iDocQ Information Science doctoral colloquium 2013 #idocq2013

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The four partner universities of the ESRC Scottish Graduate School of Social Science information science pathway hosted iDocQ 2013 in Aberdeen on Monday 24th June. iDocQ is the annual doctoral colloquium for doctoral candidates in information science and other related disciplines.

iDocQ is organised by a programme committee that comprises students who represent the four Scottish Graduate School of Social Science information science pathway institutions. The 2013 reps were:

  • Lynn Killick of Edinburgh Napier University;
  • Calum Liddle of Strathclyde University; Information Science Pathway logo
  • Mazni Md-Yusof of Robert Gordon University;
  • Mathews Phiri of the University of Glasgow.

I helped the students plan iDocQ 2013 as part of my duties as convenor of the information science pathway in 2012/13.

Eighteen students participated in this year’s event, fourteen of whom gave presentations. The majority were from the information science pathway member universities: Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow, Robert Gordon and Strathclyde. The rest travelled from other UK institutions including Heriot-Watt, Northumbria and Sheffield universities, with another two delegates crossing the Atlantic from Canada (one from McGill University and the other from the University of Western Ontario). The full experience of doctoral work was represented on the day, from new student Lynn Killick of Edinburgh Napier University, who just started her PhD in May 2013 to “almost there” Tessa Berg of Heriot Watt University, who had submitted her thesis just before iDocQ and was busy preparing for her viva.

This year’s event kicked off with an amusing speed networking line-up reminiscent of musical chairs (see the pictures in the slideshow below). The fun of this game helped everyone relax into the main business of the day, i.e. for the students to:

The morning guest speaker at the colloquium was Dr Annemaree Lloyd of Charles Sturt University, Australia. She first gave an overview of her recent research, then provided a number of valuable PhD hints and tips based on her experience as both PhD student and supervisor. These covered how to:

  • handle your supervisor;
  • get down to writing;
  • manage your time – especially so that you take advantage of your supervisor’s “landing slots”;
  • negotiate project ownership;
  • get to the point where you have a thesis to submit.

As well as learning from one another during the fourteen pecha kucha presentations and in the networking breaks, the students also took advantage of the expertise of the information science pathway academic staff. Professor Hazel Hall of Edinburgh Napier University, Dr Ian Anderson of Glasgow University, Professor Peter Reid of Robert Gordon University, and Professor Forbes Gibb of Strathclyde University attended the full day, and all four ran breakout sessions in the afternoon. The breakout themes covered writing (and rewriting) the literature review, defining and redefining research questions, preparing for fieldwork, and defending the thesis.

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When I introduced the colloquium at the start of the day I commented that if it went well, then the student committee was to be congratulated on all its hard work. If it went badly, then I was to blame for not training the team adequately. Happily the returns from the event evaluation forms proved that the four committee members had done a great job. In their responses the delegates showed strong appreciation of on-site facilities at Robert Gordon University, with the venue and the catering winning the highest rating from the majority of delegates. The majority also strongly agreed or agreed that the colloquium:

  • met its stated objectives and outcomes;
  • delivered appropriate content;
  • was well-paced;
  • had helped the students in the development of skills in the presentation and critical evaluation of research, and in networking.

A number of supportive comments were also provided in the evaluations, including “Very well organised for a day with so much packed in. Very happy to have attended. Perfect. Thank you.”

Next year’s iDocQ will most likely take place in Glasgow. We are looking forward to seeing the information science doctoral community gathered together again at iDocQ 2014 for another productive and fun day of presentations, break-outs and networking. If you would like to be involved (for example as the programme committee member for your institution, or as a delegate), please contact Dr Ian Anderson. Ian will be taking over as Convenor of the information science pathway for 2013/14 from September 2013.

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