2016-06-30: JCDL 2016 Doctoral Consortium Trip Report

Traditionally, Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL) has hosted a workshop session called Doctoral Consortium (DC) specific to PhD students of digital library research field and this year (JCDL 2016) was no exception. The workshop was intended for students that are in the early stages of their dissertation work. Several WS-DL group members attended and reported past DC workshops and this time it was my turn.

This year's doctoral consortium (June 19, 2016) was chaired by George BuchananJ. Stephen Downie, and Uma Murthy. Committee members included Sally Jo CunninghamMichael NelsonMartin Klein, and Edie Rasmussen. A total of six PhD students participated in the workshop and presented their work. The doctoral consortium session is generally not open for public participation, however, Michele C. Weigle (JCDL 2016 program chair), Mat Kelly (last year's DC participant), and Alexandar Nwala (potential future participant) also attended the session. Each presenter was given about 20 minutes for talk and 10 minutes for questions and comments.

I, Sawood Alam form Old Dominion University was the first presenter of the session with my research topic, "Web Archive Profiling for Efficient Memento Aggregation". I elaborated on the problem space of my research work by giving an example of collection building, indexing, updating indexes, and profiling or summarization of the collection for better collection understanding and efficient lookup routing. With the help of real life examples and events, I established the importance of small web archives and the need of efficient means of their aggregation. I further explained the methodology and various approaches of web archive profiling depending on available resources and desired detail. I briefly described the evaluation plan and preliminary results published/accepted in TPDL15, IJDL16, and TPDL16. Finally, I presented my tentative timeline of work and publication plans. My work is supported in part by the IIPC.

Adeleke Olateju Abayomi from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa presented her work entitled, "An Investigation of the Extent of Automation of Public Libraries in South-West Nigeria". It was a survey based research for which she conducted interviews and questionnaires with randomly selected librarians for the study. Attendees of the workshop asked questions about the scope of the automation she was studying, was it limited to the background library management process or the public facing services as well and whether the library patrons were also interviewed? Committee members suggested her to also include case studies from near by countries that have invested in library automation to strengthen her arguments.

Bakare Oluwabunmi Dorcas from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa presented her research work on "The Usage of Social Media Technologies among Academic Librarians in South Western Nigeria". She used a survey based research approach by conducting interviews and questionnaires with academic librarians of six universities. She mentioned how librarians are using social media such as Facebook groups for provision of library and information service delivery to library clienteles. The outcome from the study is expected to improve practice, inform policy and extend theory in the field of Social Media Technologies (SMT) use in academic libraries based on a developing country context. She was suggested to examine whether the material posted on social media is periodically archived elsewhere.

Prashant Chandrasekar from Virginia Tech presented his work on "A DL System to Facilitate Behavioral Studies of Social Networks". He is working on designing a framework that would enable researchers to conduct hypothesis testing on information related to the study of human behavior in a clinical trial that involves social networks. The system is being built with the immediate aim to serve the needs of a teams of researchers that are part of the Social Interactome project. However, the design of the framework and the scenarios of use will be generalized to all psychologists/sociologists.

Lei Li from the University of Pittsburgh and China Scholarship Council presented "A Judgement Model for Academic Content Quality on Social Media". Initially, there was some lack of clarity on what she meant by "academic content" on social media, which she clarified that her study is around ResearchGate posts and comments. The general comment from the committee on her quality assessment approach can be summarized as "it would be great to establish something of this sort, but she should limit the scope for her PhD work." Edie Rasmussen nicely put the challenge of creating a data set for quality measure as, "Life's too short to generate your own data set." which was in line with Yasmin AlNoamany saying, "I will never do it again!" while describing a manually labeled data set during her recent PhD defense. Dr. Michael Nelson suggested Lei Li to pick a good example and walk through it to elaborate on the process.

The final presentation of the day was from Jessica Ogden from the University of Southampton. Jessica presented her ongoing PhD research entitled "Interrogating the Politics and Performativity of Web Archives" which is centered on web archival practice, specifically looking at selection and collection practices across different web archiving communities in the field. Jessica prefaced the presentation with some information regarding her academic background to provide context for how the interdisciplinary project is being approached. Some philosophical questions were raised regarding the nature of web archives (and assumptions about the Web itself), as well as importance placed on the documenting the assumptions made during selection and collection of web archives (which are often left undocumented). For more details on Jessica’s research and the presentation at JCDL 2016 DC see her blog post.

Once all six participants presented their work, committee members highlighted some general comments such as every presenter did a good job of wrapping their talk in the allotted time and leaving enough time for questions and comments. They also noted that slides should not have too many words in them so that the presenter ends up reading them verbatim, on the other hand they should not be on the other extreme either where every slide has nothing but pictures. After these comments, the session was open for everyone to provide any feedback or ask general questions from presenters or the committee members. I noted that this year's doctoral consortium was dominated by "social media" based study.

On our way back to the hotel Alexander said, "the committee members had such a deep understanding of the subject and provided very useful comments." Mat and I replied, "yes they did indeed." It is strongly recommended that if possible, every PhD candidate should participate in a Doctoral Consortium workshop of the respective field at least once to gain some insights and perspective from the people outside their thesis committee members.

You may also like to read the main JCDL 2016 conference coverage by Alexander and the WADL 2016 workshop coverage by Mat.

Update (July 2, 2016): Added Bakare's slides and updated the description of her talk.

Sawood Alam