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44 Projects Showcased at iSchool’s First Research Day

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A total of 44 research projects under study by School of Information Studies (iSchool) faculty and doctoral and master’s-level students were showcased for fellow researchers and associates at the first iSchool Research Day last week.

Organized by doctoral students Mahboobeh Harandi and Sarah Bratt, in conjunction with iSchool Associate Dean for Research Kevin Crowston, the half-day function was designed to set aside space and time to generate greater awareness of the topics iSchool faculty and students are investigating. It also offered them a chance to share their research ideas, obtain feedback about their approaches and find potential new collaborators.

Participants presented 27 posters and conducted 17 table discussions, and 63 people attended the event, according to Harandi.

Based on the good turnout and high degree of interest and engagement by participants, Crowston said he’d certainly like to see Research Day conducted again next year. It was a good way to engage students in research activity as well as have others learn more about iSchool research initiatives overall, he noted. Crowston was particularly gratified by the high level of participation and attendance by master’s-degree students, he said, since attracting graduate students to conduct research work is an ongoing goal.

Sarah Bratt presents research
Ph.D. student Sarah Bratt (right)  discusses her research topics with fellow Ph.D. student Jennifer Sonne.
Visible Enthusiasm

Having posters and discussions on display in three separate, hour-long sessions illustrated both the breadth of topics under study as well as detailed focal points of researchers’ efforts, the organizers reported.

Doctoral student Harandi regards the first-time event as successful. “I think having the space and the time for informal intellectual discussions about our research has helped people achieve what they were looking for. I can see people interacting and talking about their research, and I can just hear their enthusiasm as they talk about their projects,” she observed at the session.

Fellow coordinator Bratt agreed that the event helped boost awareness of the range of research being done. “I think we achieved our main objective, to get people talking who don’t usually exchange ideas or who aren’t normally aware of others’ projects,” she said. It also helped to fulfill a wider goal. The interchanges provided institutional context, as faculty or students who’d had prior experience on some of the topics were able to offer their comments and suggestions to current researchers, she added.

Getting Feedback

First year doctoral student Subhasree Sengupta said the event provided some practical personal benefits, too. It was chance for her to articulate her research question to varied audiences, examine how her interests may overlap with what other researchers are doing and obtain feedback on her communication techniques, she noted. “It’s a good way to break you in, in [regard to] my presentation and to see what parts people will ask you about, what parts people are questioning, and to see what works and doesn’t work.” 

Master’s-level student Qiyi Wu participated at her professor’s suggestion, and said doing so helped improve her project, just as her professor had advised. Wu received “two really important pieces of feedback” on her work in areas she previously hadn’t considered. Those suggestions provided her “a lot of encouragement,” and presenting and interacting with other faculty and students made Research Day “a real great event for me,” she said.   

Among the attendees was Syracuse University Vice President of Research Zhanjiang (John) Liu. His presence and the university-level attention it represented was greatly appreciated, according to doctoral student Bratt. “It strengthens the priority of research not only within the school, but across the campus, because we got to talk to him about infrastructure important to research. His being here was a symbol that we’re more unified as a campus moving forward,” she said.

Of the 44 projects presented, topics included: reviews of “lost” links in scientific articles, the evolution of information systems, Bluetooth beacons, viral diffusion of political topics on social media, designing privacy mechanisms and tailoring recruiting language for citizen science participation. Other topics included: methods of studying distributed work, the study of data rights, crowdsourced reasoning, “IT Culture” theory, argument mining on Reddit, data science team conclusion and development, organizing peer review, open deep learning models and a study of technology use.

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