Goodbye 2021, hello 2022

fireworksEdinburgh Napier University opened its doors again this morning after the Christmas break. This, however, is metaphorical reopening for me. As record numbers of Covid19 cases are reported in Scotland (and the UK as a whole), I will be continuing my research and PhD supervision activities off-campus from home.

This is not something that I would have expected a year ago. Indeed, in the blog post that I composed on 31st December 2020, I was looking forward to resuming Wednesday afternoon research group meetings with other members of the Centre for Social Informatics on campus, just as soon as we were all vaccinated. Two vaccinations and a booster later, this seems a far-off prospect. The closest we got to anything like a ‘normal’ meeting in 2021 was a hybrid research seminar with Dr Morgan Harvey of the University of Sheffield on 17th November. In contrast, all our other visitors over the course of the year, including our Visiting Professor Dr Brian Detlor, ‘came’ to us by Teams conference calls. Yet despite the lack of opportunity to gather together on a regular basis, I am proud that the members of my research group still managed to achieve much in 2021, mainly online and at a distance.

While in 2020 we were forced into making rapid adaptations to our work, in 2021 we knew to plan for the new environment. So, for example, we designed many of the activities related to our project work with online delivery in mind. These included the workshops for the Digital proxies project, Event 4 of the RIVAL project, the Navigating the hidden curriculum training programme, and a one-off training event on creating a professional web presence. Furthermore, drawing on desk research and experiences of working under pandemic restrictions (their own, that of others), two of our PhD students – Marina Milsoheva and Thoko Kachale – twice hosted a popular training session on the topic of research adaptations for the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science.

We also made several contributions to online events hosted by others over the course of the past 12 months. For example:

Dr Bruce Ryan and Rachel Salzano were very lucky to have been able to attend an in-person conference in the autumn when they travelled to Dundee for the CILIPS Autumn Gathering.

Some colleagues also disseminated their research in co-authored journal papers published in 2021:

In 2021 several colleagues were externally recognised in award nominations/awards and appointments. In terms of awards, Dr Bruce Ryan was long-listed for Scotland Library and Information Professional of the Year, Marianne Wilson was the winner of three minute thesis competition organised by Skills Development Scotland, and I came first in a CILIPS photography competition.

Amongst our external appointments Dr Peter Cruickshank served on the programme committee of the 10th International Conference on Electronic Government and the Information Systems Perspective (EGOVIS2021), and I examined a PhD thesis ‘in’ Brazil in June 2021. I have also been heavily involved in REF2021 as a member of sub-panel 34. Last month Marina Milosheva and Katherine Stephen learnt that they had been selected for mentorship schemes hosted by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science.

A number of colleagues celebrated PhD successes in 2021. First, in the summer Dr Peter Cruickshank was awarded his PhD (and promoted to Associate Professor). Then Debbie Meharg (also promoted to Associate Professor in the summer), Pritam Chita, and Najla Almari all successfully defended their theses and will graduate in summer 2022, subject to approval of thesis corrections.

Meanwhile the three PhD students who started their first year of doctoral studies in October 2020 – Marina Milosheva, Thoko Kachale and Natalie Wangler – all successfully completed their transfer reports at the end of last academic year, and John Marshall and Marianne Wilson both graduated in December with MSc(R) degrees undertaken in the +1 year of their 1+3 ESRC/Skills Development Scotland (SDS) funded PhD programmes. We were also pleased to welcome our two ‘brand new’ ESRC/SDS PhD students Aleksander Bielinski and Maria Cecil in the first term of the current academic year, the funding for each won by Dr David Brazier and Dr Ella Taylor-Smith respectively.

Alongside our new PhD student colleagues John, Marianne, Aleksander, and Maria, we also welcomed Dr Frances Ryan (herself a 2019 PhD graduate of our group) as a new lecturer in the autumn term.

So now we are all looking forward to another fruitful year in 2022. As well as on-going project work, we are excited about the official start of Platform to platform (P2P) next month, and are hopeful that our four pending project funding bids might be successful (as might also be the case for three further bids in progress that we intend to submit in the near future). We currently have eight research outputs under consideration for publication and expect that these will all be published over the course of the next 12 months. As far as conferences are concerned, Marina Milosheva and Rachel Salzano will both be presenting at the iConference hosted online by Kyushu University, University College Dublin, and University of Texas at Austin between February 28th – March 4th 2022. Depending on the peer review outcomes of other submissions, we also hope to present our work (online or in person) at:

To find out more about all our activities in the coming months, please keep an eye on this site. Please also follow the posts on the Centre for Social Informatics research group web site that Dr Peter Cruickshank and Dr Bruce Ryan set up in April last year.

Finally, if you are interested in joining us, it is worth noting that there is still time to apply for one of the seven vacancies advertised by the School of Computing last November, the deadline for which is this Sunday 9th January. Amongst these positions is one for a Professor of Creative and Interactive Computing, who will work closely with members of the Centre for Social Informatics. The School is also currently advertising eight funded PhD studentships with a deadline of Friday 14th January. The possible topics for doctoral study include four proposed by members of the Centre for Social Informatics:

  • Human behaviours in online information sharing – Dr Frances Ryan
  • Information governance and the digital environment – Dr David Haynes
  • The impact of technology on policy issues, with a focus on gender equality and widening participation in higher education – Debbie Meharg
  • User centred approaches to autonomous online system support – Dr David Brazier

Social informatics research group blog header

Applications open for 8 fully-funded PhD studentship places within the School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University

PhD supervisors Dr Frances Ryan, Dr David Haynes, Debbie Meharg, Dr David Brazier

PhD supervisors of the Centre for Social Informatics invite applications from new students

The School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University is currently advertising eight fully-funded PhD studentships across a wide range of subjects, from sound technologies to cybersecurity. Amongst these are four proposed by Centre for Social Informatics colleagues: Continue reading

Updated Centre for Social Informatics flyer (v13) and an opportunity to join us

Centre for Social Informatics flyer version 13A new version (V13) of the Centre for Social Informatics flyer is now available from the Social Informatics blog on the Edinburgh Napier University web pages. Please follow the link to read about the work of our research group, including details of research expertise, funders, recent PhD completions, and recent publications. The flyer also profiles the thirteen academic and research staff within the research group, alongside our nine current research students.

Normally we wouldn’t publish a new version of our flyer at this time of year. Instead we would wait until after our next intake of PhD students in October. However, some of our staff have recently changed titles/job roles, so we wanted to reflect their achievements in the document now. Continue reading

Congratulations Associate Professor Dr Peter Cruickshank!

Normally at this time of year, thousands of newly-minted graduates collect their degree certificates at university graduation ceremonies across the UK. Were we not under pandemic restrictions, my colleague Peter Cruickshank would be one of those crossing the stage this month at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, marking the completion of his doctorate in May 2021. Continue reading

Contributions sought: What does the public library mean to refugees and asylum speakers?

Rachel Salzano art exhibition call posterCentre for Social Informatics PhD student Rachel Salzano is currently seeking submissions for a public exhibition of art work to represent the reasons that refugees and asylum seekers use UK public library services. Rachel will be pleased to feature all types of art work in the exhibition, including, for example, photographs, paintings, collages, and 3D creations. Continue reading

RIVAL network members gather (online) for event 4

RIVAL logoToday the members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded RIVAL network are meeting formally for the penultimate time at part 1 of RIVAL Event 4. As has been the case for so many professional activities since mid-March 2020, Dr Bruce Ryan, Rachel Salzano, Katherine Stephen and I are not hosting this event as originally envisaged. Rather than gathering face-to-face, at Edinburgh Napier University’s Sighthill campus for a full day on July 9th 2020, the RIVAL network members will be logging onto Teams for two half day meetings, the first of which is this afternoon, with the second on the morning of Friday 12th February. Continue reading

Registration opens for ‘digital proxies’ workshop for information workers

We can help youAre you an information worker who supports citizens in their use online systems by accessing digital services on their behalf as their ‘digital proxy’? Perhaps this kind of activity has become part of your role working in local government, a public library service, civil society, and/or a third sector organisation?

If so, my Centre for Social Informatics colleagues Dr Gemma WebsterDr David BrazierPeter Cruickshank and Dr Bruce Ryan would like to invite you to participate at one of three free half-day online workshops next month. Continue reading

Calling social science PhD students in Scotland! Register now for adaptability skills training event on 10th February 2021

Changing research plans SGSSS training logoChanging research plans: how to move forward in times of uncertainty is a half-day interactive online training event for PhD students funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. It takes place on the morning of February 10th 2021 (09:00-13:00). The event has been organised by Centre for Social Informatics PhD students Marina Milosheva and Thokozani Kachale. Continue reading

Two exciting new vacancies at Edinburgh Napier University: Lecturer in Business Information Technology; Professor of Creative & Interactive Computing

The School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University is currently recruiting. Please pass on word of these exciting opportunities to work with some great colleagues in one of the most beautiful and liveable cities of the world.

The vacancies are for full-time permanent posts within the Creative and Social Informatics Subject Group at Edinburgh Napier University. The Creative and Social Informatics Subject Group is one of three focus areas for research and teaching in the School of Computing. My Research Group – the Centre for Social Informatics – is one of the two Research Groups within this Subject Group.

The vacancies are for:

  1. Lecturer in Business Information Technology, salary £40,322 to £49,553, interviews anticipated to take place on 12th March
  2. Professor of Creative and Interactive Computing, salary £64,603 to £73,630, interviews anticipated to take place on 2nd and 9th March

Applications should be made through the Edinburgh Napier Jobs web pages for the closing date of 11th February 2021 (both posts). Continue reading