Tuesday 17th Feb 2015 – Dr Paul Thomas

Dr Paul Thomas – CSIRO

Using Interaction Data to Explain Browsing Difficulty

A user’s behaviour when browsing a web site contains clues to that user’s experience. It is possible to record some of these behaviours automatically, and extract signals that indicate a user is having trouble finding information. This allows for web site analytics based on user experiences, not just page impressions.

A series of experiments identified user browsing behaviours – such as time taken and amount of scrolling up a page – which predict navigation difficulty and which can be recorded with minimal or no changes to existing sites or browsers. In turn, patterns of page views correlate with these signals and these patterns can help web authors understand where and why their sites are hard to navigate. A new software tool automates this analysis and makes it available to web authors in the context of the site itself.

Paul Thomas is a research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The CSIRO is Australia’s national science agency and is charged with carrying out research for Australian government, industry, and communities. He also holds an adjunct Professorship at the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University.

Dr Thomas’s research considers how people interact with information, in particular information retrieval systems such as web search or digital libraries. His expertise covers federated search systems, models of user behaviour, and evaluating search systems with explicit or implicit user feedback. Applications have included web-based systems for general use, personal and workplace search systems, digital libraries for professional groups, and search on mobile devices.

Dr Thomas’s work has been published in top-ranked journals and conferences including the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), the Information Retrieval Journal (IR), and the SIGIR and CIKM conferences. He has served on programme committees for all major conferences and journals in information retrieval; and amongst other service roles he has been invited to coordinate or be a mentor for the SIGIR Doctoral Consortium across three years.

Dr Thomas has significant expertise in industrial research, and experience in translating research into practise in industry and government. For example, he has led or worked on projects which analyse web usage and suggest improvements for some of Australia’s largest sites, and which monitor social media to improve government communications and policy-making. He has also designed and implemented digital libraries and novel information systems to support industry in Australia and internationally.

Staff Webpage

Also advertised on SICSA

Note Another talk will be held by Dr. Paul Thomas on Wednesday 18th February at Aberdeen University, 14:00 to 15:00, Meston Building (further details).

School of Computing Science & Digital Media, Robert Gordon University, Riverside East, Garthdee, Aberdeen, Conference Room N204, 13:00 – 14:00.

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School of Computing Science and Digital Media, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland
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