Autumn 2020


I’m looking forward with interest to three virtual search events in November.  The Search Solutions 2020 Tutorial Day take place on 24 November followed by the Search Solutions conference itself on 25 November. Then on the afternoon of 26 November comes the Strix Annual Lecture. The decision has now been taken to run ECIR 2021 as a virtual event, and the submission dates have now been revised. We all hope of course that by April next year on-site conferences will start to be scheduled but right now that is a risk that the ECIR 2021 team felt unable to take. In September CLEF2020 was also run virtually and I am delighted to be able to publish some short reports on the event from student attendees. I plan to make this a regular feature for conferences, especially ECIR.

Coping with change is now something that we are all becoming very accustomed to. The feature article in this issue is from Dr David Maxwell who has moved from being a PhD student in Glasgow to being a postdoc researcher in Delft.

In this issue we have one book review. Dr Frank Hopfgartner, Book Reviews Editor, considers an open-access book on the legacy of the research impact of NTCIR (NII Testbeds and Community for Information access Research).   This is probably a good time to remind publishers and authors that Informer has a very wide readership among the information science, information retrieval and data science communities. If you have a book that you would like to have considered for review than please contact Dr Frank Hopfgartner.

Finally there are some reflections from me on working with Dr. Tony Kent, in whose memory and honour the Strix Award Lecture is held. What you will not find in this issue is Part 2 of a report on the New Future of Work conference that Microsoft Research organised in August. In Part 1, published in the Summer edition, I commented on the management of the conference. Looking at the papers even just a few months after presentation I decided that events and research had both moved on so much that a synopsis of the papers would not be a good use of HTML code.

The copy date for the Winter edition of Informer is 4 January 2021. Submissions are always welcome.

Search Solutions 2020 24/25 November

The Search Solutions conference will take place virtually on Wednesday 25 November. The programme can be found on the conference website. The conference will be preceded by a day of workshops on Tuesday 24 November.

With the Strix Award event taking place on Thursday 26 November it will be quite a searching week.

Strix Lecture 26 November 2020

The UK electronic information Group (UKeiG) is pleased to announce that the 6th Tony Kent Strix Annual Memorial Lecture 2020 is to be delivered by the 2019 Strix award winner Professor Ingemar J. Cox, Department of Computer Science at University College London. It will take place online from 2 pm to 4.30 pm Thursday, 26th November 2020. The Tony Kent Strix Award was inaugurated in 1998 by the Institute of Information Scientists.  The Award is given in recognition of an outstanding practical innovation or achievement in the field of information retrieval. It is now presented by UKeiG in partnership with the International Society for Knowledge Organisation UK (ISKO UK), the Royal Society of Chemistry Chemical Information and Computer Applications Group (RSC CICAG) and the British Computer Society Information Retrieval Specialist Group (BCS IRSG).

This is a free event. Book here:

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ECIR 2021 – planning for a virtual conference

The 43rd European Conference on Information Retrieval will be held in Lucca, Italy on March 28 to April 1, 2021 though the decision has been taken to run it as a virtual event. ECIR 2020 was run as a virtual event at short notice and was a great success. Lessons learned from ECIR 2020 will of course be taken into account with the 2021 event.

The submission deadlines are…

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CLEF 2020 – some student perspectives

Editor – I’m delighted to be able to publish reports on the CLEF2020 conference from some of the students who attended the conference, which took place in September 2020. I gave them a set of four headings and a word length. I feel it is important to capture the views of students on events as they see things with a different perspective to those of us who have spent much of our working lives inside a conference venue.

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My 2020: Lockdown and Stroopwafels

Editor – Since March 2020, David Maxwell has been a postdoctoral researcher at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. He is looking at Interactive Information Retrieval (IIR) and Search as Learning (SAL). I asked him to write an account of his experience both living and working as a Post-Doc researcher.

Over to David

Let me start with three things that I have learnt over the past six to seven months.

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Book review: Evaluating Information Retrieval and Access Tasks: NTCIR’s Legacy of Research Impact

Already hinted at in one of my previous book reviews, this year finally saw the publication of the long-awaited book “Evaluating Information Retrieval and Access Tasks: NTCIR’s Legacy of Research Impact”. If this isn’t reason enough to stop everything you are doing right now and start searching for your reading glasses, there’s even more good news: Thanks to the financial contribution of the National Institute of Informatics (NII) of Japan, the book is an open access publication and can be downloaded directly from the publisher’s web portal.

But first things first… What is NTCIR and why should you take note of this book?

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And finally from the Editor

This year I will be taking part in the Strix Award event, an Award which recognises the contribution that Dr. Tony Kent made to information retrieval. There is some background material on the Award and on Tony Kent on the CILIP website. The Award was inaugurated in 1998 when I was still playing a reasonably active role in the Institute of Information Scientists and was on the committee that met to decide who would be the award winner.

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