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Innovations in Information Retrieval : Perspectives for Theory and Practice

Macgregor, George (2012) Innovations in Information Retrieval : Perspectives for Theory and Practice. [Review]

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Often the most difficult process for a postgraduate research student is not the process of research; many may find the research process arduous and bewildering but – with adequate supervision and a robust research plan – students tend to cope well with the methodological demands and data collection. Instead, where students struggle is identifying a topic worth studying in the first place (Millman, 1998). This scenario is not limited to the information, computer, or library sciences. It is a phenomenon that often transcends disciplinary boundaries and academic levels of study (Hirt and Muffo, 1998). Students may have the faint inkling of a topic area but may have insufficiently assimilated extant literature, or simply struggled to understand the research landscape, and in so doing failed to articulate a satisfactory research topic with any degree of specificity. Allen Foster and Pauline Rafferty are both lecturers at the University of Aberystwyth and are presumably familiar with the aforementioned phenomenon through their professional practice because it is precisely this that Innovations in Information Retrieval seeks to resolve. Its raison d'être is to “inspire Master's‐level students who might be looking to develop their dissertation topics [in information retrieval (IR)], or indeed to develop PhD proposals” (p. xv). To this end Foster and Rafferty present seven chapters, each focussed on a specific aspect of IR and each authored by experts in the field.