SILS Professor Jaime Arguello Receives NSF Award to Study Ways to Make Search Results More Effective and Useful

February 6, 2015

Knowledge from the project will help improve search systems (such as Google or Bing) across different domains and develop tools that will enable other researchers to test their own solutions.

Dr. Jaime Arguello, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Information and Library Science (SILS), has received a National Science Foundation career award to support his research for the next five years on a project titled “Making Aggregated Search Results More Effective and Useful.”  

Aggregated search systems, such as Google, are responsible for combining results from multiple independent systems into a single presentation.  For example, in addition to web results, Google will sometimes include results from other back-end systems (called verticals) that focus on a specific type of media, such as images, videos, news articles or online products. 

Arguello’s project has three main goals.  The first is to further understand how users interact with aggregated search results.  For example, the project will investigate how the results from one source (say, the images on the results page) influence a user’s interaction with results from a difference source (say, the web results).

The second goal of the project is to develop aggregated search solutions that are better informed by “real” user behavior. To this end, the project will develop approaches for automatically deciding which results to display and how to display them to a user in particular context.  The third goal is to the test the generalizability of the algorithms developed on two additional domains: digital library search and news story aggregation.

“Jaime’s work illustrates a unique strength of information science in that it entails human-centered studies that serve as the basis for algorithm development,” said SILS Dean Gary Marchionini.

Knowledge gained from the project will improve aggregated search systems across different domains.  Additionally, the project will develop software tools and resources that other researchers can use to test their own solutions. 

“I am excited to continue working on further understanding how people interact with aggregated search interfaces, and to use that knowledge to develop better solutions that can be applied broadly in any environment where a system has to combine results from different, independent sources,” Arguello said. “I’m thankful to have this opportunity and think that SILS is an ideal place to do this kind of research.”

Photo: Dr. Jaime Arguello in his office in Manning Hall.