The retweeting of online political content: call to complete the InGSoc Project survey

Many of us who blog (as I do here), and maintain presences on other social media (see my profile), live quite openly online. We share our opinions with whoever wants to ‘listen’ to our multiple streams across various social media. However, bloggers/tweeters/blippers do not know exactly who is ‘listening’ to them, nor why the ‘listeners’ are engaged in the ‘listening’. Of course, on some platforms, such as WordPress, we can track our hits, monitor the routes that people take to reach our content, and watch click-through statistics. We also develop relationships with others who comment on our posts frequently and directly. But what of the others who listen but leave no trail?

InGSoc logoWithin the Centre for Social Informatics we are currently investigating this question with reference to the re-tweeting of political opinion content. Our focus is online interactions with political opinion writing, commentary and analysis (ePunditry). We’re interested in answering a number of questions such as why particular content is highly likely to be disseminated over wide distances through multiple retweets, and whether or not tweeters consider retweeting an endorsement of personal opinion. The study forms part of our AHRC-funded Informing the Good Society (InGSoc) project.

If you would like to contribute to the study by completing a short (5 minute) survey, we would love to hear from you. And, of course, in the spirit of the study, do please feel free to pass the survey link on to others so that they can also contribute their opinion.

Applications invited for Lecturer, Associate Professor and Professor appointments within Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing

I’m always excited when we advertise for new staff and research students, particularly when they are in my area. Who will apply? Who will be short-listed for interview? Who will be offered the job? How will the new appointee contribute to teaching of the Information Systems group? What will the new appointee bring to the research in the Centre for Social Informatics?

Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Computing, in which the Centre for Social Informatics is based, currently has a number of vacancies for permanent academic staff. These were advertised last week on the University vacancies web page and The deadline for applications for these posts is Friday 20th February 2015 has been extended to Friday 6th March.

REF2014 logoAt least one new appointee will join the Information Systems group. This is the teaching group to which I belong, along with the majority of my immediate academic colleagues from the Centre for Social Informatics. It is highly likely that the new staff appointed to the Information Systems group will find a home for their research activity with us within the Centre for Social Informatics and help us build on our achievement in the most recent UK research assessment exercise. In REF2014 we contributed to the University’s submission to Unit of Assessment 36. 74% of the research output submitted was judged to be world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*). The research environment also attracted a high score of 90% 4* and 3*. Our result puts us in the top quartile nationally for Unit of Assessment 36.

We are currently seeking applications from those who offer expertise that aligns with our existing work. Our teaching and research interests cover a broad spectrum of topics that can be classed under the umbrella term ‘Information Systems’. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Business systems analysis and design
  • Database design
  • Ecommerce
  • Egovernment
  • Electronic public services
  • Information policy
  • Information management
  • Information science
  • Information seeking behaviour and use
  • The Information Society
  • Knowledge management
  • Library and information science research
  • Online communities
  • Project management
  • Social informatics
  • Social media
  • Social networking
  • Sociotechnical analysis of organisational systems

Athena SWAN logoIt should be said that we don’t expect a single person to be able to cover all these areas: these are simply examples to show the wide range of our work! Indeed, it is worth saying here that the University is well aware that its employees have lives outside work and this is recognised in our policies and practice, particularly to support those with caring duties. For example, in the School of Computing we schedule school-wide meetings in core hours, and we operate a scheme where we can request that certain timetable slots be blocked off to fit with caring commitments such as taking children to and from school. To seek recognition of its commitment to gender equality in STEMM subjects, the University recently applied for an Athena SWAN bronze award, and it is the School of Computing’s ambition to work towards a departmental award in the near future.

As well as contributing to our taught courses at bachelors and masters level (including working on initiatives such as e-Placement Scotland, where we expect to expand the team through the new appointment), we also supervise research students to PhD. These students are funded in various ways including through grants from the AHRC, the ESRC, and sponsorship from business and organisations such as Skills Development Scotland. There are over 40 research students in the School as a whole, distributed across its five research centres.

We currently have eight research students in our group. They are working on the following doctoral studies:

You can see from our web pages that there’s some great work going on in the School of Computing, from small-scale contract research to large research council funded grants, all of which contributes to the teaching that we undertake.

If the range of work described above excites you, and you meet the eligibility requirements as noted in the job advert (in short, you hold a PhD, have a commitment to your own professional/academic development, and offer experience to develop high quality teaching and research in the area in which you have chosen to specialise), then we’d love to receive an application from you by Friday 20th February the extended deadline of Friday 6th March.

Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that we are based on a modern campus that boasts its own medieval tower; the campus in situated in what estate agents call a ‘very desirable area’ close to shops, banks, restaurants, bars and a fabulous independent cinema; there is easy public transport to campus by bus and we’re a short walk from Haymarket railway station; it takes just a few minutes to reach the beautiful open space of the Meadows if you fancy a walk or run at lunchtime; and, if you’ve never been to Edinburgh before, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the UK, regularly featuring high up the charts of ‘best places to live’.

Summer on the Meadows

Summer on the Meadows

Useful links

Meet you in St Louis? ASIST 2015 call for papers

ASIST 2015 logoThe 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) takes place between 6th and 10 November this year in St Louis, Missouri, USA.

I’m pleased to be working as a member of the conference programme committee alongside Lisa Given of Charles Sturt University (conference chair), Heather O’Brien of the University of British Columbia and Alison Brettle of Salford University (panel co-chairs), and Lynn Westbrook of the University of Texas and Michael Khoo of Drexel University (poster co-chairs).

My own role on the programme committee is to serve as papers co-chair with Dr Brian Detlor of McMaster University. Brian and I have enjoyed working together since I made a study tour of Canada in 2009. Although much of the work that we have undertaken has been at a distance, we have also been able to meet at various conferences in recent years, including the Sixth Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference (EBLIP6), which was hosted by the University of Salford in 2011.

Brian Detlor & Hazel Hall

Brian Detlor & Hazel Hall at EBLIP6

In recognition that research is inspired by, and/or connected to, information practice contexts, the ASIST annual meeting theme this year is the impact of information science research, with a focus on its application in practice. The call for conference contributions therefore encourages submissions that present theoretical or applied research with results that demonstrate impact – be this on individuals, organisations, systems/technology and/or society – in a range of contexts, such as business, education, the environment, health, law etc.

The submission date for papers, panels, workshops and tutorials is 30th April 2015. For posters, demos and videos it is July 1st 2015. Full details of how to submit, including submission forms, are available from ASIST 2015 web pages.

Supporting the ‘research-minded’ librarian

EAHIL/ICAHIS/ICLC conference logoThe European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL) will be holding a workshop in Edinburgh this summer in collaboration with the International Conference of Animal Health Information Specialists (ICAHIS) and the International Clinical Librarian Conference (ICLC). This event forms one of a series of biennial workshops and other related events designed to support healthcare librarians and information professionals in their work.

The workshop, which runs from Wednesday 10th to Friday 12th June, aims to enhance delegates’ appreciation and understanding of research methods. This goal relates primarily to supporting the improvement of library and information services provision for user communities. In addition to this, the organisers hope that the ideas and experiences shared at the event will help delegates identify new means of analysing their own services and practices in robust ways, and encourage them to conduct and publish good quality research.

Dr Alison Brettle

Dr Alison Brettle

I have accepted an invitation to present the opening keynote paper at this event on Wednesday 10th June. Dr Alison Brettle, Reader in Evidence Based Practice at Salford University, will lead a second keynote session on Thursday 11th. Between us we plan outline the rationale for incorporating a research-minded approach in professional practice, linking this to themes such as reflective practice and evidence-based librarianship.

I will be arguing that research is not just something that ‘other’ people removed from everyday services delivery do, but an activity that underpins a range of library and information practices such as the evaluation of services, strategic thinking, and the measurement and communication of service value. I will be referring to the findings of a number of initiatives and research projects in my presentation, including the Library and Information Science Research Coalition, the two Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Studies (RiLIES) projects, and Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM). In her keynote presentation Alison will focus on methods, methodology and epistemology, and why we should care about these concepts.

Early bird registration for the workshop opens on 9th February 2015 (£280), with full fee registration from 16th March (£330).

LIS Research Coalition DREaM RiLIES logos

Looking forward to the Third International Seminar on LIS Education and Research (LIS-ER), Barcelona, June 4-5 2015

Third Seminar on LIS Education and Research logo The Third International Seminar on Education and Research (LIS-ER) is organised this year by the Faculty of Library and Information Science at the University of Barcelona as part of its centenary celebrations. The meeting is supported by the European Association for Library and Information Education and Research (EUCLID) and the Red Universitaria de centros de Información y Documentación (RUID). It takes place 4-5 June 2015 on the University of Barcelona campus.

The focus of the meeting is education and research in library and information science. The programme comprises conference presentations, panels, and a poster session.

I am pleased to have been invited as one of the speakers, joining a number of others including Dr Blaise Cronin, Visiting Professor to the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University.

I have been asked to speak on the theme of challenges in LIS research. The organisers have made a particular request that I draw on my experience of leading the implementation of the UK Library and Information Science Research Coalition between 2009 and 2012.

If you would like to contribute to the poster session, submissions are due by Friday 30th January. Early bird registration for the event is open until 3rd April 2015 (120€).

Applications invited for ESRC Scottish Graduate School of Social Science Doctoral Training Centre studentship competition

Scottish Graduate School of Social Science logoAs a member of the Information Science Pathway of the ESRC Scottish Graduate School of Social Science Doctoral Training Centre (SGS-DTC) Edinburgh Napier University is currently inviting applications for this year’s studentship competition.

Information Science Pathway logoI would be pleased to hear from eligible candidates who would like to apply for a PhD place at Edinburgh Napier under this scheme, and whose interests match the focus of the Information Science pathway within the broader context of the ESRC SGS-DTC. The key areas of interests of the Information Science pathway are:

  • the social and economic impact of information;
  • the legal and regulatory context for the collection and use of information;
  • the technologies for the management of information;
  • information policy and strategy.

Applicants are expected to (a) already hold a Masters degree or (b) be on target to complete a Masters degree before the start of the academic year 2015/16. The Masters degree should be in a relevant subject, for example: Information Science; Information Management; Information Studies; Information Systems; Knowledge Management; Records Management; Science and Technology Studies. Ideally the Masters degree undertaken should be ESRC-approved. In addition, all candidates should hold a good first degree. Research proposals submitted as part of the application process should align with the key areas of interest of the Information Science Pathway, and the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University.

In the first instance, interested candidates should contact me by e-mail at Then we can arrange a telephone or Skype call to discuss research proposal ideas, and potential supervision arrangements at Edinburgh Napier. The conversation will also provide an opportunity for me to explain in further detail the application process. This initial contact should be made by Monday 12th January 2015 at the latest (and preferably sooner).

Candidates whose research ideas and academic profile are deemed suitable will then be asked to complete a standard Edinburgh Napier PhD research proposal for an advertised PhD (see the Word document under the heading “How to apply for advertised studentship vacancies” on this page) to be submitted directly to me ( by midday on Monday 19th January 2015. (The application should not be sent to the general research degrees admissions e-mail address.)

Interviews will be held at the Merchiston campus of Edinburgh Napier University on Wednesday 28th January 2015. Decisions on who will be invited to take their applications to the next stage will be made by Monday 2nd February 2015.

Candidates who pass the internal Edinburgh Napier application process will then be authorised to start the application process on the ESRC SGS-DTC system: initial registration needs to be made by Friday 6th February 2015. Following ESRC elibility checks, candidates will then be invited to submit their full applications to the ESRC SGS-DTC system by Friday 20th February. The outcome of these applications is expected to be known by May 2015.

IIDI logoCandidates who are considering making an application to Edinburgh Napier University through this scheme are encouraged to explore how their research interests align with those of the staff and research students within the Centre for Social Informatics. This can be done by checking the Centre’s pages on the web site of the Institute for Informatics and Digital Innovation. From here you will see that we carry out research that is broadly concerned with the intersection of people, communities and technologies, and that incorporates themes such as: digital economies; e-democracy and e-participation; e-health; information governance and risk; information science; the information society; knowledge management; librarianship; and project management. Our recent and current research students within the Centre for Social Informatics engage in a range of doctoral studies on topics that include: