Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Successful seminar series co-organised by PhD student Yuhua Wang

A seminar series on post-PhD career development and opportunities outside of academia was successfully held on Wednesday 6th June. This event was co-organised by Yuhua Wang, a PhD student from Information School, and Youcao Ren, a PhD student from the Landscape Department. The PGR Forum of the Faculty of Social Science funded this event. This event has also received generous help and support from iSchool Society and Campus Capital, with Marc Bonne, president of the Society, chairing the seminars and Itzelle Medina Perea helping during the sessions.

Initiated by Yuhua and Youcao from as early as 2017, this event was designed to offer a variety of information on and insights into the job world outside academia, to help PhD students and graduates make more informed career decisions. Opened by Dr Darcey Gillie, an experienced careers adviser from The Researcher Development Team of the University, the event welcomed PhD students from a variety of departments including the Information School, Landscape Department, Management School, and Department of Sociological Studies for intriguing and informative sessions from a good variety of invited speakers, including industry practitioners, start-up founders, careers consultants and professionals from the domains of social enterprise and venture capital.

Dr Alice Mathers is the Head of Research and Explorations from Good Things Foundation, a leading UK digital literacy NGO. As an external member of our School’s Advisory Panel, Alice is committed to helping PhD students make better career choices, especially at the outset. Alice’s presentation, entitled ‘Parks, books and digital: from academia to industry’, shared her journey from the time when she first stumbled into the digital charity with little knowledge about what ‘digital’ implied after her PhD in Landscape Architecture, when she found the beat of research in industry and applied her transferable research skills to the real-life projects, to when she created a research team in the organisation. Now 10+ years into her journey, she has proven the impact of research in industry, and is continually leading the team to evolve and improve. Reflecting on her career, Alice suggested that it is important to keep curiosity and openness; good researchers’ qualities. Her experience gave the audience a living example of the possibility of continuing research in organisations, even if sometimes it is not one’s area of expertise to begin with.

Dr Alice Mathers delivering her session.
Elena Yang Liu, founder and director of Yang for Young, an R&D based company for social issues within health care and disability sectors, shared her experience of career development after obtaining her postgraduate degree. Displaying a sample set of her first product line (Brailler for children with visual impairment) during her presentation, Elena explained why she chose a difficult path of building a business from scratch over accepting a paid job. Being more in control and getting more satisfaction from self-worth realisation, she concluded, were the main driving factors. For any postgraduate students who have sparkling ideas and the potential to make a contribution to the betterment of the society, maybe Elena’s pathway is worth considering.

Elena Yang Liu addressing audience questions during networking lunch
In addition to the above personal journeys, following information sessions answered the questions of ‘H’s and ‘W’s for the audience, including: ‘How did people get where they are (and how do I get there)?’, ‘What qualities, recourses, teams should I gather so that to get there?’, and ‘Where are these resources?’

Stephanie Ward, manager of Vista Mentoring; Darren Chouings, network chair of SSEN (Sheffield Social Enterprise Network) and social enterprise specialist from the USE (University of Sheffield Enterprise); and Anu Adebajo, investment manager from British Business Bank gave very informative sessions. Stephanie introduced how to find a mentor (PhD graduates in industry) to discuss one’s career plans, which is an important feature that is often lacking in traditional careers consultancy. She also amazed the audience by revealing that she is not only in the role of managing such a big platform, but also a PhD student herself, now in her writing-up year.

Darren delivered an interactive session which introduced what a social enterprise is like and how to gain the necessary support to start one of your own. The real-world cases of social enterprise that Darren shared were in very different segments of society and have rather differing rationales behind them. This greatly inspired the audience who were from diverse backgrounds. In contrast to social enterprise, Anu explained what a VC (venture capital) is, how it differentiates itself from other funding sources and how to pitch ideas and get funds from VC investors. In addition, Tom French from Good Things Foundation, and Tristan Westlake from Campus Capital also shared their thoughts with the audience at the networking session that followed the seminars, which has also received very positive feedback from the participants.

Darren Chouings giving a session on social enterprise
As Darcey stated at the opening, these cases and stories from our speakers show that one could do almost anything with a PhD, so have your eyes wide open to the vast job world both inside and outside academia, learn from others’ experience and utilise all the resources that are available to you. Research is everywhere in the continuum of PhD/academia and industry and has many faces - find yours.

Slides from the seminars are available here

Blog written by Yuhua Wang

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

PhD student Shuyang Li wins Student Employee of the Year Award

PhD student Shuyang Li recently won a Student Employee of the Year Award at the University's SEOTY awards 2018.

This is a national award, coordinated by the National Association of Student Employment Services (NASES). The award recognises and promotes students who successfully undertake a part-time job alongside their studies and who make an exceptional contribution to their employing organisation.

Shuyang was nominated by the Student Jobshop, part of the Careers Service, as she worked part time as a student ambassador and recently as a part-time researcher at the Careers Service.

Shuyang Li receiving her award from Wyn Morgan, Vice-President for Education.
"To me, this award means recognition for the work that I have conducted and trust from my employing organisation", says Shuyang. "As an international student, I also feel more confident at the working environment."

Find out more about the awards here.

See the full results listing here.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Professor Peter Willett celebrated at international Chemoinformatics conference

Professor Val Gillet and six other members of the Chemoinformatics Research Group are attending the 11th International Conference on Chemical Structures in Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands, May 27-31st 2018.

This is the major international conference in the field, with over 200 delegates from more than 20 countries. As usual, the Sheffield Chemoinformatics Group is making a strong contribution to the meeting with one oral presentation (Matt Seddon) and three posters (Antonio de le Vega de Leon, Christina Founti and Gian Marco Ghiandoni). Professor Gillet is on the Scientific Advisory Board and is a member of the Poster Jury.

The final session of the meeting on Chemoinformatics is dedicated to Prof. Peter Willett to celebrate his outstanding contribution to the field over 40 years. Val will chair this session and will open it by presenting some highlights of Peter’s career.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Dr Paul Reilly written submission to DCMS Fake News inquiry published

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly's written submission to the Fake News Enquiry, entitled ‘Fake news, mis-and disinformation in Northern Ireland,’ has been published by the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport Committee.

In the submission, Dr Reilly draws on his 17 years of research into digital media and conflict transformation in Northern Ireland to discuss how social media has been used to share mis- and disinformation during contentious episodes, such as the union flag protests and the Ardoyne parade dispute.

The submission can be viewed here.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Exploring Research Data Management - Andrew Cox new book published

Andrew Cox and a colleague at Sheffield Hallam have just had a book published by Facet publishing. This book is for librarians and other support professionals who are interested in learning more about RDM and developing Research Data Services in their own institution. It will also be of value to students on librarianship, archives, and information management courses studying topics such as RDM, digital curation, data literacies and open science.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Dr Andrew Cox involved in editing special issue of Library Trends

Information School Senior Lecturer Dr Andrew Cox has been involved in a collaboration to edit a major new collection of papers about Information and the body for the journal Library Trends.

The centrality of embodied experience in all aspects of human life makes the relative neglect of the body in information behaviour studies surprising and potentially problematic. Two special issues of Library Trends bring together an international group of researchers interested in embodied information, including how we receive information through the senses, what the body knows and the way the body is used as a sign that can be interpreted by others.

Contributing authors include Professor Marcia Bates. The first of the two issues has just been published. The second issue is due out later in the year, and includes a paper by former student Kondwani Wella, with Senior Lecturer Sheila Webber.

Read the full text here.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

LILAC 2018 Student Blog - Laura Palmer

MA Library and Information Services Management (Distance Learning) student Laura Palmer attended the LILAC Conference 2018 in Liverpool, along with other staff and students from the Information School. Here are her thoughts on the conference.

LILAC 2018 from a distance learning LIS student perspective

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to attend LILAC 2018, a conference all about information literacy and librarianship, which I have wanted to attend since starting out in librarianship. In September 2016 I began studying for the MA in Library and Information Services Management by distance at the Information School, and at the same time began teaching IL in my previous job role in the HE in FE sector. My experience was that of being ‘thrown in at the deep end’; my enthusiasm for all things library and learning ‘accidentally’ landed me the role of coordinating and designing the Library’s IL provision. Since then I have been keen to learn all I can about excellence in IL teaching from the experts!

For a distance learner, promoting the Information School on their LILAC conference stand was a great experience. I’ve only met a handful of students and staff since I began studying, so to finally meet and spend some time people I have been working with virtually for almost two years was in itself worthwhile. I also got to chat to several prospective PhD and MA distance learners, helping them to build a picture of the joys and challenges of being an iSchool distance learner (it’s tough juggling the work-study-life balance, but also incredibly satisfying!) and met many, many alumni who had plenty of helpful tips about surviving MA life. Number one suggestion - make the most of bursary opportunities like this if you possibly can! They can help you to keep up with the latest developments in the field and meet helpful contacts from whom to seek expert advice on different areas when needed.

So to the sessions, and the first keynote from Barbara Band (@bcb567) got underway with a very enthusiastic ‘hush’ of librarians (Sarah Pittaway @dr_sarah_p handily informing us of the appropriate collective noun!), gathered not-so-quietly (the sound of keyboards tweeting en masse can be surprisingly loud!). Barbara questioned whether misuse of the terms ‘library’ and ‘librarian’, and acceptance of alternative terms such as ‘Learning Lounge’ may be contributing to de-professionalism, before speaking about the need to advocate for IL in schools, which suffers from not being a mandatory requirement. She highlighted how many students’ first experience of IL education comes at university, and considered the ‘elephant in the room’ - why is it not on the schools’ curriculum when it would give students a better start at university and work? This particularly resonated with me, as my experience in HE in FE was of supporting students who had never used a library, written an academic essay, or referenced before. When I reflected on where I had learned most of my information skills, it was at university, rather than at school.

Following on from this I attended the parallel session on one practical solution to this issue: ‘Bridging the gap: should we reach out to schools to prepare ‘research ready’ students? ‘ by Carolyn Benny and Pauline Smith of LJMU. It was great to hear a successful example of academic libraries working with schools to support information literacy and prepare students for university. I then changed topic to scholarly communications to hear about how UK Copyright Literacy have created ‘The Publishing Trap’ board game to help early-career researchers get to grips with Open Access and scholarly communications, which provided some helpful insights for my academic libraries module coursework!

On day 2, I attended sessions on embedding, flipping and actively teaching IL, discovering lots of new ways to extend IL learning into the curriculum beyond the library induction. The keynote Ola Pilerot provided a thought-provoking talk about how different information literacies are developed by people for their own purposes, warning against predefining IL as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ practices. In the final keynote Dave Wight reminded us of the problems presented by our dataselves - the trails we leave behind when using digital media. Our dataselves are used to tailor online content to our existing views - and can leave us with a skewed picture of the world and polarised public opinion. He left us with the advice: “don’t fear complexity”, a good message in this age of soundbites and increasing news by twitter.

My first ‘residential conference’ experience also provided my first conference ‘formal social’ events, and huge congratulations to the LILAC organising committee for their superb choices! The Networking Evening was a true Night at the Museum - with the unique opportunity of a private viewing of the Terracotta Warriors exhibition. Going to a museum with a group (sorry, hush!) of librarians is so satisfying - everyone suitably awed by the artefacts and making proper use of the provided ‘metadata’. I didn’t last long as my first day had worn me out, and the next evening held the exciting prospect of Conference Dinner.

Another ‘wow’ moment - dinner at the atmospheric Metropolitan Cathedral, or as Dave Wight (@daveowight) put it “in a crypt with about 300 librarians”. Excellent food (particularly the crowd-pleaser sticky toffee pudding), a bit of wine, good company, and, in the spirit of LILAC, there were of course plenty of games, including an origami challenge (I failed miserably), and a book raffle, in which I won an informational book about cow breeds. Someone asked to swap (didn’t catch her name - networking fail!) for their winning copy of ‘Ted Rules the World’ by Frankie Cottrell-Boyce. Of course I obliged - FCB is after all a CILIP Carnegie Medal winner!

Despite returning to the reality of catching-up with coursework (particularly my dissertation proposal), and feeling guilty about how I’d largely spent my time having ‘fun’, I would recommend any LIS student to apply for a conference bursary, and to allow yourself time to attend any CPD events which interest you. What you get out of the experience is much more than the knowledge shared at the sessions - it’s a renewed sense of enthusiasm for what professional librarians do (particularly important when the coursework is piling up!) and a sense of being part of the wider, and very supportive, library community. You’ll go home with a longer reading and wish-list for your practice than you will have time to achieve - but you’ll also know who to ask for help putting the ideas into practice!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

LILAC 2018 Student Blog - Chloe Beswick

MA Librarianship student Chloe Beswick attended the LILAC Conference 2018 in Liverpool, along with other staff and students from the Information School. Here are her thoughts on the conference.

I was one of the students fortunate enough to receive an Information School student bursary to attend LILAC 2018 in Liverpool. LILAC (Librarian’s Information Literacy Annual Conference) is an opportunity for librarians and information professionals to come together and discuss information literacy and explore what libraries are doing to teach and develop information literacy skills.

This was the first time I had ever attended an academic conference and it was such a brilliant experience. Everyone was so enthusiastic about information literacy! As a MA student, I thought I would feel out of place, but it was soon clear that delegates came from a variety of library backgrounds. During the three days, I helped at the Information School exhibition stand which was a great opportunity to meet other delegates, speak to prospective students and chat to Information School alumni.

As this was my first conference, I was very excited to go to all the parallel sessions and discover what other libraries were doing in regards to information literacy. Over the three days, there were over 70 different parallel sessions scheduled and trying to decide which session to go for was a challenge! LILAC is a very Twitter heavy conference, so you could often catch up on the sessions you missed by following #lilac18.

One of the reasons I wanted to attend LILAC was to develop my own skills and knowledge of information literacy, so I was really keen to go to parallel sessions that seemed to offer something slightly different, that explored different teaching styles or professional sectors. For instance, I went to a session about creating information literacy frameworks for medical students ('Bridging gaps in information literacy skills using a customised information literacy for medical undergraduates' - Rebecca Lavanie David and Caroline Pang Soo Ling), whilst another session I went to involved playing a copyright themed board game ('Helping academics escape the Publishing Trap: a LILAC masterclass in copyright literacy' - Chris Morrison and Jane Secker).

One of my favourite parallel sessions of the conference discussed embedding librarianship into information literacy teaching ('Becoming essential to information literacy support: “What does embedded even mean?”' - Laurence Morris and Kirsty Bower). In this parallel session, it was argued that librarians and information literacy should be embedded in the university curriculum rather than been seen as an ‘add-on’ for students. The session provided great examples of the innovative ways librarians supported students and faculties such as embedding librarians in the teaching of information literacy in a high security prisons and how librarians assisted in furthering student publication with an open access journal for undergraduate students.

All the parallel sessions I went to discussed and approached information literacy in a slightly different way, which made me question my own understanding of what information literacy is. I found the sessions particularly valuable as they all brought real, practical experience into the discussions.

The majority of the conference papers and posters are now available on the LILAC Conference website and I would encourage everyone to take a look as they show the sheer diversity of sessions that took place!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Major Library and Information conference held at the Information School a Success

Last month University of Sheffield’s Information School was privileged to be the first University in the UK to host the prestigious iConference.

Held at the end of March in Sheffield, in collaboration with Northumbria University, the iConference was attended by over 400 delegates from around the world and across the library and information field. This year’s theme focused on ‘Transforming Digital Worlds’ with keynote sessions from eminent figures in the information world including: Dr Lynn Silipigni Connaway (OCLC Research), Dr Susan Dumais, (Microsoft Research) and Professor Luciano Floridi, (Oxford Internet Institute).

“The keynotes were real highlights of the iConference”, says Professor Gillet, Conference Chair and Professor of Chemoinformatics at the Information School. “We had three well-known figures in the field summarising their work and giving their perspectives on different aspects of the information field. The iSchools organisation often talks about the triad of information, technology and people, and we chose keynote speakers to focus on each of those three. They did an excellent job of addressing these different aspects of our field.”

Professor Gillet added that “The response has been really positive” to the 2018 conference. “Lots of people really liked the venue and Sheffield as a place, and there have been lots of positive comments on the organisation and content.”

“It’s been a very positive event for the School, especially within the iSchools organisation”, says Professor Gillet. “It was a great chance to showcase some of our facilities, our work and our PhD students – many of whom acted as volunteers, and did a fantastic job. Sheffield has a great reputation already, but many people hadn’t had a chance to visit before.” 

In terms of a running theme thorough the conference, Professor Gillet says that one message she took away was “There is still a lot to do in the information field and it is clear that there is an increasing need to study information science as a discipline. Lots of people think that they know how to handle information, but there are still many societal and technical issues associated with getting the information you need when you need it, and organising and using information effectively, and ethical issues related to information access and use.”

The iConference is organised every year by the iSchools organisation and last year was held in Wuhan, China, in 2019 it will be held at the University of Maryland, Washington DC, US.

You can find out more about the iConference on the iSchools website here and you can find out more about the Information School’s courses here.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Update: Information School’s Professor Tom Wilson receives his ASIS&T Award of Merit

Professor Emeritus of the Information School and leading figure in the information field Tom Wilson was awarded the ASIS&T (Association for Information Science & Technology) Award of Merit, the Association's highest award, in September 2017. This award recognises sustained contributions to the field of information science and marks a lifetime of achievements for Professor Wilson, who now joins a list of well-respected figures in information science who have won the award previously.

Professor Wilson was presented with the award at the 2017 ASIS&T Annual meeting held in October 27- November 1 2017 in Washington DC. Professor Wilson could not attend the event in person and his award was sent to his home in Sheffield. Professor Paul Clough was recently able to catch up with Professor Wilson and his award.

Professor Wilson’s response to receiving the award:

"Many of the previous recipients of the Award are heroes of mine - people like Cyril Cleverdon, Robert Fairthorne, and Gene Garfield - and I'm rather astonished that I should be joining the list. The Award may not be well known in the world outside information science, but it is highly regarded within that world, and I am greatly honoured to receive it."

Monday, 9 April 2018

Dr Paul Reilly has new article published in School Mental Health

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly has had a new article published in the journal School Mental Health. The article, based on research funded by the Wellcome Trust and led by Michelle O’Reilly (Leicester University), focuses on adolescent mental health and is based on data gathered from focus groups conducted with adolescents, mental health practitioners and educational professionals. The article is available Online First here and the full citation and abstract can be viewed below.

O’Reilly, M., Adams, S., Whiteman, N., Hughes, J., Reilly, P., & Dogra, N. (2018) Whose responsibility is adolescent’s mental health in the UK? The perspectives of key stakeholders, School Mental Health. DOI 10.1007/s12310-018-9263-6

The mental health of adolescents is a salient contemporary issue attracting the attention of policy makers in the UK and other countries. It is important that the roles and responsibilities of agencies are clearly established, particularly those positioned at the forefront of implementing change. Arguably, this will be more effective if those agencies are actively engaged in the development of relevant policy.

An exploratory study was conducted with 10 focus groups including 54 adolescents, 8 mental health practitioners and 16 educational professionals. Thematic analysis revealed four themes: (1) mental health promotion and prevention is not perceived to be a primary role of a teacher; (2) teachers have limited skills to manage complex mental health difficulties; (3) adolescents rely on teachers for mental health support and education about mental health; and (4) the responsibility of parents for their children’s mental health.

The research endorses the perspective that teachers can support and begin to tackle mental well-being in adolescents. However, it also recognises that mental health difficulties can be complex, requiring adequate funding and support beyond school. Without this support in place, teachers are vulnerable and can feel unsupported, lacking in skills and resources which in turn may present a threat to their own mental well-being.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Come work with us on the ‘Regional Technology Foresight’ project

We are currently recruiting for one Research Associate post to support the Economic and Social Research Council-funded project ‘Regional Technology Foresight’

Focusing on the Sheffield City Region as an internationally recognised manufacturing hub, this 24-month project will generate procedural solutions concerning the enhancement of a region’s ability to identify and exploit technological innovations, in order to maximise competitiveness.

The closing date for applications is 6 April 2018 and further details on the role can be found here.

If you have any questions about the role please contact Dr Jorge Tiago Martins at:

Friday, 16 March 2018

'Regional Technology Foresight' project awarded £239,767 funding from ESRC

Dr Jorge Tiago Martins has been awarded £239,767 by the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) New Investigator scheme for the ‘Regional Technology Foresight’ project. The project will generate new knowledge and procedural solutions concerning the enhancement of regions’ ability to identify and exploit knowledge of technological innovations, in order to maximise competitiveness and sustainability.

Focusing on the Sheffield City Region as an internationally recognised manufacturing hub, the project will be led by Dr Jorge Tiago Martins and supported by Prof Tim Vorley at Sheffield University Management School.

“I am delighted to have received this ESRC New Investigators Award”, says Jorge. “Linking with industrial strategy, I believe the project will make an important contribution to better understand the processes of identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations in UK regions”.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

PhD student Wasim Ahmed involved in development of Special Interest Group for ASIS&T

The Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), formed in 1937, is a not for profit organisation for information professionals. The organisation is a sponsor of an annual conference and also a number of serial publications including the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST). The organisation also supports a number of prestigious sub-divisions known as Special Interest Groups.

Until now there was no Special Interest Group on social media (SIG SM) for ASIS&T. However, due to the significant growth of the field as can be evidenced from conferences, journals, and scholarly articles based specifically related to social media it was now time to formulate such a group. There was strong support for forming the group from ASIS&T members and the decision for the inception of the group was announced at the 80th annual meeting in Washington, DC.

We are a group of diverse and interdisciplinary scholars from across the world. Our mission is to provide a platform for researchers and professionals interested in social media to connect with one another, discuss research in the field, and share their own work. SIG SM aims to cover a wide range of social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouNow) and a wide range of methodological (e.g. case studies, content analysis, user behaviour) and theoretical perspectives (e.g. personal behaviour theories, social behaviour theories and mass communication theories). We welcome all of those interested in social media research to join our SIG.

We are also planning to submit a panel for the ASIS&T annual meeting 2018, Vancouver, BC, Canada November 9th to November 14, 2018. Our survey on the panel can be accessed here:

The SIG SM is likely to be of interest to research groups across the Information School.

You can follow our Twitter account: @Asist_Sigsm

Our Facebook group is:

You can read more about the team here:

Those who are existing ASIS&T members can log in to their profile on and update their SIG choices to include SIG SM now - this should also add you to the mailing list.

We hope to have a presence within the iConference and Wasim Ahmed will be happy to answer any questions on the SIG SM.

Monday, 12 February 2018

New article on measurement of innovation, marginal producers and evidence-based policy

Small-scale and localised innovation is increasingly seen as an important part of the activites of marginal producers in the Global South.

Yet, given that such innovation is often difficult to identify and measure, it has rarely been explored as part of evidence-based policy.

A recently post on the Sheffield Institute of International Development (SIID) blog by Information School Lecturer Dr Chris Foster looks to explore how we might start to quantify and build evidence-based research on such activities. It is based on research undertaken with Kenyan horticulture farmers.

This blog accompanies a recently released paper on this topic written by Chris alongside ODI economist Aarti Krishnan.