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: jorge.martins@sheffield.ac.uk

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: https://www.umfrageonline.com/s/421b957.

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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/126040724727450/

You can read more about the team here: https://www.asist.org/SIG/SIGSM/ourteam/

Those who are existing ASIS&T members can log in to their profile on asist.org 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.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Ahmed, Bath and Demartini book chapter on challenges of researching Twitter now Open Access

PhD student Wasim Ahmed, Professor Peter Bath, and Dr Gianluca Demartini have recently had a peer-reviewed book chapter published which looked at the ethical, legal, and methodological challenges of researching Twitter. The chapter is now open access, and the abstract and the link to download the chapter are provided below.

This chapter provides an overview of the specific legal, ethical, and privacy issues that can arise when conducting research using Twitter data. Existing literature is reviewed to inform those who may be undertaking social media research. We also present a number of industry and academic case studies in order to highlight the challenges that may arise in research projects using social media data. Finally, the chapter provides an overview of the process that was followed to gain ethics approval for a Ph.D. project using Twitter as a primary source of data. By outlining a number of Twitter-specific research case studies, the chapter will be a valuable resource to those considering the ethical implications of their own research projects utilizing social media data. Moreover, the chapter outlines existing work looking at the ethical practicalities of social media data and relates their applicability to researching Twitter.

The book chapter can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/2nWBi5t

Monday, 5 February 2018

PhD alumni Nipon Parinyavuttichai recognised by ThaiHealth

Dr. Nipon Parinyavuttichai, who graduated with a PhD from the Information School in 2011, recently earned a certificated of recognition from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) for his continuing support for social improvement in Thailand.

ThaiHealth is a state agency with the mission to inspire, motivate, coordinate, and empower individuals and organizations in all sectors for the enhancement of health promotion, working towards a healthy society and environment.

Dr. Parinyavuttichai‘s latest contribution involves the initiation of a volunteer engagement program from various professional fields to help the Cha-choeng-sao municipality create a 10-year strategic plan to provide older people with better provision in various ares such as healthcare services, education, information technology, architecture and social welfare. Dr. Parinyavuttichai applies information theories learned from the Information School, coupled with other information management strategies, to address perceived and unperceived problem situations found in this region.

Dr. Parinyavuttichai’s PhD thesis at the Information School was entitled ‘Risk Management in Information Systems Development in Thai Context’.

For more information on studying for a PhD at the Information School, click here.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Dr Paul Reilly blog on Kingsmill video row published on Democratic Audit

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly has published a piece for Democratic Audit UK on the role of social media in the Kingsmill bread video row, which culminated in the resignation of Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff last week.

Dr Reilly argues that this incident illustrates how hybrid media logics operate in Northern Ireland, with professional journalists increasingly using social media such as Twitter not only to source stories, but also to hold politicians to account for what they post online.

The post can be found here

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ioanna Tantanasi appointed Research Associate for IMPROVER project

Dr Ioanna Tantanasi has joined the Information School as a Research Associate. She will work with Work Package leader Dr Paul Reilly on the EU Horizon 2020 project 'IMPROVER.' Ioanna will help develop educational resources for the project and will also be responsible for co-authoring peer-reviewed outputs.

We would like to welcome her to the Information School and look forward to working with her over the next nine months.

Monday, 15 January 2018

PhD student’s social media blog post in top 5 most viewed in 2017 on LSE and Political Science Impact Blog

In 2017 the London School of Economics and Political Sciences Impact Blog received a total of 1,412,929 page views. PhD student Wasim Ahmed built on his 2015 post, which was also ranked among the top read, with a follow up post in 2017. The post was titled: Using Twitter as a data source: an overview of social media research tools (updated for 2017). The post was ranked amongst most viewed in 2017 as well as being featured in the round up of top posts about communicating research with social media.

In 2017 Wasim Ahmed represented the Information School at an expert panel at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE) on the importance of promoting research beyond academia. Wasim Ahmed noted that engaging with blog led to increased page views, citations, and interest inside and outside academia related to Wasim’s PhD.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Interviews with students at graduation

We caught up with some of our talented graduates at our Winter Graduation reception on 10 January to find out how they’ve been getting on since their courses finished.

Priya Mehta
MA Library and Information Services Management

Priya was awarded an Information School prize for best overall performance in modules across the MA Library and Information Services Management (distance learning) programme in 2016/17.

“The skills I’ve learned on the course have helped me for my future career”

“I did my undergraduate degree here as well - I really like Sheffield.

“I studied part time on a distance learning basis for my MA so I’m proud of how I managed to balance everything successfully, like working alongside studying (the MA Library and Information Services Management is geared towards people with information-related practical work experience, so they might already work in the field before starting their course).

“It’s been great because actually, my work experience has helped me with my studies and vice-versa; the skills I’ve learned on the course have helped me for my future career.

“I’m also proud of completing my dissertation because I was doing it via distance learning so I had to do it quite independently, doing all the research and ultimately getting a good mark for it.

“I’d definitely recommend the course, it was actually recommended to me, by a friend who did the full time librarian course.

“I am excited to see what’s out there for me now I’ve got the degree, I’ll just see what opportunities there are really. At the moment I’m thinking I’d like to go into Academic Liaison librarianship.”

Syeda Hina Shahid
PhD Information Studies 

“I am not the person I was before studying here”

“The University of Sheffield and the Information School appealed to me for their high standards; I was drawn to the excellent reputation.

“I feel I am not the person I was before studying here; there’s a big difference in me, personally and professionally. My research skills have improved, my teaching style has improved; It’s been a great three years full of learning.

“I’m already teaching in Pakistan, but I now know more innovative ways to teach my students. I am excited to continue my career with even better research skills, more innovative ideas, to supervise more research. I was doing only teaching before but I will now launch my career as a researcher, and as a supervisor too.”

Aleksandr Koshkarov
MSc Data Science

“Professor Peter Bath inspired me”

“I think the people around you are important, because they can inspire you. Sometimes, when you work in a team, others can help you and transform some of your weaker features.

“I really enjoyed working with my tutor Professor Peter Bath (Professor of Health Informatics, Head of Information School) who helped me choose my dissertation topic and showed me how to make a success of myself. He inspired me and I remember all our meetings.

“Before graduation I knew that I would be working in the area of data science and agriculture. I have now gained a position in Astrakhan state University in Russia as Head of Big Data Laboratory

“Creating a network of professionals in data science has been one of my aims since finishing the course; it’s useful to get opinions from others as some of my classmates work in intelligence, big data and we can all support each other.”

“I’ve learned here how to generate great ideas and implement them. I have kept a notebook of new great ideas i can use in my future job, like presentation skills, working in a team, and I have also developed my creative thinking and design skills - I think my time here (at the Information School) has been a great ‘springboard’ for me in my career to develop.”

Wen Si
MSc Information Management

“I love this school so much!”

Wen Si explains how her time at the Information School has contributed to some positive changes in her life, and helped her secure a job with a Chinese airline group.

“This is very, very good school; I’ve learned how to study, and I now totally understand why we need to study-how valuable it is. And I’ve learned - when I’ve felt down - how to cheer myself up and continue - this year has been very important, it’s changed me and it’s changed a lot of my bad habits! For example previously, I didn't have as much purpose for what I wanted to do, but here the staff are very very nice; Angela, Skye and Chris have all been very patient and they give a LOT of study support! They don’t rush you, they give you a lot of a time.

“So I feel much more confident in myself; I love this school so much! Right now I think I am very lucky, and I am very happy. One year here is too short.

“I have a job now, with the Hainan Airline group. It’s about marketing and during my studies I have studied business intelligence. So, my course helped me in lots of ways relevant to my new job. It changed the way I think.”

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Dr Paul Reilly presenting two papers at MeCCSA 2018

This week, Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly will be presenting two papers at the MeCCSA conference , which will be held at London South Bank University (10-12 January). The first one builds on Dr Reilly's research on social media and contentious politics in Northern Ireland, with the second based on data collected as part of the Horizon 2020 project IMPROVER.

The programme for the conference can be found here and the abstracts of Dr Reilly's two talks can be found below:

1) Reilly, P. Loyalists against Democracy: Assessing the role of social media parody accounts in contentious Northern Irish politics


Parody accounts on social media have emerged as one of the key focal points for the debate of contentious political issues in Northern Ireland over the past five years. Some commentators have praised these accounts for providing a voice for the ‘silent majority,’ while others have condemned what they view as their crude stereotyping of working-class loyalist communities. Yet, there remains little empirical research exploring the contribution of these accounts to political discourses. This paper sets out to address this issue by exploring the social media presence of the most prominent parody group, Loyalists Against Democracy (or LADFLEG). A thematic analysis of posts taken from its Facebook (N=35,721) and Twitter accounts (N=3,587) was conducted between December 2012 and October 2013. This covered contentious episodes such as the protests and rioting prompted by the decision to alter the protocol on the flying of the union flag over Belfast City Hall and the campaign to sack Health Minister Edwin Poots due to his refusal to overturn the ban on blood donation from gay and bisexual men. Results suggest LADFLEG used social media for a variety of purposes, ranging from the shaming of loyalists for posting offensive hate speech online to holding elected representatives to account. By October 2013 the group was playing a prominent role in factchecking politicians such as Poots and increasing the response rate for the petition to remove him from office. In this respect, LADFLEG had evolved from being an observer of contentious politics into a more active participant.

2) Reilly, P., Serafinelli, E., Petersen, L., Fallou, L. & Havarneanu, G. Terrorism, Twitter and Vernacular Creativity: #PorteOuverte and the November 2015 Paris Terror Attacks


Twitter has emerged as a key platform for citizens during terrorist attacks, not only as a
source of information but also as an outlet for providing support for victims. Citizen
responses to such incidents on the microblogging site often demonstrate what Burgess
(2008) refers to as ‘vernacular creativity’, with hashtags and memes used to express
solidarity with those directly affected. This paper explores one such incident, namely the
terror attacks by ISIS militants in Paris on 13 November 2015, which resulted in 130 fatalities and left several hundred wounded. The saturation of mobile phone networks left many citizens stranded and unable to tell their families and loved ones that they were safe. It was in this context that journalists such as Sylvain Lapoix urged citizens to use the hashtag#PorteOuverte if they were looking for shelter or able to offer refuge to others. This study explores the efficacy of this initiative by presenting a review of the literature on social media and disaster response, an overview of the role of Twitter during the Paris attacks, and a thematic analysis of eight interviews conducted with key stakeholders who were actively involved in the response to the atrocities. Results indicate that professional journalists played a key role in raising public awareness of #PorteOuverte and connecting people affected by the terror attacks. While the site may encourage vernacular creativity amongst citizens, the participation of public figures in these campaigns appears essential if they are to bring support to those directly affected by crises.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Dr Antonio de la Vega de Leon attends SRUK award ceremony

The SRUK (Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom) is a non-profit organization that aims to support Spanish researchers abroad, foster scientific cooperation between the UK and Spain, and provide a cohesive position of our community to influence science policy. It organizes science outreach events, provides awards and funding for outstanding members of the community, and generates many networking opportunities. I joined as a volunteer at the beginning of the year and I currently serve as secretary of the Yorkshire constituency, which includes Sheffield, York, Hull, Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield.

I had the pleasure to attend an award ceremony that took place on the 14th of December at the Spanish embassy in London. This was the 2nd SRUK emerging talent award, that recognizes and supports young Spanish researchers that have developed their careers in the United Kingdom. The awardee this year was Xavier Moya, material physicist in the University of Cambridge, for his work finding materials that would make cooling (in ACs and fridges) both more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. The awards was funded through Fundación Banco Santander.

The award ceremony started with short introductions by the Spanish ambassador (Carlos Bastarrache Sagües), the president of Fundación Banco Santander (Antonio Escámez), the head of the award selection committee (Alfonso Martínez-Arias), and the president of SRUK (Estrella Luna-Díez). Then Xavier Moya told us about how he ended up working in material physics, and what he had done at Cambridge, as well as what he planned to do with money from the award. One highlight was his discovery that ammonium sulfate, a very common and cheap fertilizer, provided several orders of magnitude better refrigeration capability than traditional gases. He is currently working with a large European appliance company to design a prototype.

His talk was really well done and entertaining. To better explain his research, he gave everyone a rubber balloon and asked us to place it touching our lips (they are the most sensitive part of our bodies to temperature changes). When the balloon was stretched, we could feel it becoming slightly warmer. This is because the material becomes more organized, releasing a small amount of energy as heat. After a bit of time, we let it go back to normal and could feel it become colder. He also showed a video of this process using thermal imaging to illustrate further the point.

The event finished with some very tasty Spanish nibbles, like tortilla de patata, provided by the embassy. It was a good opportunity to meet many scientists and SRUK members. Although going to London and back on the same day was tough (I was back in Sheffield at 1:30am), it was well worth it.

Dr Antonio de la Vega de Leon