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Look Around: Question Answering, Serendipity, and the Research Process of Scholars in the Humanities
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Look Around: Question Answering, Serendipity, and the Research Process of Scholars in the Humanities


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This talk, by Kim Martin, Victoria Rubin and Anabel Quan-Haase, was presented at Access 2012 in Montreal, on October 19th, 2012.

This talk, by Kim Martin, Victoria Rubin and Anabel Quan-Haase, was presented at Access 2012 in Montreal, on October 19th, 2012.

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  • 1. Look AroundQuestion Answering, Serendipity, and the Research Process of Scholars in the Humanities Kim Martin, Victoria Rubin, & Anabel Quan-Haase Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Western University
  • 2. How this all Began
  • 3. Table of Contents1.  A History of Serendipity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42.  Technology & the research process of Humanists . . . . . .93.  NLP and Question Answering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .184.  Look Around . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .245.  Next Steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
  • 4. Serendipity
  • 5. Investigation of informationencountering in the controlled research environment Erdelez, 2004
  • 6. Facets of serendipity in everyday chance encounters: a groundedtheory approach to blog analysis Rubin, Burkell & Quan-Haase, 2011
  • 7. Coming across information serendipitously: Part 1 – A process model Makri & Blandford - 2012
  • 8. Why does Serendipity Matter?•  Can lead to discovery = serendipitous discovery.•  Creativity•  Thinking outside the box•  Trait of creative search (Race, 2012)•  Original thinking•  Link to distractions. Do some tools “encourage serendipity”?
  • 9. Technology & the research process of Humanists•  Ten historians in SW Ontario•  Interviews (30-60 mins)•  Grounded theory approach•  Interviews transcribed and coded
  • 10. In the words of Historians “And then one wonders, “I don’t know how to well, what are the other describe this, but it… ways we can leverage the removed the serendipity digital realm to provide factor. You can browse different kinds of online, but that’s always serendipity that you much more targeted, wouldn’t have thought sometimes, most of us are “Googlebooks, however, of ?”very happy to have that, sort has sort of just come into - P7 of, inadvertent discovery” my life, because a - P3 Googlesearch is, you know you’re looking for a subject and then books come up and you can stumble across them that way” - P5
  • 11. Findings•  Historians recognize that chance, an important part of their historical research process, can take many forms and occur in many places•  Facets A & B (Prepared Mind and Act of Noticing) were most prominent in historians understanding of serendipity
  • 12. The Historical Research ProcessStage 1: Problem selection: generation of ideas; preliminarywork (i.e.) reading, discussion, exploration of funding;determining unanswered questions and hypothesizing.Stage 2: Detailed planning of data collection: literaturesearching; .refinement of hypothesis; detailed work onmethodology.Stage 3 : Data collection.Stage 4: Analyzing and interpretation of data.Stage 5: Present findings; writing, rewriting and evaluation.   Uva, 1977
  • 13. “Planned Chaos” “that every piece of historical writing shares ananalogous set of accidental factors shaping its genesis” - McClellan III (1999) “serendipity and its relations do not come uninvited to the scholar’s table. Rather, serendipity visits those scholars and researchers who set out with open minds and the flexibility of plan that allows them both torecognize the fortuitous discovery and to pursue it to its logical end” - Hoeflich (2007)
  • 14. Serendipity and the (Digital?) Library Harvard Library Innovation Lab
  • 15. GoodReader
  • 16. EverGreen(Leddy Library)
  • 17. So, What’s the Problem?•  The physical library does not need to be mirrored, or even represented online.•  The colours, smells, and touch of a book is no longer relevant in the digital world.•  The web allows us to do so much more with text than the format of the book ever did.
  • 18. Natural Language Processing & Question Answering QA is “an interactive human computer process that encompasses understanding a user information need, typically expressed in a natural language query; retrieving relevant documents, data, or knowledge from selected sources; extracting, qualifying and prioritizing available answers from these sources; and presenting and explaining responses in an effective manner.” From Maybury, M. T. (Ed.). (2004). New Directions in Question Answering. Menlo Park, CA: MIT Press.
  • 19. What QA doesUnlike the typical search engine, the desired purpose of a QAsystem is to come up with ONE correct answer.A QA system has to determine two things: what type ofinformation it is looking for, and where to look for theanswers.There are 3 main modules of QA: •  Question-Processing •  Document-Processing •  Answer Extraction and Formulation
  • 20. The Stages ofQuestion Answering
  • 21. Question Processing
  • 22. The Stages ofQuestion Answering
  • 23. Answer Formulation
  • 24. Five Capabilities of QA systemsThose that are capable of:1.  processing factual questions.2.  enabling simple reasoning mechanisms.3.  enabling fusion from different documents.4.  enabling analogical reasoning.5.  being interactive.
  • 25. Library SearchØ  Looks up information online. Ø  Question is asked to a searchØ  Writes down location information. engineØ  Goes to library to get book from shelf. Ø  It may or may not retrieve theØ  Uses shelf call numbers and headings correct results to locate text. Ø  Steps 1 and 2 are repeated untilØ  Retrieves required text. desired results are achieved.Ø  Looks around.Ø  Sees book "of interest" and stumbles upon information that may or may not positively affect their work.Then … And now.
  • 26. Look Around•  Is an add-on for virtual library catalogs that integrates a users “find” with visualizations of Library of Congress Classifications.•  Allows for another layer of access to library material.•  Will encourage users to penetrate the Long Tail of information, instead of looking only at the most commonly used texts/journals.•  Allows the user to set the preference for the visualization, creating a more personalized browsing experience.
  • 27. Break Down the Book
  • 28. Look around
  • 29. Look AroundBy Alisewski
  • 30. Explore within the Metadata Created by Lianne
  • 31. Next Steps•  Make decisions about the proper types of visualizations. Important to allow for choice.•  Design of program with a computer scientist or information visualization professional.•  Work with a small digital collection to pre-test with a group of humanist scholars.
  • 32. Explore beyond the shelves By Jeffrey Heer
  • 33. References••  Erdelez, S. (1999). Information Encountering: It’s More Than Just Bumping into Information. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, February/M.•  Hoeflich, M. H. (2007). Serendipity in the Stacks , Fortuity in the Archives *. Law Library Journal, 99(4), 813–827.•  Makri, S., & Blandford, A. (2012). process model Article Title Page Coming across information serendipitously : Part 1 – A process model. Journal of Documentation, 68(5).•  McClellan III, J. E. (2005). Accident, Luck, and Serendipity in Historical Research. Proceedings Of The American Philosophical Society, 149(1), 1 – 21.•  Race, T. M. (2012). Resource Discovery Tools : Supporting Serendipity Planning and Implementing Resource Discovery Tools in Academic Libraries. DLTS Faculty Publications, Paper 22.•  Rubin, V. L., Burkell, J., & Quan-haase, A. (2011). "Facets of serendipity in everyday chance encounters: a grounded theory approach to blog analysis. Information Research, 16(3).