In press! @hazelh @spartakan @gunillawiden

With grateful acknowledgements to Hazel Hall and Peter Cruickshank for quite a few of the following words.

I’m very happy to report that Peter Cruickshank and I have recently contributed to a new paper on methods for studying workplace information literacy. Entitled Workplace information literacy: measures and methodological challenges, the paper is currently in press, but the manuscript is now available as a pdf download from the Edinburgh Napier repository. It will be published later this year in Volume 15 issue 2 of the Journal of Information Literacy.

The work on this paper was led by Professor Gunilla Widén of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics,Information Studies at Åbo Akademi University. The other co-authors are Gunilla’s former colleague Dr Farhan Ahmad (now at the University of Turku) and Dr Shahrokh Nikou, who works alongside Gunilla at Åbo.

Peter’s and my contribution to Workplace… comes from the workstream also covered by Cruickshank & Hall (2020) and Cruickshank, Hall & Ryan (2020). There is more about these papers in my post on the Centre for Social Informaticsbumper day in December 2020.

Peter’s and my contribution centres on unsuccessful statistical attempts to examine data from a questionnaire on community councillors’ information literacy that Peter and I ran in 2017. (The non-statistical findings are presented Cruickshank, Hall & Ryan (2020). That side of the research was successful!)

Hazel explains more about contents of Workplace… in her blog-post. Here, I concentrate on the experiential lessons from this piece of work. Peter’s tweet sets the theme:

It’s not often it’s possible to publish about an interesting failure, but here’s an example: an attempt with @Bruce_Research to measure the impact of the #informationliteracy of community councillors in Scotland (paper includes examples of success too)

For me, there have been two main lessons. Firstly, don’t assume you’ve failed – don’t let pessimism get to you!I thought this work had failed, and that we had spent some hard-obtained research resources gaining nothing. But I was wrong: firstly we gained an opportunity to learn from the experience. (Of course we also gained some knowledge of statistical methods.) Another gain – for the scientific community – is that, by considering why our methods were unsuccessful in this case, we have potentially saved others from this particular pain and have pointed to methods that are more likely to succeed.

Now I think back, I am reminded of a PhD colleague at the Chemistry department of the University of St Andrews. (For those who don’t know, my PhD is in organic chemistry.) Her thesis was subtitled (when she spoke about it informally)1001 ways not to make [my target substances]. She still got her doctorate, by adding to the sum of human knowledge, even if it was ‘here’s what doesn’t work!’

Also, with thanks to Gunilla, Farhan and Shahrokh, we have gained an opportunity to publish in a well-known journal. So we have gained a bit more ‘reputation’.

The other main lesson, as my Leith-based friends might say, is perseverance. It took a couple of years but there eventually wasa way to make use of this work. Also I got a reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed. Especially in science, we are always trying new things in new contexts – so there is always a chance that we won’t succeed. But that doesn’t make it not worth trying.

Acknowledgement

Peter and I are very grateful to our former colleague Lyndsey Middleton (now a Scottish Government statistician) for advice on statistical methods. Failures in this work were not due to her in any way. They almost certainly arise from Peter and me trying to retro-apply statistical methods on data that was not gathered for this purpose.

References

Cruickshank, P., & Hall, H. (2020). Talking to imagined citizens? Information sharing practices and proxies for e-participation in hyperlocal democratic settings. Information Research25(4). https://doi.org/10.47989/irpaper880

Cruickshank, P., Hall, H., & Ryan, B. M. (2020). Information literacy as a joint competence shaped by everyday life and workplace roles amongst Scottish community councillors. Information Research25(4). http://informationr.net/ir/25-4/isic2020/isic2008.html

Widén, G., Ahmad, F., Nikou, S., Ryan, B., & Cruickshank, P. (in press). Workplace information literacy: Measures and methodological challenges. Journal of Information Literacy15(2).

What has Bruce been up to in the second half of 2020?

I write these pieces every 6 months, usually for the Centre for Social Informatics’ all-centre meetings. (I’m usually incapable of speech by the time it’s my turn to report.[1]) Really miffed that we can’t get together in person this time. Click this link to see all the pieces in this series. Continue reading

Memories of #AECIST20

I recently attended an European chapter of ASIS&T Information Science Trends online conference This year it focussed on health information hehaviour. The following are my digitally-assisted memories of #AECIST20, i.e. adaptations of my live-tweets from the event. As ever, this report is mostly to help me sort what I need to do from what I want to do after being stimulated by many fascinating presentations. Any mistakes or misrepresentations in the below are of course my mistakes. Continue reading

What has Bruce been up to in the last 6 months?

Academic/Napier

  • The RIVAL network: I’m PA to the ∏, administrator, map-creator, videographer, data-analyst and much more
  • IL measures paper: Peter and I are contributing a section to a paper by Gunilla Widen. This will report on the survey of community councillors, and how (not to) measure workplace information literacy.
  • marking: some marking of students’ placement reports.
  • information avoidance in diabetes: because I don’t want to know about my diabetes, but because I do want to know why this is. And I want to to help others with this bad combination, and to maybe generate some theory!
  • SFC GCRF map. This is to create a web map of SFC-funded GCRF projects. Draft version is here: http://bruceryandontexist.net/SFC/VA42-2019_11_19/. <insert moan about administrivia>
  • Failure: REDACTED

Non-academic

  • Still minutes secretary and web-weaver for 3 Edinburgh community councils
    • But I’ve worked out how to cut down on the hours while still doing what they want.
  • £eithChooses PB event: publishing, IT, web, admin…
  • Community Councils Together on Trams: minutes and asking important impertinent questions
  • Failure: I didn’t cease smoking. Instead Varenicline made me vomit.

PB Scotland Conference 2019 #PBConf19

As with many of my posts, the following is based on my tweets from the event. For other views, you might search Twitter for #PBConf19 (but watch out for tweets about a pharmacy conference using the same hashtag) or go to PB Scotland’s website. This also has mini-biographies of the speakers and information about the workshops.

Asides and Bruce-thoughts at the time of tweeting are usually in (round brackets). Extra text added while writing this post is in [square brackets].

NB the content of photos of slides and similar is all © their creators or other relevant ©-holders.

Continue reading

What has Bruce been up to in the first half of 2019?

Napier

When What outcome and notes
December to early January marking Work-based learning mid-year reports Success: Marking was done, including handling students’ queries, and writing and delivering a presentation on how I will mark final reports.
January PB in Brazil: whether and how PB benefits the very poor in Sao Paulo work on a paper was stalled for ages. It took until late June to get a focus-group transcribed. Translation is to follow…
February to May running WriteNow! sessions on Wednesday afternoons
  • success! 95% of writing goals met; 23,720 words written (579 per session per attendee)
  • failure: I wasn’t paid for this. Even though the initiative was strongly appreciated by participants from other schools, the feedback on the funding bid was ‘schools should do this themselves.’
February onwards RIVAL: 4 networking events in 2019-2020 for Library and Information Scientists and practitioners See project website for details.
March onwards GCRF map/database The Scottish Funding Council wants a map of all of the GCRF projects it funds. Image of possible look-and-feel is here awaiting contract-signature
February, May Internal examiner for 3 BIT MSc students All three passed. (Credit belongs to the students and their supervisors!)
April-May Writing RFC funding applications
  • Information avoidance in diabetes (PI: Gemma)
  • LitRev paper with Leandro (PI: Colin)
  • examination of Todd’s data (PI: Laura – she wrote this bid)
May Marking Computing in Contemporary Society courseworks Work was done.
June Marking Work-based learning final reports work in progress

 

Elsewhere

January onwards minuting meetings between Community Councils Together on Trams and Edinburgh Council’s Trams Team better citizen-involvement?
September 2018 onwards  member of £eith Chooses steering group Success! See website. Survey on possible improvements due to close soon.
since time immemorial minutes and websites for three Edinburgh community councils: Leith CentralLeith Harbour & NewhavenNew Town & Broughton Success, I think: better recording and publicising of hyperlocal government activities
ongoing taking part in various democracy events, e.g. practical democracy project, Democracy Alive Some better understanding of what various bodies are doing to improve democracy. I’m not sure how effective they will be, or what my role should be.

Developing new ways to study information literacy: examples from the workplace context and among youth

This workshop was presented by Professor Gunilla Widén(@gunillawiden) to members of Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Social Informatics. This post is based on my live-tweets and the text of Gunilla’s slides, so the good things here are from Gunilla, and any mistakes are by me. My thoughts are in block quotes. Continue reading

Deliberative Innovation: Research and Practice

This afternoon I was at a seminar on Deliberative Innovation: Research and Practice at Edinburgh University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. This was presented by Oliver Escobar and Stephen Elstub, and chaired by Sara Drury. It was great to to meet and learn from Oliver, Stephen, Sara, some of Sara’s students from Wabash College and others in a very varied gathering.

As usual, this post is mostly composed of my tweets, slightly edited for comprehensibility. Larger amendments and additions are in [square brackets]. The block-quotes are my thoughts.

Continue reading

Initial lessons for Scottish PB (updated)

This is an update of a post from my first week in São Paulo, with input from my much better half. Mistakes of course are my fault, not hers.

  • If we don’t get PB right first time, people will lose confidence in it.
    • In this lesson, right can be replaced with good enough, because nothing is perfect, and Scotland is just learning to do PB.
    • This lesson means we need effective processes so that people know they have made the choices.
    • It also means that what is promised must be delivered near enough on time and near enough on budget.
      • This should happen in any context, no matter how much (or how little) money is involved.
      • We can argue about what near enough means at appropriate points.
  • Projects must be monitored as they proceed.
    • Also, due diligence/monitoring must happen at the end of project periods.
    • And that data must be analysed to see what is effective.
    • There should also be the possibility of discontinuing projects if it turns out that they are unlikely to be delivered, or if the benefits can be delivered in better ways, or if an urgent need arises for the money allocated to the project.
      • But this must be done transparently, and must not even appear to be party-political.
  • Don’t rely on revenue forecasts, because what is forecast may not materialise!
  • Annual cycles, i.e. projects that must be started and completed in a year, may be sub-optimal.
  • LeithChooses’ 2018 turnout (1000/20,000 = 5%) is good.
  • The current Scottish model of PB should have a deliberation stage before projects are formulated.
    • At the moment, PB process-runners (e.g.LeithChooses steering group) set themes, then invite projects.
    • The Brazilian model involves participatory deliberation on what the themes should be.
  • There should be some data gathered on who participates.
    • This is to show whether PB schemes are truly participatory, and whether they attract votes from people who need the services PB would offer.
  • Don’t build up an unhelpful bureaucracy around PB.
    • This may lead to clashes between parts of the bureaucracy that support different aims and objectives.
    • While spending money to create and perfect process is valid, wasting it on un-neccessary process is invalid, and puts people off the work.