A pioneer of information retrieval, the computer science sub-discipline that also underpins the technology of modern Web search engines, Karen Spärck Jones was a British professor of Computers and Information at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge. Her contributions to the fields of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Information Retrieval (IR), especially with regard to experimentation, have been outstanding, highly influential and lasting, and include the introduction of Inverse Document Frequency for relevance ranking. Her achievements resulted in her receiving a number of prestigious accolades such as the BCS Lovelace medal for her advancement in Information Systems, and the ACM Salton Award for her significant, sustained and continuing contributions to research in information retrieval. Karen was also an outspoken advocate for women in computing, and we encourage former advisors of talented scientists to provide the judges with a rich and diverse candidate pool to select from.
In order to honour Karen’s achievements, the BCS Information Retrieval Specialist Group (BCS IRSG) in conjunction with the BCS has established an annual award to encourage and promote talented researchers who have endeavoured to advance our understanding of Natural Language Processing or Information Retrieval with significant experimental contributions.
To learn more about Karen and her work, visit:
To celebrate the commemorative event, the recipient of the award will be invited to present a keynote lecture at BCS IRSG’s annual conference — the European Conference on Information Retrieval (ECIR) or at BCS IRSG’s partner conference — the Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL). The recipient of the 2023 award will be giving a keynote lecture at EACL 2024 at the Hotel Radisson Blu, St. Julians, in Malta, from 17 to 22 of March 2024. These forums provide excellent venues to present and announce the award because the conferences attract many new and young IR and NLP researchers.
Eligibility. Open to all IR/NLP researchers who have no more than 10 years’ experience after their Ph.D. at the closing date for nominations (non-research times, e.g. parental leave or career breaks, will be taken into account to ensure equity; please point at such times in the nominee’s CVs).
Criterion. The candidate ought to have substantially advanced our understanding of IR or NLP or both through experimentation.
Nominations. The following should be provided:
• Name of nominee, position, affiliation, years since completion of the Ph.D.;
• Name of person proposing the nominee, position, and affiliation;
• Short case for the award, not to exceed 2,500 words, highlighting the contributions the individual has made;
• List of the individual’s top five publications reflecting the relevant contributions, and role within these; and
• Exactly two supporting letters from people who would like to encourage/support the nomination.
Nominations should be emailed to the panel chair below. The support letters can be emailed separately by the referees. It is possible for individuals to nominate themselves, in which case they should provide three support letters. Please note that we anticipate that people who provide support letters will do so only for a single candidate.
Award Panel. Successful candidates will be selected by an award panel. The Award Panel Chair, appointed by the BCS IRSG Committee, will invite panel members from amongst representatives of the BCS main council, the BCS IRSG Committee, the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL), the Award-sponsoring organisation (unless there could be a conflict of interest), as well as seasoned experts in IR and NLP from academia and industry.
Prize. The recipient of the award will receive a certificate, a trophy, a cash prize of £1000 plus expenses for the awardee to travel to EACL 2024.
Note that the Karen Spärck Jones Award will now alternate between ECIR and EACL to promote integration between the IR and NLP communities that Karen Spärck Jones was an active member of. The 2023 prize award lecture will take place at EACL 2024.
Timeline for the 2023 Award:
• 10 Nov 2023 — Closing date for nominations;
• 17 Nov 2023 – Deadline for support letters;
• 15 Dec 2023 — Notification of the prize recipient;
• 17-22 March 2024 — Recipient presents keynote at EACL 2024 in Malta.
The Karen Spärck Jones Award is sponsored by Microsoft Research Cambridge and BCS; we would like to thank our generous sponsors.
Current Award Panel Chair: Dr Haiming Liu firstname.lastname@example.org
For a list of previous recipients of the award, cf. <https://www.bcs.org/membership-and-registrations/member-communities/information-retrieval-specialist-group/awards/>.
KSJ Award Panel Chair of the BCS IRSG Committee