User-Centered Design of a Recommender System for a 'Universal' Library Catalogue

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We are seeking a PhD student to investigate the development of recommender systems for the retrieval of journals, books, digital media, video, etc. in a cloud-based multi-institution, international catalogue. You should have a background in library and information science, information retrieval, computer science or a related discipline. The post is available from 1st October 2010 and offers an outstanding opportunity for a dedicated and motivated individual to investigate recommender systems for library catalogues. The post is funded (fees and maintenance) for three years by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, involving a partnership between the AHRC, the University of Sheffield and OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc., a world-leading organisation in the field of digital libraries.

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Project details | Qualifications and skills| How to apply | More information


Project details

In order to develop a suitable recommender system you will follow a 'user-centered' approach: first establishing user needs and the criteria which influence and shape users' satisfaction with recommendations. Then analysing resources held by OCLC, including bibliographic records, transaction logs and library holdings data, you will design, build and evaluate an interactive recommender prototype for the WorldCat 'universal' library catalogue, the worlds' largest and most comprehensive bibliographic database. There are many opportunities to conduct original research in this project: the resources provided by the industrial collaborator are unique, you will have the opportunity to work with a world-leading digital library company, develop a relationship with LIS professionals in the US and UK and gain access to end users of a global 'universal' catalogue service only possible through collaboration with OCLC. The award will include a 3 month visit to OCLC Research in Dublin (Ohio) to meet and collaborate with leading-edge researchers and software developers in the field. Results from this project are likely to benefit academics, practitioners and library users alike.


Qualifications and skills

This project is a funded studentship with clear goals and objectives: investigate the design of recommender systems for the retrieval of journals, books, digital media, video, etc. for WorldCat. This will involve being able to develop preliminary prototype systems to test ideas and carry out experiments to analyse various datasets. The following qualifications and skills are required or preferred for this studentship:

Entry requirements: It is expected that applicants will have at least a first class honours or a good upper second class degree, or successfully completed an MSc/MA, in computer science, library and information science, or a related discipline.

Required skills: Familiarity with quantitative and qualitative research methods and software for data analysis, ability to work independently, excellent written and oral communications skills, knowledge of formal research process, including writing and presenting results/findings, ability to implement prototype recommender systems and familiarity with databases and database software.

Funding Notes: This award covers full fees and maintenance at the standard AHRC rate (£13,650 in 2010-11, rising incrementally thereafter) and only UK and EU residents are eligible. This is an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with a duration of 3 years and candidates must meet the eligibility criteria.


How to apply

To apply for this project, please email Dr. Paul Clough (p.d.clough@sheffield.ac.uk) expressing your interesting and include the following: a copy of your current CV, an example of a piece of recent written work that demonstrates your ability to carry out research and your writing skills and a cover letter indicating why you are interested in the project and your reasons for wanting to carry out a PhD. The closing date for this stage of the application procedure is Wednesday 26th May 2010. We will then select candidates to invite for interview between 3-4 June 2010 at the University of Sheffield. Our decision will then be communicated to you and a nomination made to the AHRC by 29th July. The start date for the PhD is 1st October 2010.


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Page last updated: 12/05/2010