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.

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:

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

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

UKSG Conference - Report by MA Librarianship student

MA Librarianship student Terry Bassett recently attended the UKSG conference in London. Read on to hear about his experiences.

In November I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend the UKSG conference and forum at the very swanky Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London. The UKSG is a professional group of librarians, publishers and anyone in-between, who work together to promote better academic communications and collaborative research practices. Their website has details of all the work they do and some of the presentations from the events.

Attending the conference and forum was a very eye-opening experience. My own background is in public libraries so although I’ve had exposure to HE in my undergraduate degree and the first few weeks of my Masters, I was still quite new to a lot of the concepts being discussed. That said at no point did I feel completely out of my depth; the sheer range of topics discussed meant everyone needed to give at least a quick introduction and that went a long way.

If had to pick a talk as my favourite (not an easy task), I would have to say that the Wellcome Trust’s talk by Robert Kiley was of particular interest. His introduction to Open Access was comprehensive but concise, and then proceeded to completely expand my understanding beyond what I’d even imagined - in a really good way. Wellcome’s vision is of a future where not just the journal article but the data behind it, the institution’s data collection policies and so on are also open to scrutiny. As a fledgling grounded theory fan the idea of institutional bias being highlighted as standard and the role of the researcher being presented as part of the research itself is pretty amazing. Exploring the ways in which Open Research (as an umbrella term) is not only more transparent (via open peer review - another bit of my mind blown) but actually faster and cheaper as well was quite compelling. It was contrasted nicely by the look at the obstacles (including researchers’ own concerns about their ability to publish), and also the discussion of where to go from here and how to get there. Overall it was a fascinating presentation in and of itself, but also, I think captured a lot of the overarching themes that other presentations then examined in more detail. These included UCL’s Pro-Vice-Provost Paul Ayris who discussed his university’s Open Science and Citizen Science projects; working to crowd-source data collection and analysis, and teasing at the prospect of an EU-wide shared repository of research data.

On a slightly different note Janet Peters (Director of University Libraries and University Librarian, Cardiff University) and Gareth Owen (Programme Manager, Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum) gave two different perspectives of projects taking place in the same consortium; Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF). At the conference Janet Peters discussed the service quality challenges and opportunities that arise from running a library service as part of a consortium, and then at the forum Gareth Owen talked us through the project of implementing a single library management system (LMS) across 9 Universities, 1 National Library, and 30 NHS Wales Libraries. Speaking as someone who has been through a fair few LMS changes covering just one library service at a time, the prospect of that project is scary! But doing it saved money, will lead to ongoing savings and process improvements for years to come, and gave them the purchasing power to insist the both the front- and back-end systems were bilingual - both English and Welsh. A massive win in terms of promoting the continuation of the use of the Welsh language.

It was an amazing experience; a chance to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds who all share a passion for getting researchers to talk to each other and then promoting all the fascinating work that these conversations lead to. Plus, the food was amazing and I got so many free pens!

Terry Bassett

UKSG One-Day Conference: London

UKSG Forum: London

UKSG Annual Review 2016

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Mapping the future of academic libraries

The ‘Mapping the future of academic libraries’ report commissioned by SCONUL was published on 8 December following a conference in London to discuss its findings. The report was produced by a team from the School: Stephen Pinfield, Andrew Cox and Sophie Rutter.

The report identifies a complex set of interrelated trends impacting on libraries the significance of which is often in the way they combine. In particular, it identifies five nexuses of trends bringing transformational change:

1. ‘Datafied’ scholarship: research increasingly underpinned by large datasets and digital artefacts, involving open, networked, algorithmically-driven systems

2. Connected learning: new pedagogies supported by technology-enabled flexible learning

3. Service-oriented libraries: libraries shifting their strategic emphasis from collections to services

4. Blurred identities: boundaries between professional groups and services being broken down with more collaboration and new skills development

5. Intensified contextual pressures: a myriad of political, economic and other pressures creating demands on HE and libraries

The ways in which libraries are responding to such change, and also the contributions they are making to change, are then discussed, with a set of challenges and opportunities identified. The report then goes on to discuss the need for libraries to position themselves to respond to current challenges and opportunities, proposing a multi-faceted approach to the alignment between the library and its parent institution. The library needs to be a service-provide, partner and leader.

The challenge is to balance the ways in which these different roles are implemented in any given institutional context. A key part of achieving these roles is communication, especially between the library and the institution as a whole. Understandings of its role outside the library are often hazy; libraries need to create and communicate a compelling vision of the current and future library role. At the same time, there is an ongoing need for change in library organisations and a need to forge partnerships, both within the library community (something in which libraries have a strong record) but also beyond (historically, not so strong).

The report proposes that in order to help address current challenges we should question commonly-accepted ‘library mantras’: mantras, such as, ‘the library is a strong brand’ or ‘the library is a trusted partner’, can sometimes get in the way of change, and need to be rethought. A set of new paradigms as ways of thinking about the futures of libraries are proposed, including the computational library, the service-oriented library, the library as digital third space, the globalised library and the boundaryless library.

These have the potential to act as a framework for discussion on library futures going forward.

The report concludes with recommendations for action within academic libraries and for SCONUL and similar agencies.

The report was compiled following mixed-methods research involving: extensive engagement with the literature, a set of semi-structured interviews with an international range of stakeholders, and a survey of UK library staff. As well as producing the report itself, the Sheffield team is now working on peer-reviewed outputs, and engaging in ongoing discussion including workshops and conference presentations.

You can read some of the Twitter engagement about the report here.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Dr Paul Reilly presents paper at ESRC CASCADE-NET seminar

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly is invited speaker at the ESRC CASCADE-NET Seminar “The role of Civil Society’s agency in governance and contingency planning: citizenship, participation and social learning” today. The seminar, organised by co-Investigator Dr. Martina McGuinness (Management School, University of Sheffield) is held in Inox Dine, Students’ Union Building, University of Sheffield.

Dr Reilly's paper is entitled ‘Social media, citizen empowerment and crisis communication during the 2014 UK Floods’ and draws on his recently completed EC FP7 funded research project CascEff . The slides for my presentation can be found here