School of Information Studies (iSchool) Assistant Professor Rachel Ivy Clarke has been honored with the 2017 Doctoral Dissertation Award from the iSchools Organization. Her dissertation, conducted at the University of Washington’s Information School, was judged the best to have been completed at a member-iSchool in the preceding academic year. The runner up was Jasy Liew Suet Yan, a graduate of the Syracuse iSchool’s doctoral program.

The iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award recognizes outstanding work in the information field. Nominations are solicited from all members of the iSchools Organization, which number more than 80 institutions worldwide, and are judged by an award committee drawn from leading international schools. The winner receives a prize of $2,500 US, the runner up $1,000. Honorees are also offered a travel allowance to collect their award in person at iConference 2017, which takes place in March in Wuhan, China. 

Doctoral Dissertation Award Winner

Clarke’s dissertation is titled “It’s Not Rocket Library Science: Design Epistemology and American Librarianship.” 

“Librarianship is typically framed as a social science,” explained Clarke, “but in my dissertation, I argue that librarianship is really more of a design discipline, as librarians make things – things like classification schemes, cataloging projects, events, and reader advisory services, to name just a few.”

Reconceptualizing librarianship as a design discipline offers opportunities for empowering and supporting the continued relevance of libraries in the 21st century. A change in how librarianship is perceived could have implications for how librarians are taught, how their job roles are defined, and how research in the field of librarianship is conducted, Clarke believes.

“I carry this world view into my classes with me,” said Clarke, “and this was one of the things that attracted me to the iSchool at Syracuse, where I have an opportunity to do a lot of hands-on making in my classes.”

In Clarke’s IST 616 course, Information Resources: Organization and Access, one of the projects her students are charged with is making a faceted classification scheme. Clarke makes the process very collaborative, exploring prototypes, and soliciting and evaluating peer feedback.

“I am surprised and honored to have my dissertation recognized by the iSchools Organization,” said Clarke. “The group recognizes the importance of librarianship, and the need to change the way people think about libraries and the people who work in them.”

In a report on Clarke’s dissertation, the award committee remarked that her work “examines the field of librarianship from the perspective of design epistemology, and reveals new insights and interpretations of library work.” The reviewers agreed that the topic of Clarke’s dissertation is novel and original and the findings provide significant implications for future library and information science education and library practice.

Doctoral Dissertation Award Runner Up

Jasy Liew Suet Yan, a 2016 graduate of the Syracuse iSchool’s Ph.D. program is now a Senior Lecturer at the School of Computer Sciences, at the University of Science in Malaysia. Her dissertation research was also recognized with the Syracuse iSchool’s 2016 Doctoral Prize at Convocation. Her dissertation was titled “Fine-Grained Emotion Detection in Microblog Text.”

“I am honored to have my dissertation, written in blood, sweat and tears, recognized as making a significant contribution to the field of information science,” said Liew Suet Yan. “Given how diverse the research is in the competition, this award is especially gratifying and meaningful to me as it shows that the research community acknowledges the significance of the effort to better understand the richness of emotions expressed in text in order to help computer systems become more sensitive and accurate in recognizing human emotions. The field of information science is indeed a supportive breeding ground for research combining qualitative and computational methods to further our knowledge on emotion expressed in text.”

Liew Suet Yan notes that she is grateful for the support of her two dissertation co-advisors, former Syracuse iSchool faculty member Howard Turtle, and iSchool Dean Elizabeth Liddy

“I appreciate their tireless support and insightful discussions on research as well as for allowing me the freedom to pursue research projects that have helped me grow into a competent and independent scholar,” she said. “The teaching, research and learning opportunities with supportive and enthusiastic professors, Ph.D. peers, staff and students at the iSchool have equipped me with the necessary knowledge, tools and intuition to become an effective teacher, researcher, advisor and mentor.”

“I am so very pleased for Jasy, for her dissertation committee and the great work they did supporting her, and kudos to Dean Liddy for once again guiding her advisee to an award-winning dissertation!” said Professor Steve Sawyer, director of the Ph.D. program at the Syracuse iSchool.

“Our Ph.D. program is defined by its advisor-centered structure; a flexible, interest driven, program of study; and, great students,” Sawyer said, “and Jasy’s an amazing young scholar and has worked so well with Liz and her committee to pursue an innovative topic building on strong methods!”