This coming week I am the guest of the Departamento de Engenharia de Produção da Politéchnica at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. During my visit I am making a presentation at a research symposium. The focus of this is the work of colleagues in the School of Computing who are members of the Centre for Social Informatics. The slides for my presentation are provided below, along with a summary of the main points that I will be making when I take the stage on Wednesday.
I will start my presentation by introducing myself. I’ll let the audience know that they can find out more about me by visiting this web site (in particular the About Hazel Hall page), following @hazelh on Twitter, and browsing through the presentations on my SlideShare account.
I’m not sure how familiar the audience will be with the make-up of the UK, so I have included some slides to show the locations of England (population ~53 million), Scotland (~5.3 million), Wales (~3m) and Northern Ireland (~1.8m).
There are some interesting comparisons to be drawn between Brazil and the UK. The population of Brazil at over 200 million is almost four times that of the UK. The city of São Paulo itself is home to 12 million people – more than the entire combined populations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland! Brazil is also the fifth largest country in the world (covering 5.7% of the earth’s surface), whereas the UK is the 79th (0.16%).
In this introduction I will also draw attention to the current political geography of the UK with reference to Scotland and the results of the last general election in 2015, and those of the European referendum in 2016.
I’ve included some slides in my presentation to introduce (or perhaps I should say ‘show off’?) the city of Edinburgh. An aerial shot that I took from a plane when I returned to Edinburgh from LISER2015 in Barcelona gives a sense of the scale of the city, and I have also used this to highlight some of the city’s attractions. (The two dots show the location of my house and the Merchiston campus of Edinburgh Napier University – a walking distance of about an hour). Then follow photographs of autumn, winter, spring and summer in Edinburgh. The second shot for summer is the view from my office window in May 2012! Next I draw attention to some of the reasons why Edinburgh is well-known: for its festivals; its Georgian architecture, its famous former residents (for example Sir Walter Scott 1771-1832; David Hume 1711-1776; and Adam Smith 1723-1790); as a city of literature; and more recently as the home of Harry Potter author JK Rowling (who used to live very close to Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus).
Prior to turning attention to the work of my own institution, I will introduce together all four universities in the city: the University of Edinburgh; Heriot Watt University; Queen Margaret University; and Edinburgh Napier University.
Edinburgh Napier University takes its name from John Napier (1550-1617), the inventor of logarithms and the decimal point. He was born in 1550 (four years before the Portuguese village of São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga was established by colonial Jesuit priests), and died almost 400 years ago on April 4th 1617. Merchiston Tower, which sits at at the centre of the campus where I am based, was the home of John Napier. (For a fuller history of the University, please see the ‘Our history’ page on the University web site.)
Today Edinburgh Napier University is placed in the top 5% in the Times Higher World University rankings, with a high score for its ‘international outlook’. Internationalising its work is one of the four main pillars and aims of the University’s strategy for 2020. This will be achieved through the development of strategic partnerships, growth of the international student community, creation of an environment where staff and students have an international outlook, and the development of transnational education to expand international activity.
I introduce Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Computing in the next part of my presentation. This is one of the largest schools of computing in the UK with 1200 students, 57 academic staff, and 13 research and technical staff. The School places a high value on the employability of its graduates: large numbers of our students undertake placements (internships) as part of their studies; we host e-Placement Scotland; and we will soon be welcoming new students as part of the Scottish Graduate Level Apprenticeship programme. In addition, two of our PhD students are part-funded by Skills Development Scotland (Scotland’s national skills agency) to undertake research that will benefit the Scottish labour market. (For further information about these PhD projects, please see the web sites of Lyndsey Jenkins and John Mowbray.)
Another distinction of the School is its broad coverage of computing. We have recently restructured into three main subject groups: Computing Security and Networking; Software Engineering and Technology; and Creative and Social Informatics. Those of us who conduct research in social informatics are members of this third group.
Social informatics is the interdisciplinary study of the design and use of information and communication technologies that takes into account institutional and cultural contexts. Our research considers people in communities with technologies. We have recently updated the pdf flyer that lists the research interests of our group, profiles each member, and provides a list of some of our recent and forthcoming publications. There are eighteen of us in total, eight of whom are research students. Our research interests encompass the following themes:
- Democratic digital engagement
- Information policy
- Information seeking behaviour and use
- Knowledge management
- The Information Society
- Online communities
- Open data and open government
Our funders/partners include: three of the UK research councils (AHRC, ESRC and EPSRC); public bodies (such as the Scottish Government, the National Health Service, and the Improvement Service); business (in the past our research has been funded by companies such as KPMG, Daimler, and TFPL Ltd); and charities and professional bodies (such as the Carnegie Trust, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and its sub-groups, and the Archives and Records Association).
My next few slides cover some of the recent project work of the group. This includes: our research on democratic digital engagement, which is profiled on the Community, Knowledge, Connections web site; the activity related to the Library and Information Science Research Coalition (which I led between 2009 and 2012) such as the two Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Studies (RiLIES1 and 2), Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM), and DREaM Again; and two projects for professional bodies (Training provision for the library and information sector and a workforce mapping project for the UK information sector).
I then list the broad themes that are covered by our current PhD students: public library value (Leo Appleton); knowledge sharing (Iris Buunk); workplace learning (Lyndsey Jenkins); the population census (Lynn Killick); information seeking behaviour and use (John Mowbray, Todd Richter and Frances Ryan), and digital co-creation (Alicja Pawluczuk).
We publish our work in high profile journals (such as the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), the Journal of Documentation, the Journal of Information Science and Information Research) and present at the top conferences in the field (such as Conceptions of Library and Information Science (CoLIS), Information, interactions and impact (i3), Information Seeking in Context (ISIC), and Social Media and Society (SM&S).
We have been very successful recently in the winning of awards for our work. For example, in the past 12 months:
- Iris Buunk has been awarded a John Campbell Trust travel award
- Frances Ryan was a winner of the OCLC storify competition at ASIST 2016
- Leo Appleton was named as the Library and Information Research Group Researcher Practitioner of the Year 2016
- I won the 2016 Jason Farradane award
- Alicja Pawluczuk won the best poster award at the Digital Human conference
- Lyndsey Jenkins won a best paper award at the 15th IFIP Conference on e-Business, e-Services, and e-Society
- Alicja Pawluczuk won the best presentation award at iDocQ 2016
- The Centre for Social Informatics was the most successful group at the Edinburgh Napier University 2016 research conference:
It makes us very happy to see our work recognised in this way, as can be seen in the last slide of my presentation, snapped as a selfie at i3 2015.
I hope that the audiences at the research symposium will enjoy hearing about the Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, the School of Computing, and the Centre for Social Informatics on Wednesday, and that the content of my presentation may serve as a catalyst for strengthening relationships between our two institutions.