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.) I’m still really miffed that we still can’t get together in person. Click this link to see all the pieces in this series. There is a history of my academic work so far on my personal blog. Continue reading
I was delighted to speak about the RIVAL project Royal Society of Edinburgh funded Research Impact Value and Library and Information Science (RIVAL) project, at the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals Scotland 2021 conference (#CILIPS21) on Tuesday 8 June. This, and Hazel’s presentation at SCURL, would be a fitting coda to all the work I, Hazel and others have put into this project, and the successes it has generated. NB it’s a coda, not a finis. Continue reading
Tuesday 15 December was a bumper day for the Centre for Social Informatics (CSI), with the publication of six articles in Information Research. These were conference articles presented at ISIC2020 and a paper on ‘imagined citizens’. Together these showcase some of the work we undertake. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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.
We 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 email@example.com.
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.
- 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!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
- Professor Annemaree Lloyd, Dr Frances Hultgren and Dr Ola Pilerot: Refugees and researchers in transition: the complexities of researching fractured landscapes
- Dr Bhuva Narayan and Professor Gobinda Chowdhury: The role of information avoidance in diabetes self-management: a mobile-based study using the experience sampling method
- Keynote Presentation by Amy Sippitt, Research and Impact Manager at Full Fact
- Maryam Bugaje and Professor Gobinda Chowdhury: Towards a more user-centred design of Research Data Management (RDM) Systems
- Dr Michael Olsson and Professor Annemaree Lloyd: Bodywork: vanishing knowledge, embodied practices and identity construction among enthusiast car restorers
- Dr Graeme Baxter and Professor Rita Marcella: An exploration of the relationship between post-truth politics and Scottish citizens’ information behaviour
- conference dinner, ceilidh and a few drinks back at the hotel
- Keynote Presentation by Dr Crystal Fulton, University College Dublin
- Dr Geoff Walton and Dr Alison Pickard: Analysing information discernment in mid-teens to extend their digital literacy
- Todd Richter, Dr Laura Muir, Dr Tom Flint, Professor Hazel Hall and Dr Colin Smith: Getting Unstuck: information Problem Solving in High School STEM Students and Evidence of Metacognitive Knowledge
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.
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.
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.
A quick resumé of what I’m up to! Purple text is work currently in progress. Continue reading