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National Center for Supercomputing Applications

Assistant Professor Jana Diesner a received an Faculty Fellowship and seed funding for her project, “Predictive Modeling for Impact Assessment,” from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Diesner collaborates closely with NCSA scientists on the project, which builds on her work developing computational solutions to assess the impact of issue-focused information projects such as social justice documentaries and books. Her research team leverages big social data for this purpose and combines techniques from machine learning and natural language processing to identify a fine-grained set of impact factors from textual data sources such as news articles, reviews, and social media. This project aims to locate...

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

iSchool faculty members Catherine Blake and Michael Twidale are working as expert advisors to the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Information Resource Center (VIReC) on a project to analyze the socio-technical aspects of VA’s HSRData-L Listserv. VIReC is a VA Health Service Research & Development Service (HSR&D) resource center that supports VA researchers in need of information about data resources specific to their research. HSRData-L is a virtual community of VA researchers who share their collective knowledge and experience about VA data and information systems for the betterment of research focused on Veteran’s issues. The team is led at the VA by Maria Souden, VIReC associate director for communications. iSchool doctoral student Caryn Anderson, who has worked...

Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information

The project team will work on extracting key concepts from scholarly publications and explore techniques for building a taxonomy of extracted concepts by leveraging open knowledge bases (e.g., Wikipedia). The outcome of this process will be evaluated for various science and technology knowledge platform-based analysis services. The techniques, which reduce semantic ambiguity, will analyze conceptual novelty and expertise of researchers / research institutes across time, leading to a better understanding of the evolution of scientific domains in a scholarly community. The research will also lead to the development of open source tools to allow this research work to be replicated.


Jun. 27, 2016

Assistant Professor Jana Diesner has begun work on a new project with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI). The goal of the project, “Selection and Influence: Identification of link formation mechanisms in scientific collaboration networks,” is to study the roles of selection—the process of people forming relationship with similar others—and social influence—the increasing similarity of connected people over time—in scientific collaboration networks.

Understanding the role of selection and social influence on scientific collaboration is important for several reasons, according to Diesner’s proposal:

First, it translates into different modes of scientific production. We argue that selection is a lateral selection process that brings together people with similar types of expertise (e.g. senior scholars), while influence increases the similarity of initially distinct scholars (e.g....

Jun. 6, 2016

Assistant Professor Jana Diesner will deliver a keynote address at the 2016 Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs) conference, which will be held on June 8-11 in Rome. The theme of the conference is, “Designing Networks for Innovation and Improvisation.”

Diesner’s address is titled, “Words and Networks: Using Natural Language Processing to Enhance Graphs and Test Network Theories."

The structure and dynamics of collaboration and communication networks are impacted by both social interactions and information exchange between people. In this talk, I present our research on using natural language processing techniques to enhance social network data. The ultimate goal with this work is to test the validity of classic social network theories in today’s contexts. I show our findings from leveraging sentiment analysis to label edges in communication networks in order to enable triadic balance assessment. In...

Mar. 30, 2016

Doctoral student Kirstin Phelps will speak later this month at the 31st Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, which will be held on April 14-16 in Anaheim, California. The event includes research presentations related to industrial-organizational psychology; the scientific study of work at the individual, organization, and society levels; and the application of that study to workplace issues.

Phelps will present her paper, "Using SNA to Evaluate Effects of the LeaderShape Institute,” during a juried paper panel on the topic, “The Intersection of Leadership Development and Social Contexts,” on April 15 at 8:30 a.m.

Abstract: This paper will present initial findings from an evaluative study of leadership resource networks among student participants of a week-long leadership development institute. With estimates of over one thousand leadership...

Mar. 14, 2016

Digital information sharing breaks down geographic barriers between scholars, research labs, and institutions, and in doing so, revolutionizes the research process. However, the benefits realized in the hard sciences outstrip the pace of collaborative growth in the humanities. To equalize these opportunities, Humanities Without Walls (HWW) creates new avenues for humanities-related research, and GSLIS Senior Lecturer Maria Bonn is leading efforts to measure its success.

HWW is a collaborative research consortium linking humanities centers at fifteen research universities across the country, including the University of Illinois. Managed by the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, HWW provides subgrants to multi-institutional research projects within the consortium,...

Feb. 15, 2016

Assistant Professor Jana Diesner will speak at two upcoming conferences on the topic of collection and use of digital social trace data. Her talks will address current issues in this research field, including privacy, ethics and regulations, and methodological issues related to data accuracy as well as considering the content of text data for advancing social network theory.

Diesner and Julian Chin (MS '12), a research assistant in the GSLIS Center for Digital Inclusion, will speak at a workshop on human-centered data science at the nineteenth annual Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW). Hosted by the Association for Computing Machinery, CSCW will be held in San Francisco on February 27 - March 2. Diesner and Chin will present their paper, "Seeing the forest for the trees: considering applicable types of...

Feb. 1, 2016

Several members of the GSLIS community participated in the 2016 Computational Social Science Workshop at Illinois. Hosted by the University Library Scholarly Commons and The Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS), the workshop was held at the I Hotel and Conference Center on January 30. Presentations and hands-on sessions by speakers representing an array of campus units addressed topics relevant to data-driven social science, including geographic information systems, network analysis, text analysis, and machine learning.

GSLIS participation included:

  • Presentation, “Hands-on Machine Learning,” by Assistant Professor Vetle Torvik
  • Presentation, “Introduction to Network Analysis,” by Assistant Professor Jana Diesner
  • Presentation, “Managing...
Oct. 30, 2015

Doctoral student Paige Cunningham will speak at the annual meeting of the History of Education Society, an international organization that encourages teaching of and research in the history of education. The group’s 2015 meeting will be held November 5-8 in St. Louis. Cunningham will present her paper titled, “Learning from PLATO: Lessons in Online Community Building” on November 6.

Abstract: PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations) is a computer-assisted instruction system, first developed at the University of Illinois in 1960. PLATO was originally a solitary experience in which individuals worked at their lessons on a terminal system, but did not interact electronically with other users. Users soon began to modify their computer-mediated reality, creating ways to talk to each other, leave each other messages, and even play games. A set of official communication tools...