Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Srinivasan, Padmini

First Committee Member

Vispoel, Walter

Second Committee Member

Segre, Alberto

Third Committee Member

Pant, Gautam

Fourth Committee Member

Hourcade, Juan P.


Human Computation methods such as crowdsourcing and games with a purpose (GWAP) have each recently drawn considerable attention for their ability to synergize the strengths of people and technology to accomplish tasks that are challenging for either to do well alone. Despite this increased attention, much of this transformation has been focused on a few selected areas of information science.

This thesis contributes to the field of human computation as it applies to areas of information science, particularly information retrieval (IR). We begin by discussing the merits and limitations of applying crowdsourcing and game-based approaches to information science. We then develop a framework that examines the value of using crowdsourcing and game mechanisms to each step of an IR model. We identify three areas of the IR model that our framework indicates are likely to benefit from the application of human computation methods: acronym identification and resolution, relevance assessment, and query formulation. We conduct experiments that employ human computation methods, evaluate the benefits of these methods and report our findings. We conclude that employing human computation methods such as crowdsourcing and games, can improve the accuracy of many tasks currently being done by machine methods alone. We demonstrate that the best results can be achieved when human computation methods augment computer-based IR processes, providing an extra level of skills, abilities, and knowledge that computers cannot easily replicate.


crowdsourcing, games with a purpose, human computation, information retrieval, information science, serious games


xiv, 209 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 173-185).


Copyright 2013 Christopher Glenn Harris