J. Blustein

Research Opportunities and Thesis Topic Suggestions

I am an active researcher looking to supervise research projects and theses.  My research interests are in helping people find and use information more effectively.  Topics within this general area are welcome.  I am always looking for innovative ideas.  Please note that I do not do research in the field of data mining.

I have funding for some students and projects.

Much of my research work is in the HAIKU's research areas.

What I Seek in Students

When I review applications to work with me I look for a well thought-out statement of research goals: an outline of one or more specific research areas or questions that demonstrates the student's preparation and seriousness.  The statement of research should suggest that it could be completed in the time available for a thesis or project.  There is much flexibility in choosing a final topic and approach — they do not have to be what you proposed in your statement as one or both may change over the course of our conversation.


A secondary, but nonetheless important, consideration is external funding.  After all other considerations I prefer applicants who have scholarships but I supervise many students who do not hold scholarships.

To be eligable for a scholarship from Dalhousie's Faculty of Computer Science (FCS) to study for a graduate degree (MCS or PhD) your application must be complete by the application deadline set by the FCS.  The links below will lead you to information about some available scholarships.

Answers to General Questions from Graduate Applicants

For answers to questions such as:


please see my Answers to General Questions from Graduate Applicants webpage.

Ongoing Projects

2011–2013 NUscholar project

During 2011–2013 I will be working on an exciting multi-centre project entitled NUscholar.  I am seeking graduate students at all levels (Masters, Doctoral) and possibly a post-doctoral fellow.  If you meet the criteria below then I will gladly discuss research opportunities with you.

Student Profile for NUscholar Project

Necessary Background

Advantageous but less-than-essential background

Some parts of the project have particular needs and thus offer particular advantages.

New Browser Technology

I want to develop (and evaluate) better browsers for reading on the Web. I want to see how certain features could improve users' experiences:

Much of this can be supported using Java code from the multivalent documents project at UC Berkeley and XML or XHTML.

Related readings

For more details

See the new browser technology topic webpage for more details.

iPad Programming

Part of another project.  If you have experience with iOS then feel free to ask for details.

Digital Humanities Requirements Analysis

Part of work for an updated institutional repository of documents and data for Dalhousie University.

Inter-rater Reliability Statistics

Part of another project.

Boundary Objects Vocabulary

In collaboration with a professor in the School of Health and Human Performance.

Power-law Distribution Analysis of the Blogosphere

An analysis of data already collected.

In collaboration with another professor in the School of Information Management

Past and Already Completed Projects

These topics are not in any particular order.

What Matters For Hypertext Usability?

I am interested in hypertext used to convey knowledge, such as in journal articles. There are many ideas about what makes for useful hypertext but little real evidence. I'd like to conduct some experiments to clarify what we do know and find ways of making the WWW more useful.

Some readers like hypertext even when it is not as useful to them as the traditional document from which it was generated so hypertext must be evaluated for performance (usefulness) and preference (acceptability).

I want to prepare some short articles in XHTML for people to read and answer questions about using a variety of interfaces. Questions we can investigate are:


In my current research this is part of the Methods and Models of Navigation in Hypertextual Space project.

Related readings

Web Usability Measures

Can we develop automated measures of how good a web page or web site is?

Some attempts have been made to automatically check web pages and sites against published standards (e.g. Bobby and Web Metrics). I believe that we can develop code to implement other published measures, and come up with our own too.

The work will involves investigation of alternate measures, proposing suitable new ones, and evaluation of the utility of whatever is developed.


My current research includes two projects in this area:

For more details

See the web usability measures webpage for more details.

Network Intrusion Detection & Response

I am working with Drs. Heywood and Zincir-Heywood on research to help network administrators to detect and respond to network threats. Together with our students we are Dalhousie's Network Information Management and Security Group. We expect to develop interfaces for use with distributed mobile devices so that the managers can analyze the threats (alone or by computer-mediated conversation), and react to them. The system will be intelligent, that is, it will respond to many threats itself and make recommendations for how to handle the others.

Some of the areas this project will involve are:

See also

The Network Information Management and Security Group homepage.

Related readings

Evaluation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

There might be an opportunity to investigate new methods of evaluating software and interfaces for physicians (medical doctors). If you are interested in investigating the use of non-user evaluation methods or work within the medical field then please contact me for more details.

Related readings

Heuristic Evaluation
Cognitive Walkthroughs

Breadcrumbs on the WWW

Along with Keith Instone, two of my students are investigating the uses of types of breadcrumbs as navigation tools for WWW surfers.


In my current research this is part of the Methods and Models of Navigation in Hypertextual Space project.

Related reading

Other ideas are welcome!

I'm interested in any ideas you might have too.

Topics related to hypertext or digital libraries are especially welcome.

In general, I am interested in any topic that is about helping people to find and use information more effectively.

See also

The research section of my homepage has some information about my research interests and activities. A list of my current and recent research students is available.


Created on 05 March 2001 by J. Blustein.
Last updated on 24 May 2012 by J. Blustein.

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