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Surprising discoveries in academic research can be facilitated via digital technologies

Published on 13.3.2023
Tampere University
Ahmad AfridiPhoto: Ahmad Afridi
Recommender systems are becoming a valuable tool for research literature. Surprising discoveries, also called serendipity are an important aspect of information discovery via recommendation systems. Ahmad Hassan Afridi studied the usage of recommender systems facilitating serendipity. In the research, he focused on studying the systems in developing countries to be able to encourage advanced approaches towards higher education research.

Ahmad Hassan Afridi's study focused on investigating the use of recommender system applications in developing countries as most studies in developing countries have focused solely on implementation, rather than user experiences. Surprising discoveries are part of the scientific and non-scientific discourse. In research articles, they can be beneficial for academic research progress. 

The study describes the design and development of several user interfaces for recommender systems to improve our understanding of serendipity facilitation with the help of user interfaces.

By studying these systems in developing countries, this dissertation contrasts the study of recommender systems in developed countries, examining the contextual and cultural challenges associated with the application of recommender systems.

"The research is important from developing countries' perspective because it will encourage advanced approaches towards higher education research. The IT-enabled process rebrands the conventional approaches to the research to faster and enabling approach”, Afridi says.

Recommender systems in the higher education sector

Research in serendipity and recommender systems has primarily been reported in the context of developed countries. Developing countries have infrastructure and research facilitating technologies adoption issues that result in longer time to improve their processes. However recent developments in open source technologies provide an opportunity to advance education technologies.

“The study is novel in way that it advances the user interface of recommender systems. I am excited to see the future serendipity-based research have an impact for example in the higher education sector," states Afridi.

The study resulted in four novel user interface designs for a recommender system suggesting articles to university faculty and students. Further, the research recommender systems user interface has been introduced with transparency and user controls for the user to connect with the serendipity process.

“Recommender systems are being used in many IT sectors such as social media, entertainment, e-commerce, and healthcare. Therefore, it's imperative to study recommender systems applications in the higher education sector. IT-enabled processes help students and faculty members discover serendipitous, recommended articles, without losing the research scope, " Afridi points out.

Get to know the doctoral dissertation online.