PhD profile: Ji Yeon Yang

Jiyeon Yang

Ji Yeon Yang: Monitoring behavior at information intersections in the workplace

When you need help from a colleague on a work project, how do you decide whom to turn to? How do you evaluate the credibility of the advice? Does it actually affect the decisions you make? How about when a co-worker asks you for advice? What do you take into account to decide which information would be helpful?

In daily work, people play the dual roles of information seeker and giver by receiving or providing guidance on how to find, evaluate, or use information. With the proliferation of online tools such as blogs, wikis, and social networking sites, workers now have more resources to call upon in the information-seeking process, but interpersonal interactions still play a vital role in an organization’s decision-making.

Doctoral candidate Ji Yeon Yang studies people’s interpersonal information behavior and credibility judgment in the workplace, not just from the point of view of the person seeking information, but also from the perspective of the one providing it. Her broad research interests lie at the intersection of human information behavior, information credibility, and knowledge management.

Ji Yeon earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, Korea in 2005 and at one time considered becoming a diplomat. It was a professor of political science who had studied at Florida State University who suggested that she consider information science. “He said that a lot of political scientists were gravitating to the information field,” she recalls. “At the time, I wanted to study something more practical, so I decided to investigate information schools.”

She was especially attracted to the interdisciplinary nature of the University of Michigan program. In 2007, she received her MSI with a specialization in Library and Information Science. A class she took with UMSI professor Soo Young Rieh sparked her interest in information-seeking behavior, and she worked as a research assistant for Rieh starting the summer between her first and second year in the master’s program. Rieh is now her doctoral advisor and Ji Yeon is a research assistant on Rieh’s MacArthur-funded Credibility 2.0 Project, a project on assessing information credibility in the participatory Web environment.

Along the road to her doctorate, Ji Yeon has distinguished herself with several honors, including Best Paper awards in 2007 and 2010 from ASIS&T (co-authored with Professor Rieh and fellow PhD students) and a Best Poster award in 2012; Rackham Graduate School Research Grants in 2009 and 2012; and the Eugene Garfield Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in 2012, one of six granted annually by Beta Phi Mu, the international library and information studies honor society.

Ji Yeon is now at the final stage of her doctoral program; she hopes to finish and defend her dissertation this summer. There will soon be two doctors in her house. Her husband of one year, Justin Canniff, is completing his own doctorate in the University of Michigan’s department of material science and engineering.

She’s currently evaluating her post-doctorate plans. While she enjoys teaching, internships at the United Nations and Kellogg gave her a taste for the business world, where she envisions many opportunities for putting her information behavior knowledge into practice.

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