Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:18:45 +0000Doctoral students Ming Jiang and Shubhanshu Mishra will present research papers at the 26th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING), which will be held December 11-16 in Osaka, Japan. The COLING conference, held every two years, is one of the top international conferences in the field of natural language processing and computational linguistics, which covers research topics such as question answering, text summarization, information extraction, discourse structure, and more. Jiang will present a paper coauthored with Assistant Professor Jana Diesner titled, "Says Who...? Identification of Expert versus Layman Critics’ Reviews of Documentary Films." Abstract: We extend classic review mining work by building a binary classifier that predicts whether a review of a documentary film was written by an expert or a layman with 90.70% accuracy (F1 score), and compare the characteristics of the predicted classes. A variety of standard lexical and syntactic features was used for this supervised learning task. Our results suggest that experts write comparatively lengthier and more detailed reviews that feature more complex grammar and a higher diversity in their vocabulary. Layman reviews are more subjective and contextualized in peoples’ everyday lives. Our error analysis shows that laymen are about twice as likely to be mistaken as experts than vice versa. We argue that the type of author might be a useful new feature for improving the accuracy of predicting the rating, helpfulness and authenticity of reviews. Finally, the outcomes of this work might help researchers and practitioners in the field of impact assessment to gain a more fine-grained understanding of the perception of different types of media consumers and reviewers of a topic, genre or information product. During the COLING16 workshop on noisy user-generated text (WNUT), Mishra will present a paper coauthored with Diesner titled, "Semi-supervised Named Entity Recognition in noisy-text." Abstract: Named entity recognition (NER) has played an immense role in improving information retrieval, text mining, and text based network construction. However, the most of the existing NER techniques are based on syntactically correct news corpus data, and hence don’t give good results on noisy data such as tweets because of issues like spelling errors, concept drifts, and few context words. In this paper, we describe our submission to the WNUT 2016 NER shared task, and also present an improvement over it using a semi-supervised approach. Our models are based on linear chain conditional random fields (CRFs), and use BIEOU NER chunking scheme, features based on word clusters and pre-trained distributed word representations; updated gazetteer features; global context predictions; and random feature dropout for up-sampling the training data. These approaches alleviate many issues related to NER on noisy data by allowing the meaning of new or rare tokens to be ingested into the system, while using existing training samples to improve the model. Diesner joined the iSchool faculty in 2012 and is a 2015-2016 faculty fellow in the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at Illinois. Her research in social computing combines theories and methods from natural language processing, social network analysis, and machine learning. In her lab, she and her students develop and advance computational solutions that help people to measure and understand the interplay of information and socio-technical networks. They also bring these solutions into various application context, e.g. in the domain of impact assessment. [...]
Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:46:00 +0000
Associate Professor Victoria Stodden will present her research at A University Symposium: Promoting Credibility, Reproducibility and Integrity in Research on December 9 at Columbia University. Hosted by Columbia's Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and other New York City research institutions, the symposium will bring together leading experts, journal editors, funders, and researchers to discuss how issues of reproducibility and research integrity are being handled by institutions, journals, and federal agencies.
Stodden will participate in the session, "Repeat After Me: Current Issues in Reproducibility," with Jeffrey Drazen, editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine; Hany Farid, professor and chair of computer science at Dartmouth; Leonard Freeman, president of the Global Biological Standards Institute; and Londa Schiebinger, John L. Hinds Professor of History of Science at Stanford. Stodden and the other experts will present examples of irreproducibility from their various disciplines and discuss ways of identifying, managing and avoiding such problems.
According to Stodden, several reasons exist for irreproducibility in empirical research, including, but not limited to, small study sizes, early or novel research without previously established evidence, poorly designed protocols that permit flexibility during the study, conflicts of interest, publication bias, and statistical biases.
Stodden is a leading figure in the area of reproducibility in computational science, exploring how we can better ensure the reliability and usefulness of scientific results in the face of increasingly sophisticated computational approaches to research. Her work addresses a wide range of topics, including standards of openness for data and code sharing, legal and policy barriers to disseminating reproducible research, robustness in replicated findings, cyberinfrastructure to enable reproducibility, and scientific publishing practices. She serves as an associate editor for reproducibility for the Journal of the American Statistical Society and was recently invited to serve on the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Coordinating Committee.
At Illinois, she holds affiliate appointments at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NSCA), College of Law, Department of Statistics, and Department of Computer Science. Stodden earned both her PhD in statistics and her law degree from Stanford University. She also holds a master's degree in economics from the University of British Columbia and a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Ottawa.
Thu, 08 Dec 2016 19:45:51 +0000
Reporting new research results involves detailed descriptions of methods and materials used in an experiment. But when a study uses computers to analyze data, create models or simulate things that can’t be tested in a lab, how can other researchers see what steps were taken or potentially reproduce results?
A new report by prominent leaders in computational methods and reproducibility lays out recommendations for ways researchers, institutions, agencies and journal publishers can work together to standardize sharing of data sets and software code. The paper "Enhancing reproducibility for computational methods" appears in the journal Science.
"We have a real issue in disclosure and reporting standards for research that involves computation – which is basically all research today," said Victoria Stodden, a University of Illinois professor of information science and the lead author of the paper. "The standards for putting enough information out there with your findings so that other researchers in the area are able to understand and potentially replicate your work were developed before we used computers."
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"It is becoming increasingly accepted for researchers to value open data standards as an essential part of modern scholarship, but it is nearly impossible to reproduce results from original data without the authors' code," said Marcia McNutt, the president of the National Academy of Sciences and a co-corresponding author of the study. "This policy forum makes recommendations to enable practical and useful code sharing."
Sharing complete computational methods – data, code, parameters and the specific steps taken to arrive at the results – is difficult for researchers because there are no standards or guides to refer to, Stodden said. It's an extra step for busy researchers to incorporate into their reporting routine, and even if someone wants to share their data or code, there are questions of how to format and document it, where to store it and how to make it accessible.
The report makes seven specific recommendations, such as documenting digital objects and making them retrievable, open licensing, placing links to datasets and workflows in scientific articles, and reproducibility checks before publication in a scholarly journal.
The authors hope that disclosing computational methods will not only allow other researchers to verify and reproduce results, but also to build upon studies that have been done, such as performing different analyses with a dataset or using an established workflow with new data.
"Things like how you prepped your data – what you did with outliers or how you normalized variables, all the things that are standard in data analysis – can make a big impact on results," Stodden said. "Some researchers make code and data accessible on point of principle, so it's possible. But it takes time. We know it's hard, but in this report we're trying to say in a very productive and positive way that data, code and workflows need to be part of what gets disclosed as a scientific finding."
Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:33:40 +0000In a small town in western Montana, Wendy Campbell turned a difficult situation into an opportunity to show her fellow citizens how libraries are vital to communities as safe places for education and communication. For her efforts, Campbell, director of the Darby Community Public Library, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award, given annually by the faculty of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and cosponsored by Libraries Unlimited. Earlier this year, the Darby Library hosted a series of lifelong learning cultural programs for its service community of 4,000 people. As described in Campbell’s article in American Libraries, one of the three programs, “Perspectives on Islam,” sparked strong protest by several community members. In response, Campbell met with the library board and spoke with several groups—including library staff and volunteers, library patrons, community leaders, the local school board, high school teachers and administration, the county sheriff’s office, the state librarian, and the Office for Intellectual Freedom—to find a way to hold the program and help expand cultural awareness in her community. The commitment she received from these groups supported her steadfast efforts. Campbell's unwavering resolve to turn the controversial event into a success paid off. On March 9, 2016, so many people turned out for the presentation by Samir Bitar, a lecturer of Arabic language and cultures at the University of Montana, that library officials were forced to turn back the overflow at the door. Campbell set the stage with her welcome: Libraries are vital to our communities as safe places for education and communication. This program is one of three in a series on historical and contemporary cultures. Tonight we learn of the culture of Islam. I will be honest with you that the culture is intrinsically tied to its religion, so you will also learn of this religion tonight. Libraries do not promote or condemn. We offer opportunities for education. It is a safe place where we come together for respectful and peaceful discourse. James LaRue, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, noted in his letter nominating Campbell for the award, “At a time when libraries are seeking greater civic engagement, at a time when many of us are looking for more meaningful and dignified discourse, Campbell’s approach proved to be definitive: the speaker was welcomed warmly, listened to attentively, and questioned respectfully. The library, meanwhile, secured its position in the community as a force for education that neither promoted nor condemned various ideas, but provided a safe and courteous forum for their consideration.” A reception to honor Campbell will take place during the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, January 21, 2017, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. in Room A-703 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Libraries Unlimited provides an honorarium for the recipient and cosponsors the reception. The Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award is given annually to acknowledge individuals or groups who have furthered the cause of intellectual freedom, particularly as it affects libraries and information centers and the dissemination of ideas. Granted to those who have resisted censorship or efforts to abridge the freedom of individuals to read or view materials of their choice, the award may be in recognition of a particular action or long-term interest in, and dedication to, the cause of intellectual freedom. The award was established in 1969 by the iSchool’s faculty to honor Robert Downs, a champion of intellectual freedom, on his twenty-fifth anniversary as director of the School. With Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, assuming cosponsorship of the award in 2012, ABC-CLIO has been d[...]
Tue, 06 Dec 2016 19:45:14 +0000S.K. (Kayleigh) Van Poolen is a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) student who has advanced degrees in political science, urban planning, information sciences, and law. On November 15, Van Poolen's talk, "Started with a Hurricane Named Katrina," won third place at the 2016 Research Live! competition sponsored by the Graduate College. In the Q&A below, she explains her interest in social and economic justice and her decision to return to Illinois. Why did you choose the iSchool at Illinois for your MS/LIS, and what made you decide to return for your CAS? How I ended up in the iSchool in the first place is a bit of a story. I took an hourly position in the Main Library and was asked to stay on, working on several projects. I intended to head off to law school, so I planned to turn down the Library’s offer initially. But after some discussions with my supervisor, I was convinced to stay and completed my master’s at the iSchool while working at the Library. Then I headed to law school, and Hurricane Katrina hit the very first weekend of classes. Because of Katrina, I started extensive work related to social and economic justice. However, upon graduation, life took me for a ride, and I found myself wandering and still searching. As I told one of my iSchool professors, I returned to what I knew, the iSchool. And although many students take the step into the CAS realm shortly after their master’s work, I just did it quite a bit later—over six years later. And when one takes a risk, it helps to take that risk at a school with reputation I knew and a curriculum that had some familiarity. What particular topics interest you most? I pursued social and economic justice projects while in law school and will continue to do so with information science. Thanks to a meeting that included a data science related topic, I have added data science to my interests, building on my days in IT and project management as well as my academics in law. I see data science as a critical aspect of social and economic justice and intend to combine both worlds whenever possible. What do you do outside of class? I work, and I research. After being out of academics for a while, I spend little time doing anything but class and research-related activities. I took on a practicum this semester, in addition to a full-time course load and GA position with the Law Library, so that has taken up a substantial amount of time. I have spent any available time on research-related activities, pursuing grants, presentation opportunities, conferences . . . pretty much everything, outside of family, is focused on research and job possibilities. In the past, when time permitted, I painted, mostly with acrylic and watercolor; designed jewelry; and volunteered with arts, sciences, and various community-oriented programs. I also play the bass, although that is strictly an in-house activity at this point. What career plans or goals do you have? Ideally, I would love to work for a social/economic justice organization, independent or part of a University, to advocate as well as support their research needs. I am also looking for law schools that have active pro bono and public interest law programs where I can support related research needs. The legal field and law schools are starting to grasp data; instead of limiting data science to the benefit of firms, we need to be outward-looking and use data science to determine policy and legislation as well as advocacy that supports our communities. One thing my journey has taught me is this: you can plan and plan and plan . . . and then something entirely different takes place. Essentially, I am open to possibilities because very little of what I have ever planned worked out "according to plan." [...]
Wed, 30 Nov 2016 15:50:47 +0000
Regular meeting of the iSchool Admissions Committee
Questions? Contact kmcdowel [at] illinois.edu (Kate McDowell)