Nicholas Belkin

Early Life

Nicholas Belkin is an information scientist of our time who was born in the United States in 1942. Still alive today, Belkin is an appointed Professor in the Department of Library and Information Sciences at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Belkin started his scholastic studies at Washington University majoring in Russian Language and Literature and graduated in 1968. Following, Belkin continued his pursuits of information science where he obtained his Masters in Librarianship from Washington University in 1970. After, Belkin then got his masters degree in librarianship, and spent much of his time in Europe where he eventually landed a job as a librarian at the Nature Conservancy in London, England. During this time, Belkin also served as a guest information technology speaker at a local polytechnic school in Hatfield. Belkin then finished up his studies in 1977 where he received his doctoral degree in Archiving and Information Studies from the School of Library at University College, London. While working on his degree, Belkin worked alongside another famous up and coming information scientist, B.C. Brookes. During Belkin's 1977 doctoral thesis, he established himself as an information scientist with his well-known theory on documentary information. This theory was called the ASK theory or otherwise known as the Anomalous State of Knowledge theory. The theory states that a person has a need for information when a foreign situation occurs. Once the person has acquired information, they will then reassess their knowledge and decide whether or not the retrieval of more information is required. Not much information can be found on Belkin's early life prior to his collegiate endeavors.


Application to IT and ICT professionals

Nicholas Belkin is important for us as Information Technology and Information Communication Technology professionals because he is a professor of our trade. He teaches classes in our field and has written publications and presentations on the field. He is an information scientist that is still contributing today to information science. He has done work on information retrieval which directly relates to what we do as students in the field. We have whole classes devoted to information retrieval. He has explored numerous different aspects of information retrieval to give us, as students, a chance to read his findings and better ourselves with his knowledge that he is passing down. For example, he wrote a piece on how recommendations can help when researching. As students we are constantly seeking out information and also as IT/ICT students even more but Belkin did a whole piece on recommendations and how they help achieve information retrieval in a more clear and concise way. He also can be important for us as students because he has achieved so much in his life. He has three degrees, including his doctorate. He has been directors of Ph.D. programs and received numerous awards. He is a very accomplished man that we can look to as an inspiration for those of us that want to further our careers in the information science field. Being a student it is vital to us to have knowledge and to be encouraged by other information scientists that have pioneered the way through the field for us.


After getting his Ph.D. in Information Science from The University of London in 1977, Nicholas J. Belkin was associated with several careers related to the field of technology. During his time as a student in London, Belkin was on a faculty of the department of Information Science from 1975 till 1985. In 1985, He was appointed professor in the Department of Library and Information Science, School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University which is located in Newark, NJ. Dr. Belkin was also a visiting scientist at the institute for systems science at National University of Singapore between 1994 and 1995. He has been the chair of ACM social interest group in Information Retrieval (SIGIR addresses issues ranging from theory to user demands in the application of computers to the acquisition, organization, storage, retrieval, and distribution of information) and President of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST is a society for information professionals leading the search for new and better theories, techniques, and technologies to improve access to information). ASIST awarded Dr. Belkin for excellence in Research in Information Science in 1997, the Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award in 1990 and the prestigious award of Merit in 2003. Dr. Nicholas Belkin has contributed as an author of numerous articles on topics such as information retrieval, human information behavior in Information Science and Human-Computer interaction. He has been given opportunities to present at nearly 200 conferences throughout United States, Great Britain and Europe. In 2011, Dr. Belkin received the Contributions to Information science and Technology award (CISTA) for his theories related to the field of Information Science and his great accomplishment in that field. He is currently a PhD area coordinator for library and Information science at Rutgers University.

Publications, patents, and other intellectual property

Belkin has co-authored one book, edited multiple books, and has been published in several publications. Belkin, along with co-author Alina Vickery, wrote Interaction in Information Systems: A Review of Research from Document Retrieval to Knowledge-Based systems. It was published in 1985 in London by The British Library Board.[[|[1]]] In addition to his book, Belkin has been published in numerous literature such as The Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, The Journal of Information Science, and the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology. Belkin also has been published through conference proceedings, primarily with the American Society for Information Science and Technology and the ACM SIGIR conferences on Research and development in Information Retrieval.[[|[2]]] Belkin served as an editor for a few publications like SIGIR 2000, Proceedings of the 23rd Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval, and SIGIR ’97, Proceedings of the 20th Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval. Furthermore. Belkin has been involved as a keynote speaker in presentations at various conferences on issues regarding Information Science. His most recent keynote presentation was at the Dutch-Belgian Information Retrieval Workshop (DIR 2011) at Amsterdam in February 2011.[[|[3]]] In September 2010, Belkin completed his latest research grant and contract, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, on personalizing the digital library experience. Belkin was one of three principal investigators, along with J. Gwizdka & X. Zhang, at his current employer, Rutgers University. His previous grant, funded by the National Science foundation, was on improving access through user and topic-based language models. This was a collaboration with W.B. Croft and J. Allan from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.[[|[4]]]

Awards & Recognitions

Dr. Nicholas J. Belkin is a renowned figure in the field of information science for his pioneering accomplishments spanning more than thirty years. Starting his career in the late 1970’s he began to get more and more recognition in the information science community as the years went on. In 1984 he received his first ISI Award for Best Paper in the Journal of Information Science. Only one year later, with some assistance from Alina Vickery, Dr. Belkin received the ASIS (American Society for Information Science) Information Science Book of the Year Award. Five more years, after much research, he was credited with the ASIS Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award and an ASIS Certificate of Appreciation in 1991. It’s not until 1996 when he was granted the SCILS Excellence in Research Award as well as the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Washington Graduate School of Library and Information Science Alumni Association. Following that year, in 1997, Dr. Nicholas Belkin had his most recognizable year. Aside from being bestowed the ACM Recognition of Service Award, he was also given the ASIS Award for Excellence in Research in Information Science as well as being recognized for his lecture of Lucile Kelling Henderson Memorial at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2001, the SCILS (School of Communication Information and Library Studies) Excellence in Research Award was granted to him from Rutgers University. Dr. Belkin had another prominent year in 2003 when in June he gave the Fullbright Senior Specialist Award along with the ASIST (American Society for Information Science and Technology) Award of Merit. His most recent award, though, he earned in 2009 when the New Jersey Chapter of the ASIST presented him with the Distinguished Lectureship Award for his numerous amounts of lectures in the state of New Jersey (primarily at Rutgers University). Reference:

Critical Analysis & Interpretation

Nicholas Belkin is highly recognized for his research regarding information retrieval, the episodic model, the ASK viewpoint on information retrieval, on the design on information retrieval systems, and on digital libraries. Nicholas Belkin was also the chair of the Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval from 1995 to 1999. Belkin’s research is deeply focused on information retrieval; in fact, this is surely what led to him becoming chair of the SIGIR. The SIGIR is the discussion on the theory and application of computers: the acquiring, organization, storage, retrieval and distribution of information. Belkin seemed to contribute to a vast majority of SIGIR growth with his reports stating that the conferences held under his tenure had the highest amount of attendees thus far. However, this can also be attributed to the growth of interest in information retrieval. The ASK (Anomalous State of Knowledge) is one of Belkin’s hypothesis that is significant in figuring out why people search in the first place. This hypothesis was also fundamental in the evolution of information retrieval. Belkin also developed an episode model which is based largely on intuition, insight and concentrates on interactions with information. There are four aspects that describe search behavior; these four types of search behavior include the method of interaction which is scanning/searching, goal of interaction which is learning/selecting , mode of retrieval which is recognition/specification and the resource considered which is information/meta-information. This is understood as our cognitive processes every time we use the internet while searching for information and how we apply the information discovered.

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