Professor Paul Clough

BEng (York), PhD (Sheffield)

Information School

Professor of Search and Analytics

Paul Clough
Profile picture of Paul Clough
+44 114 222 2664

Full contact details

Professor Paul Clough
Information School
Room C600
The Wave
2 Whitham Road
S10 2AH

I joined British Telecommunications Plc (BT) in 1991 on their technician training scheme and worked for 10 years at BT’s research centre called Adastral Park. During my training, I worked in various research groups in BT and studied telecommunications, electronics and software engineering at Suffolk College. During my time at BT I worked on various projects developing novel hardware and software solutions, ranging from problems in telecommunications to information management.

In 1995 I was sponsored by BT to study Computer Science at the University of York and after graduating decided to pursue an academic career in computing. I left BT and joined the University of Sheffield in 1999 working as a Research Assistant (RA) in the Department of Computer Science in collaboration with the Journalism Department and the British Press Association on a project entitled “Measuring Text Reuse”.

During this time I also completed my PhD under the supervision of Prof. Yorick Wilks. Following various interests in NLP and Information Retrieval (IR) I worked as an RA on a range of research projects until 2005 when I became a lecturer in the Information School. I now head the Information Retrieval research group in the Information School and have continued teaching and researching various aspects of data management and information storage and retrieval.

University Responsibilities

  • Head of Information Retrieval Research Group.
  • REF Coordinator
  • Co-Director of Digital Societies Network.
  • Member of the Departmental Research Committee.
  • Programme coordinator for MSc Data Science.
  • Deputy programme coordinator for MSc Digital Library Management.
  • Module Coordinator:
    • Information Retrieval
    • Information Systems in Health.
  • Staff Review and Development Scheme reviewer.
Research interests

My research interests focus on developing effective retrieval technologies that support users as they seek to fulfil their information needs. Specifically I have carried out research in the areas of multilingual search, retrieval of images, geo-spatial search, analysis of transaction logs, text re-use and plagiarism detection, and the evaluation of search systems.

I have published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, including a co-authored Springer book on multilingual information retrieval. My background in natural language processing, gained during my PhD, has allowed me to develop more sophisticated approaches to accessing information. In addition to developing techniques, I have also built up an understanding of the users of information access systems and their information needs, taking a more user-oriented view to my research.

A further theme of my research has been to create re-usable evaluation resources (corpora and test collections) for the wider research community, such as computational linguistics and information retrieval. I have been involved in coordinating activities at three international evaluation campaigns: the Cross Language Evaluation Form (CLEF) in Europe, the Text Retrieval Conference (TREC) in the US and the Forum for Information Retrieval Evaluation (FIRE) in India.

I am head of the Information Retrieval research group.



Edited books

Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers



Teaching interests

I enjoy my role in helping students learn about topics related to data and information management at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Currently I coordinate modules in the Information School on the topics of Information Retrieval and Information Systems in Healthcare. I am also developing the new MSc Data Science programme that will launch 2014 and for which I will be overall coordinator.

In 2010 I became coordinator of the Information Retrieval module and revised its content and methods of assessment. Martin White (Intranet Focus and visiting Professor in the Information School) mentioned the module in his O’Reilly book on Enterprise Search as an example of the type of training teams supporting enterprise search should receive. I also deliver lectures on several other courses in the Information School, including Database Design, Digital Multimedia and Business Intelligence.

I have been invited as guest lecturer on several occasions to external organisations, including the 2013 European Summer School in Information Retrieval, the TrebleCLEF cross language search summer school in Pisa in 2009 and Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia in 2008. In 2008 I completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) and since 2010 have been a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy.