The notion that information seeking is not always a solitary activity, and that people working in collaboration for information intensive tasks should be studied and supported, has become more prevalent in the recent years than ever before. The field of collaborative information seeking (CIS) is re-emerging, and bringing many researchers and practitioners from various disciplines. We plan to gather a small and motivated set of such participants in a one-day workshop with the theme of “Collaborative Information Seeking: Consolidating the Past, Creating the Future”. The workshop will incorporate discussions on theoretical foundations of CIS as well as its applications. It will bring together researchers from both academia and industry, working in the fields of CSCW, CSCL, IR, HCI, and PIM to share their ideas, questions, and opinions on how theories and practices from different domains can be brought together to create a strong and rich path ahead for collaborative information seeking/retrieval/searching as well as collective information synthesis and sense-making. We believe such a workshop will not only be highly relevant to the CSCW participants, but also very timely in bringing together those who have been working on several CIS issues and those who want to plan their research agenda in this emerging field.
Collaboration is often required or encouraged for activities that are too complex or difficult to deal with for an individual (Denning & Yaholkovsky, 2008). Many situations involving information seeking also call for people working together. Twidale and Nichols (1996, p.177) pointed out - “The use of library resources is often stereotyped as a solitary activity, with hardly any mention in the substantial library science and information retrieval literature of the social aspects of information systems.” They argued that introducing support for collaboration into information retrieval systems would help users to learn and use the systems more effectively. Morris (2008) showed, from a survey of 204 knowledge workers, that the majority of them wanted to collaborate.
This notion of collaboration in information-intensive tasks is not new; in the past it has been studied as part of various research areas including groupware (e.g., Grudin, 1994) and CSCW (e.g., Rodden, 1991). In the recent years, it has picked up a new momentum due to the involvement of researchers and practitioners from several disciplines ranging from computational sciences to social sciences. Works by Capra (Capra et al., 2010), Golovchinsky (Golovchinsky et al., 2008), Hansen (Hansen & Järvelin, 2005), Morris (Morris & Horvitz, 2007), Reddy (Reddy & Jansen, 2008), Shah (Shah, 2010a), and Twidale (Twidale et al., 1997) are just a few examples. Their individual and collective interests and efforts have results in a number of systems and theories, many of which have been presented at recent workshops, conferences, and journals such as SIGIR, ASIST, CHI, CSCW, JASIST, and IP&M.
Keeping with the core objectives of CSCW conferences to provide an interdisciplinary platform to discuss how technology intersects with social practices through innovative research and development, we will bring together ideas from several related fields to inform and engage the participants, possibly from those diverse fields, in intellectual conversations. In particular, we envision the following objectives addressed through the proposed workshop.
Discuss how theories and models from traditional models of information seeking (e.g., Belkin, 1980; Kuhlthau, 1991) can help us understand and evaluate different aspects of CIS processes.
Identify a framework to study and evaluate CIS systems and methods.
Converse about how CIS researchers could benefit from various theories and models from CSCW and CSCL fields, and vice versa.
Come up with a research agenda for CIS in the form of challenges and opportunities.
Relate CIS foundations and theories to work-related applications
In general, we want to keep the workshop lively with discussions, where the participants will be encouraged to share not only their own research, but also review relevant work from other researchers and venues. This structure will benefit both seasoned researchers and novices of this area alike. This proposed format has been found to be highly successful in the past with the similar workshops that we have organized.
An interesting combination of rising importance of CIS and the immense amount of interest from an ever-growing community around CIS makes it a very appealing topic for a community like CSCW that encompasses elements of interface design, collective decision-making, system-mediate information exchange and usage, and organizational behavior. In contrast to previous and related workshops, our proposed workshop will focus on discussions specific to bridging the theory and practice fronts of CIS in the hope to generate more engaging connections between participants from different fields and backgrounds. Special attention will be given to recognizing and bridging existing theories, models, and applications related to group work from CSCW, information seeking/retrieval from IR, interface design from HCI, and information seeking behaviors from the library and information science disciplines.At the workshop, we will explore and discuss how these models and applications inform and move us toward similar theories and practices for CIS. Furthermore, bringing the theories forward and discuss possible applications of CIS foundations to different settings such a business (decision-making, effective work-task processes), public organization and academic setting (educational and administrative aspects).
The workshop seeks to bring together researchers with backgrounds in CSCW, social computing, information retrieval, library sciences, and HCI to discuss the research challenges associated with the emerging field of collaborative information seeking. By engaging such participants, we hope to explore a variety of important questions that relate to bridging the gap between theory and practice, and move forward with a stronger and revitalized research direction. Some examples are listed below.
How does collaboration fit into existing solitary information seeking activities?
How do we move from single-user information seeking models to those for multi-users (collaborative)?
concepts of collaborative information handling and sharing are used in an unclear way. What is the distinction between them?
How to integrate collaborative seeking into everyday life and professional environments?
What are required and/or desired characteristics of a CIS system? How do these relate to specific user needs and task scenarios?
In what way could CIS tools and system be applied to different academic and professional setting?
How can theories and models from CSCW inform CIS and vice versa?
We are seeking participants from academia and industry who are conducting research in collaborative information seeking and behavior. This includes conceptual and technical research on collaborative information seeking, search, retrieval, and sensemaking. We would ideally like to have 12-15 participants. It is highly likely that some of these participants would have attended one or more of the previous workshops on CIS or related topics, which will be highly beneficial to them as well as the new participants. This will also allow us to consolidate and present discussions on this topic so far, and gather and continue momentum going forward.
The workshop participants will be asked to prepare a brief 10-minute presentation. The presentation should include a short overview of their accepted position paper/research in the area of collaborative information seeking, important research questions that remain unanswered, where they see the research headed in the next few years and what their personal research agenda is in this area. Each presentation will be followed by 5 minutes for questions.
Dr. Chirag Shah is an assistant professor in the School of Communication & Information (SC&I) at Rutgers University. He has been actively involved in research related to collaborative information seeking, leading to his PhD dissertation at UNC Chapel Hill on “A Framework to Support User-Centric Collaborative Information Seeking” done under the supervision of Gary Marchionini. With Jeremy Pickens and Gene Golovchinsky at FXPAL, he won the best paper award at ACM SIGIR 2008 conference, with a paper on algorithmically mediated collaborative information retrieval. He organized the first workshop on CIS with Madhu Reddy (PSU) and Michael Twidale (UIUC) at the ACM Group 2010 conference, and the second workshop on CIS with Preben Hansen and Robert Capra at ASIST 2011 conference. He is interested in developing new models and systems for supporting CIS in online information seeking environments. His book on CIS is being published by Springer this summer.
Dr. Preben Hansen is a senior researcher at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science – SICS. He is working with applied research closely with the Swedish industry as well as participating in EU-projects (Promise, ASSETS, Companions, DELOS NoE and Clarity). His research includes developing models of IS&R processes as well as empirical studies of users and use of interactive information access systems. Currently his focus is on collaborative information handling processes within different domains.
Dr. Robert Capra is a post-doctoral fellow and research scientist in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research interests include human-computer interaction, personal information management, and collaborative and exploratory search interfaces. He has been on the organizational committee for a series of workshops on Personal Information Management, co-edited a special issue of ACM Transactions on Information Systems, and served as Program Chair for the 2010 HCIR Workshop. He is interested in developing tools to help support CIS that integrate with existing workflows.
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