Information science professor receives grant for information quality project

Information science professor

John Talburt

Through collaboration with the University of Arkansas for Medical Science and researcher Meredith Zozus, Dr. John Talburt, professor of information science in the College of Engineering and Information Technology, received a grant for $32,907 for his project “Pioneering Health Information Technology.”

According to Talburt, this project came about after learning of Zozus’ interest in data and information quality. As a professor at the only university in the United States to offer information quality in its graduate program, Talburt was perfect for the job.

“She went forward with the grant and asked me to collaborate with her through the National Institute for Health to do some studies about measuring data quality for clinical data,” Talburt said.

Through the help of this grant, the researchers are working to develop indicators for the quality of data that would allow the accuracy of data to be judged.

“Data accuracy is very hard to determine,” Talburt said. “You have to go to some primary source of truth or something to compare it to, so to help clinics out, we are trying to find a way to make the process easier.”

To help assist with the project is Talburt’s Ph. D. student, Zhan Wang. He was awarded funds from the grant to aid him in his assistantship so that the research group could focus solely on data quality indicators for health care data.

Talburt, originally from Arkansas, came to UALR in 1983 to work in the computer science department and two years later, became the department chair. During that time, he was very active in engaging the industry. He helped to develop the Arkansas Computer Society for which an annual conference was held.

“One of the participants that supported the program was the Acxiom corporation,” Talburt explained. “I got to know them and they invited me to do some work and ended up hiring me.”

Talburt went to work for the company in their research and development department and worked for the company for 10 years. During that time, he met Dr. Rich Wang, professor of information quality at UALR. The two later worked together to develop the information quality data program at the university.

To date, there have been 200 graduates of the information quality program. Many have landed at huge companies such as Google, IBM and Equifax.

Although Talburt has accomplished a number of tasks, he continues to learn and develop his craft. He is currently working on entity resolution, identifying people, places and things in the computer system.

For more information on his latest ventures, visit Talburt’s website.

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