfoSeeking, check out our Facebook page! We’re in the middle of a #17for17 countdown, which will lead us right into our spring semester. Break certainly flew by, but we’re all excited to get back to work and answer some more burning questions about information seeking behavior.

(Big) Chill(ing) Out

(Big) Chill(ing) Out

Think the InfoSeekers are all work and no play? Think again!

 

This morning, a team of lab members ran the Rutgers Big Chill 5k Charity Race, a campus tradition that combines fun, exercise, and a good cause. Take a look at Dr. Shah’s view of the crowd:

 

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InfoSeekers past and present came together to run this race…and engage in some quality carbo-loading before they began!

 

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But…would it be a true lab event if some work wasn’t completed? Nope. Matt finished up his race on the computer.

 

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What a start to the fall semester’s home stretch!

Uniting at the UN

Uniting at the UN

Information science research does not only exist within collegiate and conference walls. Recently, a group of talented InfoSeekers partnered with the United Nations to develop projects that will have a global impact.

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Seekers are working on three data science projects in conjunction with UN. One uses the CLEWS (Climate Land Energy Water Strategies) Model to uncover the human factors involved with energy usage. Understanding these factors could facilitate the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Another group of students will investigate how researchers can make informed predictions in voting behavior for the UN General Assembly (GA). The third project analyzes armed conflict data since WWI to hopefully predict the duration of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and identify regions that are prone to future wars. Impressive, no?

If you’d like to read more about these projects and the students who are hard at work with the UN, check out our website.

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Taking ASIST 2016 by Storm

Taking ASIST 2016 by Storm

Ever wondered what it’s like to attend a major information science conference? Want to know what happened when a group of InfoSeekers traveled to Copenhagen to present their research? This post is your chance to find out.

ASIST–or the Association for Information Science and Technology–held its 2016 conference in Copenhagen this past October. Former and current InfoSeekers attended the conference to present their research, network with both students and prominent data scientists, and even accept some well-deserved awards.

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We had quite a few Seekers present their work during the President’s Reception Featuring Posters. Everyone worked especially hard to create visually pleasing, informative posters and “pitch” their research to other attendees. Topics included accessibility for visually impaired persons, conquering information seeking barriers, social media, collaborative information retrieval, and more.

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Lab members Yiwei Wang and Manasa Rath also each received $500 student travel awards during the SIG USE Symposium.

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And it wasn’t all work and no play! Past and present InfoSeekers were able to get together and enjoy a fun evening.

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We’ll soon show you what happens at the next conference, but until then, feel free to read more about these and other accomplishments on our website.

Directing Information Science

Directing Information Science

Here at the InfoSeeking Lab, we really try to focus on our students and their accomplishments. With so many dedicated scholars, it’s hard not to.

 

But student lab members need someone to guide them, and we’re more than fortunate to be led by the indelible Dr. Chirag Shah. Haven’t heard of him? Well, if you’re in the world of information science, it’s only a matter of time until you’ll come across one of his publications. In fact, Dr. Shah was named the 11th most productive Library & Information Science scholar from 2008-2013. Check out his distinction from Library and Information Science. 

 

Keep your eye out–Dr. Shah has published a great deal more (often with current and past lab members!) in the past three years, so we can’t wait to see how he ranks next!

Seeking to Succeed

Seeking to Succeed

Web 2.0. Social media. Collaborative information seeking. Social information seeking. Information seeking technology. Information seeking failures. Social Q&A. Information seeking behaviors.

 

What do the above concepts have in common? They represent only some of the relevant and fascinating topics explored by members of the InfoSeeking Lab. Through various research endeavors, conference presentations, and publications, InfoSeekers pave the way for more efficient and effective information seeking practices to come to life. And, if we do say so ourselves, they do quite an excellent job.

 

So how can you keep track of everything our Seekers are doing? You can visit their individual profiles, our lab’s Accomplishments page, and a list of their current projects. You can also get a retrospective and current updates from our Facebook page. But, for now, here’s a round-up of some exciting events from 2016 conferences that you may have missed.

 

Lab member Long Le, along with Director Chirag Shah and former InfoSeeker Erik Choi, won best student paper at JCDL (Joint Conference on Digital Libraries) 2016  in Newark, NJ for “Evaluating the Quality of Education Answers in Community Question-Answering.”

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Dongho Choi won the best presentation award at the SIGIR (Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval) 2016 Doctoral Consortium in Pisa, Italy for “A Study on Information Seeking Behavior Using Physical and Online Explorations.”

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Keep checking in to find out what we do next!