2009 Award Winner

The Tony Kent Strix Award, given by the UK eInformation Group of CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, was awarded to Carol Ann Peters of Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologia dell’Informazione “A. Faedo”. 

Carol was nominated for her work on the Cross Language Evaluation Forum (CLEF), the world’s leading forum for evaluating cross language searching systems, which Carol initiated and has run for ten years. This annual evaluation exercise has attracted a multi-disciplinary network of researchers to collaborate on shared tasks, to contribute to the CLEF testing resources, and to meet annually to present and discuss results. In its opening year, CLEF counted 20 participants; thanks to Carol’s hard work, CLEF has expanded year on year to become a major international event in information retrieval related research: in 2009 it attracted over 130 registrations from individual researchers and leading research groups from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas.

The nomination noted that none of this would have happened had it not been for Carol Peter’s initiation and continued drive to run and maintain CLEF. Carol’s tireless work with CLEF has driven the information retrieval community to consider search in more than just the English language that previously dominated information retrieval research; thus she has made an enormous contribution to the awareness and understanding of information retrieval.

Initially, like most of the search evaluation exercises, CLEF adopted a ‘pooled test collection’ approach to evaluation that was adopted by other well known evaluation exercises like TREC. However, again, thanks to Carol’s leadership, CLEF has explored and indeed continues to investigate extensions to this basic model and the development of new metrics for new tasks so as to provide a multifaceted approach to performance evaluation. It is difficult to encapsulate here the huge impact of CLEF. CLEF’s academic output is strong, as evidence by the nearly 3,500 citations to the hundreds of papers presented at CLEF workshops. Multilingual search is garnering more interest in professional circles, where previously nationally-based work tasks have been extended to have international scope. As part of a long term plan to consider future directions, Carol has secured funding through a large number of consecutive EC projects, including the latest ‘TrebleCLEF’ project, which kept CLEF going and provided funding to hold a series of workshops where CLEF partners engaged with researchers and key industrial contacts in order to understand better how CLEF’s outputs were impacting on a series of communities and areas. Carol Peter’s contributions to information retrieval have been many and wide ranging, covering all of the areas for which the Tony Kent Strix Award is offered.