Youngok Choi, Ph.D., of the School of Library and Information Science at the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC), will investigate undergraduates' image-searching processes on the Web in the case study, "Analyzing Image Searching on the Web: How Do Undergraduates Search and Use Visual Information?" This project will collect empirical data of undergraduates' search experiences in order to assess how the Web is used to search for visual information, to identify how contextual factors relate to image-seeking processes and interactions on the Web, and to develop a model of image-seeking behavior. The study will collect qualitative and quantitative data via survey, interview, video-capturing, observation, think-aloud, and search-diary techniques. Results will provide empirical data on the behavior of users' image searching on the Web, broaden understanding of information-seeking behavior, and assist in the development of image-retrieval systems and information organization for image access and delivery.
Diane Kelly, Ph.D., of the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will study query formulation in her project, "Developing and Evaluating a Query Recommendation Feature to Assist Users with Online Information Seeking and Retrieval." Two techniques, term relevance feedback and query recommendation, provide methods for helping users reformulate their queries, but each is limited in different ways. This study will combine these two techniques, and develop and evaluate a query recommendation feature that is not contingent on the existence of a set of previously posed queries, but instead relies on term relevance feedback for query terms. It will develop and evaluate techniques for creating queries automatically based on term relevance feedback, and evaluate the effectiveness and usability of a query recommendation feature based on these techniques. The tool developed from this research could be used to support exploratory searching on the "free" Web, as part of a traditional and specialized search system, or even as part of a library's online public access catalog. Results of this research also have potential value in that a new and potentially effective method for using term relevance feedback will be developed and evaluated. They may also provide a solution to the query sparsity problems that plague query recommendation features which rely on user-generated queries only, as well as to problems related to the computation of query similarity.
Rong Tang, Ph.D., and Sheila Denn, MSIS, of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College (Boston, Massachusetts) will investigate the recent development of user-community-based question-answering systems from the point of view of the democratization of information and user-generated content. Their study, "User Based Question Answering: An Exploratory Study of Community Generated Information Exchange in Yahoo!Answers," will analyze the types of questions people ask, the kind of responses they receive, and the process by which the best answer to a question is chosen. Data will be collected using the Yahoo!Answers API to randomly select question-answer sets. Content-analysis methodology will be used to assess question and answer types, relationships between questions and answers, criteria for choosing answers, and social aspects of question answering. The project will enhance understanding of user-community-mediated communication and information exchange, shed light on how information professionals can better provide reference and information services, and contribute to the advancement of discourse theories of question asking and answering.
OCLC / ALISE Library and Information Science Research Grants support research that advances librarianship and information science, promotes independent research to help librarians integrate new technologies into areas of traditional competence, and contributes to a better understanding of the library environment. Full-time academic faculty (or the equivalent) in schools of library and information science worldwide are eligible to apply for grants of up to $15,000. Proposals are evaluated by a panel selected by OCLC and ALISE. Supported projects are expected to be conducted within approximately one year from the date of the award and, as a condition of the grant, researchers must furnish a final project report at the end of the grant period.