A year among years—this is the report of our research group’s 2023 relating to students, funding, dissemination, teaching, and service. For our research group, 2023 was eventful for both fortunate and unfortunate reasons. It is useful to review all that was encapsulated within the past twelve months for our perspective as well as to serve as a record of how we might improve in the future. This is the second in a series of yearly reviews (the first being the review of 2022).
Before starting with our own, I want to first acknowledge others’ similar reports. This list will be amended inline as I become aware of them.
Our research group is still composed of my two students, Christopher (Chris) Rauch (@chris_2187) and Hyung Wook (Wook) Choi. Chris is now researching part-time with Dr. Rosina Weber (@rosinaweber) studying AI Ethics. We are hoping to move him to his Ph.D. candidacy proposal in the first half of 2024. He continues to lend his support and expertise to our IMLS-Web Ads grant (see below).
Wook is now in the second year of her Ph.D. as she continues to explore exploring semantic disambiguation across domains. In October 2023, she had a poster at the 17th International Conference on Metadata and Semantics Research (MTSR 2023). More details on that are in the dissemination section below.
In support of students beyond those I advise, I was pleased to be involved on the committees and associated Ph.D. dissertation defenses of the now-Drs. Sam Grabus and Hanieh Razzaghi. Sam’s defense was titled, “Historical Subject Representation: An Analysis of Historical Vocabularies for Temporally-Aligned and Contextual Access Points” and Hanieh’s “Semantic Data Quality Assessment: An Investigation of Fitness for Use in Large Clinical Datasets”. Congratulations to them both.
Additionally, I was pleased to be involved in the Ph.D. candidacy review of Drexel CCI Ph.D. student Deanna Zarrillo (@zarrillogical), who was evaluated on the topics of computational social science, data policy & ethics, and Science of Science.
In 2023, we continued our investigation of the IMLS-funded project titled “Saving Ads: Assessing and Improving Web Archives’ Holdings of Online Advertisements”. In collaboration with Drs. Michele C. Weigle (@weiglemc) and Michael L. Nelson (@phonedude_mln) at Old Dominion University’s WS-DL Research Group, Dr. Alex H. Poole from Drexel CCI, and student support from Chris and Ph.D. student Travis Reid (@TReid803), we were able to explore some of the nuances of the past preservation and contemporary state of archiving advertisements on the web. A report of the first year of our findings as well as a pending follow-up investigation is described in the Upcoming section below.
Beyond the IMLS funding, I have been grateful to be involved in the NSF Science of Science: Discovery, Communication, and Impact (SoS:DCI)-supported project, “Examining the effects of academic mobility on individual professors’ research activity and institutional human capital at HBCUs” with members from the Drexel, UT-Knoxville, UW-Madison, and Howard University research communities. In 2023, this project wrapped up the data collection phase has started to analyze the trends of academic migration with respect to HBCUs. We had two such presentations from this project this year (see below).
Lastly, we wrapped up the final cohort of the IMLS-funded LIS Education And Data Science Integrated Network Group (LEADING) project in December 2023. An overview of “Next Steps…” for the project was presented at the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) Fall 2023 Membership Meeting.
While our focus this year was on achieving sustainability of student support through grant writing, we continued to have a productive year for publications and research dissemination.
Drexel is on the quarter system, which as tenure-track faculty, I teach three classes per year: one in each of Fall, Winter, and Spring. For this year-in-review, I will focus on the Winter (January-March), Spring (March-June), and Fall (September-December) 2023 quarters.
To start the year, I taught INFO102 - Introduction to Information Systems. Even as one with a computer science background, much of the content was fundamental to information systems, data handling, collaboration, and ethics. Inheriting a course shell on the material proved useful but even for the sizeable undergraduate class, there seemed to be minimal enthusiasm.
Spring quarter had me teaching INFO202 - Data Curation for the third time in my career at Drexel. With some previous evolution of the course by Dr. Erjia Yan loosely based on Ed Summers’ Digital Curation course at UMD. The adaptation was going swimmingly, and the students seemed to prefer interactively working with data over ingesting lecture material. At one point during the term, a personal caveat (see below if interested) caused a hiccup in the presentation of this course. I was able to return to instruction with one final data-based assignment before wrapping up the school year for an unfortunately eventful Summer. I still owe Ed an email about these adaptations. There was a plan to have a separate blog post on the updates (and perhaps there eventually will be) but life got in the way of this instance.
In the Fall quarter of 2023, I taught INFO624: Information Retrieval Systems to a cross-listed course of 24 students, 12 of whom were in-person at Drexel CCI and 12 online. This was the fourth time I taught the course and incorporated some newer assignment material where students had a chance to become more familiar with Elasticsearch through implementing concepts described in class.
I had two travel events this year – one to the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL) 2023 in Santa Fe, New Mexico (where I was a conference program chair) (see ODU WS-DL’s Trip Report) and one to Birmingham, UK to the ACM Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2023) where I was the publicity chair (@cikm2023) for the conference.
Both were great opportunities to catch up with former colleagues, learn more about the workings of an in-person conference, and interface with researchers investigating contemporary topics in their respective fields. Along with being an organizer at JCDL, I was also the lead in the WADL Workshop while there in person. We hosted a hybrid audience and presenters with self-admitted success and hope to hold the event again in the future. The fine folks at ODU WS-DL also have provided a report on their experience of the workshop.
For disclosure, I prefer to be transparent about my service involvement in the various communities with which I have been involved over the year. In 2023, I was involved in the conference review process for ACM WebSci 2023, iPRES 2023, ICADL 2023, and iConference 2024. I was also a reviewer for Internet Histories and the SoftwareX journals. My involvement with the International Journal on Digital Libraries (IJDL) continues as a managing editor. Additionally, in 2023, I was also a funding reviewer for the Dutch Research Council.
For internal service to the Information Science department at Drexel CCI, I continue to assist with the MSIS Curriculum Committee, of which the course (INFO655) I am teaching this winter (starting January 2024) is integrated.
In June 2024, we will be presenting our conference submission, “Saving Ads: Assessing and Improving Web Archives’ Holdings of Online Advertisements” at the IIPC Web Archiving Conference in Paris, France.
An invited, extended version of my ICADL 2022 paper titled, “Aggregator Reuse and Extension for Richer Web Archive Interaction” has been accepted, revised, and will appear in a volume of the International Journal on Digital Libraries (IJDL) with the title, “Exploiting the Untapped Functional Potential of Memento Aggregators Beyond Aggregation”.
In 2024, I will be teaching an overhauled version of INFO655: Intro to Web Programming that will incorporate the newer paradigms involved in programming web applications using React.
Lastly, regarding teaching, I am slated to again teach INFO202: Data Curation. I am hoping to complete the first instance of this course without any caveat (see this year’s below).
Ebbs and flows this year. Some personal matters caused personal and professional hiccups this year. I am detailing them here for my record and closure for anyone who clicked the mention above.
While halfway through the term of teaching INFO202, on May 14, 2023, we took our 1-year-old Benjamin (introduced in the Teaching Section of the 2023 Year-in-Review to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Recently graduate Ph.D. student, now Dr. Deborah Garwood, was able to substitute in and teach multiple lectures of the course in its original form. For that I am grateful.
Nearly immediately after returning from JCDL 2023 in Santa Fe in July, I was hospitalized with severe chest pain that I thought surely was my end and part of the motivation for publishing a report like this, even if the mention was a subtext. It was chalked up to coronary vasospasm, of which I have no history. I am still uncertain if it has any relation to the travel.
As if July was not already punishing enough, on July 8th our finest canine Yuri, Space Dog, died after a long bout with a progressing cancer. He gave us over ten of his years was a good boy.
And lastly, as the year was coming to a close, my last remaining grandparent, Eileen Kelly of Pine Bush, New York passed away on December 18, 2023. This is where I put this post to a close.
I want to thank the universe for not putting an end to me in July and allowing me time to put this post together. I am hoping for this yearly to be more eventful in a positive light and to produce a more optimistic year-in-review post the end of 2024.
The photos in this post are original captures and should be considered public domain. For completeness, they are from Forksville, Pennsylvania in August 2023 (post header); the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico (JCDL 2023) in June 2023 ; and The Great Hall at University of Birmingham in Birmingham, UK (CIKM 2023) from October 2023. Please feel free to email me, DM me, or submit a PR if you notice any errors or omissions. I will acknowledge them here.