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Dr. Simon Harper (Abridged)

Welcome to this short 'data-burst'. If you need basic information about me, my research, or teaching resources, in a hurry, you'll find it all here. If you want a bit more information then you can browse my full site.

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School of Computer Science,
University of Manchester,
2.44 Kilburn Building,
Oxford Road, MANCHESTER,
M13 9PL, UK.
Voice: +44 (0) 161 275 0599
Fax:   +44 (0) 161 275 6204
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    Short Biography

    Since January 2006, I have been a member of the School of Computer Science in the position of Career Development Fellow in the Human Centred Web; part of the Information Management Group. I am interested in how disabled users interact with the World Wide Web (Web) and how the Web, through its design and technology, enables users to interact with it. I believe that by understanding disabled-user's interaction we enhance our understanding of all users operating in constrained modalities where the user is handicapped by both environment and technology. It is for this reason that I see fundamental research into users with disabilities as a natural preface to wider human factors research. With this in mind, I am currently investigating and modelling user experience to formulate solutions which will enhance Web accessibility for visually disabled users and the usability of small screened mobile devices. This means I am mainly working in the Web's, so called, 'long-tail' creating novel methods of making obfuscated structure, information, and semantics more explicit. Looking at my Publications will give you a better idea

    Before all this...

    I worked for British Coal as a collier after leaving school and so only entered full time higher study after a number of night school and evening courses (taking around six years). I progressed well and received a BEng (Hons) and then MEng, while working for the 'Technology for Disabled People Unit' at UMIST (now part of the University of Manchester) in the vacations, and an MPhil while working as a Research Associate in the same unit. I finally moved to the University of Manchester and received my PhD in June 2001. After completing my PhD (and a six month sailing trip) I was employed in 2002 as a Research Associate for my supervisor Prof. Carole Goble, and later in 2003 as a Research Fellow for Prof. Ian Horrocks (jointly with Prof. Goble), both positions were 'without portfolio' in that I was found funding to pursue my own research interests in interdisciplinary disability.


    RAE 2008 is the sixth in a series of exercises conducted nationally to assess the quality of UK research and to inform the selective distribution of public funds for research by the four UK higher education funding bodies. As part of this review individual researchers are assessed, and as part of this process the school assesses its research staff each year. Based on the RAE process (a scale of 0-4 and 0*-4* (zero-star to four-star)) my current rating is 3* (three-star) defined as 'Internationally Excellent' based on the 'esteem indicators' above (see biography) and the 4 papers below:

    1. Simon Harper and Sean Bechhofer. Semantic Triage for Increased Accessibility. In John J. Ritsko et al, editor, IBM Systems Journal, volume 44 (3), pages 637-648. IBM, New York, USA, August 2005.
    2. Simon Harper, Carole Goble, and Robert Stevens. Augmenting the Mobility of Profoundly Blind Web Travellers. In Douglas Tudhope and Daniel Cunliffe et al, editors, New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, volume 11 (1), pages 103-128. Taylor and Francis, Switzerland, London, Washington, June 2005. ISSN 1361-4568.
    3. Simon Harper, Steven Pettitt, and Carole Goble. Sentinel: Towards an Ambient Mobility Network. DISABILITY AND REHABILITATION, 253(16):940-947, August 2003.
    4. Simon Harper, Yeliz Yesilada, Carole Goble, and Robert Stevens. How Much is Too Much in a Hypertext Link? Investigating Context and Preview - A Formative Evaluation. In Proceedings of the Fifteenth ACM Conference on Hypertext & Hypermedia, pages 116-125. ACM Press, August 2004.

    Research Projects for Students (both 3rd Year's and MSc's)

    I've none available for this year (2008/2009)


    I currently teach: COMP20312: Fundamentals of Databases (2nd Semester / Unit Leader: Simon Harper)
    This unit attempts to provide you with an overview of database management system architectures and environments, an understanding of basic database design and implementation techniques, and practical experience of designing and building a relational database.

    I believe that only by having a strong and leading research culture can we also ensure 'deep' and successful teaching. Not the superficial learning of facts and figures but the conveyance of a deeper understanding of the subject along with an ability and requirement for students to think. Fundamentally, I am committed to undertaking and disseminating this research based teaching and maintaining a central position in the delivery of high quality professional teaching. All my teaching are highly coupled with current thinking, and up-to-date industrial practice. Taking any of them will require a high degree of self discipline and high work through-put. This isn't intended to put you off; you'll learn a lot, and I'll teach you how its normally done in the real world (I was a consultant for seven years).

    Bald 38 year old male with silly goatee and rectangular spectacles; brown stubble brown eyes

    Simon Harper is a Lecturer in the Information Management Group of the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester.