iDocQ Information Science doctoral colloquium 2014 #idocq2014: a review

Information Science Pathway logoiDocQ, the annual doctoral colloquium for students studying for PhDs in information science and other related disciplines, took place this year on 27th June at the University of Glasgow. It attracted participants at all stages of doctoral study, with students travelling to Glasgow from as far away as Aberystwyth to join in the activities on the day.

The formal proceedings kicked off with a keynote presentation delivered by Professor John Robertson of the University of the West of Scotland, chaired by PhD student Calum Liddle of Strathclyde University. John’s discussion of his research into media reporting of the Scottish independence debate demonstrated how elites respond to information that they want to ignore. John explained how he analysed media coverage of the forthcoming Scottish referendum (e.g. broadcast interviews, cartoons), and the difficulties he experienced when attempting to disseminate his findings. His presentation raised a number of interesting points related to the power and influence of long-established social networks, and how to handle stakeholders when your research may not be welcomed by them.

The rest of the morning at iDocQ was scheduled to give an opportunity for the student delegates to present their work in 20×20 format. This session was chaired by Frances Ryan, a first year PhD student in the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University. The speakers and the themes of their presentations were:

The presentations are currently being archived at the iDocQ SlideShare account (along with the iDocQ 2013 20×20 presentations from last year).

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After lunch I hosted a session on social media for impact. This was delivered along the lines of the workshop that I ran at the ESRC final year conference on April 25th 2014. Following discussions of the “social media bingo card”, each group of participants devised a set of “social media for impact” headlines (see the shots of the flipcharts in the slide show above). The headlines relayed ideas and advice, as well as questions for further discussion over the afternoon tea break:

  • How do you distinguish social media platforms that are useful to help increase your research impact from those that are a waste of time?
  • How do you find your social media community/audience?
  • How do you move from being a consumer of the social media content of others to a producer of content for consumption by others?
  • How do you manage the time commitment required for engaging with social media so that it is time well spent?

After tea there was a “research clinic” panel. Here questions submitted anonymously by students were answered by expert panel members from the four university departments that comprise Information Science Scotland: Dr Ian Anderson of Glasgow University; David McMenemy of Strathclyde University, Dr Lizzy Tait of Robert Gordon University, and Professor Hazel Hall of Edinburgh Napier University. The academics shared advice on the basis of their own PhD experience, research activities, and experience gained from supervising doctoral candidates. The questions covered both procedural issues (e.g. “Who will be at my viva?”), and requests for advice for specific stages of the PhD such as the literature review (e.g. “How do you stop your literature review getting too broad?”), data collection (e.g. “What steps can you take to generate a reasonable response to a survey?”), and writing up (e.g. “How can a student make a case study about a particular organisation relevant to a diverse sector?”). Some time was also spent on the question of how students should “manage” their supervisors. Another question on whether there is still “space” to work in the academy post-PhD led to an interesting discussion and the sharing of lots of advice on how to be prepared for making academic job applications in the future.

The formal proceedings of the day came to a close in the plenary session when Dr Ian Anderson, Convenor of Information Science Scotland, awarded the prize for the best student presentation from the morning session to Erin Ferguson of Strathclyde University for her 20×20 on research into Freedom of Information legislation.

All in all it was a great day, largely thanks to the clever programme devised by the hard working iDocQ 2014 student committee members: Frances Ryan of Edinburgh Napier University; Calum Liddle of Strathclyde University, Chikezie Emele of Robert Gordon University; and Wachi Klungthanaboon of Glasgow University. Delegates left with a better appreciation of the variety of doctoral research in information science, new connections, and plenty to think about regarding their current work, its value and impact, and their future career paths. The student feedback recorded on the event evaluation forms completed at the end of the day was very positive and included comments such as:

  • “The presentations really made me think about my own research in light of the issues that other PhDs are tackling. A welcome eye-opener.”
  • “20×20 was a great opportunity to learn a new presentation style. I was so hesitant to do it at first but, after, I’m thankful for the opportunity and would encourage others to give this a go. I also found the research panel very interesting, useful and candid.”
  • “This was, quite simply, a wonderful day. Thank you so much to everyone. I leave here confident, upbeat and I feel like I am in-the-know – it’s been a while! I’ve had my nerves hit quite a few times during my PhD. It was most welcome, among other things, to hear a research panel speak so frankly about their first-hand experiences and advise doctoral students. I’ll come again next year.”

To see how others enjoyed their participation, you can also check the blog posts by Edinburgh Napier doctoral students Frances Ryan on and Christine Irving on The right information.

iDocQ is likely to return to Aberdeen in June 2015 (where it was held last year). If you’d like to be updated on the plans for the 2015 event, please follow @iDocQ on Twitter.


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