Evaluating progress between milestones in a PhD program is difficult due to the inherent open-endedness of research. A means of evaluating whether a student's topic is sound and has merit while still early on in his career is to attend a doctoral consortium. Such an event, as the one held at the annual Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL), has previously provided a platform for WS-DL students (see 2014, 2013, 2012, and others) to network with faculty and researchers from other institutions as well as observe the approach that other PhD students at the same point in their career use to explain their respective topics.
As the wheels have turned, I have showed enough progress in my research for it to be suitable for preliminary presentation at the 2015 JCDL Doctoral Consortium -- so did so this past Sunday in Knoxville, Tennessee. Along with seven other graduate students from various other universities throughout the world, I gave a twenty minute presentation with ten to twenty minutes of feedback from the audience of both other presenting graduate students, faculty, and researchers.
Kazunari Sugiyama of National University of Singapore (where Hany SalahEldeen recently spent a semester as a research intern) welcomed everyone and briefly described the format of the consortium before getting underway. Each student was to have twenty minutes to present with ten to twenty minutes for feedback from the doctors and the other PhD students present.
The presentations were broken up into four topical categories. In the first section, "User's Relevance in Search", Sally Jo Cunningham introduced the two upcoming speakers. Sampath Jayarathna (@OpenMaze) of Texas A&M University was the first presenter of the day with his topic, "Unifying Implicit and Explicit Feedback for Multi-Application User Interest Modeling". In his research, he asked users to type short queries, which he used to investigate methods for search optimization. He asked, "Can we combine implicit and semi-explicit feedback to create a unified user interest model based on multiple every day applications?". Using a browser-based annotation tool, users in his study were able to provide relevance feedback of the search results via explicit and implicit feedback. One of his hypotheses is that if he has a user model, he should be able to compare the model against explicit feedback that the user provides for providing better relevance of results.
After Sampath, Kathy Brennan (@knbrennan) of University of North Carolina presented her topic, "User Relevance Assessment of Personal Finance Information: What is the Role of Cognitive Abilities?". In her presentation she alluded to the similarities of buying a washer and dryer to obtaining a mortgage in respect to being an indicator for a person's cognitive abilities. "Even for really intelligent people, understanding prime and subprime rates can be a challenge.", she said. One study she described analyzed rounding behavior with stock prices being an example of the observed critical details by an individual. Through testing 69 different abilities psychometrically through users analyzing documents for relevance, she found that someone with lower cognitive abilities will have a lower threshold for relevance and thus attribute more documents as relevant than those with higher cognitive abilities. "However", she said, "those with a higher cognitive ability were doing a lot more in the same amount of time as those with lower cognitive abilities."
After a short coffee break, Richard Furuta of Texas A&M University introduced the two speakers of the second session titled, "Analysis and Construction of Archive". Yingying Yu of Dalian Maritime University presented first in this session with "Simulate the Evolution of Scientific Publication Repository via Agent-based Modeling". In her research, she is seeking to find candidate co-authors for academic publications based on a model that includes venue, popularity and author importance as a partial set of parameters to generate a model. "Sometimes scholars only focus on homogenous network", she said.
Mat Kelly (@machawk1, your author) presented second in the session with "A Framework for Aggregating Private and Public Web Archives". In my work, I described the issues of integrate private and public web archives in respect to access restrictions, privacy issues, and other concerns that would arise were the archives' results to be aggregated.
The conference then broke for boxed lunch and informal discussions amongst the attendees.
After resuming sessions after the lunch break, George Buchanan (@GeorgeRBuchanan) of City University of London welcomed everybody and introduced the two speakers of the third session of the day, "User Generated Contents for Better Service".
Faith Okite-Amughoro (@okitefay) of University of KwaZulu-Natal presented her topic, "The Effectiveness of Web 2.0 in Marketing Academic Library Services in Nigerian Universities: a Case Study of Selected Universities in South-South Nigeria". Faith's research noted that there has not been any assessment on how the libraries in her region of study have used Web 2.0 to market their services. "The real challenge is not how to manage their collection, staff and technology", she said, "but to turn these resources into services". She found that the most used Web 2.0 tools were social networking, video sharing, blogs, and generally places where the user could add themselves.
Following Faith, Ziad Matni (@ziadmatni) of Rutgers University presented his topic, "Using Social Media Data to Measure and Influence Community Well-Being". Ziad asked, "How can we gauge how well people are doing in their local communities though the data that they generate on social media?" He is currently looking for useful measure of components of community well-being and their relationships with collective feelings of stress and tranquility (as he defined in his work). He is hoping to focus on one or two social indicators and to understand the influence factors that correlate the sentiment expressed on social media and a geographical community's well-being.
After Ziad's presentation, the group took a coffee break then started the last presentation session of the day, "Mining Valuable Contents". Kazunari Sugiyama (who welcomed the group at the beginning of the day) introduced the two speakers of the session.
The first presentation in this session was from Kahyun Choi of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign presented her work, "From Lyrics to Their Interpretations: Automated Reading between the Lines". In her work, she is looking to try to find the source of subject information from songs with the assumption that machines might have difficult analyzing songs' lyrics. She has three general research questions, the first relating lyrics and their interpretations, the second whether topic modeling can discover the subject of the interpretations, and the third in reliably obtaining the interpretations from the lyrics. She is training and testing a subject classifier where she collected lyrics and their interpretations from SongMeanings.com. From this she obtained eight subject categories: religion, sex, drugs, parents, war, places, ex-lover, and death. With 100 songs in each category, she assigned each song to have only one subject. She then obtained the top ten interpretations per song to prevent the results from being skewed by songs with a large number of interpretations.
The final group presentation of the day was to come from Mumini Olatunji Omisore of Federal University of Technology with "A Classification Model for Mining Research Publications from Crowdsourced Data". Because of visa issues, he was unable to attend but planned on presenting via Skype or Google Hangouts. After changing wireless configurations, services, and many other attempts, the bandwidth at the conference venue proved insufficient and he was unable to present. A contingency was setup between him and the doctoral consortium organizers to review his slides.
Following the attempts to allow Mumini to present remotely, the consortium broke up into group of four (two students and two doctors) for private consultations. The doctors in my group (Drs. Edie Rasmussen and Michael Nelson) provided extremely helpful feedback in both my presentation and research objectives. Particularly valuable was their helpful discussions for how I could go about improving the evaluation of my proposed research.
Overall, the JCDL Doctoral Consortium was a very valuable experience. By viewing how other PhD students were approaching their research and obtaining critical feedback on mine, I believe the experience to be priceless for improving the quality of one's PhD research.
— Mat (@machawk1)