Centre for Social Informatics ‘all centre’ meeting June 2022

Social Informatics Research Group Edinburgh Napier University selfie

Dr Peter Cruickshank, Dr David Brazier, Dr David Haynes, Dr Hazel Hall, Katherine Stephen, Dr Bruce Ryan, and Dr JP Vargheese pose for a post-meeting selfie

For the first time since 18th December 2019, this week members of my research group gathered for an end of year ‘all centre’ meeting to celebrate our recent research highlights.

Although not everyone could make it on this occasion, those who could enjoyed spending the afternoon of Wednesday 22nd June together. We took it in turns to deliver short personal updates to the rest of the group on our own research. We also read out details sent to us by email from those who could not participate in person, and gave each absent colleague a round of applause.

Afterwards seven of us (pictured) continued the conversation off-campus at Brew Dog on Lothian Road. (Please scroll down for more photos.)

With the main theme of the afternoon focused on our research activities, most of our updates concerned topics that begin with the letter P: projects, public engagement, publications, presentations, and PhDs. We also celebrated our recent REF results. In Unit of Assessment 34, 76% of our submission overall was judged as internationally excellent (3*) or world-leading (4*), with the components of Impact and Research Environment attracting high scores: Impact 100% at 3* and 4*; Environment at 90% 3* and 4*. These figures have contributed to Edinburgh Napier University’s ranking as the top modern university in Scotland.

The report below draws on some of the discussion at our all centre meeting on 22nd June, and from the notes of our weekly Wednesday research update meetings in the first six months of 2022.

Most of our project work over the past six months has focused on seven studies:

  1. Community council online presences led by Dr Bruce Ryan and Dr Peter Cruickshank.
  2. EHealth tools and online information in the self-management of polycystic kidney disease (eHealth PKD) led by Dr Frances Ryan, with PhD student Marina Milosheva as researcher.
  3. Heritage organisations and podcasts scoping study (HOPSS) led by Dr Bruce Ryan, with myself as one of the two co-investigators, and PhD student Marianne Wilson as researcher. For further information please see the posts about the project on the Social Informatics Research Group blog: introduction on 8th February 2022; update on 9th May 2022.
  4. Information literacy interventions impact framework led by Dr Peter Cruickshank with Dr Bruce Ryan and Marina Milosheva as researchers.
  5. Platform to platform (P2P) led by Dr Bruce Ryan, with myself as one of the two co-investigators, and PhD student Katherine Stephen playing the role of announcer in the 12 episodes of Lorna Lloyd’s Diary of the war podcast series. See the introduction to this project on the Social Informatics blog.
  6. Privacy, power and regulation of the metaverse led by Dr David Haynes, with PhD student Natalie Wangler as researcher.
  7. Sentinel: security alert level automation led by Dr Peter Cruickshank. with PhD student Aleksander Bielinski as researcher. See details on the completed project on the Social Informatics blog.

Meanwhile in Canada, our Visiting Professor Dr Brian Detlor (with colleagues) has continued his work on the project entitled Promoting digital literacy in the community through public library initiatives.

A further study involving members of our group has just begun. Our newest colleague JP Vargheese, who joined us in February, is leading an investigation into the relationship between listener receptivity and source of music recommendations. Katherine Stephen and Marianne Wilson are the researchers on this project.

Our largest public engagement activity of the past six months has been the organisation and delivery of the launch event for the Lorna Lloyd Diary of the war podcast series, which took place on May 24th 2022 in Malvern. Four of us contributed to this: myself; Dr Bruce Ryan; Katherine Stephen; and Marianne Wilson. Others have brought their work to the notice of the general population in smaller-scale activities. For example, PhD student Rachel Salzano is currently hosting an art exhibition related to her doctoral study at Westerhailes Library in Edinburgh, and in April Marina Milosheva published a piece on networking in The Conversation.

We have also been busy writing up and presenting our work. The latest published outputs from our research are:

We also have a number of accepted papers in press. Two papers are for Information Researchone is by Rachel Salzano and her PhD supervision team covering interim results from Rachel’s doctoral study; the second is by Marina Milosheva and her supervisors about the conceptual framework that Marina devised for her empirical work. A second output from Rachel Salzano‘s doctoral study will appear in the Proceedings of the 2022 ASIST Annual meeting. Aleksander Bielinski has a contribution co-authored with his Masters dissertation supervisor in press with the proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Knowledge Processing (AIKP’22).

In addition, we have been involved in longer-form publishing ventures in the past six months: Dr David Haynes is one of the editors of the Proceedings for ISKO 2022; Marina Milosheva and her supervisors have a chapter in a book on workplace information literacy that has just been submitted for publication with Facet; and Dr Bruce Ryan and I published an edited collection of the poems of Lorna Lloyd to coincide with the Diary of the war podcast series launch event.

In terms of conference presentations, we have also been active:

We are looking forward to a number of future presentation engagements. In September, we are contributing to the OLKC conference in Sweden: Katherine Stephen with her supervision team has a paper in the main conference, as do Dr Ella Taylor-Smith and Dr Khristin Fabian. In the same month, Dr David Brazier will be giving a talk at an event organised by the CILIPS Information Literacy Community of Practice. Two presentations on the P2P project are also scheduled for September. The first is a paper that I will deliver at the ARA conference in Chester; the second a roundtable contribution that will involve myself, Dr Bruce Ryan, Marianne Wilson and Jake Berger of the BBC Archive at the BBC at 100 Symposium hosted at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. Rachel Salzano and Dr Brian Detlor will be presenting in two separate sessions at the ASIST Annual Meeting, which takes place between 29th October and 1st November this year.

Our PhD students have recently secured places at the doctoral forums of major conferences: Aleksander Bielinski at DATA 2022 in Portugal next month; Natalie Wangler at EGOV-CeDEM-Part 2022 in Sweden, John Marshall at OLKC conference in Sweden, and Marina Milosheva at ISIC 2022 in Germany, in September. Two PhD students have also won bursary places at conferences that fit with their research interests: in July Rachel Salzano will attend the CILIP annual conference, and Marianne Wilson will be at DCDC 2022. Earlier in the year, in March 2022, Thoko Kachale attended the doctoral consortium of the IADIS Conference. Meanwhile the main job of our PhD students is to work on their doctoral studies, submit their theses for examination, and graduate. We’re really pleased that three colleagues have successfully navigated this process in the past academic year and will be graduating on 7th July 2022 as Dr Najla Alamri; Dr Pritam Chita; and Dr Debbie Meharg.

As well as working on our own research projects, members of our group continue to be actively involved in contributing to the wider research environment of the subject domains that we cover as social informatics researchers. For example, recent appointments to review teams include service for journal such as IEEE Transactions on Education (Dr Khristin Fabian) and Information Processing and Management (Dr David Brazier), and conferences such as ALT 2022 (Dr Khristin Fabian), EGOVIS 2022 (Dr Peter Cruickshank), ISKO 2022 (Dr Frances Ryan), and the Workshop on Recommender Systems for Human Resources (Dr David Brazier). In addition, Rachel Salzano currently contributes to publishing endeavours in library and information science as a member of the editorial production team Library and Information Research, and Dr Ella Taylor-Smith has been instrumental in the development of the Ada Scotland Festival to bring together partners to address the issue of gender balance in Computing Science education in Scotland.

We are also involved in professional bodies and committees related to our research. For example, our Visiting Professor Dr Brian Detlor has been busy as the Immediate Past President of ASIST in the first six months of 2022, and Katherine Stephen has been heavily involved in the organisation of events for the SGSSS such as the Student-led symposium, Final year conference, and Summer school (with duties that have included managing alpacas!) I continued my REF2021 duties a member of the sub-panel for Unit of Assessment 34 in the first quarter of 2022.

Now we look forward to taking some time off over the summer and then returning refreshed for academic year 2022/23. We are currently working on a number of research grant proposals that we hope will be successful to allow us to develop further our empirical work. We are also preparing a number of paper submissions for journals and conference while waiting on the outcomes of a couple of others currently with journal and conference review teams. We are excited that come the autumn we will be welcoming Maria Cecil to Napier to complete the +3 component of her 1+3 PhD ESRC/SDS studentship, alongside another research council funded student on the collaborative award secured by Dr David Brazier with colleagues Dr Paul Gooding (University of Glasgow) and Amina Shah (NLS) earlier this year. We are hoping to add to the new intake of fully-funded UK PhD students in our group by recruiting another four for starts in either October 2022 or March 2023: applications are due by 13th July.

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