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Exploring perspectives on the evaluation of digital libraries

Exploring perspectives on the evaluation of digital libraries

During the last twenty years, the digital library domain has exhibited a significant growth aiming to fulfill the diverse information needs of heterogeneous user communities. Digital libraries, either existing as research prototype in a research center or laboratory, or operating in an intense environment enjoying actual usage from end users, have explicitly the need to measure and evaluate their operation. Digital library evaluation is a multifaceted domain aiming to compose the views and perspectives of various agents, such as digital library developers, librarians, curators, information and computer scientists. Several research fields, like information retrieval, human computer interaction, information seeking, user behavior analysis, organization and management of information systems, are contributing to capture, analyze and interpret data into useful suggestions of beneficial value for the information provider and its users.

This half-day tutorial will attempt to conclude the current state of the art on digital libraries evaluation focusing to the following critical questions that project managers, digital library developers and librarians face: the motivations forcing to evaluate, how these motivations are connected to methodologies, techniques and criteria, how effective is one methodology compared to another in relation to the context of operation, what are the appropriate personnel and resources, as well as the organizational and legal requirements for conducting an evaluation experiment and what are the expected derivatives.

More at http://gtsak.info/ecdl2010tutorial/


Giannis Tsakonas

October 01, 2010


  1. exploring perspectives on the evaluation of digital libraries Giannis Tsakonas

    & Christos Papatheodorou {gtsak, papatheodor}@ionio.gr Database and Information Systems Group, Laboratory on Digital Libraries and Electronic Publishing, Department of Archives and Library Sciences, Ionian University, Corfu, Greece. Digital Curation Unit, Institute for the Management of Information Systems, ‘Athena’ Research Centre, Athens, Greece
  2. a few things about this tutorial introduction

  3. 3 what is it about? • It is about evaluation!

    • Evaluation is not only about finding what is better for our case, but also how far we are from it. • erefore this tutorial is about locating us in a research space and helping us find the way.
  4. 4 what are the benefits? • Viewing things in a

    coherent way. • Familiarizing with the idea of the interdisciplinarity of the domain and the need of collaboration with other agents to perform better evaluation activities. • Forming the basis to judge potential avenues in your evaluation planning.
  5. 5 how it is structured? • Part one: fundamentals of

    DL evaluation (1,5 hour) – reasons to evaluate – what to evaluate – agents of the evaluation – methods to evaluate – outcomes to expect • Break (0,5 hour) • Part two: formal description and hands on session – a formal description of DL evaluation (0,5 hour) – hands on session (0,5 hour) • Discussion and closing (0,5 hour)
  6. fundamentals of digital library evaluation part one

  7. evaluation tutorials in DL conferences 7 Evaluating, using, and publishing

    eBooks 2001 ECDL JCDL ICADL Evaluating Digital Libraries for Usability 2002 ECDL JCDL ICADL Usability Evaluation of Digital Libraries Usability Evaluation of Digital Libraries 2003 ECDL JCDL ICADL Evaluating Digital Libraries ualitative User-Centered Design in Digital Library Evaluation 2004 ECDL JCDL ICADL Evaluating Digital Libraries Evaluation of Digital Libraries 2005 ECDL JCDL ICADL 2006 ECDL JCDL ICADL 2007 ECDL JCDL ICADL 2008 ECDL JCDL ICADL 2009 ECDL JCDL ICADL Lightweight User Studies for Digital Libraries 2010 ECDL JCDL ICADL
  8. 8 what is evaluation? • Evaluation is the process of

    assessing the value of a definite product or an operation for the benefit of an organization at a given timeframe.
  9. 9 how to start evaluating? • From objects? – digital

    libraries are complex systems – depending on the application field their synthesis increases • ...or from processes? – evaluation processes vary because of the many agents around them – many disciplines, each one having many backgrounds • is dualism will escort us all the way.
  10. 10 • Roles: content managers (librarians, archivists, etc.) computer scientists,

    managers, etc. • Research fields: information science, social sciences, human-computer interaction, information retrieval, visualization, data-mining, user modeling, knowledge management, cognitive psychology, information architecture and interaction design, etc. metaphor: a usual Rubik’s cube
  11. 11 metaphor continues: several unusual cubes • Different stakeholders have

    different views – two different agents see different Rubik cubes to solve e developer’s cube e funder’s cube
  12. 12 evaluation framework • Why: the first, but also the

    most difficult, question. • What: the second question, with a rather obvious answer. • Who: the third question, with a more obvious answer. • How: the fourth question; a quite puzzling one.
  13. why questions

  14. reasons to evaluate [a] • We evaluate in order to

    improve our systems; a generic beneficiary aim. • We evaluate in order to increase our knowledge capital on the value of our system: – to describe our current state (recording our actions) – to justify our actions (auditing our actions) – to redesign our system (revising our actions) • We evaluate to make other understand what is the value of our system: – to describe how others use our system – to justify why they are using it this way (or why they don’t use it) – to redesign the system and its services to be better and more used 14
  15. reasons to evaluate [b] • But, is it clear to

    us why we are evaluating? – the answer shows commitment – is it for internal reasons (posed by the organization, e.g. monitoring), or external reasons (posed by the environment of the organization, e.g. accountability)? • Strongly related to the context of working. 15
  16. 16 scope of evaluation • Input-output evaluation – about effective

    production • Performance measurement – about efficient operation • Service quality – about meeting the goals of the served audience • Outcomes assessment – about meeting the goals of the hosting environment • Technical excellence – about building better systems
  17. 17 defining the scope Levels social outcomes assessment institutional performance

    measurement outcomes assessment personal performance measurement outcomes assessment service quality technical excellence interface performance measurement technical excellence engineering effectiveness technical excellence processing effectiveness technical excellence content effectiveness technical excellence Scope
  18. 18 find a reason • Understanding the reasons and the

    range of our evaluation will help us formulate better research statements. • erefore, before initiating, we need: – to identify the scope of our research, – to clearly express our research statements, – to imagine what kind of results we will have, – to link our research statements with anticipated findings (either positive, or negative).
  19. what questions

  20. what to evaluate? • Objects – parts or the whole

    of a DL. – system or/and data. • Operations – the purposive use of specific parts of DLs by human or machine agents. – usage of system or/and usage of data. 20
  21. objects • Interfaces – retrieval interfaces, aesthetics, information architecture •

    Functionalities – search, annotations, storage, sharing, recommendations, organization • Technologies – algorithms, items provision, protocols compliance, preservation modules, hardware • Collections – size, type of objects, growth rate 21
  22. operations • Retrieving information – precision/recall, user performance • Integrating

    information • Usage of information objects – patterns, preferences, types of interaction • Collaborating – sharing, recommending, annotating information objects • Harvesting • Crawling/indexing • Preservation procedures 22
  23. who questions

  24. agents of evaluation • Who evaluates our digital library? •

    Our digital library is evaluated by our funders, our users, our peers, but most important by us. – we plan, we collect, we analyze, we report and (‘unfortunately’) we redesign. 24
  25. we against the universe • We evaluate and are evaluated

    against someone(~thing) else. – this can be a standard, a best practice, a protocol, a verification service, a benchmark • Oen, we are compared against ourselves – we in the past (our previous achievements) – we in the future (our future expectations) 25 DLx Societies - Communities Users Peers Funders external internal DLy
  26. we and the universe • We collaborate with third parties.

    – for instance, vendors providing usage data, IT specialists supporting our hardware, HCI researchers enhancing our interface design, associations conducting comparative surveys, librarians specifying metadata schemas, etc. • We need to think in inter-disciplinary way – to be able to contribute to the planning, to check the reliability of data and to control the experiments, to ensure the collection of comparable data, etc. 26
  27. how questions

  28. methods to evaluate • Many methods to select and to

    combine. • No single method can yield the best results. • Methods are classified in two main classes: – qualitative methods – quantitative methods • But more important is to select ‘methodologies’. 28
  29. methods, methods, methods... • interviews • focus groups • surveys

    • traffic/usage analysis • logs/keystrokes analysis • laboratory studies • expert studies • comparison studies • observations • ethnography/field studies 29
  30. metaphor: the pendulum • Oen is hard to decide if

    our research will be qualitative or quantitative. • Sometimes it is easy; predetermined by the context and the scope of evaluation. • uantitative try to verify a phenomenon, usually a recorded behavior, while qualitative approaches try to explain it, identifying the motives and the perceptions behind it. 30
  31. metaphor continues: the pendulum • However, it is not only

    about the data. It is about having an approach during the collection, the analysis and the interpretation of our data. – for instance, microscopic log analysis in deep log analysis methodology can provide qualitative insights. • ere are inherent limitations, such as resources. – for instance, interviews are hard to quantify due to time required to record, transcribe and analyze. 31
  32. selecting methods • Various ways to rank these methods: –

    resources (to be able to ‘realize’ each method) – expertise (to support the various stages) – infrastructure (to perform the various stages) – data collection (to represent reality and be relieved from bias), see census data or sample data. • Triangulating methods is essential, but not easy. – “...using MMR allows researchers to address issues more widely and more completely than one method could, which in turn amplifies the richness and complexity of the research findings” Fidel [2008]. 32
  33. criteria • Criteria are ‘topics’ or perspectives of measurement or

    judgement. • Criteria oen come grouped. – for instance, the categories of usability, collection quality, service quality, system performance efficiency, user opinion in the study of Xie [2008] • Criteria oen have varied semantics between domains. 33 Figure taken by Zhang [2007]
  34. word cloud: criteria Criteria cloud derived from the studies of

    Zhang [2010] and Xie [2008] 34
  35. metrics • Metrics are the measurement units that we need

    to establish a distance between -at least - two states. – one ideal (target metric) – one actual (reality metric) • An example, LibUAL’s scale 35
  36. examples of metrics 36 ualitative (insights) ualitative (insights) Goals &

    Attitudes (what people say) Unstructured measurement of opinions and perceptions Observed aspects of performance, e.g. selections, patterns of interactions, etc. Behaviors (what people do) Goals & Attitudes (what people say) Scaled measurement of opinions and perceptions Recorded aspects of activity, e.g. time or errors, via logs or other methods Behaviors (what people do) uantitative (validation) uantitative (validation)
  37. the loneliness of the long distance runner object 37 Example

    taken by Saracevic [2004] aim criteria metric instrument
  38. plan answers

  39. evaluation planning from above 39 • uestions – like these

    we have asked • Buy-In – what is invested by each agent • Budget – how much is available • Methods – like those already mentioned Figure taken by Giersch and Khoo [2009]
  40. practical questions • Having stated our research statements and selected

    our methods, we need: – to make an ‘inventory’ of our resources – to define what personnel, how skilled and competent is – to define what instruments and tools we have – to define how much time is available • All depended on the funding, but some depended on the time of evaluation. 40
  41. planning an evaluation • Upper level planning tools – Logic

    models: useful to have an overview of the whole process and how is linked with the DL development project. – Zachman’s framework: useful to answer practical questions for setting our evaluation process. 41
  42. logic models • A graphical representation of the processes inside

    a project that reflects the links between investments and achievements. – inputs: project funding and resources – activities: the productive phases of the project – outputs: short term products/achievements – outcomes: long term products/achievements 42
  43. logic models: an instance Figure taken by Giersch & Khoo

    [2009] 43
  44. Zachman Framework • Zachman Framework is a framework for enterprise

    architecture. • It depicts a high-level, formal and structured view of an organization; a taxonomy for the organization of the structural elements of an organization under the lens of different views. • Classifies and organizes in a two-dimensional space all the concepts that are essential to be homogeneous and are needed to express the different planning views. – according to participants (alternative perspectives) – according to abstractions (questions) 44
  45. 45 What Data How Process Where Location Who Work When

    Timing Why Motivation Scope [Planner] Core Business Concepts Major Business Transformations Business Locations Principal Actors Business Events Mission & Goals Business Model [Owner] Fact Model Tasks Business Connectivity Map Workflow Models Business Milestones Policy Charter System Model [Evaluator] Data Model Behavior Allocation Platform & Communications Map BRScripts State Transition Diagrams Rule Book Technology Model [Evaluator] Relational Database Design Program Specifications Technical Plat- form & Commu- nications Design Procedure & Interface Specifications Work ueue & Scheduling Designs Rule Specifications Detail representation [Evaluator] Database Schema Source Code Network Procedures & Interfaces Work ueues & Schedules Rule Base Functioning Bus [Evaluator] Operational Database Operational Object Cod Operational Network Operational Procedures & Interfaces Operational Work ueues & Schedules Operational Rules Zachman’s matrix
  46. guiding our steps • Assuming that we decided what is

    best for us, can we find out how far we are from it? • Is there a roadmap? 46
  47. a roadmap 47 Figure taken by Nicholson [2004]

  48. when do you evaluate? Project start Prototypea DL release Evaluation

    [a] <user requirements> formative evaluationa use summative evaluationa development development methods inventory from product to process 48
  49. how much is... many? • Funding is crucial and must

    be prescribed in the proposal. • Anecdotal evidence speaks of 5-10% of overall budget. • Budget allocation usually stays inside project gulfs (also anecdotal evidence). • Depending on the methods, e.g. logs analysis is considered a low cost method, as well as heuristic evaluation techniques are labeled as ‘discount’. 49
  50. outputs answers

  51. outcomes to expect • Positive – a set of meaningful

    findings to transform into recommendations (actions to be taken). – dependent on the scope of evaluation. • Negative – a set of non-meaningful findings that can not be exploited – highly inconsistent and scarce – non applicable and biased 51 • Usually evaluation in research-based digital libraries is summative and has the role of ‘deliverable’. • What should we expect in return? – some positive and some negative results
  52. careful distinctions • Demographics and user behavior related data are

    not evaluation per se. • Assist our analysis and interpretation of data, describing thus their status, but they are not evaluating. 52
  53. a formal description of the digital library evaluation domain part

  54. by now • You have started viewing things in a

    coherent way, • Familiarizing with the idea of collaborating with other agents to perform better evaluation activities and • Forming the basis to judge potential avenues in your evaluation planning. • But can you do all these things better? • And how? 54
  55. ontologies as a means to an end • Formal models

    that help us – to understand a knowledge domain and thus the DL evaluation field – to build knowledge bases to compare evaluation instances – to assist evaluation initiatives planning • Ontologies use primitives such as: – classes (representing concepts, entities, etc.) – relationships (linking the concepts together) – functions (constraining the relationships in particular ways) – axioms (stating true facts) – instances (reflecting examples of reality) 55
  56. a formal description of DL evaluation • An ontology to

    – perform useful comparisons – assist effective evaluation planning • Implemented in OWL with Protégé Ontology Editor 56
  57. the upper levels Dimensions effectiveness, performance measurement, service quality, technical

    excellence, outcomes assessment Subjects Objects Characteristics Levels content level, processing level, engineering level, interface level, individual level, institutional level, social level Goals describe, document, design Research uestions Dimensions Type formative, summative, iterative hasDiminsionsType isAffecting / isAffectedBy isCharacterizing/ isCharacterizedBy isCharacterizing/ isCharacterizedBy isFocusingOn isAimingAt isOperatedBy isOperating isDecomposedTo 57
  58. the low levels Activity record, measure, analyze, compare, interpret, report,

    recommend Means Comparison studies, expert studies, laboratory studies, field studies, logging studies, surveys Factors cost, inastructure, personnel, time Means Types qualitative, quantitative Instruments devices, scales, soware, statistics, narrative items, research artifacts Findings Criteria specific aims, standards, toolkits Metrics content initiated, system initiated, user initiated Criteria Categories isSupporting/isSupportedBy hasPerformed/isPerformedIn hasSelected/isSelectedIn hasMeansType isMeasuredBy/isMeasuring isUsedIn/isUsing isGrouped/isGrouping isSubjectTo isDependingOn isReportedIn/isReporting 58
  59. connections between levels Dimensions effectiveness, performance measurement, service quality, technical

    excellence, outcomes assessment Subjects Levels content level, processing level, engineering level, interface level, individual level, institutional level, social level Research uestions Activity record, measure, analyze, compare, interpret, report, recommend Means Comparison studies, expert studies, laboratory studies, field studies, logging studies, surveys Findings Objects Metrics content initiated, system initiated, user initiated isAddressing isAppliedTo hasConstituent /isConstituting hasInitiatedFrom 59
  60. use of the ontology [a] • we use ontology paths

    to express explicitly a process or a requirement. Activities/analyze - isPerformedIn - Means/logging studies- hasMeansType - Means Type 60 Activity record, measure, analyze, compare, interpret, report, recommend Means Comparison studies, expert studies, laboratory studies, eld studies, logging studies, surveys Means Types qualitative, quantitative isPerformedIn hasMeansType
  61. use of the ontology [b] Level/content level - isAffectedBy -

    Dimensions/effectiveness - isFocusingOn - Objects/ usage of content/usage of data - isOperatedBy - Subjects/human agents isCharacterizedby - Characteristics/human agents-age, human agents-count, human agents-discipline, human agents-experience 61 Dimensions effectiveness, performance measurement, service quality, technical excellence, outcomes assessment Subjects system agents, human agents Objects usage of content: usage of data, usage of metadata Characteristics age, count, discipline, experience, profession, Levels content level, processing level, engineering level, interface level, individual level, institutional level, social level isAffectedBy isFocusingOn isOperatedBy isCharacterizedby
  62. things to do hands on session

  63. exercise • Based on your experience and/or your evaluation planning

    needs, use the ontology schema to map your own project and describe it. – If you do not have such experience, please use the case study outlined in Hand Out 5. – Use HandOuts 3a and 3b as an example and Hand Out 2 to fill the fields that you think are important to describe your evaluation. – Furthermore, report, if applicable, using Hand Out 4: • what is missing from your description • what is not expressed by the ontology 63
  64. conclusions & discussion ending part

  65. summary • Evaluation must have a target – “...evaluation of

    a digital library need not inole the whole – it can concentrate on given components or functions and their specific objectives”. Saracevic, 2009 • Evaluation must have a plan and a roadmap – “An evaluation plan is essentially a contract between you ... and the other ‘stakeholders’ in the evaluation...”. Reeves et al., 2003 • Evaluation is depended on the context – “…is a research process that aims to understand the meaning of some phenomenon situated in a context and the changes that take place as the phenomenon and the context interact”. Marchionini, 2000 65
  66. but why is it so difficult to evaluate? • Saracevic

    mentions: – DLs are complex – Evaluation is still premature – ere is no strong interest – ere is lack of funding – Cultural differences – uite cynical: who wants to be judged? 66
  67. can it be easier for you? • We hope this

    tutorial made easier for you to address these challenges: – DLs are complex (you know it, but now you also know that DL evaluation is equally complex) – Evaluation is still premature (you got an idea of the field) – ere is no strong interest (maybe you are strongly motivated to evaluate your DL) – ere is lack of funding (ok, there is no funding in this room for your initiative) – Cultural differences (maybe you are eager to communicate with other agents) – Who wants to be judged? (hopefully, you) 67
  68. resources addendum

  69. essential reading [a] • Bertot, J. C., & McClure, C.

    R. (2003). Outcomes assessment in the networked environment: research questions, issues, considerations, and moving forward. Library Trends, 51(4), 590-613. • Blandford, A., Adams, A., Attfield, S., Buchanan, G., Gow, J., Makri, S., et al. (2008). e PRET A Rapporter framework: evaluating digital libraries from the perspective of information work. Information Processing & Management, 44(1), 4-21. • Fuhr, N., Tsakonas, G., Aalberg, T., Agosti, M., Hansen, P., Kapidakis, S., et al. (2007). Evaluation of digital libraries. International Journal on Digital Libraries, 8 (1), 21-38. • Gonçalves, M. A., Moreira, B. L., Fox, E. A., & Watson, L. T. (2007). “What is a good digital library?”: a quality model for digital libraries. Information Processing & Management, 43(5), 1416-1437. 69
  70. essential reading [b] • Hill, L. L., Carver, L., Darsgaard,

    M., Dolin, R., Smith, T. R., Frew, J., et al. (2000). Alexandria Digital Library: user evaluation studies and system design. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 51(3), 246-259. • Marchionini, G. (2000). Evaluating digital libraries: a longitudinal and multifaceted view. Library Trends, 49(2), 4-33. • Nicholas, D., Huntington, P., & Watkinson, A. (2005). Scholarly journal usage: the results of deep log analysis. Journal of Documentation, 61(2), 248-289. • Powell, R. R. (2006). Evaluation research: an overview. Library Trends, 55(1), 102-120. • Reeves, T. C., Apedoe, X., & Woo, Y. H. (2003). Evaluating digital libraries: a user-iendly guide. University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. • Saracevic, T. (2000). Digital library evaluation: towards an evolution of concepts. Library Trends, 49(3), 350-369. 70
  71. essential reading [c] • Wilson, M. L., Schraefel, M., &

    White, R. W. (2009). Evaluating advanced search interfaces using established information-seeking models. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(7), 1407-1422. • Xie, H. I. (2008). Users' evaluation of digital libraries (DLs): their uses, their criteria, and their assessment. Information Processing & Management, 44(3), 27. • Zhang, Y. (2010). Developing a holistic model for digital library evaluation. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 61(1), 88-110. • Giannis Tsakonas and Christos Papatheodorou (eds). 2009. Evaluation of digital libraries: an insight to useful applications and methods. Oxford: Chandos Publishing. 71
  72. tutorial material • Slides, literature and rest of the training

    material are available at: – http://dlib.ionio.gr/~gtsak/ecdl2010tutorial, – http://bit.ly/9iUScR, link to the papers’ public collection in Mendeley 72 photos by bibliography created with