Faculty Research: Rong Tang

While her research spans bibliometrics and citation research, mental models of online searching, user generated metadata, usability testing and user studies, the overall framework of Associate Professor Rong Tang's empirical work centers on studying users behaviors when they interacting with information. Her recent major research projects include needs assessment of PsycINFO users (funded by American Psychological Association), social question-answering patterns of user community of Yahoo!Answers (funded by OCLC/ALISE and Simmons President's Fund, collaborative research with Sheila Denn), and usability evaluation of Harvard Catalyst Web site. As one of the Simmons' Sloan Fellows, Professor Tang is also involved in examining the pedagogical framework and programmatic effectiveness of blended learning initiatives that are implemented on campus and across the country.

The APA PsycINFO study investigates the search needs of advanced academic users of PsycINFO, and further assesses the current state of library instructional services and various vendor interface designs in meeting the research needs of sophisticated users. The results of the study will lead to useful actionable recommendations to library instruction and interface design. The Yahoo!Answers research project examines question-answer sets in Yahoo!Answers for the purpose of understanding information transfer in an online Q&A community. Multi-level analysis of question types, answer types, and comments, coupled with the syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic coding allows a thorough understanding of the characteristics of speech acts and communication exchanges in an online social environment. Currently, working with staff in Center for Biomedical Informatics of Harvard Medical School, Professor Tang is in the process of developing multiple projects concerning usability evaluation and user studies of Harvard Catalyst Web site. The results of the projects may help the redesign of the interface in preparation of the launch of future versions as well as provide research opportunities for GSLIS doctoral students.

Faculty Profile