Michael Twidale

Photo of Michael Twidale

Professor and MS/IM Program Director

PhD, Computing, Lancaster (UK)

336 LIS
(217) 265-0510
twidale [at] illinois.edu

Office Hours

By appointment
Curriculum Vitae   

Research Focus

Computer-supported cooperative work; collaborative technologies in digital libraries and museums; user interface design and evaluation; open-source usability; information visualization; ubiquitous learning; social learning of technology; rapid prototyping and evaluation.

Other Professional Appointments

Department Affiliate, Computer Science
Research Associate Professor, Information Trust Institute
Fellow, Academy of Entrepreneurial Leadership
Faculty Affiliate, National Center for Supercomputing Applications


Michael Twidale is a professor of the School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include computer-supported cooperative work, computer-supported collaborative learning, human-computer interaction, information visualization, and museum informatics. Current projects include studies of informal social learning of technology, technological appropriation, metrics for open access, collaborative information retrieval, low-cost information visualization, ubiquitous learning and the usability of open source software. His approach involves the use of interdisciplinary techniques to develop high-speed, low-cost methods to better understand the difficulties people have with existing computer applications and so to design more effective systems.


Museum Informatics (IS461AG)
Museum Informatics (IS461AO)
Museum Informatics (IS461AU)
Entrepreneurial IT Design (IS490ITG)
Entrepreneurial IT Design (IS490ITU)

Research Projects

Transforming Taxonomic Interfaces

The goal of this research is to help researchers develop and use relatively simple tools to describe species in a way that make those descriptions easier to share with other scientists and easier for computers to process and analyze. The approach is bottom-up and iterative, involving the rapid prototyping of tools, combining of existing tools, and the tailoring of applications developed for one purpose but now being reused for this scientific activity.

Rapid Prototyping of Semantic Enhancements to Biodiversity Informatics Platforms

Taxonomists are scientists who describe the world’s biodiversity. These descriptions of millions of species allow scientists to do many different kinds of research, including basic biology, environmental science, climate research, agriculture, and medicine. The problem is that describing any one species is not easy. The language used by taxonomists to describe their data is complex, and typically not easily understandable by computers nor even other scientists.

Understanding Search Literacy and Search Skills Adoption: How People Solve Technical Problems via Search

Despite the ubiquity of search in many people’s daily lives, a lack of search literacy can make it difficult to find solutions to technical problems, such as completing software-based tasks like troubleshooting program installations. iSchool Professor Michael Twidale and Assistant Professor Max Wilson of the University of Nottingham have received funding from Google for a project that aims to develop an understanding of search literacy, and to recommend best practices for teaching technical...

Information Forum Requirements to Promote Knowledge Capture, Knowledge Sharing, and Community Interaction on the VHA Data Portal

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.

Completed Research Projects

Selected Publications, Papers, and Presentations

Nichols, D.M. & Twidale, M.B. (2016). Metrics for Openness. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. doi:10.1002/asi.23741

Organisciak, P. & Twidale, M.B. (2015). Design Facets of Crowdsourcing. Proceedings of the 2015 iConference. Newport Beach, CA.

Organisciak, P. & Twidale, M.B. (2014). When the Elevator Pitch Meets the Subject Heading: How Mixtures of Other Documents Can Describe What a Document is About. Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T ’14). Seattle, WA.

Thomer, A.K., & Twidale, M.B. (2014). How Databases Learn. Proceedings iConference  827-833.

Weber, N., Thomer, A., Michael Twidale, M.B. (2013) Niche Modeling: Ecological Metaphors for Sustainable Software in Science. Workshop on Sustainable Software for Science: Practice and Experiences (WSSSPE) SC13, Denver, CO.

Twidale, M.B. & Nichols, D.M. (2013 to appear). Agile methods for agile universities, in (ed.) Peters, M. The Creative University, Volume 2. Sense Publishers. Rotterdam.

Takazawa, A. & Twidale, M.B. (2013). When you wish upon a blog: how collaborative information seeking can interleave with CSCW. Workshop on Collaborative Information Seeking, CSCW 2013.

Twidale, M.B., Blake, C. & Gant, J.P. (2013). Towards a data literate citizenry. Proceedings, iConference 2013, 247-257.

Twidale, M.B., Schmidt, I., Ginger, J., Organisciak, P., Adamczyk, P. & Lueg, C. (2013). Design jams in iSchools: Approaches, challenges and examples. Proceedings iConference 2013, 1053-1055.

Twidale, M.B.; Cunningham, S.J.; Howison, J.; Organisciak, P. Ginger, Jeff; Schmidt, I.; Smith, B.N.; Baker, K.; Williams, K. ( 2013). Tech learning potluck. Proceedings, iConference 2013  1058-1060.

Bainbridge, D., Twidale, M. B., & Nichols, D. M. (2012). Interactive context-aware user-driven metadata correction in digital libraries. International Journal on Digital Libraries, 13(1), 17-32.

Nichols, D.M., Twidale, M.B. & Cunningham, S.J. (2012). Metadatapedia: A proposal for aggregating metadata on data archiving. Proceedings of the iConference '12, ACM. 370-376.

Jones, M.C. & Twidale, M.B. (2012). Exploring the boundaries of collaborative software development. Proceedings, PIM 2012 Workshop, CSCW 2012 Seattle, WA ACM Press.

Zhang, H., Twidale, M.B. & Smith, L. C. (2012). Mine, Yours and Ours: Using Shared Folders in Personal Information Management. Proceedings, PIM 2012 Workshop, CSCW 2012 Seattle, WA ACM Press http://pimworkshop.org/2012/papers.

Zilouchian Moghaddam, R., Twidale, M., & Bongen, K. (2011). Open source interface politics: identity, acceptance, trust, and lobbying. Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, CHI EA  ’11 (pp. 1723–1728). New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:10.1145/1979742.1979835.

England, D., Edmonds, E., Sheridan, J. G., Pobiner, S., Bryan-Kinns, N., Wright, P., Twidale, M., et al. (2011). Digital arts and interaction (invited). Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, CHI EA  ’11 (pp. 609–612). New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:10.1145/1979742.1979538.

Salovaara, A., Höök, K., Cheverst, K., Twidale, M., Chalmers, M., & Sas, C. (2011). Appropriation and creative use: linking user studies and design. PART 2 ———– Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, CHI EA  ’11 (pp. 37–40). New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:10.1145/1979482.1979585.

Zhang, H., Twidale, M.B. & Smith, L. C. (2011). What is archived: a study of folder content on personal computers. Proceedings,. Personal Digital Archiving 2011. San Francisco, CA.

Nichols, D.M. & Twidale, M.B. (2011). Recommendation, Collaboration and Social Search. In Ruthven I. & Kelly, D. Interactive Information Retrieval. Facet  Publishing. 205-220.

Bainbridge, D., Twidale, M.B. & Nichols, D.M. (2011). That's 'é' not 'þ' '?' or '☐': A user-driven context-aware approach to erroneous metadata in digital libraries Proceedings of the 11th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL'11). ACM.

Hahn, J., Twidale, M., Gutierrez, A., Farivar, R. (2011). Methods for applied mobile digital library research: a framework for extensible wayfinding systems. The Reference Librarian 52 (1/2) 106-116.

Related Topics

Cultural Informatics and Heritage, Design and Evaluation of Information Systems and Services, Digital Libraries, Health and Bioinformatics, Information Literacy, Information Practices and Behaviors, Social and Information Networks, collaborative environments, human-computer interaction, knowledge representation, information visualization, user error analysis, user interface design