Seven weeks of dissemination
When Leo Appleton presents the slides for our joint-authored paper on the value and impact of public library services on citizenship development at the 11th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services today, this will mark the end of a busy conference season for the staff and research students in the Centre for Social Informatics.
It’s been a particularly demanding time for me: if you check my conference presentations and posters page, you’ll see that my name is against 16 contributions delivered in the UK and beyond (Italy, Greece, and Spain) over a period of seven weeks in June and July 2015. These comprise:
- 11 conference presentations (including an international keynote) – six were delivered at the same event at the end of June, and are discussed in greater detail below
- 2 workshops (one on digital impact, and the other on preparing for the PhD viva)
- 2 panel sessions (one at Edinburgh Central Library, and the other at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh)
Fortunately it hasn’t been my responsibility to present on every occasion (thank you co-authors!) but I have still been heavily involved in all the preparation that has gone into the individual performances of team members at each of the events concerned.
The week beginning 22nd June was one of the busiest weeks for the Centre for Social Informatics. Eight of us – myself, Leo Appleton, Iris Buunk, Christine Irving, Lynn Killick, John Mowbray, Louise Rasmussen, and Frances Ryan – spent much of the week in Aberdeen where we attended the iDocQ colloquium and the i3 conference. Below I review these two excellent events.
Now in its fifth year, iDocQ is the annual doctoral colloquium for students studying for PhDs in information science and other related disciplines. iDocQ is organised by a committee of students who are undertaking PhDs within the four member institutions of the ESRC-funded Information Science pathway. In 2015 the student reps were: Lyndsay Bloice (Robert Gordon University); Calum Liddle (Strathclyde University); Katy Loudon (Strathlcyde University); John Mowbray – the chair for the day (Edinburgh Napier University); and Victoria Stobo (Glasgow University).
The 2015 iDocQ programme included a number of activities in plenary. There was first an excellent keynote presentation on writing for publication by Dr Emma Coonan. The afternoon research clinic in Question Time format generated a wide variety of questions, for example ‘What kind of presents do supervisors like to receive?’ ‘Help! I’ve finished my data collection but I think it’s all wrong – what can I do?’, ‘What would you do differently if you were to do your own PhD again?’. There were also opportunities for the students to tell the other delegates about their own research in one minute madness style presentations.
These formal activities were prefaced by an ice breaker game that provided everyone with the chance to get to know one another, and to give a special welcome to those who had travelled long distances to join the students based in the Scottish universities. This year there were a couple of iDocQ delegates from the Nordic countries, and one doctoral student who (a) is British, (b) lives in the US, and (c) is studying for her PhD at an Australian university.
There were also four breakout sessions at iDocQ, each of which was led by a member of staff. In her breakout session Konstantina Martzoukou covered literature reviewing, Ian Anderson discussed conceptualising the PhD in his, Lizzy Tait tackled mapping the information science landscape, and I led a discussion on viva survival techniques.
The main exercise in my breakout session on the viva focussed on the completion of a ‘Who does what?’ grid. Each student in the group took an actor named in the grid and filled in the appropriate row for that person. Then we discussed everyone’s predictions for each actor and debated questions raised by these responses.
|Actor||Level of familiarity with PhD vivas||Level of participation in this viva||Will look forward to the viva because…||Will fear the viva because…|
I also prepared a second exercise on predicting viva questions, and at the end of the session I issued a third handout that gave further viva preparation advice. The latter recommended that the students watch Will James get his PhD?, and find additional advice in some further publications:
- The book The unwritten rules of PhD research by Petre and Rugg (2010)
- Trafford and Lesham’s article ‘Starting at the end to undertake doctoral research: predictable questions as stepping stones’
- Trafford and Lesham’s book Stepping stones to achieving your doctorate: focusing on your viva from the start (2008)
iDocQ is always a great event, not least because it shows what a strong team of information science students can do to bring the community together on an annual basis. This year I was particularly pleased that the best student presentation award was won by one of the Edinburgh Napier students. This went to Christine Irving for her 60 seconds on The development of a model of information literacy from a lifelong learning perspective.
Information: interactions and impact (i3) followed immediately after iDocQ, running from Tuesday 23rd to Friday 26th June. This international conference, which is held on a biennial basis, brings together an international community of academic and practitioner researchers to explore the quality and effectiveness of the interactions between people and information, and how such interactions can bring about change. The 2015 conference programme included six plenary sessions, four of which were slots for keynote presentations by: Olof Sundin, Lund University; William Kilbride, Digital Preservation Coalition; David Bawden, City University; and Dorothy Williams, Robert Gordon University. The contributed papers – all peer reviewed by an international programme committee – were delivered in eleven parallel sessions over the four days of the conference.
The Centre for Social Informatics had a strong presence at the conference. As a member of the conference’s International Programme Committee I chaired two papers, and we delivered six papers of our own in the parallel sessions.
Christine Irving’s presentation ‘How can information literacy be modelled from a lifelong learning perspective?’ derives from her PhD thesis due to be submitted later this year. The slides are available from Christine’s SlideShare account. I am Christine’s Director of Studies, and her second supervisor is Alison Brettle. The three of us are currently writing up a full paper based on this presentation for submission to the Journal of Information Science.
Lynn Killick has been working on her AHRC-funded PhD since 2013 with the support of supervisors Mark Deakin, Alistair Duff and myself. Lynn’s i3 paper is entitled ‘The role of the census in public policy-making: information practices of policy makers’, the slides for which are also available on SlideShare. This is the second paper that we are writing up over the summer for submission to the Journal of Information Science.
John Mowbray presented two papers at Information: interactions and impact (i3). I was co-author of the first one, which is based on the work that he completed for his Masters degree in 2014 under the supervision of David McMenemy of Strathclyde University. This paper is entitled ‘The impact of community grassroots campaigns on public library closures in the UK’. John has posted the associated slides for the presentation to his SlideShare account. Sheila Webber also kindly live-blogged a summary of John’s first paper, which she posted to her information literacy blog. John’s second paper draws on his doctoral research, which is supervised by me, Robert Raeside, and Peter Robertson. This second paper by John is entitled ‘Could social networking online help NEET young people gain employment?’ and the slides for this are also available. John’s PhD is funded by the ESRC and Skills Development Scotland.
Louise Rasmussen, who has recently graduated with her PhD, presented a paper at i3 entitled ‘A KM implementation as management innovation: the impact of an agent of change’. The slides for this presentation can be found on my SlideShare account. Louise and I are busy writing this paper up as a submission, also for the Journal of Information Science.
Frances Ryan was our fifth student presenter at the conference. I am supervising Frances’ PhD with my colleagues Peter Cruickshank and Alistair Lawson. Frances’ i3 presentation entitled ‘Assessing the available and accessible evidence: how personal reputations are determined and managed online’ draws on an extensive literature review. The slides for this presentation are available on from Frances’ SlideShare account. There is also a live-blogged summary of presentation by Sheila Webber on the information literacy blog.
As well as timetabling the formal sessions, the local planning committee organised opportunities for networking at events at the end of each full day of the conference: (1) a civic reception at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum on the Tuesday evening; (2) a reception at Robert Gordon University on the Wednesday evening; (3) and a conference dinner followed by a ceilidh at the Chester Hotel on the Thursday evening.
The food at the dinner was just as delicious as the photos in the slideshow above suggest, and ‘Doric before dinner’ performed by Peter Reid and Simon Burnett was extremely entertaining. The energetic also very much enjoyed the dancing at the ceilidh.
As ever, i3 was a tightly focussed, very well organised event built around an excellent range of keynote and contributed presentations. The Edinburgh Napier contingent benefitted immensely from participating in this year’s conference (as well as enjoyed themselves). We and look forward to the next one in 2017 when the Robert Gordon University staff will be celebrating both a decade of i3 conferences, and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of library and information science course provision in Aberdeen.
Other reviews of iDocQ and i3 2015
A number of others have blogged reviews of iDocQ and i3 2015. The reviews of which I am aware are listed below. If you know of any others, please email me and I will add them to the list.
- David Bawden: i3 in the grey city
- Emma Coonan: Publication without tears: a workshop for doctoral students
- Christine Irving: review part 1; review part 2
- Frances Ryan: Presenting a paper: Assessing the available and accessible evidence
- Sheila Webber: see the entries from Sheila’s information literacy blog from 23rd to 26th June 2015 for summaries of the individual sessions that Sheila attended.