Congratulations to McGill School of Information Studies faculty member Dr. Charles-Antoine Julien on his five-year NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Discovery Grant for the project "Improving Retrieval of Unstructured Information using Existing Information Structures."
To successfully use current Web searching tools, information seekers must generally possess or acquire the vocabulary used by the authors of the relevant documents. People inevitably encounter information needs they cannot adequately express using one or two naive keywords which often have multiple meanings. This vocabulary mismatch problem plagues information seeking systems—especially when users search for unfamiliar knowledge domains or subject areas.
The project aims to improve the performance of information discovery tools used to meet digital information needs by developing novel online information searching tools. These tools will alleviate the vocabulary mismatch problem by using existing organized information collections (e.g., scientific, library, business or personal information collections) integrated with Web searching.
The research will result in novel information seeking features; for example, a library collection can suggest new keywords that better describe users’ Web searching needs, and Web searching results can direct users towards promising subjects from a library catalogue. This research is one of very few projects that will test these tools over several months of real-world usage to ensure they are consistently useful and appreciated. Published results will be available to information tool designers and researchers, e.g., open-source online search tool prototypes, user testing data.