Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Student blog: World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS) 2019

In April this year, I attended the 10th World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, Switzerland. as part of the Faculty of Social Sciences' Global Leadership Initiative (GLI). I represented the Information School as a Policy Analyst in a team of eight students led by Dr. Suay Ozkula (Sociological Studies) and Dr. Paul Reilly (Information School). WSIS is a United Nations (UN) multi-stakeholder global forum that promotes the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines for advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With a focus on “ICTs for development”, the Summit identified global trends and new partnerships to help achieve the SDGs.

In addition to attending various sessions during the week-long Summit, we worked on blogs and policy briefs on our topics of interest, which were later published on Global Policy Opinion. The team also had an opportunity to deliver our own panel during the event. ICTs in the University Environment – 7 Case Studies saw each member discuss innovative uses of ICTs within Higher Education such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), digital methods, digital activism, online admission systems and mental health. My talk focused on e-learning analytics and data usage, as well as Virtual Learning Environments such as MOLE. A walkthrough of the session was documented by Dr. Reilly in two parts (1 & 2). The panel allowed us to highlight our own interests and work as part of a team to deliver an extremely informative and engaging session (according to several audience members).

There were many sessions during the Summit that I found very inspiring. For example Ethical Dimensions of Artificial Intelligence, a panel hosted by UNESCO, discussed the societal implications of growth in these technologies. Speakers emphasised the importance of exposing the fallacy of “objective” data, especially when human biases are inadvertently coded into algorithms. This was one of several panels on the topic that inspired my Global Policy blog post on intelligent systems and big data, co-authored with Dr. Ozkula and Hana Okasha (B.A. Digital Media & Society). It also reminded me of our Data Science program, where we have consistently weighed the importance of integrating societal considerations with the deployment of advanced techniques such as machine learning and AI in society. It was encouraging to be part of conversations at a global level that were equally concerned about highlighting and addressing these specific issues.

In line with my evolving interest in smart cities, I also had the opportunity to follow several sessions on the subject and quickly came to appreciate the scale of issues that could arise in its development. This included a very brief but interesting foray into the threat of quantum computing to blockchain, an emerging platform in the management of high-volume data in smart cities. More immediate issues, however, centred around gender balancing approaches in the progress of smart cities. The session on (En)gendering Smart Cities discussed gender as one of several biases that are inherent in the technologies used to drive those very goals forward. While it was laudable that initiatives based on gender analyses were being brought to the fore, equal emphasis should have been placed on discussing the challenges that are associated with the deployment of such policies. This was an issue that I explored in further detail with Dr. Reilly in our policy brief published with Global Policy. We additionally discussed the advent of the concept of “smart villages” in connecting rural communities as well as gender implications that should be considered alongside these efforts.

Despite the intensive but extremely productive week at the summit, our experience was additionally enriched by a visit to the UN regional headquarters in Geneva for an informative tour of its premises as well as history of its operations. The experience was further enhanced by the company of our outstanding team from Sheffield represented by members of diverse backgrounds, interests and outlooks who complemented each other well. Our daily commute to and from the summit and after hours provided further opportunities for building friendships, discussing our experiences at the summit, Sheffield and life, and generally being helpful and encouraging of each other throughout the week. It is my belief that being a part of this exceptional team provided an important foundation for an immensely educational, successful and enjoyable experience at WSIS 2019. Moreover, this experience, with invaluable guidance and support from Dr. Ozkula and Dr. Reilly, has further enhanced my studies at the Information School by providing the added dimension of gaining first-hand practice in learning and effectively communicating ideas as they are transformed to policy at the highest levels. This will definitely be an experience that stays with and serves me for life, among many others that have been made possible during my time at the University of Sheffield.

Evelyn Baskaradas
MSc Data Science

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Stephen Pinfield, Simon Wakeling and Peter Willett published in 'Scholarly Kitchen' blog

Professor Stephen Pinfield, Dr Simon Wakeling and Professor Peter Willet have had a blog published on the major global publisher blog 'Scholarly Kitchen', summaring a recent article published from the Open-Access Mega-Journals project.

You can read the blog post here.

The blog discusses article commenting and community reviewing in the context of OAMJs.

Scholarly Kitchen, established by the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP), is a moderated and independent blog helping to fulfil SSP's mission to 'advance scholarly publishing and communication, and the professional development of its members through education, collaboration, and networking.'

Monday, 20 May 2019

Joint PhD presentation between Sheffield and Makerere, Uganda, delivered by Liliana Sepulveda Garcia

Last week saw the first presentation in a series of joint talks between the Information School's Health Informatics and Information Systems Research Groups in Sheffield. and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.The talks aim to promote research collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Dr Laura Sbaffi and Dr Efpraxia Zamani are organising this series and chairing the Sheffield presentations, and Prof Josephine Nabukenya will be chairing the presentations from Makerere.

In this first session, PhD student Liliana Sepulveda offered the audience a great overview of her PhD research on "An experiential study of the human-technology relationship between informal caregivers of people with dementia and assistive technologies".

There will be similar virtual meetings every month and the next schedule one is for Tuesday 11th June, when a PhD student from Makerere will be presenting their work. More details will be forthcoming.

You can view the recording of the session here:

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

#LILAC19 - a student perspective on the LILAC Conference 2019

This year I was fortunate enough to receive an Information School bursary to attend LILAC 2019, the information literacy conference, which was held at the University of Nottingham from the 24th to 26th April.

As a distance learneing student who is also the sole information professional at a small academic museum library, work can be a bit insular, so I applied for the bursary to connect with the wider information community and learn more about information literacy. I was excited by the rich programme of sessions and the promise of a dynamic set of keynote speakers. I had also heard from previous colleagues how great the conference is for networking and sharing ideas in friendly environment so I was thrilled when I found out I was on my way to LILAC19.

I was slightly nervous to attend my first library conference but I needn’t have worried. From the moment I stepped off of the tram at the University of Nottingham, concerned about finding my way to the conference venue, fellow attendees were friendly and supportive pointing me in the right direction. Spending breaks promoting the University of Sheffield at the Information School stand was a great way to meet people and discuss my experience completing the MA in Library and Information Services Management as a distance learner (spoiler: it is enjoyable and worthwhile but challenging at times juggling due dates and a full time job).

I wanted to attend as many sessions as I could as I was eager to learn and gain inspiration, especially as it is a future goal of mine to present. A stand out session on day one was “I’m not calling you a liar, but don’t lie to me: getting personal with source evaluation” with Kathleen Phillips, Eryn Roles and Sabrina Thomas. Their session introduced the IF I APPLY method of resource evaluation to recognise and address internal and external biases in order to combat ‘fake news’ (misinformation) while encouraging reflection and lifelong learning. On the second day, I attended a panel session entitled “Information literacy and Open Access: two movements- one aim?” with Jane Secker, Chris Morrison, and several other library rock stars, which stressed that without information literacy, Open Access is like having the product but not the manual.

The final day had two stand out sessions for me. First, “Embedding Wikipedia in the curriculum” with Wikimedian in residence at the University of Edinburgh Ewan McAndrew who recognised that students are going to use Wikipedia so instead of fighting it, information professionals have brought Wikipedia into the classroom through editing assignments that teach a variety of skills- research, summary, plain language, referencing, copyright and licensing, digital, and critical assessment- in a fun and tangible way.

The second stand out session was “I f**ck up too” with Hannah Hickman who eloquently discussed imposter syndrome and new professional identity; concepts that resonate with me as a student and professional just starting out in the field.

It was nice to take a break from the conference sessions and let my hair down during the evening events. The networking event on the first evening took place at Nottingham Contemporary with plenty of drink, food and the opportunity to browse the galleries and gift shop. The highlight was the conference dinner on the second evening at Colwick Hall. The event consisted of a three course meal, awards ceremony, and to my surprise, a disco. It was slightly surreal seeing information professionals whose sessions I attended earlier in the day now boogying to the Spice Girls on a packed dancefloor. Don’t let anyone tell you librarians don’t know how to party.

LILAC19 was a fantastic experience and I can’t thank the Information School enough for allowing me to attend. It was an exhausting three days but I picked up a lot of great ideas, met some wonderful people and went back to my job and MA work the next Monday morning feeling inspired and enthusiastic about information literacy.

Danielle Czerkaszyn
MA Library and Information Services Management student

Wednesday, 1 May 2019



在开学之前会有一个写论文的小测试,就是需要写700字的文献综述,不占分数,老师会鼓励大家写这个文章, 能帮助大家了解自己写作中擅长以及需要提升的地方,以后写论文的时候可以避免低分的情况发生。同时学校也会给每个学生安排学术性写作以及数字技能的课程,教大家怎么写学术性写作以及如何使用学校的网站,怎么搜索书籍等等很实用的技巧。每个人都会有个人导师,有生活或者学业上的问题是可以跟导师约时间交流的。在谢菲尔德大学的学联是很出名的,大家可以在课余时间参与一些社团活动,充实一下自己的生活。

众所周知,信息管理是世界第二的专业,很多中国人都慕名而来。不少必修课都是大课,当然也有可以不少可供选择的选修课。课程的作业都是以不同的形式以不同比例来展现的,比如个人作业占百分之60和小组作业占总成绩的百分之40,有的必修课是需要机考的。在这些课程里, 建模的授课模式是我喜欢的,小班制,与中国教学不同的是上课之前需要看老师提前录制好的课程,课堂上主要是老师和学生的互动,老师会随机分组,并且分配任务,课上会有助教,帮助解答不会的问题。而且每节课都有回放,也不用担心听不懂或者错过课程。如果像我一样本科不是这个专业的学生,也不用担心建模很难,只需要跟着老师每节课把分配的任务做好就可以了。



(This blog is also available in English here)

A Chinese student's experience at the Information School

As a student ambassador at the Information school, my personal situation is that I have studied my undergraduate degree in the UK, but I did not study Information Management before coming here. If you are a person who has not studied at undergraduate level in the UK, a language class may be a good choice, not only improve your English ability but also help you to adapt to studying in the UK.

Before your course properly starts in the Information School, there will be a small test, where you need to write a 700-word literature review, which is not credit-bearing. The teachers will encourage you to write this essay, which will help you to find where you need to improve, to avoid low marks in next assignments. The School also arranges academic writing and digital skills courses for each student, teaching you how to write academic writing and how to use the School's website, how to search for books and so on.

Every student has a personal tutor. If you have a personal or academic problem, you can talk to your tutor about it. The Student Union at the University of Sheffield is very famous. You can participate in club activities in your spare time to enrich your life.

As we all know, the Information School ranks second in the world for Library and Information Management, and it attracts a lot of Chinese students. A number of people go to the same compulsory courses, and there are many elective courses you can choose. The assignments of the course are presented in different proportions and forms, such as 60% personal work and 40% group work in the total score for one module. Some compulsory courses also require doing a computer test.

Out of my modules, the Information System Modeling is my favorite class. Students are assigned different periods of time to attend classes. Thus, every class will contain about 40 students. Unlike in Chinese classes, before the class students need to watch the teacher's recorded course in advance. In the class, the tutor will focus more on the interaction between the teacher and the student. The teacher will sometimes assign tasks to groups. There are teaching assistants to help the tutor to answer students' questions. You can listen again to every class on MyEcho, in case you missed the lesson or have a point you do not understand. Hence, if your undergraduate’s major was not information management, like me, you don't have to worry about the lessons; you just need follow the teacher step by step in each lesson.

In addition, there are famous old elevators in Sheffield (the Arts' Tower Paternoster), the beautiful Darcy Garden, lovely alpacas, delicious Chinese food and convenient trams. Sheffield's prices are low and it is a safe place to live.

Xinyan Zhao, MSc Information Management student

(This blog is also available in Mandarin Chinese here)

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Embracing industrial technologies for the reinvention of manufacturing

During a recent field trip to Mexico City, Jorge Martins presented the Regional Technology Foresight project and discussed how the combination of emerging industrial technologies can reinvent products and services, promote innovative business models and accelerate enterprise-wide growth.

At the Instituto Politecnico Nacional’s Interdisciplinary Professional Unit of Engineering and Social and Administrative Sciences (UPPICSA), Jorge discussed how firms, especially small and medium-size manufacturing firms, face multiple challenges in the adoption of novel industrial technologies. In order to build and sustain a lead in the race to exploitation of the opportunities, firms need to broaden and deepen their knowledge about digital technologies and then develop tailored digital manufacturing strategies.

At the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Library and Information Research Institute (IIBI), Jorge presented on 'Technology foresight for a future-oriented industry'. The keynote outlined how the rise of new digital industrial technologies will increase productivity, change the profile of workforce, foster industrial growth and increase the competitiveness of firms and regions through greater emphasis on personalised products and services.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Information School Success at GCRF QR Funding

The Information School initiated a strategy around Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) funding in 2018-2019 and appointed a member of academic staff (Pamela Abbott) as a GCRF lead to champion this stream of funding and raise awareness about its potential for the school as a whole.

To achieve this end, three GCRF awareness-raising briefings were held in the school and faculty were encouraged to align some of their research ideas around this potentially lucrative and long-term funding scheme. Several members of staff subsequently joined the GCRF collaborative network in the university and some also joined the Digital Technologies, Data and Innovation (DDI) theme of Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID) to further engage with at least one theme relevant to the school and to GCRF – ICTs for Development (ICT4D).

As a result of these initiatives, the school can now claim some success in the last two rounds of GCRF QR (Quality Research) pump-priming awards, having won 4 out of 5 submitted proposals and having been actively involved in other GCRF QR funding calls such as the announcement for the recent post-doctoral fellowships. More capacity-building work is planned for the school around these initial activities and work is being done to further support larger grant bids around the themes relevant to GCRF.

The school envisages becoming a leader in the university in research around Information and Development and in being able to promote this globally through the iSchool networks and publication outlets.

The list of successful GCRF QR pump-priming awards are:

Support network for informal caregivers of people living with HIV in Malawi, Sbaffi/Zamani
Understanding indigenous and exogenous knowledge interaction, Mazumdar/Jimenez
Developing human capacity through open scholarship in Rwanda, Abbott/Cox
Place-making for sustainable development: Learning from Xochimilco, Mexico, Cox/Martins

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

#infolit iSchool at #LILAC19

The iSchool will have a strong presence at LILAC 2019, the UK’s annual information literacy conference, held this year 24-26 April in Nottingham, UK. We are a conference sponsor, and are looking forward to meeting up with current students, alumni and other visitors on our exhibition stand. During conference breaks Dr Pam McKinney and current students Elle Codling and Danielle Czerkaszyn will be happy to chat with you about our courses and research. We would love to catch up with any Information School students or alumni who are at the conference so do come and introduce yourselves!

We are also leading two conference sessions. On Thursday 25th, Sheila Webber and Pam McKinney (pictured) are running a workshop: What's my approach? Deciding on the approach to use for your research. Sheila said “There’s increasing interest from practitioners in carrying out research in the workplace, to improve practice and inform decisions. Before starting the project it’s a good idea to step back and think about whether the approach you are taking is the best one for the job. We ran a similar workshop successfully at the European information literacy conference (ECIL) in Finland last year, and it’s great to get the chance to deliver it at LILAC”.

On Friday 26th, Pam McKinney is leading a world-café style panel Information Literacy in everyday life: the role of Information Literacy practitioners, researchers and the Information Literacy Group. Her fellow panellists are Dr Alison Hicks (University College London), Dr Jane Secker (City University) and Dr Dina Martzoukou (Robert Gordon University). Pam said “We are really interested in involving the LILAC community in discussions on how we can influence IL in everyday life. We’re hoping to get lots of good ideas from IL practitioners in response to key questions such as ‘do IL models and standards have a place in everyday life IL?’ and ‘how can we encourage the transfer of IL capabilities across education and everyday life activities?‘”
Pam and Sheila will also be liveblogging the conference on the Information Literacy Weblog, with the blog posts tweeted to @sheilayoshikawa and using the conference hashtag. As a taster, these are their posts from last year's LILAC!

Fieldwork in Mexico City

Andrew Cox and Jorge Martins were in Mexico City last week, working with Information School alumni, Gibran Rivera (of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional), on an exciting joint project to explore how knowledge can be shared in the context of cultural sustainability. The project investigates the creation of knowledge sharing experiences between eco-friendly social enterprises in Mexico and Sheffield.

In one part of the trip Andrew and Jorge participated in a tree planting expedition, organised by Chinamapoylo, a co-op dedicated to sustainable food production in the unique environment of the chinampas, on the edge of Mexico City.

The chinampas are a highly productive form of agricultural production based on strips of land reclaimed from the lake in a practice that has survived from pre-hispanic times. They are now under threat from pollution, mass tourism and urban encroachment by the megalopolis of Mexico City.

The ahuejote trees (a kind of willow) they were participating in planting are a traditional part of the chinampas agriculture and growing along the canal banks protect them from erosion and also act as a wind break. 
Well established trees lining the chinampas.
Travelling on the lake
Later in the summer, it is hoped a representative of Chinampayolo will accompany Gibran to visit Sheffield. 

You can find out more about Chinampayolo through this video.

Dr Martins also presented his Regional Technology Foresight project at the universities of IPN and UNAM.

Monday, 8 April 2019

PhD student Gianmarco Ghiandoni presents at UK-QSAR conference

Gianmarco Ghiandoni, PhD student in our Chemoinformatics research group, recently attended and presented at the UK-QSAR conference in Cambridge.

Gianmarco attended the conference and presented a part of his PhD project, which involves the development of "Reaction Class Recommender Systems in de novo Drug Design".

'These algorithms are machine learning models that have recently acquired great importance due to their effectiveness in product recommendation', Gianmarco said. 'In particular, companies such as Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, etc., have built their reputations and businesses on the top of these models. At Sheffield, we have decided to apply these methods in order to produce suggestions for decision making in automated molecular design. The results from their application indicate that recommender systems can improve the synthetic accessibility of the designed molecules whilst reducing the computational requirements.'

Friday, 5 April 2019

Sheila Webber presenting on virtual worlds education at #VWBPE19

Later today, Sheila Webber will be contributing to a compass point session,  Nonprofit Commons past reflections, future directions, at the 12th Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference, taking place 4-6 April 2019 in the 3D virtual world, Second Life. She was invited onto the panel as Leader of the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable, a weekly educators discussion forum that has been running for 10 years.
The other panellists are Dr. Cynthia Calongne (Professor with Colorado Technical University); Joyce Bettencourt (co-founder of AvaCon, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the growth and development of 3D immersive spaces, and Creative Director of The Vesuvius Group); Renne Emiko Brock, Multimedia Communications Program Coordinator at Peninsula College, teacher and artist;  and Buffy Beale, retired educational technology expert, and representing Bridges for Women, a Canadian nonprofit. The session takes place 6pm to 7pm UK time, at (you need the Second Life browser and a Second Life avatar to participate: conference attendance is free).

Sheila (in the person of her avatar, Sheila Yoshikawa) is shown above wearing her conference t-shirt and badge yesterday, in the venue where her session will take place.

Sheila said "This is a great conference, with educators joining it from around the world. The educator community in virtual worlds is very supportive, and there are always good networking opportunities as well as interesting educational practice to learn from. 
"My highlight yesterday (see the snap) was hearing Professor Tom Boellstorff (Department of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine) and German filmaker Bernhard Drax talk about the award-winning film the madey Our Digital Selves: My Avatar is me (free on Youtube (74 minutes). This "tells the story of 13 ability-diverse global citizens as they explore their identity through artistic expression and making a home for themselves in the VR Metaverse" and is a wonderful example of participative research in action."

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

The Digital Society – What is it? What are the implications, and what can we do about it?

Paul Clough (Information School, University of Sheffield and Peak Indicators) co-presented with Helen Kennedy (Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield) at a Sheffield Solutions Lunchtime Seminar Series for the Department of Work and Pensions on Thursday 28th March. The lunchtime seminars bring together Academics, policy makers and practitioners to develop networks and better understand policy issues.

Paul and Helen discussed the implications of apps, digital services, smart devices, ‘datafication’ and social media platforms on issues in our everyday lives, such as gender, race, health, equality and public services. The seminar explored these issues and the ways they matter to government, DWP and citizens. The focus of Paul and Helen’s presentation was around data-driven decision making and notions of fairness and transparency in an age of algorithmic bias.

The seminar was well attended with around 40 participants, including members of the Senior Leadership team from DWP.

Paul Clough (Information School and Peak Indicators) provides insights on Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Ethics and building discrimination-aware systems

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Professor Stephen Pinfield & Dr Andrew Cox present at RLUK conference

Andrew Cox and Stephen Pinfield presented two pieces of recent work at the RLUK conference on the 22nd of March.

RLUK is the organisation for research libraries in Britain and Ireland. The conference draws a large international audience from research libraries around the world.

The conference presentation explored services to support research data management, based on an international survey of librarians.

The workshop was for delegates to reflect on the potential meaning of artificial intelligence for academic libraries. It was based on the paper: Cox, A.M. , Pinfield, S. and Rutter, S. (2018) The intelligent library: Thought leaders’ views on the likely impact of artificial intelligence on academic libraries. Library Hi Tech. (open access version available here)

A video of Andrew and Stephen's talk can be viewed here.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

QS World University Rankings reaffirm Information School as world-leading

We have reaffirmed our position as a world-leading School for research and teaching in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019. We are ranked second in the World, and first in Europe, for Library and Information Management, reflecting our outstanding research and teaching, and following our success in the 2018 World University Rankings.

The Information School has been at the forefront of developments in the information field for more than 50 years and has an international reputation for its high quality teaching and research. It achieved the highest possible grade in every one of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) evaluations of research quality in UK universities since these began in 1989, and in 2014 it was the top-rated department for its research environment with a score of 100%. Research in the School fundamentally explores the power of information in the digital world, and examines how people, organisations and society use information to shape and influence our increasingly dynamic and complex world.

The QS World University Rankings by Subject rank the world’s top universities in individual subject areas, covering 48 subjects as of 2019.

Evaluating over 1,200 universities across 78 countries, each of the subject rankings is compiled using insight from over 83,000 academics, over 42,000 employers and 150 million citations from 22 million academic papers.

Overall, the University of Sheffield has been ranked as the 13th best institution in the UK and 75th in the world, a rise from the previous placing of 82nd.