CFP: IKEDS 2021 @ IEA AIE 2021 – Special Session on Intelligent Knowledge Engineering in Decision Making

This year, I am also co-organizing a special track about Intelligent Knowledge Engineering in Decision Making (IKEDS 2021) at the IEA AIE 2021 conference in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

The track is suitable for papers related to AI and data mining on various topics. A full description of the special track is here:
https://ieaaie2021.wordpress.com/special-session-2-ikeds/

Submissions can be 12 pages (FULL) or 6 pages (SHORT ) The accepted papers will all be included in the Springer LNAI proceedings conference book, which ensures good visibility and indexing (EI, DBLP, etc.).

iea aie 2020 book

The important dates for submitting your papers are as follows:

  • Submission deadline:  December 15, 2020
  • Final Notification:      February 28, 2021
  • Registration:               April 1, 2021
  • Camera Ready:           April 1, 2021
  • Conference:                July 26 –29, 2021

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(video) Top-K Cross-Level High Utility Itemset Mining

Today, I will share a video of our upcoming paper presentation about top-k cross-level high utility itemset mining that we will present at the UDML 2020 workshop at ICDM 2020.

In this paper, we present a novel algorithm named TKC for discovering cross-level high utility itemsets (CLHUIs) in a database of transactions while considering a taxonomy of items. A taxonomy means that items are organized into categories and sub-categories. Moreover, to make it easier to find interesting patterns, we let the user directly specify the number k of patterns to be found. The TKC algorithm returns the top-k cross-level high utility itemsets that have the highest utility.

Here is the video (MP4 format, 20 minutes):


VIDEO LINK: http://www.philippe-fournier-viger.com/tkc_the_video.mp4

And this is the reference of the paper, including the PPT presentation:


Nouioua, M., Wang, Y., Fournier-Viger, P., Lin, J.-C., Wu, J. M.-T. (2020). TKC: Mining Top-K Cross-Level High Utility Itemsets. Proc. 3rd International Workshop on Utility-Driven Mining (UDML 2020), in conjunction with the ICDM 2020 conference, IEEE ICDM workshop proceedings, to appear. [ppt] 

The datasets and source code will be made available soon on the SPMF data mining library, wihch offers more than 170 algorithms for pattern mining.

Besides, if you are interested by this topic, you can also check another recent paper on this topic by our team. The paper below presents the CLH-Miner algorithm for cross-level high utility itemset mining. It was used as basis to develop the TKC algorithm.


Fournier-Viger, P., Yang, Y., Lin, J. C.-W., Luna, J. M., Ventura, S. (2020). Mining Cross-Level High Utility Itemsets. Proc. 33rd Intern. Conf. on Industrial, Engineering and Other Applications of Applied Intelligent Systems (IEA AIE 2020), Springer LNAI, pp. 858-871. [ppt]

Hope you will enjoy this video. I will post more videos soon about recent papers. And also, we am currently preparing the source code and datasets to release them soon.

—-
Philippe Fournier-Viger is a professor of Computer Science and also the founder of the open-source data mining software SPMF, offering more than 170data mining algorithms.

Posted in Pattern Mining, Utility Mining, Video | Leave a comment

CFP about “AI in healthcare” (AIH2021 @ IEA AIE 2021)

Recently, there has been an emerging interest about artificial in healthcare due in part to to the aging populations in several countries, and also the current coronavirus pandemic. In this context, I am glad to announce that I am co-organizing a special track about AI in Healthcare (AIH 2021) at the IEA AIE 2021 conference in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

The track covers a wide range of topics related to healthcare such as ethics, regulation to prediction, diagnosis and treatment.

A full description of the special track is here:
https://ieaaie2021.wordpress.com/special-session-7-aih/

Papers can be 12 pages (FULL papers) or 6 pages (SHORT papers)

All accepted papers are published in the Springer LNAI proceedings conference book, which ensures good visibility and indexing (EI, DBLP, etc.).

iea aie 2020 book

The important dates for submitting your papers are as follows:

  • Submission deadline:  December 15, 2020
  • Final Notification:      February 28, 2021
  • Registration:               April 1, 2021
  • Camera Ready:           April 1, 2021
  • Conference:                July 26 –29, 2021

Organizers

Dr. Moulay Akhloufi, PRIME research group, Department of Computer Science, University of Moncton, Moncton, NB, Canada

Dr. Yun Sing Koh, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Professor Gillian Dobbie, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Dr. Bardia Yousefi, Department of Radiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Dr. Edmond Zhang, Orion Health, New Zealand

Dr. Zhijin Wang, College of Computer Engineering, Jimei University, China

Professor Philippe Fournier-Viger, Harbin Institute of Technology (Shenzhen), Shenzhen, China

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More problems on IONOS web hosting… 4 days of downtime!

A month ago, I had some big problems with my website hosted by 1and1 ionos. The database was seemingly reverted to three back and I lost all the posts from the last three years! This week, I got more problems with 1and1 (also known as 1&1 IONOS). I have several days of downtime due to their database server going offline. I am am not happy with the service. Here is the story.

October 1st 2020. Recently, I noticed that my data mining forum (http://forum.ai-directory.com/list.php?5 ) hosted on 1and1 Ionos went offline due to a technical problem. When I connected to the website, it has shown this error:

IONOS database problem

First, I thought that the problem was something going wrong on my website or that I may have been hacked. So, I used the 1and1 Ionos control panel to reset the password of the database and I also downloaded the sample PHP script from them to connect to the database to ensure that it was not a problem of my website:

But that script also failed to connect. Thus, I clicked on the Ionos control panel to see the database directly through PHPMyAdmin:

Image insérée

Then, I got that error indicating that the database is offline:

IONOS database problem

Here, the message is in Chinese, but basically it says:

mysqli_real_connect(): (HY000/1045): Access denied for user ‘dbo276830812’@’10.72.2.8’ (using password: YES)

PhpMyAdmin tried to connect to the MySQL server, but the server refused to connect. You should check the host, user name, and password in the configuration file and make sure that the information is consistent with the information given by the MySQL server administrator.”

So obviously, since I cannot even connect to the database through the 1and1 control pannel, it is a problem on the side of 1and1 Ionos. And this is why my website has gone offline.

October 2nd: I sent an e-mail to 1and1 Ionos to inform them about the problem through the customer support e-mail at 1:09 AM on October 2nd (Beijing Time). Here is their answer promising that I would be answered whithin 48 hours:

October 4th: I still did not receive any news from 1and1 Ionos and the website is still down because of the database being unavailable. So on the evening, I contacted the 1and1 IONOS customer service again through the live chat to see what is going on and the representative told me that my request is in the customer support system and has been escalated. He also told me that they are sorry for the inconvenience, and told me to wait a bit and he would check something in the system. Then for some reason (poor internet connection?), the customer support live chat window closed. So I decided to wait until tomorrow.

October 5th: About 10 hours later, it is already more than four days that the website is down due to this technical problem… Finally, the problem was fixed and got some answer from the customer service:

In that answer, 1&1 claims that the host name was wrong. However, I had updated it on October 1st to see if this was the problem. Moreover, I also tested conneting directly to the database through PHPMYADMIN from the 1&1 control panel and it was also down. So this was certainly not the problem. Thus, it seems that they do not want to admit that the problem was on their side and try to find some excuse about this to put the blame on the customer… This is similar to when my database was reverted to 3 years ago in August and I lost many blog posts on another website hosted on their service. They also did not want to say where the problem came from but it seemed to be obviously coming from them….

So, I am happy that the problem is fixed but I am still not very happy about their service. My data mining forum had been down for several days and when you pay for a hosting provider, you expect 99% availability, or at least a quick fix in case of technical problem from their side.

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A brief report about the IEA AIE 2020 conference

In this blog post, I will write a brief report about the 33rd International Conference on Industrial, Engineering & Other Applications of Applied Intelligent Systems (IEA AIE 2020), held in Kitakyushu, Japan from the 22nd to 25th September 2020.

What is IEA AIE 2020?

The IEA AIE 2020 is a well-established academic conference that has been running for 33 years. It is about artificial intelligence, and it attracts many papers about the applications of intelligent systems.

I have personally attended this conference many times in the past (IEA AIE 2009, IEA AIE 2010, IEA AIE 2011, IEA AIE 2014, IEA AIE 2016, IEA AIE 2018, IEA AIE 2019), and have 13 papers in its proceedings.

This year, I am attending IEA AIE 2020 as author but also as program chair. The organizers this year are:

Proceedings of IEA AIE 2020

The IEA AIE 2020 proceedings is published by Springer in the Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence (LNAI) series of book, which ensures good visibility to the papers. There is both a printed copy and a USB version of the proceedings:

This year, 119 papers have been submitted to the conference. Each paper has been reviewed by at least 3 reviewers. The Program Committee who evaluated the papers is composed of 82 researchers from 36 countries.

A total of 62 full papers were accepted and 17 short papers. All of those were published in the Springer proceedings. Moreover, an additional 9 poster papers were published in a separated poster proceedings with ISBN.

The papers covered many applications to real-life problems such as: •engineering, science, •industry, •automation •robotics, •business and finance, •medicine and biomedicine, •bioinformatics, •cyberspace, •human-machine interaction.

This year, in the new format of the IEA AIE conference, some special sessions were organized. A special session is like a special track about a specific topic of interests. All papers from the special track are published in the main conference proceedings. Here is the information about the two tracks:

Best paper awards

Moreover, this year, four types of awards are announced during the conference:

  • Best paper award: Dolly Sapra, Andy D. Pimentel: Constrained Evolutionary Piecemeal Training to Design Convolutional Neural Networks.
  • Best theory paper award: Fan Zhang et al.
    A new integer linear programming formulation to the inverse QSAR QSPR for acyclic chemical compounds
  • Best application paper award: Wei Zhang and Chris Challis
    Automatic identification of account sharing for video streaming services
  • Best special session paper award: Wei Song, Lu Liu, Chaomin Huang
    TKU-CE: Cross-Entropy Method for Mining Top-K High Utility Itemsets

These awards were selected by a committee based on review scores and a discussion of the top papers. To ensure that the process is fair, papers from the organization committee members were excluded from receiving awards.

A partly virtual conference

Due to the coronavirus pandemy around the world, the conference was held virtually and also on site in Japan at the same time. This required some special organizations from the local organizers and was very well done. I was happy to saw friends in the conference.

Day 1 – Opening session, keynotes and regular papers

In the opening session of the conference, the conference was presented. Each organizers gave some words about the conference. Then, there was two keynote speeches : one by Prof. Tao Wu about healthcare, and the other by Prof. Ee-Peng Lim about AI for social goods.

The talk of Prof. Lim was very interesting as he talked about two projects that can have a positive implications for the society. The first one was about a probabilistic model of the labor market in Singapore. The second one was about an application that can let users take picture of their food to keep track of what they are eating. The system FoodAI can be tested on this website: https://foodai.org/ Here is a few slides from this presentation.

In his conclusion, Prof. Lim also talked about three challenges for the development and adoption of proposed models.

The keynote was followed by several paper presentations on various topics.

Day 2 – regular papers + keynote talks

On the second day, there was more paper presentations and also two keynote talks (one by Prof. Bo Huang and one by Prof. Enrique Herrera Viedma).

The keynote of Prof. Enrique Herrera Viedma was about group decision making, that is how a group of expert can reach an agreement to take decisions.

Generally, group decision making is reached through a concensus reaching process which requires discussion between experts and involve multi stage negotiation. Here are a few slides, describing the main process:

He explained that nowadays group decision making is done in a new context, with social networks and Web 2.0 tools.

Then, he discussed in more details about properties of social networks and how sentiment analysis can play a role in decision-making models. Here are a few of the important properties of social networks:

Sentiment analysis can be used in group decision making to understand how a user feels about a particular topic, and in particular the preferences of experts about different alternatives. Here are some details:

Here is an overview of the proposed group decision making based framework

Then, there was more details but I will not report on everything.

An upcoming special issue in the Applied Intelligence journal

Another great thing this year at IEA AIE is that there will be a special issue in the Applied Intelligence journal (Springer, Q2). The best papers of the conference will be invited for an extension in the special issue. Details will be announced after the conference.

Next year… IEA AIE 2021… in Kuala Lampur

It was announced that the IEA AIE 2021 conference will be held next year in Kuala Lampur (Malaysia).

The website of IEA AIE 2021 is already online at http://ieaaie2021.wordpress.com/ Here are the key dates related to this conference:

Day 3 and 4 – More paper presentations

On the third and fourth days, there was more paper presentations.

Pattern mining papers

This year, there was 7 pattern mining papers, which shows that it is a popular topic at this conference. Since this is a topic of interest for me and to several readers of this blog, here is the list of papers:

  • TKU-CE: Cross-Entropy Method for Mining Top-K High Utility Itemsets
    Wei Song, Lu Liu and Chaomin Huang
  • Mining Cross-Level High Utility Itemsets
    Philippe Fournier-Viger, Ying Wang, Jerry Chun-Wei Lin, Jose Maria Luna and Sebastian Ventura [ppt]
  • Maintenance of Prelarge High Average-Utility Patterns in Incremental Databases
    Jimmy Ming-Tai Wu, Qian Teng, Jerry Chun-Wei Lin, Philippe Fournier-Viger and Chien-Fu Cheng
  • Efficient Mining of Pareto-front High Expected Utility Patterns
    Usman Ahmed, Jerry Chun-Wei Lin, Jimmy Ming-Tai Wu, Youcef Djenouri, Gautam Srivastava and Suresh Kumar Mukhiya
  • TKE: Mining Top-K Frequent Episodes
    Philippe Fournier-Viger, Yanjun Yang, Peng Yang, Jerry Chun-Wei Lin and Unil Yun
  • Parallel Mining of Partial Periodic Itemsets in Big Data [ppt]
    C. Saideep, R. Uday Kiran, Koji Zettsu, Cheng-Wei Wu, P. Krishna Reddy, Masashi Toyoda and Masaru Kitsuregawa
  • A Fast Algorithm for Mining Closed Inter-Transaction Patterns
    Thanh-Ngo Nguyen, Loan T.T. Nguyen, Bay Vo and Ngoc-Thanh Nguyen

Conclusion

I have enjoyed the conference and will be looking forward to next year in Malaysia.


Philippe Fournier-Viger is a computer science professor and founder of the SPMF open-source data mining library, which offers more than 170 algorithms for analyzing data, implemented in Java.

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The Upcoming 3rd Utility Mining and Learning Workshop (UDML 2020!) at IEEE ICDM 2020

Today, I just want to talk a little bit about the upcoming 3rd UDML 2020 workshop on utility mining and learning that I am co-organizing at the IEEE ICDM 2020 conference. This workshop was previously held at KDD 2018 and ICDM 2019.

This year, we have received several papers. All papers have been reviewed by at least 3 reviewers. The final set of papers that has been accepted is:

  • Insights From Urban Sensing Data: From Chaos to Predicted Congestion Patterns
    Minh-Son Dao, Ngoc-Thanh Nguyen, Rage Uday Kiran, and Koji Zettsu
  • Efficient Mining of Non-Dominated High Quantity-Utility Patterns
    Jimmy Ming-Tai Wu, Qian Teng, Gautam Srivastava, Matin Pirouz, and Jerry Chun-Wei Lin
  • A Tree-based Fuzzy Average-Utility Mining Algorithm
    Tzung-Pei Hong, Meng-Ping Ku, Wei-Ming Huang, Shu-Min Li, and Chun-Wei Lin
  • Sample-Rank: WeakMulti-Objective Recommendations Using Rejection Sampling
    Abhay Shukla, Jairaj Sathyanarayana, and Dipyaman Banerjee
  • Valuing Player Actions in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
    Peter Xenopoulos, Harish Doraiswamy, and Claudio Silva
  • TKC: Mining Top-K Cross-Level High Utility Itemsets
    Mourad Nouioua, Ying Wang, Philippe Fournier-Viger, Jerry Chun-Wei Lin, and Jimmy Ming-Tai Wu

Some papers are related to pattern mining, as it is one of the main theme of this workshop. But it is interesting that some good papers on other topics have also been accepted. For example, there is a paper about evaluating the value of players in Counter-Strike. In that context, the concept of utility has a special meaning (value of a player). Also, this year, some papers focus a bit more on application such as the one about using pattern mining for studying congestion data.

The workshop will be held on November 17th online. The proceedings of the workshop should be published by IEEE at approximately the same time.


Philippe Fournier-Viger is a computer science professor and founder of the SPMF open-source data mining library, which offers more than 170 algorithms for analyzing data, implemented in Java.

Posted in Big data, Conference, Data Mining, Data science, Utility Mining | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Imposter Syndrome in Academia

In this blog post, I will talk about something that many students or researchers have or are experiencing in academia, which is called the imposter syndrome. It is the feeling of not being worthy of having achieved some success or being in a given position. For example, a new PhD student accepted in a top university may feel that he was just lucky and did not really get accepted because of his skills or efforts. A professor may similarly feel that he received funding but that it is undeserved. The imposter syndrome is something very common in academia. Many people have experienced it at some point in their career.

Personally, when I was first admitted in the master degree in computer science more than 15 years ago, I felt that there was still some gaps in my knowledge. For example, I thought that I had not learnt enough about some topics in computer science or mathematics during the bachelor degree. Although I was a reasonably good programmer, it appeared to me that some other students were better. Moreover, another question that I had when starting the master degree was: Even if I am a good student, will I be successful at research? This is a question that many students have because doing research is something new at that stage.

Then, during the master and Ph.D degree, I published several papers on e-learning and started to attend academic conferences. But when attending the conferences, I felt sometimes that my knowledge of the field was not so deep compared to that of many experts there.

Later, I changed my research direction towards data mining and became very good in some research areas there. However, I still felt that I did not know enough about some hot topics like big data.

The examples above are situations that could be viewed as some form of imposter syndrome.

Now, I would like to talk more about this.

Is the imposter syndrome something bad?

Yes, if it discourage you. No, if it motivates you to work harder and to improve yourself. Personally, when I perceive that I have some weaknesses, I will work harder to try to overcome them, and in the end, it will be positive. Thus, whether the imposter syndrome is something negative of positive depends on your attitude towards it.

How to overcome the imposter syndrome?

A good start is to recognize that you have several skills and to think about your strengths. Moreover, you should remember that although some other people may appear to be better at some things, you are better at other things. For example, another professor may seem to be better at teaching than you are but you may be a better researcher, or a student may seem better programmer than you, but you are better at writing research papers. And in any case, you can work out on your weaknesses to improve yourself.

Another important thing is to not be scared that people “unmask you” and discover that you are an “imposter“. Remember that no one is perfect and you should not be shy to admit htat you have weaknesses. You can then ask for help or questions to other people because this will help to improve yourself. For example, it is OK to ask a question about something that you do not understand during a research seminar.

Related to this, I will tell you another story. I remember some friend of mine that was scared of telling his supervisor that his programming skills were weak during his PhD studies. He did not tell his supervisor during his whole Ph.D but he was stressed that the supervisor may find out about it. In such case, I think that he should have been honest with the supervisor (and that is what I told him at that time). If he had done that, perhaps that the supervisor could have gave him some suggestions to improve his skills and my friend would have felt less stressful. But my friend found another solution. He instead worked hard and asked for help from many other students, and finally improved himself.

How long the imposter syndrome last?

There is no answer that is suitable for everyone. Some people overcome that syndrome by receiving some recognition from other people such as some award, a prize or obtaining a degree. But sometimes, the imposter syndrome stays there for a long time. For example, I have read some story about a tenured professor in a top level university that mentioned that he felt the imposter syndrome until he retired. After completing a paper, he was always thinking that he could maybe not find good ideas anymore for his next research projects.

Conclusion

In this blog post, I talked about the imposter syndrome and told you a few stories about it. The imposter syndrome is something very common at all levels from students to professors. The important is to know that you are not alone that you have strengths, and to think about this in a positive way to help you grow and improve yourself rather than discourage you. Don’t be afraid that people “unmask you” but instead ask questions, and work on improving yourself.


Philippe Fournier-Viger is a computer science professor and founder of the SPMF open-source data mining library, which offers more than 170 algorithms for analyzing data, implemented in Java.

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Big problem on my website on IONOS webhosting!

Hi all,

A bad news is that the database of this blog was reverted to 3 years ago due to some technical problem. I have used 1and1 IONOS as hosting service for my websites for the last 10 years, but now it seems that the database for the blog was overwritten with an old backup because everything is as it was 3 years ago in January 2017. How could it have happened?

I have contacted 1and1 IONOS to try to fix the issue, but they denied that it is their fault and did not have any backup older than 7 days. And my own backup is a little bit old… This is unfortunate. Thus, I think that maybe all blog posts of the last three years are lost (maybe 50+ posts). Anyway, this can of things happen, and I will continue the blog again soon…

But this time, I will not trust the 1and1 hosting service and do my own backups more often.

I am now trying to recover old posts through the Internet Wayback Machine and the cache of web search engines… I have recovered a dozen posts already and will continue but it may take some time.

Update: After several hours, I think that I have recovered most of the missing blog posts… but maybe there are some broken links. At least, most of the posts are not lost.

Update on October 2020: I still have more problems with the IONOS database service of 1and1 :-/ This time my forum has gone offline for several days due to their database server going offline.

Philippe

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Unethical Reviewers in Academia!

In this blog post, I will talk about a common problem in academia, which is the unethical behavior of some reviewers that ask authors to cite several of their papers.

It is quite common that some reviewer will ask authors to cite his papers to increase his citation count. I have encountered this problem many times for my own papers when submiting to journals. Sometimes the reviewer will try to hide his identify by asking to cite four or five papers and include one or two from himself among those. But sometimes, it is very obvious as the reviewer will directly ask to cite many papers and they will all be from the same author. For example, just a few weeks ago, I received a notification for one of my papers where the reviewer wrote:

The related work needs improvement: Please add the following works:
…. title of paper 1 …
…. title of paper 2 ..
…. title of paper 3 ….
…. title of paper 4 …

That reviewer asked to cite four papers by the same person. In that case, it is very easy to guess who is the reviewer. In some cases, I have even seen two reviewers of the same papers both asking the author to cite their papers. Each of them was asking to cite about five of their papers. This was completely ridiculous and gave a very bad impressionabout the review process. This unethical behavior is quite common. If you submit many papers to journals, you will sooner or later encounter this problem, even for top 20 % journals.

Why it happens? The reason is that many universities consider citation count as an important metric for performance evaluation. Thus, some authors will try to artificially increase their citation count by forcing other authors to cite their papers.

So what are the solutions?

  • Authors facing this problem will often accept to cite the papers from the reviewer because they are afraid that the reviewer will reject the paper if they don’t. This is understandable. However, if the authors accept, this will encourage the reviewer to continue this unethical behavior for other papers. Thus, the best solution is to send an e-mail to the editor to let them know about it. This is what I do when I am in this situation. If you let the editor knows, the editor will normally take this into account and may even take some punitive actions like removing the reviewer from the journal.
  • To avoid this problem before it happens, some editors will read carefully the reviews and delete unethical requests by reviewers. However, this does not always happen because editors are often very busy and may not spend the time to read all comments made by reviewers. But it is good that some journal such as IEEE Access will put a disclaimer in the notification to inform authors that they are not required to cite papers that are not relevant to the article. This is a good way of preventing this problem.
  • Reviewers should only ask to cite papers that are relevant to the paper and will contribute to improving the quality of the paper. To avoid conflict of interests, a reviewer can suggest to cite a paper rather than tell authors that they must cite paper. This is more acceptable.

Conclusion

In this blog post, I have talked about some unethical behavior that many people have encountered when submiting to journals, and sometimes also for conferences. The reason why I wrote this blog post is that I have encountered this situation for two of my papers in the last two months and I have become quite tired to see this happen in academia.

If it also happened to you, please leave a comment below with your story. I will be happy to read it!


Philippe Fournier-Viger is a computer science professor and founder of the SPMF open-source data mining library, which offers more than 170 algorithms for analyzing data, implemented in Java.

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How to Improve Work Efficiency for Researchers?

In this blog post, I will talk about the topic of increasing work efficiency for researchers. This is an important topic as during a researcher’s career, the workload tend to increase over time but there is always only 24 hours every day. Thus, becoming more efficient is important. Being efficient also means to have more time to do other things after work such as spending time with your family and friends. I will share a few ideas below about how to improve efficiency for researchers.

work efficiency

Working on what is important

To improve efficiency, it is important to work on what is really important. For every task that a researcher wants to do, he should first evaluate how much time he will spend on the task and what will be the expected benefits. The reason is that sometimes the time spent on a task could be used to do something else that would bring more benefits for the same amount of time. For example, if someone is writing a research paper, he could spend a day on improving the quality of some figure or instead spend that day to proof-read the paper and improve the writing style. There are sometimes some tasks that we want to do that are not really important and require a lot of time. In that case, we maybe don’t need to do them.

Having a schedule and planning tasks

It is also a good habit to have a schedule to keep track of all the things that you need to do. Moreover, you can order tasks by priority to focus on the more important ones. It is also important to set goals and then try to make a plan of all the tasks that need to be done to achieve these goals.

planning and scheduling

For scheduling and planning, one can have a calendar and also a to-do list of important things to do. It is also good to keep a small book to write your research ideas when you have some to not forget them.

It is also good to do all the similar tasks on the same day. For example, if you have many papers to review, you can decide to review all of them in one afternoon rather than doing one every few days. Generally, this will be more efficient.

Working in a better environment

The work environment is also very important. It can be good for example to clean your desk, or find a quiet environment to work such as a library, to be more efficient. If you are in a noisy environment, it can also be useful to use some noise cancelling earphones or noise blocking earmuffs.

quiet work environment

And of course, one should avoid working in a distracting environment such as while watching TVs or working in positions that decrease productivity such as laying on the bed.

Using software to reduce distractions

There are also exists some software that helps to get more focused. For example, on Windows, I use a software called AutoHideDesktopIcons that will hide the desktop, the taskbar and all opened windows except the current window. This helps to remove many distractions.

auto hide icons software

There are also exists some software for writing that have minimal user interface to make sure that one can focus on writing. This is the case for example of WriteMonkey on Windows. The user interface of WriteMonkey is basically just a blank page, which can really help to concentrate on writing (see below).

writemonkey

Collaborating with others and giving work to others

Another way of becoming more efficient is to share your workload with other people. For example, if you invite someone else to participate to your paper, then this person will do some work and thus your work will be reduced. If you are a team leader, you can also give some work to your team members to reduce your own work, or even hire a personal assistant or someone else to do some work for your (e.g. paying someone to proofread your papers).

Conclusion

In this blog post, I gave a few tips about how to become more efficient at research. I could certainly say much more about this but I wanted to give a few ideas. Please share your other ideas or views in the comment section, below.


Philippe Fournier-Viger is a computer science professor and founder of the SPMF open-source data mining library, which offers more than 170 algorithms for analyzing data, implemented in Java.

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