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InfoSeekers Are Key to Success of the Third Annual CHIIR Conference

InfoSeekers Are Key to Success of the Third Annual CHIIR Conference

Three cheers to InfoSeeking Lab Director Chirag Shah and several other InfoSeekers who helped organize and host a successful CHIIR conference.


On March 11, some 130 researchers from 25 countries in North America, Europe and Australia descended on New Brunswick for five days of workshops, presentations, tutorials, networking and fun.

CHIIR stands for the Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval, which is sponsored by the Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval (SIGIR), in cooperation with (SIGCHI). The international conference represents a merger of two successful past events: the Information Interaction in Context (IIiX) conference and the Human Computer Information Retrieval (HCIR) symposium, which have run since 2006 and 2007, respectively.

The events took place at the SC&I building on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers and at The Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick. This year’s keynote speakers were Pertti Vakkari from Finland’s University of Tampere and Susan Dumais from Microsoft. Dr. Vakkari spoke about “Information Search Processes in Complex Tasks,” focusing on key areas in information retrieval, such as how the effect of information search would depend on task outcome. Dr. Dumais’s talk, entitled, “Better Together: Interdisciplinary Perspective on Information Retrieval,” reflected on her work in Information Retrieval and Human-Computer Interaction and provided some predictions on the future of search on the Web.

The major areas of study discussed at CHIIR 2018 included user-centered aspects of information interaction and information retrieval focusing on aspects of human involvement in search activities, and information seeking and use in context.

InfoSeeking Lab Director Chirag Shah said, “I’m very proud of InfoSeekers for representing our lab at this international conference – not just with their scholarly contributions (papers, posters, demos, doctoral consortium), but also in helping organize this event.”

Susan Dumais of Microsoft taking questions following her keynote address.
There were 22 full papers, two dozen short papers (posters), five demos, 10 doctoral dissertation proposals, four tutorials, and two workshops.
Most attendees participated in sessions on full papers, short papers,
demonstrations, and the doctoral consortium.
InfoSeekers at the welcome reception at Zimmerli Art Museum. InfoSeekers contributed four full papers, some short papers, a couple of demos, and a doctoral consortium presentation.
Nick Belkin, Pertti Vakkari and Souvick Ghosh at the Welcome Reception at the Zimmerli Art Museum on the Rutgers campus, which featured the exhibition “Set in Stone: Lithography in Paris, 1815-1900.”
The banquet dinner was held at Ria Mar, a Portuguese restaurant in New Brunswick. A highlight was seeing Chirag warm up the dance floor. (Did you know he’s a trained ballroom
This year’s conference was sponsored by Siemens, Rutgers SC&I, Google, and Microsoft.
A snap of the student get-together at the Hub City Brewhouse in New Brunswick.
CHIIR 2019 will be held in Glasgow, Scotland. Looking forward to 2020, the conference will be in Vancouver, Canada, and in 2021, Canberra, Australia.

Photo credits: Souvick Ghosh, Matt Mitsui, Chirag Shah.

Celebrating Ten Years of Coagmento!

Celebrating Ten Years of Coagmento!

A wedding for which the planning was facilitated by Coagmento.

Coagmento was initially developed by Chirag Shah, in 2007, as a research project for his PhD dissertation. When Dr. Shah brought Coagmento to Rutgers University, it was further developed by his PhD student Roberto Gonzalez-Ibanez, followed by several other undergraduate and graduate students at Rutgers. Over the decade, many iterations of Coagmento have been released in Beta and public versions, as it continues to be tested and used and some bugs worked out. In 2013, Coagmento Collaboratory was released and later that year the first full version, Coagmento 1.0, was released. In 2016, Coagmento 2.0 was released, and later this year Coagmento 3.0 will be released with the aim to be even more user friendly.

What exactly is Coagmento and what does it do? Coagmento is a Web-based, open-source tool for information seeking that facilitates the collecting of information and collaborating on projects in teams. It helps the user at every step by recording visited Websites, bookmarking pages, and collecting pictures or snippets of text or source information. All along a live chat feature allows team members to confer from remote locations over multiple sessions. At the back-end, Coagmento is comprised of two major components: (1) Node.js, which creates a server-side notification framework and “push notifications,” and (2) is coded in Laravel, a Model-View-Controller PHP framework that supports several SQL databases. Since version 2.0, Coagmento has been available through GitHub as an open-source tool.

Coagmento 1.0 in action.

On the serious side, Coagmento can allow collaborators to work on challenging informational tasks. For example, it could help siblings gather information about their parent’s illness so they can be proactive in making decisions. In a classroom setting, Coagmento has been deployed for dozens of students to up to several hundred to facilitate collaboration. Keeping track of disparate pieces of information means that when the student/researcher sits down to write a report or create a presentation, the information is saved in a workspace where it can be put it together.

Coagmento 2.0 in action.

On the lighter side, Dr. Shah said, “When my wife Lori and I were planning our wedding, we used Coagmento to keep track of places in the North Carolina mountains for location consideration so we could make a decision with all the pieces in front of us.” He continued, “But, it’s come a long way since then as not only a tool but also a platform for supporting and studying individual and collaborative information seeking.”

Here’s a toast to the next ten years as Coagmento continues to evolve in usefulness and application to many of life’s information challenges.



InfoSeekers Rock ASIS&T 80th Annual Meeting

InfoSeekers Rock ASIS&T 80th Annual Meeting

Rutgers University InfoSeeking students and professors were a significant presence at the ASIS&T conference at the Crystal City Hyatt in Washington DC, Oct. 28-Nov. 1. Here are the highlights.

On Oct. 28, Rebecca Reynolds from Rutgers, led a pre-conference SIG/INFOLEARN workshop with Soo Young Rieh, University of Michigan, called “Information and Learning Sciences Research as an Integral Scholarly Nexus.”

On Oct. 29, an all-Rutgers student and professor Community Informatics paper presentation was made by Manasa Rath, Chirag Shah and Diana Floegel: “Identifying the Reasons Contributing to Question Deletion in Educational Q&A.” Pictured at left is Manasa Rath taking questions.

On Monday, Oct.  30, an all-Rutgers Information Retrieval paper presentation on a field study was made by Yiwei Wang, Jiqun Liu, Soumik Mandal, and our fearless leader Chirag Shah, on “Search Successes and Failures in Query Segments and Search Tasks.”  Pictured: Yiwei Wang introducing the paper.

Later, on Oct. 30, Kaitlin Costello from Rutgers served on a panel session concerning “Health Information Behavior Research with Marginalized Populations,” along with Blake Hawkins, University of British Columbia, Tiffany Veinot, University of Michigan, Amelia Gibson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Devon Greyson, British Columbia Children’s Hospital.

InfoSeeker posters were presented by Jonathan Pulliza, Souvick Ghosh, JiHo An, and Roberto González Ibáñez.  Below to the right is Jonathan Pulliza presenting his poster on “Investigating the Efficacy of Sentence Filtering in Predicting Analysts Ratings Following a 10-K Filing.”

Immediately below (left) is Souvick Ghosh presenting his and Chirag Shah’s poster on “Information Seeking in Learning-Oriented Search.”

What’s a hard day’s work at ASIS&T without a chance to relax, reflect and socialize? InfoSeekers, pictured at table, never miss an opportunity for good food and conversation.
Oct. 31 was the day for Chirag Shah and Vivek Singh, from Rutgers, to serve on a panel called “From Sensors to Sense-Making: Opportunities and Challenges for Information Science.” Also on the panel were Cathal Gurrin, Dublin City University; Jacek Gwizdka, University of Texas at Austin; and Hideo Joho, University of Tsukuba.

That evening (Halloween), Chirag Shah chaired SIG/CON, where Jonathan Pulliza presented a research talk with a twist!

On Nov. 1, the final morning of ASIS&T 2017, Rutgers Ph.D. student Manasa Rath moderated the panel discussion, “Learnsourcing: Is it Working or Failing, and Where to Go from Here?” Presenters and participants were Chirag Shah from Rutgers; Oleksandr Zakharchuk from Brainly Inc.; Rich Gazan from the University of Hawaii; Sanghee Oh from Chungnam National University in South Korea; and Mega Subramaniam from the University of Maryland.

Also on Nov. 1, Shawon Sarkar, Yiwei Wang and Chirag Shah presented the paper, “Investigating Relations of Information Seeking Outcomes to the Selection and Use of Information Sources.”

Pictured right is Shawon Sarkar presenting her paper.





Last but most definitely not least, we must recognize Yiwei Wang for the New Leader Award that she was given at ASIS&T. After considering applications from seven countries, the ASIS&T Leadership Program Selection Committee granted a New Leader Award to Yiwei Wang, a Ph.D. candidate in Information Science at Rutgers. Eight students received the award. Congratulation, Yiwei!

Yiwei Wang Wins New Leader Award at ASIS&T

Yiwei Wang Wins New Leader Award at ASIS&T

After considering applications from seven countries, the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Leadership Program Selection Committee granted a New Leader Award to Yiwei Wang (pictured right), a Ph.D. candidate in Information Science at Rutgers, at the annual meeting in Washington, D.C. this week. Eight students received the award.

The award is given to students who are considered likely to contribute to ASIS&T. It is a financial grant that helps defray the travel costs to two consecutive ASIS&T meetings. As an awardee, Yiwei has been assigned a mentor, Dr. Beth St. Jean from the University of Maryland.

Yiwei will volunteer for the Special Interest Group of Information Needs, Seeking and Use (SIGUSE). She will continue her role as treasurer for the New Jersey Chapter of ASIS&T.
And, Yiwei will be expected to complete several leadership exploration tasks including writing about her experiences, lessons and goals related to her involvement with ASIS&T.

Congratulations, Yiwei!

Congratulations to Dr. Choi!

Congratulations to Dr. Choi!

Last week our very own Dongho Choi successfully defended his dissertation, “A Study of Information Seeking Behavior: Investigating Exploratory Behavior in Physical & Online Spaces” in front of a demanding panel of fellow scholars.

Dongho Choi, center, after defending his dissertation, flanked by Vivek Singh and Chirag Shah.

Dongho’s dissertation investigates individuals’ behaviors during online and physical search tasks to identify their behavioral patterns. He gathered data from 31 participants whose behavior during web search and physical search tasks was collected via eye-tracker, web browser and wearable video recorder. His analysis suggests that individuals have preferred searching strategies that they adopt in different tasks and environments. He found that the behavioral pattern, however, was affected by the task type and the way information is structured in the environments.

Chirag Shah said, “Dongho has been an invaluable member of InfoSeeking Lab over the past four years. He worked on an NSF-funded project for social media, and a Google-funded project for sensor-based information seeking. Time flies, and I can’t believe it’s already time for Dongho to fly away! Congratulations to Dr. Choi for the successful defense of his dissertation. My best wishes to him and his family for the next chapter of their lives.”

Where in the World is Chirag Shah?

Where in the World is Chirag Shah?

Summertime can mean many things in the world of academia, and this season found our director, Dr. Chirag Shah, taking his work on an international tour. After being named a Rutgers New Brunswick Chancellor’s Scholar, receiving an NIH grant for over $1.4 million, and publishing a new book on Social Information Seeking, Dr. Shah’s 2017 has already been a great success. Check out where he’s been recently to present research!

First up, Dr. Shah served as a Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Informatics (NII) in Tokyo, where he presented a talk on “Information Fostering.”

Next, he went to Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, South Korea, and gave a talk on “Social Information Seeking.”

From there, Dr. Shah taught about “Social and Collaborative Search” at the Asian Summer School on Information Access, 2017. 

FINALLY, and currently, Dr. Shah has come full circle by attending the annual SIGIR conference back in Tokyo.

We’re certainly proud of our director and thrilled that work pursued by the InfoSeeking Lab is making a global impact.

Exciting ASISTance for the Lab

Exciting ASISTance for the Lab

It’s been quite a week thus far in the InfoSeeking lab, and it’s only Wednesday!

On Monday, acceptances were released for the ASIST (that’s Association for Information Science and Technology) 2017 conference, held from October 27-November 1 in Washington, D.C. A number papers completed by InfoSeekers were selected! Here’s a brief recap.


Yiwei Wang, Jiqun Liu, Soumik Mandal, and Chirag Shah were accepted for their paper, “Search Successes and Failures in Query Segments and Search Tasks: A Field Study.”

Shawon Sarkar, Yiwei Wang, and Chirag Shah had a full paper, “Investigating the Relations of Information Seeking Outcomes to the Selection and Use of Information Sources,” accepted.

Manasa Rath, Chirag Shah, and Diana Floegel were accepted for their paper, “Identifying Reasons Contributing to Question Deletion in Educational Q&A.”

These papers represent a great deal of ongoing hard work carried out by lab members and their director. They are also a testament to how well InfoSeekers collaborate to complete successful projects. So congratulations, Seekers! Stay tuned for more information about ASIST 2017.

We Have a (New) Doctor in the House!

We Have a (New) Doctor in the House!

Long Le, a long time and much loved member of the InfoSeeking Lab, has successfully defended his dissertation, “Extracting Users in Community Question-Answering in Particular Contexts.” Congratulations, Long!


Long’s work holds particular import for Community Question-Answering (CQA) sites and their users. He was interested in studying the behavior of the users who participate in CQA. Specifically, he strove to understand how different types of users could be identified based on their behaviors concerning a CQA-specific problem. Rather than discuss users and their actions in a general context, Long extracted contextual situations to develop a more granular analysis of user behavior. Users are the main driving force in CQA and understanding them allows us to know the current state of their respective sites.


Obtaining a doctorate is no easy feat, and we’re all incredibly proud of Long and everything he has accomplished. Look out for him in the future–he’ll certainly move forward into big and bright places. Of course, he and his family will also be terribly missed by everyone in the InfoSeeking Lab, but we’re thrilled to count him among our distinguished alumni.


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.