Frances Johnson is a Senior Lecturer in the Dept of Languages, Information & Communications. Her research and teaching interests are in the development of interactive search & retrieval systems and in the study of information search behaviour.
In particular, my work focuses on modelling how we interact with technologies to search for the information we need and assess the information we find. This forms the basis on which interfaces supporting search can be developed and which enable us to look for and assimilate information in a natural and effective way.
In previous work, funded by the British Library Research & Development and subsequently by the EU Framework, I worked in Natural Language Processing and on the resolution of anaphora (references to things in text and in dialogue). This technology was applied to experiment with the generation of coherent summaries to use in search and for current awareness, and also to develop a conversational system capable of handling information seeking dialogues. I have led and worked on several evaluation projects, funded by the AHRC, the University of Manchester, and tendered by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Evidence) focusing on the development of methods for usability/ux assessment of search engines/digital libraries, and in evaluating the effectiveness of information skills courses, especially for evidence based practices.
I teach to provide students with background knowledge and experience so that they can learn, and as a result of my research activity.
Currently I am researching credibility and trust in information retrieval. With each advancement made with index and search technologies, it is incredibly important that we continue to develop our information searching competences so that, as intelligent humans, we are involved in the decision making and in the assessment of the information retrieved. It is fascinating to study the development of the search techniques and technologies we use everyday to find information and answer our questions.
On the courses I teach we explore these and consider possible future intelligent systems to understand how both technology and humans search and the relationship in this interaction. We use techniques and technologies to build access to digital collections focusing on find-ability and discoverability. And, forever cognisant of the user we think critically about when and how the design of the interface is needed to bring the searcher back into the decision making and allow their assessment of the information found.
As I work in Library and Information Science, in my opinion, there is lesson in the theme of Huxley's book "Brave New World". That is, in a world where everything is available, nothing has any meaning
One of my favourite words is ‘serendipity’ and I get a buzz from the sometimes unexpected encounters and interactions with people and information that extends my learning and knowledge. I think this is what makes me addicted to research! My aim in teaching at the Manchester Metropolitan University is to empower my students to do the same and to become confident professionals/ practitioners and with an open and prepared mind to enjoy curiosity and learning for its own sake
Frances has a Ph.D, and MSc from the Department of Computation at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). She is Member of the British Computer Society and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Current and recent appointments
I teach and research in Information Retrieval with a focus on the study of user interaction with information and its representation specifically in the process of search. I have led and worked on various research projects relating to automatic summarisation, human computer dialogue and the evaluation of information search and discovery systems. My teaching on 'search' as a subject area (systems development and as an activity/literacy) is aimed at information professionals who may specialise in web development, search engineering, user experience or work in areas of information innovation and digital data such as the digital humanities, digital libraries and e-research. I have supervised a number of research students developing research approaches from lab based experimental information science, dialogue analysis and modelling, natural language programming and methods such as repetory grid and talk aloud protocols.
J. Rowley, F. Johnson, L. Sbaffi, W. Frass, E. Devine (2017). Academics' behaviors and attitudes towards open access publishing in scholarly journals. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 68(5), pp.1201-1211.
OM. Okunola, J. Rowley, F. Johnson (2017). The multi-dimensional digital divide: Perspectives from an e-government portal in Nigeria. Government Information Quarterly. 34(2), pp.329-339.
C. Ellis, F. Johnson, J. Rowley (2017). Promoting information literacy: perspectives from UK universities. Library Hi Tech. 35(1), pp.53-70.
J. Rowley, F. Johnson, L. Sbaffi (2017). Gender as an influencer of online health information-seeking and evaluation behavior. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 68(1), pp.36-47.
A. Cunningham, F. Johnson (2016). Exploring trust in online health information: a study of user experiences of patients.co.uk. Health Information and Libraries Journal. 33(4), pp.323-328.
F. Johnson, L. Sbaffi, J. Rowley (2016). Students' approaches to the evaluation of digital information: Insights from their trust judgments. British Journal of Educational Technology. 47(6), pp.1243-1258.
F. Johnson, J. Rowley, L. Sbaffi (2016). Exploring information interactions in the context of Google. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 67(4), pp.824-840.
K. Menzies, F. Johnson (2016). Academic attitudes toward new media: An exploratory multidisciplinary study. The Information Society. 32(1), pp.1-13.
J. Rowley, F. Johnson, L. Sbaffi (2015). Students' trust judgements in online health information seeking. Health Informatics J. 21(4), pp.316-327.
J. Rowley, F. Johnson, L. Sbaffi, A. Weist (2015). Peer-based information literacy training: Insights from the NICE Evidence Search Student Champion Scheme. Library & Information Science Research. 37(4), pp.338-345.
FC. Johnson, J. Rowley, L. Sbaffi (2015). Modelling trust formation in health information contexts. Journal of Information Science. 41(4), pp.415-429.
E. Vassilakaki, F. Johnson (2015). The use of grounded theory in identifying the user experience during search. Library and Information Science Research. 37(1), pp.77-87.
L. Sbaffi, F. Johnson, JR. Griffiths, J. Rowley, A. Weist (2015). NICE Evidence Search: Student peers' views on their involvement as trainers in peer-based information literacy training. The Journal of Academic Librarianship. January(2), pp.201-206.
E. Vassilakaki, E. Garoufallou, F. Johnson, RJ. Hartley (2014). Users’ information search behavior in a professional search environment: A methodological approach. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics). 8830, pp.23-44.
J. Rowley, F. Johnson (2013). Understanding trust formation in digital information sources: The case of Wikipedia. Journal of Information Science. 39(4), pp.494-508.
E. Vassilakaki, F. Johnson, RJ. Hartley (2012). Image seeking in multilingual environments: A study of the user experience. Information Research. 17(4),
F. Johnson (2012). Using semantic differentials for an evaluative view of the search engine as an interactive system. CEUR Workshop Proceedings. 909, pp.7-10.
S. Robinson, F. Johnson (2012). The process and affective environment of students’ personal information management. Enhancing Learning in the Social Sciences. 4(2),
FC. Johnson, J. Craven (2010). Beyond usability: The study of functionality of the 2.0 online catalogue (OPAC). New Review of Academic Librarianship. 16(2), pp.228-250.
J. Craven, F. Johnson, G. Butters (2010). The usability and functionality of an online catalogue. Aslib Proceedings. 62(1), pp.70-84.
F. Johnson, J. Rowley (2010). Contributions from the Department of Information and Communications, Manchester Metropolitan University. Aslib Proceedings. 62(1), pp.5-10.
E. Vassilakaki, F. Johnson, RJ. Hartley, D. Randall (2009). Users' perceptions of searching in flickling. CEUR Workshop Proceedings. 1175,
E. Vassilakaki, F. Johnson, RJ. Hartley, D. Randall (2008). A study of users' image seeking behaviour in Flickling. CEUR Workshop Proceedings. 1174,
JR. Griffiths, F. Johnson, RJ. Hartley (2007). User satisfaction as a measure of system performance. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. 39(3), pp.142-152.
FC. Johnson, SE. Crudge (2007). Using the repertory grid and laddering technique to determine the user's evaluative model of search engines. Journal of Documentation. 63(2), pp.259-280.
M. Jenkins, F. Johnson (2004). Awareness, use and opinions of methodological search filters used for the retrieval of evidence-based medical literature-a questionnaire survey. Health Info Libr J. 21(1), pp.33-43.
SE. Crudge, FC. Johnson (2004). Using the information seeker to elicit construct models for search engine evaluation. JASIST. 55, pp.794-806.
FC. Johnson, JR. Griffiths, RJ. Hartley (2003). Task dimensions of user evaluations of information retrieval systems. Inf. Res.. 8,
RJ. Hartley,, FC. Johnson, AJ. Oulton (2000). Image, audio and text: a review of recent research in information retrieval. New Review of Information and Library Research. 6,
FC. Johnson (1999). A critical review of system-centred to user-centred evaluation of automatic abstracting. New Review of Information and Library Research. 5,
F. Johnson (1995). Automatic abstracting research. Library Review. 44(8), pp.28-36.
FC. Johnson (1994). A Classification of Ellipsis Based on a Corpus of Information Seeking Dialogues. Inf. Process. Manage.. 30, pp.315-326.
FC. Johnson, WJ. Black (1988). A practical evaluation of two rule-based automatic abstracting techniques. Expert Systems for Information Management. 1(3),
E. Vassilakaki,, E. Garoufallou, FC. Johnson (2014). Users’ Information Seeking Behaviour in a Professional Search Environment. G. Paltoglou, F. Loizides, P. Hansen. In: Professional Search in the Modern World: Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer-Verlag., pp.23-42.
F. Johnson (2011). Shifting Contexts: relating the user, search and system in information retrieval. E. Efthimiadis, J. Manuel, F. Luna, J. Huete, A. MacFarlane. In: Approaches to teaching and learning in information retrieval. London: Springer Verlag,
FC. Johnson, FC. Johnson, CD. Paice, WJ. Black (1997). The application of linguistic processing to automatic abstract generation. K. Spark-Jones. In: Readings in Information Retrieval. San Francisco: Morgan Kauffman, pp.538-553.
FC. Johnson (1996). A natural language understanding system for reference resolution in information dialogues. pp.81-100.
F. Johnson (2018). From accessibility to assess-ability: An evaluation heuristic based on cognitive engagement in search. In: G.Chowdhury (ed). iConference 2018 LNCS 10766: Transforming Digital Worlds, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer Verlag. University of Sheffield, 26/3/2018. pp.1-11.
F. Johnson (2016). Evaluating usability: A two-fold assessment. In: ACM International Conference Proceeding Series.
F. Johnson (2015). Evaluation of the User Experience of engagement in the stages of search. In: Working Notes of CLEF 2015 , http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-1391/66-CR.pdf. Toulouse, 8/9/2015.
E. Vassilakaki, E. Garoufallou, F. Johnson, RJ. Hartley (2015). An exploration of users’ needs for multilingual information retrieval and access. In: Communications in Computer and Information Science. pp.249-258.
F. Johnson, L. Sbaffi (2014). Assessing trustworthiness of digital information. In: LISU. Loughborough University, 17/9/2014.
FC. Johnson Exploring cognitive activity in information interactions. BCS Headquarters, London, 13/9/2014.
FC. Johnson, J. Rowley, L. Sbaffi Assessing trustworthiness of digital information. In: LISU. University of Loughborough, 9/2014.
E. Vassilakaki, FC. Johnson, RJRJ. Hartley, D. Randall, Users image seeking behaviour in multilingual environments: experience in combining qualitative and quantitative data. Chania, Greece, 26/5/2009.
E. Vassilakaki, FC. Johnson, RJ. Hartley, D. Randall (2008). A Study of Users' Image Seeking Behaviour in FlickLing. In: CLEF. pp.251-259.
FC. Johnson User interactions with results summaries (Position paper). Workshop on Web Information Seeking and Interaction,, 27/7/2007.
FC. Johnson Optimal results presentation for dynamic search (a position paper). University of Glasgow, 14/10/2006.
FC. Johnson (1994). A natural language understanding system for reference resolution in information dialogues. Strathclyde, 22/3/1994.
FC. Johnson, J. Craven (2010). Usability testing of Copac’s interface (A JISC funded online catalogue of the holdings of the Research Libraries UK. , University of Manchester.
FC. Johnson, J. Griffiths (2000). Devise:A framework for the evaluation of Internet search engines. , Library and Information Commission Research Report100, Resource: the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries.Report,.
I also have been involved in conference programme committees including the British Computer Society's Information Retrieval Special Group and CiCLing International Conference on Intelligent Text Processing and Computational Linguistics.