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International exposure refocuses information studies student

Posted: July 23, 2014
By: Liana Miller, communications intern in the development office
Photo by: Tiffiney Miles, graduate web assistant


Sara Chizari discovered an entirely different side of information studies when she left Iran in 2008.

"At home, information studies is considered a 'sensitive science'," School of Library and Information Science doctoral student Chizari explains. She says that in Iran, the government makes it difficult to pursue a career in the field because of its restrictions and censorship.

"Typically, universities in Iran focus more on the computer and engineering side of this field, rather than the human study of information-seeking behaviors," says Chizari, who earned a bachelor's degree in information technology engineering in Iran.

When she began her masters degree in information management at the University of Sheffield in London, Chizari learned a whole new meaning to "information studies." She began to learn about the different ways humans seek information and as an international student, she questioned if cultural background was a variable to consider.

This year, Chizari has been awarded the SPARC fellowship grant from USC's Office of the Vice President for Research. She, along with 52 other recipients, will be awarded up to $5,000 to carry out her research.

Chizari's study will look at the relationship between a user's cultural background and information-seeking behavior. She explains that this behavior is a part of social life and proposes that there may be a link between these two factors.

This will be a 15-month project that will use eye tracking and mouse movement technologies to study how subjects of different cultural groups seek information on the computer.

Her expectations? Chizari says that this is the first study of its kind and cannot predict the direction of her results. She hopes that its findings will play a role in enhancing user experience within program development.