LIS Research Interests, Projects, and Presentations

Faculty Research Profiles

Sam Abramovich

Sam Abramovich's research interests include finding and understanding the learning opportunities presented by the intersection between Education Informatics and the Learning Sciences in order to help guide education improvement and reform. His current research looks at educator interactions in large-scale online resource exchanges and how educational badges can increase motivation to learn.

Sam is a recent recipient of an Edmund W. Gordon MacArthur Foundation/ETS Fellowship. His research can be found in publications such as Computers & Education and Educational Technology Research & Development. He has presented his research at various conferences including the World Wide Web Conference, Games Learning Society, and PAX East.

Dan Albertson

Interactive information retrieval is the primary research area of Dr. Dan Albertson. This research focuses on the use and (user-centered) designs of information retrieval systems. Much of Albertson's research has been conducted from the perspective of visual - and more specifically - video retrieval. Here, Albertson has examined the effects of different factors, including those that pertain to users, systems, and situations, on users' interactive searches for video information. His current research projects continue in this direction and include investigating new problems and contexts to visual information retrieval.

Heidi Julien

Heidi Julien conducts research in the areas of information behavior or information practice, which seeks to understand how people interact with and use information. She is particularly interested in information behavior in daily life and in academic contexts, and in affective aspects of information practices (i.e., the role of emotions). Dr. Julien also does research in the area of digital literacy (the set of skills and understandings people need to interact efficiently, effectively, and ethically with digital information). Another research interest is in education for information studies, especially in the area of preparation of information professionals for digital literacy instruction. She is experienced with a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, and often uses mixed-methods to explore research questions. Dr. Julien works with research teams in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and South Africa, and she frequently involves students in all aspects of the research, including research design, data collection, and writing and dissemination.

Valerie Nesset

Valerie Nesset conducts research in the areas of information-seeking behavior, information literacy, and web usability. Through her research, Dr. Nesset seeks to advance understanding of the intersection of information-seeking behavior and information literacy instruction with an emphasis on process to encourage problem-solving and critical thinking, especially among elementary school students. Dr. Nesset’s interest and expertise in web usability furthers this research by investigating better ways to present information to young users. To achieve these objectives, she uses qualitative methods to explore how young users seek, retrieve, evaluate, and use information in all formats.

Dagobert Soergel

Dr. Soergel’s research focuses on the organization of information through Knowledge Organization Systems (KOS, ontologies, classifications, taxonomies, thesauri), with an emphasis on meaningful structures that users can assimilate and modify to build structures in their own mind. This research helps users gain an understanding and insight into their problems, pinpoint the information they need to solve the problems, provide ways to look for that information, and then make sense of that information as a basis for formulating good queries. Currently he is working on a system that will enable users to formulate queries for cultural objects using the meaningful structure of the Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) hierarchies ( and then run these queries against the ARTstor database ( as well as Google. This includes three major sub-problems: (1) automatic mapping from ARTstor material terms to the corresponding AAT descriptors or descriptor combinations and, based on these mappings, from AAT descriptors or descriptor combinations to ARTstor material terms; (2) devising a general database structure for storing multiple KOS; and, (3) designing and implementing a user interface. Dr. Soergel also works on sense-making, relevance relationships (the various ways in which a piece of information can contribute to solving a problem), digital libraries, and ontology-based tracking and assessment of people and research in large research projects and collaborations.

Ying Sun

Ying Sun’s research spans several related fields including information seeking, information retrieval, and data mining. She is particularly interested in developing information systems to support task-specific and data-intensive information applications. She has been working in specific domains of legal E-Discovery, sentimental analysis, and scientific information mining . Dr. Sun also does research in the area of systematic evaluation of information systems. Her research draws on methods from statistical learning and data mining to tackle problems in automatic extraction of concepts and automatic assessment of factors identified as affecting the specific task.

Amy VanScoy

Amy VanScoy conducts research on professional work and practitioner thinking in library and information service, particularly in the area of reference and information service. She is interested in how practitioners’ thoughts, beliefs, and values shape their practice. Her research complements existing behavioral research and has implications for professional and continuing education for information professionals. VanScoy uses qualitative research methods and is particularly interested in exploring the potential of interpretative phenomenological analysis for research in library and information science.

Jianqiang Wang

Jianqiang Wang’s research addresses the development of methods for information retrieval (IR) in a multilingual and multimodal environment and the evaluation of these methods in supporting users' access to digital information. He has done extensive research in cross-language information retrieval, spoken document retrieval, and e-discovery and participated in international IR evaluation initiatives including TREC, CLEF, and NTCIR. Dr. Wang is currently also interested in studying Big Data techniques and issues in the context of Library and Information Science education and services.

Brenda Battleson White

Brenda Battleson White’s research involves the application of network analytic methods to LIS, specifically, the use of social networks in two areas – 1) facilitating connections between information providers and those with information needs, and 2) bridging the gap between research and professional practice. While her research focuses on the LIS discipline, other professions are certainly subject to the same challenges as LIS and can benefit from this research. Recognition of the importance of relationships in information diffusion is not new, but the advent of social media has resulted in a newfound focus on the roles of social networks. She is experienced with quantitative methods, including both hierarchical and non-hierarchical approaches to networks.

Larry Nash White

Larry Nash White conducts research in the area of organizational performance assessment and its use by organizational leaders and within organizations, seeking to understand how organizations and their leaders use information to make decisions and develop strategic responses. He also has research interests in the areas of program evaluation, organizational intelligence, competitive intelligence, knowledge management, and intellectual capital and how organizational leaders manage and use these types of information in their decision making. Dr. White is particularly interested in how performance and other competitive information (PCI) are used by organizational leaders and within organizations in both daily decision making (i.e. tactical) and in strategic response development within the non-profit, governmental, educational, and for-profit organizational contexts. He is experienced with a range of qualitative and quantitative methods, and often uses evaluative or mixed-methods to explore research questions. Dr. White welcomes collaborative works with individuals or research teams.

Research Presentations

A Long and Winding Road: Children and IT in Retrospect

Andrew Large, Canadian National-Pratt-Grinstad Professor Emeritus in Information Studies
School of Information Studies, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec

October 17, 2013

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Helping Libraries Conduct Research

Brian Detlor, Associate Professor of Information Systems, DeGroote School of Business and Chair, McMaster Research Ethics Board, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

November 14, 2013

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BIGDATA: Researcher Recommendation Systems: Science, Support or Surveillance?

Paul Kantor, Research Director for CCICADA, Distinguished Professor of Information Science,
Graduate Faculties of Computer Science and Operations Research, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

February 19, 2014

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Spiderman is not for Babies” (Peter, 4 years): The Boys and Reading Problem from the Perspective of the Boys Themselves

Lynne (E.F.) McKechnie, Professor, Library & Information Science, Faculty of Information & Media Studies, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario

March 31, 2014

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Working with Youth Co-Researchers: Promoting Personal and
Community Engagement with Health Information

Shelagh K. Genuis, Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton. Alberta

September 24, 2014

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Compassion Fatigue and Information Behavior

Ina Fourie, Professor, Department of Information Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa

October 29, 2014

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Research with Impact: Enhancing Your Profile for Academic and Community Engagement

Lisa M. Given, Professor of Information Studies and Acting Assistant Dean of Research, Faculty of Education, Charles Sturt University, Australia

November 12, 2014

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Building Collaboration between Faculty Members and
Librarians in University Education

Tayo Nagasawa, Associate Professor, Research Development, University Library, Mie University, Japan

February 24, 2015

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That Twitter Thing:
Meaning and Method behind Micro-Blogging in Public Libraries

Mary F. Cavanagh, Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Ottawa

April 28, 2015

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Librarians and Readers in South Africa’s Liberation Struggle

Archie Dick, University of Pretoria, Department of Information Science

September 21, 2015

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Evaluating Concepts, Evaluating Measures: The Case of User Engagement and the User Engagement Scale

Heather L. O’Brien, Assistant Professor, iSchool, University of British Columbia

November 11, 2015

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I’ve Already Googled It and I Can’t Understand It: User’s Perceptions of Virtual Reference and Social Q and A

Marie Radford, Rutgers University, Director, Ph.D. Program, School of Communication & Information

March 3, 2016

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Students’ Reading Preferences: An Exploratory Study

Noa Aharony, Bar-Ilan University, Head, Dept. of Information Science

March 23, 2016

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Pictorial Metaphors for Information

Jenna Hartel, Associate Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

April 26, 2016

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Studying Online Interactions using Social Network Analysis

Anatoliy Gruzd, Canada Research Chair in Social Media Data Stewardship, Associate Professor, Ted Rogers School of Management, Director of Social Media Lab, Ryerson University

September 28, 2016

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White Privilege in LIS: How do we Define It?

Lisa K Hussey, Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science (SLIMS) at Simmons College

October 26, 2016

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