Looking ahead to RIVAL event 3

I’m really looking forward to RIVAL event 3, admittedly with a bit of nervousness about running an online event. (I’m always nervous about everything I do, so going virtual isn’t the real cause.) Anyway this post is to look at the treats awaiting RIVAL network members on Thursday 19 November, not to focus on me.

Many of the ‘skeletons’ of these treats will be hosted on the event web-page. But the tasty ‘flesh’ (c’mon, it’s just past Hallowe’en) will be in the interactions between network members during the event. We will live-tweet what we can, so please follow @lisrival.

Treat 1: ‘Public library services and citizenship: a longitudinal analysis of roles, impact, and value’: Dr Leo Appleton (University of Sheffield)

Leo is a former colleague at Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Social Informatics. Leo’s presentation is about the findings from his PhD (supervisor Hazel Hall). RIVAL network members will watch this in their own time before the event. His presentation is a powerpoint file with recordings – click or tap the small loudspeaker icons at the bottom right of each slide to hear his words.

Treat 2: Research into Practice case study 3 – Digital library futures: the impact of e-legal deposit in the academic sector: Dr Paul Gooding (University of Glasgow) with Dr Frankie Wilson (Bodleian Libraries)

I’ve briefly worked with Paul on a funding bid – we look forward to the results! I’ve not yet worked with Frankie, so I look forward to hearing more on her work. Their presentation is a movie, which can be watched from their own video-server or from the Napier video-server. RIVAL network members will watch this in their own time before the event. Here is a transcript of their presentation.

Treat 3: Research into Practice case study 4 – Syrian new Scots’ information literacy way-finding practices: Dr Konstantina Martzoukou and Professor Simon Burnett (Robert Gordon University)

I’ve not yet worked with Dina or Simon, but have quoted some of their work on information behaviour in some of my work. Their presentation is a powerpoint file with recordings – click or tap the small loudspeaker icons at the top right of each slide to hear their words. RIVAL network members will watch the presentation in their own time before the event.

Treat 4: a panel-session with all of these speakers

This is the first substantive live event of the day, between 14:15 and 14:45. (It will be preceded by a short introduction to the event by Hazel Hall.)

Treat 5: a short break

14:45 to 14:55: get those kettles on!

Treat 6: Network member news: sharing our skills

5 network members have volunteered to speak about what they have learnt during lockdown.

I am hugely grateful to all five, because otherwise I’d have had to present something on my own lessons from lockdown. (I hate public speaking, mostly because I’m useless at it. Now there’s a vicious circle!) Instead, I’ve turned my thoughts into a post on my research-blog.

Treat 7: a short break

15:30 to 15:40: time for tea! (We probably should have made longer breaks for those who need to grind beans and steam milk.)

Treat 8: a visit to the Scottish LIS research market

Had this been a live event, representatives of five Scottish Universities would have had physical market-stalls to show off their goodies. But because it’s virtual, here are their materials, for RIVAL network members – and you – to read in your own time. Click the thumbnails to see the full-size PDFs in new windows.

Edinburgh Napier University Robert Gordon University
University of Edinburgh University of Glasgow
University of Strathclyde

Treat 9: Breakout discussions: planning for event 4

Hazel and I always planned to make event 4 whatever the network members wanted it to be. Network members said they wanted event 4 to be spent on practical work towards lasting outputs. Further discussion came up with four items: a post-RIVAL event, an article for practitioners in Information Professional, a funding bid, an article for academia. So network members will work in teams to lay the groundwork for these between 15:40 and 16:40.

Treat 10: Thanks and close

And breathe!

What has Bruce been up to during lockdown?

It appears I’ve been relatively quiet during the past 5 months, at least on this blog. There have been personal reasons for this, as covered in my personal blog. The relevant rants are:

Since I got back to Napier in early May, I’ve been working with Dr Gemma Webster on our project ‘Information avoidance and diabetes’. There aren’t many posts on that blog yet, but here is Professor Hazel Hall’s writing on the poster I presented on Monday (8 June) at at an e-conference. You can find tweets about it at #AECIST20. And look out for a blog post in the next week or so.

poster on 'information avoidance and diabetes' project

Click the image to see the full-size poster in a new window or tab.

Outside of Napier, I’ve also been doing some work with the Scottish Tech Army, mostly proofreading and editing internal documents. I’ve continued working with £eithChooses and ‘my’ Edinburgh community councils.

Today, during this week’s ‘non-work day’ I’ve been updating my online CV and publication-list. The latest two additions are two papers that have very recently been accepted for publication. The first is on the RIVAL project, led by Professor Hazel Hall. This paper covers the project’s contributions so far to practitioner-researcher engagement, and looks ahead to further anticipated contributions from more networking events. Hazel’s post looks forward to presenting that paper the (virtual) 83rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST2020).

The second covers how Scottish community councillors tend to develop and us information literacy (IL). This paper is an output from the LIL-DEM project, led by Peter Cruickshank. The key messages are that (1) community councillors report that their information-handing skills are not derived from their formal education (the focus of so much IL research) but from work and everyday life; (2) that these are practiced by joint working. This, I hope, is a small but valuable addition to investigations into workplace IL, as for example examined in Information at Work: information management in the workplace, edited by Katriina Byström, Jannica Heinström and Ian Ruthven.

And so my final self-trumpet toot tonight is that my review of that amazing book should soon appear in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science.

Research Impact and Value in LIS: introducing the RIVAL network

Copied from Hazel Hall’s blog

This afternoon I’m speaking at the Edge conference in Edinburgh about a new project, as summarised in the slide below.

RIVAL launch posterWe started work on Research Impact and Value and LIS (RIVAL) on 1st February 2019. The Royal Society of Edinburgh has awarded us a grant to create a collaborative network of Scotland-based library and information science (LIS) researchers and library and information professionals interested in maximising the value of LIS research. This work builds on the pilot RIVAL event that we hosted at Edinburgh Napier University on 11th July last year.

We’re using the funding to organise four one-day network events between July 2019 and July 2020.  A proportion of this will be used to cover expenses of network members to participate at the events: travel for all members as required; travel and accommodation for those travelling long distances, e.g. from the Highlands and Islands. An extensive online presence for RIVAL will allow others to benefit from the project.

The main goal of the project is to develop and strengthen relationships between LIS researchers within Scottish universities, and between these LIS researchers and practitioners in Scotland. We hope that in doing so the practitioner participants will increase their confidence and self-efficacy as research users and partners.

The project team members Hazel Hall and Bruce Ryan are based within the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, and supported by a Project Board that includes Ines Byrne of the National Library of Scotland, Martina McChrystal of the University of Glasgow, Paul McCloskey of the City of Edinburgh Council, Emily Prince of Westerhailes Education Centre, and Andy Taylor of the University of Edinburgh.

The first RIVAL event takes place on Thursday 11th July 2019 in the Horizon Suite at Edinburgh Napier University’s Sighthill campus. Full details will be made available soon. In the meantime, if you wish to register your interest in the event, please email Bruce Ryan at b.ryan@napier.ac.uk.

To find out more about RIVAL, please check the project web site, follow the @LisRival Twitter feed, and/or join us on Facebook.

So what has Bruce been up to recently?

Part of an occasional series of posts to try to show that I don’t lie around all day! This post covers the time since we got back from honeymoon in early September.  

At Napier

  • Working with my colleague Wegene Demeke on the initiation of a project to investigate some aspects of participatory budgeting (PB) in São Paulo [Wikipedia], Brazil. We’re particularly interested in whether and how PB benefits the very poor. This is going to be fun, not least because neither Wegene nor I speak Portuguese, but we have some excellent partners at the University of São Paulo.
  • Working with the Prof on a funding bid for some networking events. That’s ‘networking’ in the sense of connecting humans, not ‘plumbing‘! The bid has been submitted but we won’t know whether we’ve been successful for a while, so watch this space!
  • Taking part in a follow-up to research by the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) on community councils.
  • Marking courseworks for an undergraduate course.
  • Drafting an idea for some public engagement/democracy work. Again, watch this space!

Elsewhere

Continue reading

DREaM paper accepted

In 2015, I enjoyed working with Professor Hazel Hall on an assessment of the lasting effects of the Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project. Hazel’s posts about this project are here.

A paper written by Hazel, Peter Cruickshank and me, addressing the question of network sustainability within a community of library and information science (LIS) researchers and practitioner researchers has now been accepted for publication in the Journal of Documentation. Please read more about it in Hazel’s blog post, or, if you would like to learn more about the results of this study, please email Hazel at: h.hall@napier.ac.uk.

After i3 conference #i3rgu

I’ve been informed,  interacted and impacted at i3! I could only attend on Thursday and this morning, but my eyes have been opened to the wide world of Library and Information Research, and some of the characters in this world.

The sessions I attended were

(Because my blood-sugar crashed, I didn’t get to attend the final plenary except to see colleagues Iris Buunk and Hazel Hall win the prize draw.)

I mentioned the social aspects because I think some of the most interesting stories around research came out then. For me, and of course I may be wrong, papers deliver the ‘facts’, conference presentations tell some of the ‘back-story’, and social events can fill in the details. For example, a researcher talked about the major difficulties she experienced when trying to travel to collect data. So now I’m a bit more fore-warned of some possible practical difficulties.

I won’t say which I thought was the best presentation, because that would imply there was a ‘worst’. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who exposes their ‘research-hearts’ to a sea of potential criticism is a winner.

Drs Bhuva Narayan and Bruce Ryan

But I will say which I got the most out of personally: Bhuva Narayan’s presentation on information avoidance amongst diabetics described my personal world. A research blog isn’t the place to rant about my personal experiences of this condition, much as I want to. But I think it is appropriate to note how our careers have included academic/educational publishing before moving into academic research which is close to our respective hearts.

I’m also tempted to wonder whether there is room for research into information misbehaviour, e.g. are there links between information avoidance and other ‘undesirable’ activities?

My other favourite was Graeme Baxter’s presentation on post-truth politics and Scottish citizens’ information behaviour. Graeme showed how people reacted to political statements made by the five major Scottish political parties. Each party published statements intended to advance their positions and/or denigrate other parties, by quoting ‘facts’ without citing references. In fact, Graeme and colleagues had to dig quite deeply to establish sources and hence the veracity of the ‘facts’ they ‘tested’ on their participants.

As a scientist, it’s hopefully second nature to back up facts and statements with either citations showing where these were ‘proved’, or to prove them ourselves from the data we’re presenting – anything else is plagiarism or worse. Not so in political campaigning, it appears. Graeme suggested that political ‘facts’ go on a journey in which ‘original sources become less clear and facts become increasingly reinterpreted’. I guess the moral is an undertone of ‘facts matter’, in that we need to be sure that our facts are facts (i.e. true/correct), and the contexts in which they are they are true, and what they really mean.

For example, Graeme showed a political communication saying that 152,000 college places had been lost. Did that mean that 152,000 people were now being denied the chance of a full degree, thus potentially harming Scotland’s economy and much else? Er, no, it meant that quite a number of short courses and lessons in mostly ‘hobby’ interests were being cut. For me, any loss of educational opportunities isn’t great, but this ‘fact’ wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it appeared. I’d be disappointed if I couldn’t go to an interesting one-off lecture or short course on one of my interests, but it probably wouldn’t be career- or life-threatening. And as my colleague Todd showed, there is a huge amount of educational material on YouTube, for example. (The difficulty there, as he also mentioned, is learning which material offers me the most value, and doesn’t omit the things I really need to learn.)

I’m particularly interested in two things related to Graeme’s presentation. (This doesn’t mean I’m not interested in other aspects!)

  • The first is the extent to which people trust facts coming from government, rather than political parties’ campaigns. Graham cited the white paper on Scottish Independence which was delivered in 2014. Was that an output from a party or from the government or from the ‘neutral’ civil service? (I’m interested because I know a few current and former civil servants who sweated blood to try to ensure that it contained established facts, and clearly differentiated between these and ambitions for the post-independence world. But civil servants are required to serve the government of the day, even if this goes agains their personal views, unless this would involve them in something seriously immoral.)
  • The second is how much people trust information provided by community councils. (Let’s ignore how little people appear to actually access this information. As my colleague Peter Cruickshank points out, it’s entirely possible to take in and act on such information without leaving any obvious signs of engaging with it.) I’d really like to understand what people make of the (digital) information outputs of their community councils. I hope we can soon do some engagement research that probes this.

Final thoughts

image credit: Frances Ryan

Firstly, I’m inspired to do a bit of object-oriented programming around a model cool cat, especially as I’m cited for some reason.

Secondly, I’m sorry I couldn’t attend all the presentations made by my Napier colleagues.

Finally, a huge thank-you to i3 organisers Dr Elizabeth Tait and Professor Peter Reid for organising a great conference. Here’s looking forward to i3 2019!

Of all the centres in all the universities in all the world, you HAVE to walk into this one!

 

I hope this blog given an idea of how fun and rewarding it is to work in Edinburgh Napier University‘s School of Computing. While most of my experience is within the Centre for Social Informatics, within that school, I studied for an MSc here first, being taught by staff from many centres. I count myself very lucky to have studied and worked in such a great place with encouraging, supportive people all around me.

The School is now offering four PhD places in some very diverse topics: find out more here. And find out more about the topics that would fit in the Centre for Social informatics here.

But hurry! The closing date for applications is 15 January 2016.