Meeting venue: The meeting will be held in Room 204 (lecture room) in the Information School at the University of Sheffield. The lecture room is located on the second floor in Regent Court.


More than ever before, information, algorithms and systems have the potential to influence and shape our experiences and views. Especially in the context of information retrieval and recommender systems, an awareness and understanding of areas, such as algorithmic accountability, transparency, governance and bias, are becoming increasingly important. Recent cases in the news and media have highlighted the wider societal effects of data and algorithms requiring we pay it more attention.



Aiming to shed more light on our responsibilities, the Information Retrieval Research Group of University of Sheffield, sponsored by the BCS Information Retrieval Specialist Group, invites you to present and participate in a meeting to discuss emerging issues around "Ethics, Privacy, Transparency and Bias in Information Retrieval". The meeting will be held as a one-day event on 5 September 2018 at the University of Sheffield. Registration for the event is £6 but places are limited. We are very pleased that the following keynote speakers have agreed to provide insights on issues such as ethics, data governance, management/regulation of search systems, machine learning, algorithm transparency and data/system biases:

  • Neil Lawrence is Professor of Machine Learning at the University of Sheffield and Director of Machine Learning at Amazon in Cambridge. His main research interest is machine learning through probabilistic models. He has a particular focus on applications in personalised health and computational biology.
  • Ansgar Koene is Senior Research Fellow at The University of Nottingham. He is Co-Investigator on the UnBias project whose goal is to emancipate users against algorithmic biases for a trusted digital economy.
  • Cathal Gurrin is Associate Professor at Dublin City University. He is considered a pioneer in the field of lifelogging and aims to integrate computer science, cognitive science and data-driven healthcare analytics to generate next-generation digital records of the individual.
  • David Stillwell is Deputy Director of The Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge. He has pioneered work on the use of social media data for psychometric research, leading to the development of the myPersonality app that collected data from over 6 million people on Facebook.

In addition, we invite submissions for short talks (both from academia and industry) on topics such as gathering and sharing of data to model users and their context for personalisation and recommendation; the reuse of user data used to adapt/model search and recommendation; the biases and potential manipulation of search results and the societal impact of this; the explainability and transparency of search algorithms; and maintaining and preserving the privacy of users within search and recommendation.

Please send your extended abstract (500 words) to Dr Frank Hopfgartner via email using Springer format. All abstracts will be reviewed by at least one of the co-organisers.

Meeting schedule:

08:30 - Registration
09:00 - Welcome and Introduction
09:15 - Keynote 1: Ansgar Koene (University of Nottingham): Governance approaches to algorithmic bias, transparency and accountability
10:15 - Short Talk 1: Irini Katsirea: Search engines: From intermediaries to responsible publishers?
10:30 - Coffee break
11:00 - Short Talk 2: Steven Zimmerman: Exploring Potential Pathways to Address Bias and Ethics in IR
11:15 - Short Talk 3: Paul Clough: CyCAT: Cyprus Centre for Algorithmic Transparency
11:30 - Keynote 2: Neil Lawrence (Amazon and University of Sheffield)
12:30 - Lunch (+IRSG AGM)
14:00 - Keynote 3: Cathal Gurrin (DCU)
15:00 - Keynote 4: David Stillwell (University of Cambridge): How should organisations use data driven psychological predictions ethically?
16:00 - Coffee break
16:15 - Reflection and Discussion
17:00 - Close

Important dates:

  • Deadline for submissions: 29 August 2018
  • Notification: 31 August 2018
  • Workshop: 5 September 2018 (held in Room 204, Information School, University of Sheffield)