Sheffield Information Retrieval Research Group

The Sheffield Information Retrieval Research Group is one of seven research groups of the Information School of The University of Sheffield. Research on information retrieval in Sheffield goes back as far as the 1960’s. Examples of research themes worked on over the years include the indexing and retrieval ofchemical structures (Michael Lynch), document clustering (Peter Willett), evaluation of interactive IR systems (Micheline Beaulieu & Daniella Petrelli), models on information seeking behaviour (Tom Wilson & David Ellis), cognitive IR (Nigel Ford), human-computer interaction (Steve Whittaker), IR test collections (Mark Sanderson), task-based IR and serendipity (Elaine Toms), multimedia IR (Robert Villa), session-based IR (Evangelos Kanoulas), human computation (Gianluca Demartini), webometrics (Robert Jäschke) and multilingual search (Paul Clough). Readers interested in early IR research in Sheffield are referred to the survey papers written by Lynch & Willett (1987) and Beaulieu (2003).

The IR Group also has a long history of active engagement with the IR community. Besides hosting major conferences such as SIGIR and CLEF in Sheffield, members of the group have played a key role in organising evaluation campaigns at TREC (Session Track),  CLEF (ImageCLEF, iCLEF, GeoCLEF, NewsREEL), NTCIR (Lifelog), MediaEval (NewsREEL Multimedia), and FIRE (PAN@FIRE).

What we do

Current research in the IR group is informed by four core areas of activity:

    • The study of human computer and information interaction (e.g., in the iLab) to understand user cognition and behaviour with respect to the interactivity involved in information access, use and re-use.
    • The development of novel solutions to information access problems, ranging from the development of specific algorithms to the design of entire prototype systems, with a particular focus on web-scale systems and algorithmic bias.
    • The study and design of methods and techniques for evaluating information access systems for a variety of applications and search scenarios.
    • The development of novel methodologies to study dynamics of social interactions on social media platforms.
    • The study of socio-technical factors in the design and evaluation of smart city solutions and use of emerging technologies such as IoT, wearables and mobile technologies.

Specific areas of research include: human computation and crowdsourcing, information visualisation, web science, information retrieval, data mining, big data, geo-spatial search, artificial intelligence, semantic search, multimedia retrieval, digital cultural heritage, NLP, data streams, search log analysis, task-based information interaction, lifelogging, exploratory search, human machine interaction, recommender systems, algorithmic bias, user interface design and evaluation.

Who we are

The team currently consists of nine academic members of staff who supervise thirteen PhD students, as well as two research associates. This multidisciplinary team draws together skills from computer science, information science, psychology, human computer and information interaction. Thanks to the group’s further involvement in interdisciplinary networks such as the Digital Society Network, iHuman, Sheffield Robotics, and SIID, these skills are often applied in many different domains and scenarios. Current academic members of staff include:

  • Dr David Cameron: He examines users’ experiences in their interaction with technology, particularly in terms of the user and autonomous systems as two agents in collaborative work.
  • Dr Alessandro Checco: He is interested in crowdsourcing, data privacy, algorithmic bias and digital labour.
  • Professor Paul Clough: He studies the development of effective retrieval technologies that support users as they seek to fulfil their information needs.
  • Paula Goodale: Her main research interest is in the needs and seeking behaviours of users in digital environments, including digital libraries, cultural heritage collections, and other information spaces.
  • Peter Holdridge: He is interested in Educational Informatics and e-Learning – including the creation/application of learning technologies.
  • Dr Frank Hopfgartner (Head of the Group): His current research focus is on large-scale evaluation of information access systems, retrieval over lifelog data, and information bias.
  • Dr Suvodeep Mazumdar: His research explores developing techniques and mechanisms for reducing the barrier for user communities in understanding and enriching very large complex multidimensional datasets.
  • Dr Sophie Rutter: She is interested in how the environment influences the way people interact with information, what techniques people use to search for information, and how information use can be evaluated in different environments.
  • Dr Ziqi Zhang: His research addresses methods that enables machines to extract human knowledge from text, to represent such knowledge in a structured representation that is understandable and usable by machines.

Working with us

If you are interested in working with us, please do not hesitate to get in touch. The group has a strong track record of collaborating with external academic and non-academic partners and our research is funded by national and international funding bodies.

Interested students would be able to join one of the world’s leading research centres in the field of information science. The Information School is ranked Number One in Europe and Second in the World for Library and Information Management (2019 QS World Rankings). Sheffield is a Top 100 university (2020 QS World Rankings) and a member of the Russell Group of leading UK research universities. The City of Sheffield is England’s safest major city, conveniently located in the middle of the country, and home to a Premier League football team.


About Frank Hopfgartner
Frank Hopfgartner

One response to “Sheffield Information Retrieval Research Group”

  1. New Informer – Autumn 2019 | Information Interaction

    […] Sheffield Information Retrieval Research Group […]

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