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Information Seeking Support Systems Workshop

Information Seeking Support Systems Workshop

An Invitational Workshop Sponsored by the National Science Foundation June 26-27, 2008 Chapel Hill, NC

Objectives of the Workshop

The general goal of the workshop will be to coalesce a research agenda that stimulates progress toward better systems that support information seeking. More specifically, the workshop will aim to identify the most promising research directions for three aspects of information seeking: theory, development, and evaluation. Thus, the key workshop objectives are:

  • - Identify and organize the most promising models of information seeking;
  • - Identify the key existing technologies that can be adapted to support information seeking activities;
  • - Specify and organize the new kinds of technologies that are required to support information seeking activities;
  • - Identify methods and associated metrics for evaluating information seeking processes.
  • It is premature to definitively prioritize models or technologies, so we use the term organize to mean at the very least classify into short (1-3 yr), mid (3-7 yr), or long-term (7+ yr) developments. Thus, the primary outcome of the workshop will be a research agenda prioritizing near, mid, and long term challenges in IS3 development. In addition, the following outcomes are also expected:

  • - A report containing a detailed summary of workshop outcomes and the revised position statements of workshop invitees. Summaries of the report will be sent to SIGIR Forum and SIGCHI Bulletin.
  • - Collaborations between participants to begin addressing some of the grand challenges that emerge from the workshop. Also expected is the continuation of these collaborations beyond the workshop through shared grant proposals and co-advised graduate students.
  • - A community of interest around issues in IS3 and exploratory search: A website will be created for the event with the main conclusions highlighted. A discussion list will be created to allow participants and the wider research community to follow-up with one another after the workshop. Follow up meetings will also be planned at the major conferences in the field such as SIGIR and SIGCHI to disseminate new findings and endeavors in this area. Need for the Workshop and Topics

    Meeting the needs of people who seek information to discover and learn is a grand challenge, and the tools and services needed to meet this challenge will be fundamental to the emerging cyberinfrastructure. The time and conditions are right to develop the theory, techniques, and tools to support such information seeking needs. With this two-day workshop we aim to bring together thought leaders in information retrieval, library and information science, and human-computer interaction to shape the short- and long-term agenda for research in systems to support information seeking. In particular the workshop will address the following three themes:

  • (i) Understanding / modeling exploratory search behavior
  • - Individual user models (client side and server side)
  • - Group and community models
  • - Human information behavior (tactics, strategies, mental models)
  • - Goals, tasks, and actions
  • - Domain and data type factors
  • (ii) Providing system support for exploratory search
  • - Interfaces and visualizations
  • - Interaction models and paradigms
  • - Support for collaboration
  • - Alternative search media (mobile, ubiquitous search)
  • - Organizational structures (indexes, facets, ontologies)
  • - Alternative sources of evidence (biometrics, context sensitivity)
  • - Tool suites and integration of IS3 support with existing products (office suites)
  • (iii) Evaluating systems to support exploratory search
  • - Metrics for evaluating IS3 performance (e.g., learning rate, decision-making quality)
  • - Evaluation methodologies and strategies (e.g., task-oriented, ethnographic)
  • - Non-interactive evaluation of IS3 (e.g., log analyses, test collections, simulations)
  • - Tasks and task taxonomies for IS3 evaluation

    Recent Meetings Related to this Topic

    Over the past several years there have been calls for new research initiatives to address this challenge. For example, a group of prominent IR researchers laid out a research agenda in IR Forum (Allan et al., 2003) that included user and context-sensitive retrieval as a key theme. A series of workshops have been devoted to exploratory search:

  • - Exploratory Search Interfaces: Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory 2005 Symposium-Open House, College Park, Maryland, June 2, 2005
  • - Evaluating Exploratory Search Systems: ACM SIGIR 2006 Conference Workshop, Seattle, Washington, August 10, 2006
  • - Exploratory Search and HCI: Designing and Evaluating Interfaces to Support Exploratory Search Interaction: ACM SIGCHI 2007 Conference Workshop, San Jose, CA, April 29, 2007
  • - Web Information-Seeking and Interaction: ACM SIGIR 2007 Conference Workshop, Amsterdam, July 27, 2007
  • - Workshop on Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval: HCIR 07, MIT CSAIL, Cambridge, MA, October 23, 2007

    Additionally, a series of publications has begun to address exploratory search and information seeking:

  • - a special issue of CACM devoted to exploratory search in April, 2006.
  • - a forthcoming special issue of Information Processing & Management devoted to exploratory search evaluation.

    Workshop Chair and Organizing Committee

    The workshop will be organized by Gary Marchionini and Ryen White.

    Organizing Committee. A small organizing committee will work with Marchionini & White to select invitees and execute the workshop. They have provided comments on this proposal. The committee is composed of:

  • 1. Nick Belkin, Rutgers University, USA
  • 2. Gene Golovchinsky, FxPAL, USA
  • 3. mc schraefel, U. Southhampton, UK
  • 4. Peter Pirolli, Xerox PARC, USA
  • 5. Diane Kelly, UNC-Chapel Hill, USA

    Location, Dates and Announcement We will hold the workshop on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The campus is easily accessible from Raleigh-Durham International Airport (20 miles) and has been the host for many different conferences and workshops (e.g., Marchionini was conference chair for the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries in June 2006 held on campus, which attracted more than 400 attendees). We propose holding the workshop in June 2008, tentatively, June 26-27. This will fall between SIGCHI (April) and SIGIR (July).

    Meeting Organization and Execution

    We propose a two-day workshop devoted to identifying a research agenda for information seeking support systems. The workshop will build upon past workshops on exploratory search but aim to identify and prioritize key research directions for the near and long term. The workshop will include leaders from industry as well as academia and government. Twenty-five participants will be invited and asked to submit a position statement that includes one or more examples of research problems (5 additional slots will be reserved for applicants as described below). The statements will be used to organize working groups for the workshop as well as plenary discussions. Based upon the discussions, participants will be asked to revise and expand their position statements, possibly in combination with other participants who identify similar problems. These position statements will serve as the appendix for a final report that lays out key research directions for IS3. The resulting report will be widely disseminated. Through breakout sessions and workshop-wide discussions we aim to create an environment where opinion can be openly expressed and progress made In addition to addressing issues in each of these three themes, the workshop will also address important questions such as:

  • What is feasible for the academic community?
  • What are the needed dissertations?
  • What are the most important problems for the community to address?
  • Do we need bigger teams?
  • What is the role of industry collaboration?

    The following is the proposed agenda for the event:


    Afternoon-evening Travel and arrival in Chapel Hill


  • 8:00-8:30 Breakfast in meeting room
  • 8:30-9:30 Introductions and overview
  • 9:30-10:30 Breakout Session 1 (assigned based on project statements)
  • 11:00-12:30 Reports back in plenary
  • 12:30-2:00 Working lunch and Breakout Session 2 (box lunches provided)
  • 2:00-2:30 Break
  • 2:30-5:30 Plenary discussion: Key research themes
  • 6:00-8:30 Group dinner


  • 8:00-8:30 Breakfast in meeting room
  • 8:30-10:30 Plenary discussion: Refine themes and map projects to themes
  • 10:30-11:00 Break
  • 11:00-12:30 Breakout Session 3. Aggregate and refine projects and plan writing
  • 12:30-1:30 Lunch (box lunches provided)
  • 1:30-3:00 Plenary discussion of final report and task assignments
  • 3:00-3:30 Wrap-up

    Draft Webpage January 7, 2008