Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Jorge Martins secures Santander Research Mobility Award

Information School Lecturer Jorge Martins has been awarded a Santander Research Mobility Award.

The award will be used to fund Jorge’s visit to meet project partner Professor Elsa Fontainha (2013 iSchool Distinguished Visiting Scholar) at the Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa. This will enable collaborative work on a project (Martins, Fontainha & Vanconcelos) aimed at identifying which types of management actions are taken by recession resistant Portuguese and UK small industries operating in the low-technology sector.

European iSchool leaders meeting

Leaders from the European iSchools met in Copenhagen the weekend of November 7-8, 2013 to discuss cooperation and EU initiatives.

 European iSchool leaders meet in Copenhagen to discuss cooperation and EU initiatives

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Big weather data & the exploitation of climate instability

Jo Bates’ work on the Big Data driven financial markets being developed in response to climate change has been published by The Conversation and New Statesman. Read more below. 
Big agriculture, big data, big weather. Chemophilia
The recent news story regarding Monsanto’s US$930million acquisition of the ‘Big Data’ science company, Climate Corporation, raises important questions about the economies developing in response to climate change.

A new generation of data analytics firms are emerging, using innovations in the field of data science in order to turn vast datasets (‘Big Data’) into exploitable information. As the Financial Times reported, Monsanto’s purchase of Climate Corporation signals the ‘first significant acquisition’ of this emerging ‘Big Data’ industry.

Climate Corporations’ key offering is a product called ‘Total Weather Insurance’  (TWI), which it currently sells directly to farmers in the USA. TWI pays out based solely upon observed weather conditions, rather than crop damage.

In order to calculate the price of policies and pay-outs, Climate Corporation data scientists analyse three million new data points a day from 22 datasets using advanced ‘Big Data’ analysis techniques. The data comes from a range of third-party providers such as the US National Weather Service, which publishes its data free for re-use.

Whilst Total Weather Insurance is a new form of financial product being sold direct to farmers, what underlies it is not new. Weather derivatives were developed in the US energy industry by Enron, Koch Industries and Aquila in the mid-1990s. Weather derivative contracts, which also depend on ‘big’ weather data analytics, can be traded across any type of weather; however the most popular by far are based on the divergence of the average daily temperature from 18 degrees.

The mid-2000s saw massive growth in the weather derivatives market, but it crashed alongside everything else in 2008. However, the Weather Risk Management Association is hopeful for weather derivatives, pointing to continuing growth outside the US markets throughout the downturn, growing interest in non-temperature-related weather derivatives, and increasing interest from outside the energy industry.

Until recently, UK traders had to purchase weather data from the Met Office in order to conduct forecast analyses and price weather derivatives contracts. However, in 2011, the new coalition government yielded to the demands of the financial services lobby for freely re-usable weather data and announced that, as part of its Open Government Data initiative, “the largest volume of high quality weather data and information made available by a national meteorological organisation anywhere in the world” would be opened for anyone to re-use without charge.

Crucially, these developments expand the range of players with a financial interest in continuing climate instability. Whilst the claim is often made that weather derivatives and similar products balance out the financial impact of weather on affected businesses, thus smoothing adaptation to climate change, serious political-economic questions do arise about who actually benefits from these financial products and this use of ‘Big Data’ analysis.

The model of paying out based upon observed weather means, in effect, placing bets on future weather conditions – rather than a business insuring itself against a specific loss. Clearly, during a time of instability in global weather, there is a lot of potential profit to be generated from such financial products. The emergence of this developing ‘Big Data’-driven weather derivatives and risk market is, therefore, troubling.

It exploits common threats in order to generate private wealth and favours those in a financial position to protect their interests at the expense of those most vulnerable to climate instabilities. Most dangerously, this practice could reduce the incentive for those profiting from these markets to engage in action to mitigate climate change.

Longer versions of this post also appear on The Conversation, New Statesman and SPERI Comment.

Friday, 25 October 2013

GSMA project to develop a Global Smart City Index

Alex Peng was recently awarded a 3-month research placement project, funded by the Sustainable Society Network+ ( The placement will take place in the GSMA (a multi-national association uniting over 800 mobile operators across 200 countries,

During this project, Alex will be working together with the GSMA and the PwC to develop a robust metric and methodology that can be used to assess how ‘smart’ a city is.  A Global Smart City Index will be produced as the final outcome of this project.  The GSMA will make an official and global launch of this Index in their Mobile World Congress in Feb 2014.  Last year, the GSMA Mobile World Congress had 72,000 total attendees from more than 200 countries (including more than 4,300 CEOs), 1,700 total exhibitors, and 3,400 Media representatives ( 

Monday, 14 October 2013

Research Data Management: librarian roles

Andrew Cox will be speaking at Internet Librarian International 2013 this Wednesday.

His talk is entitled "Roles in Research Data Management".

Among other things he will be considering whether RDM is a wicked problem, and if it is, what this implies about how information professionals should approach it.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

What is Research Data Management and what is the Library's Role in Supporting it?

Over 200 information professionals registered for today's webinar entitled "What is Research Data Management and what is the Library's Role in Supporting it?" by Andrew Cox hosted in the UKSG webinar series.

Free access to the slides and a recording of the webinar is now available from UKSG website.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Poster award

James Wallace achieved runner-up in the poster section of the 2013 Northern England Postgraduate Chemistry Competition organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry and held in York. James is a PhD student in the Chemoinformatics Research Group and his poster is entitled: A novel approach to De Novo design utilising Reaction Networks.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

iFutures - first Information School doctoral conference taking place today

Taking place today 25th July 2013, iFutures is a one-day conference run by and for PhD researchers in the information science community. It has been organised by the Information School at the University of Sheffield to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the University’s Information Studies department.

Based on the theme of "The Next 50 years," our aim has been to create an event for future information science researchers and practitioners to explore the potential impact of our research, and determine how we can help shape the future of our discipline, both in academia and beyond.

We hope that the conference will provide a valuable opportunity for students to present innovative and forward-thinking research to their peers in a non-judgmental and supportive environment. Best Paper and Best Pecha Kucha prizes will be awarded.

Keynote speakers:

Diane H. Sonnenwald is Professor, Chair of Information & Library Studies at the School of Information and Library Studies at UCD, Dublin, Ireland, and an adjunct professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently serving as Immediate Past President of ASIS&T, the Association for Information Science & Technology. She served as President of ASIS&T in 2011-2012. Diane is on the editorial boards of the Journal of the American Society of Information Science and Technology(JASIST), Information Research, and several other journals. 

Vanessa Murdock is a Principal Applied Researcher at Microsoft. Previously she was a Senior Research Scientist at Yahoo! Research in Barcelona, where she led the Geographic Context and Experience group. Her research interests focus on statistical retrieval methods for short texts such as sentences, image tags, ad creatives, and textual metadata, combining structured and unstructured information for applications such as local search, mobile search and geographic information retrieval. She holds a PhD from the University of Massachusetts, where she was a student of W. Bruce Croft. 

See for more information about the conference.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Sixth Sheffield Conference on Chemoinformatics draws to a close today

The Sheffield conference on Chemoinformatics ( is being held at The Edge and is being run by Val Gillet, John Holliday and Peter Willett on behalf of the Molecular Graphics and Modelling Society and the Chemical Structure Association Trust. 

The conference has brought together over 140 delegates from industry and academia from across the globe to discuss the latest techniques in computer-aided drug discovery. 

With over 75 oral and poster presentations and an exhibition from leading software companies, it has been a very busy but enjoyable three days.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Graduate wins IFLA First Timer award

Congratulations to Paul Tovell (MA Librarianship 2004/5) as the winner of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) IFLA First Timer Award. The prize, awarded to a CILIP member who has made a positive contribution to the sector, helps fund attendance at the 79th World Library and Information Congress in Singapore on 17 – 23 August 2013. Paul is Library Development Officer: East Staffordshire for the Staffordshire Library and Information Service.

Monday, 22 July 2013

iSchool at Northumbria

There are presentations from iSchool staff and students at the 10th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services this week.
- Partial Findings from a Case Study Exploring the Strategic Orientations Adopted by a Public Library Service in Relation to their Performance and Success (Barbara Sen, University of Sheffield)
- Total Quality Management Applications in the Saudi University Libraries (Faisal Altamimi (University of Sheffield), Sheila Corrall (University of Pittsburgh), Barbara Sen (University of Sheffield), Peter Willett (University of Sheffield)
- Evaluating the Intellectual Assets in the Scholarship and Collections Directorate at the British Library (Alice Schofield, University of Sheffield)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Cox and Sen present at Umbrella

Last week on the 2nd day of CILIP's annual Umbrella conference, Andrew Cox and Barbara Sen presented on Research data management for you. One of our successful PhD students, Eva Hornung, also presented in the same session (which focused on Future Skills and Future Roles).

Presentations from Clough and Pinfield

Tomorrow Paul Clough is giving a talk on " Challenges in providing multilingual information access" at the UK ISKO conference in London. Stephen Pinfield also spoke today at the Europe PubMed Central funders' meeting at the Wellcome Trust, London.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Sheila Webber at CILIP's Umbrella conference

Sheila Webber is presenting at CILIP's Umbrella conference in Manchester, UK, tomorrow. She will be giving a talk Helping citizens develop their own information literacy curriculum for lifelong learning (available at co-presented with Bill Johnston, Honorary Research Fellow at Strathclyde University.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Peter Bath attending ISHIMR 2013 in Halfax, Nova Scotia

Peter Bath is attending the 16th International Symposium for Health Information Management Research (ISHIMR 2013) which is being held 27-28th June 2013, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The conference is being organised by the Centre for Health Information Management Research (CHIMR) at the University of Sheffield and the Faculty of Computer Science, Dalhousie University.

Peter Bath is presenting a paper entitled "Adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs): a review of technology acceptance studies", co-authored with Tomi Dimitrovski, Panos Ketikidis and Lambros Lazuras form the South East Europe Research Centre (SEERC) in Thessaloniki.

Peter is also presenting two posters. The first of these was developed in collaboration with Jennifer Salter and Simon Tucker, entitled "Non-intrusive remote monitoring of household activities - the views of relatives and carers". The second poster, entitled "Documentation of vital signs in electronic health records: issues for patient safety" was developed with Jean Stevenson-Agren, Goran Petersson and Gunilla Nielsen from Kalmar University Sweden.

Jackie MacDonald, PhD graduate from the Health Informatics Research Group,  also presented a paper, co-authored with Peter Bath and Andrew Booth, entitled "An Exploration of Opportunities for Health Service Managers to Share Information Orally: A Method of Documentary Analysis using an Electronic Room-booking Calendar".

A selection of the best papers will be published in special issues of the Health Informatics Journal and the International Journal for Health Information Management  Research (IJHIMR).

Monday, 24 June 2013

PhD student Hua Xiang secures Google Summer of Code award

Information School PhD student Hua Xiang has been selected for the Google Summer of Code programme 2013.

Google Summer of Code is a global program that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source software projects. This year, Hua’s proposal "Add time series reports for Bloodhound" was submitted to Apache Software Foundation. She will develop enhanced reports functionality for issue tracking system of software development projects.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Jonathan Foster visits Nigeria

Jonathan Foster is currently in Nigeria 10-15 June visiting educational institutions and other agencies to raise awareness of our PGT courses; to talk with current and prospective offer holders, and to previous Alumni of the Sheffield Information School.

Interviews on the morning drive time shows of the Lagos-based Inspiration FM and Beat FM radio stations that target Lagos and the surrounding metropolis have been part of the schedule of events!

You can see pictures of the trip at the Facebook page of the University of Sheffield Regional office for West Africa.

School staff highly commended at Emerald Literati Awards 2013

Information School members Andrew D. Madden, Nigel Ford, Genevieve Gorrell, Barry Eaglestone, Peter Holdridge have been commended at the Emerald Literati Awards for Excellence 2013.

Their paper Metacognition and web credibility, for the Electronic Library, was rated as Highly Commended.

Farida Vis talks at Improving Reality 2013

Farida Vis is scheduled to talk at the third Brighton Digital Festival Improving Reality 2013.

The conference takes place on 5th September 2013, at the Studio Theater, Brighton, and will explore how artists, technologists and writers are subverting our notion of reality.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Special issue of Library Trends dedicated to the School

The winter 2013 edition of Library Trends is dedicated wholly to the the Information School at the University of Sheffield.

Edited by Barbara Sen and former Head of School Prof Sheila Corrall, the issue is composed entirely of work produced by academic staff, research staff and research students of the Information School.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Stephen Pinfield talks at TNC2013

Dr Stephen Pinfield talks at the TNC2013 conference in Maastricht, Netherlands on Tuesday 4th June. This large international conference focuses on networking and technical infrastructure development.

Stephen's talk is entitled "'Open' as modus operandi for Research and Higher Education", and will be presented by video conference.

Farida Vis talks at FutureEverything 2013

Dr Farida Vis spoke at the "Living in an age of Algorithmic Culture" session at Manchester's FutureEverything - a Summit of Ideas & Digital Invention 2013.

Farida is one of the contributors featured in the Welcome to the #futr. video of the event.

Call for papers - #ifutures2013 conference

Sheffield University's Information School has organised iFutures, a one-day conference on Thursday 25 July in Sheffield to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Information Studies department (now the Information School). Run by and for doctoral students in the Information Science community, and based on the theme of The Next 50 Years the aim is to create an event for IS researchers and practitioners of the future to explore the potential impact of our research, and determine how we can help shape our discipline, both in academia and beyond.
The call for papers is open, with abstracts to be submitted by the deadline of 16 June 2013. Submissions are welcomed from doctoral researchers working in any area of information science or in related fields, including information retrieval, knowledge management, informatics or library and information studies. There are several options for presentation format (Paper, Poster, and Pecha Kucha) and a prize of £100 in Amazon vouchers for the best submission in each category.
Diane Sonnenwald, Chair of Information and Library Studies at the School of Information and Library Studies at UCD, Dublin, and Vanessa Murdock, Principal Applied Researcher at Bing (Microsoft) will give keynotes.
More information on the website at; the twitter account is @ifutures2013 and hashtag is #ifutures2013

Friday, 31 May 2013

Webber re-elected to IFLA committee

Sheila Webber has been re-elected to the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) Information Literacy Section Committee. She will also be giving a keynote paper at the IFLA Section's pre-conference in Singapore in August.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Andrew Madden wins Literati Network Highly Commended Award

Dr Andrew Madden has been awarded Highly Commended Award Winner at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2013, for his paper Metacognition and web credibility.

The award winning papers are chosen following consultation amongst the editorial team of The Electronic Library, many of whom are eminent academics or practitioners. Andrew's paper was selected as it was one of the most impressive pieces of work the team has seen throughout 2012.

The School joins the iCaucus

The Information School is proud to announce that it has now been accepted into the prestigious iCaucus, the select group of information schools at the centre of the international iSchools organisation. The School's entry into the iCaucus reflects our status as a world leader in the information field, and will enhance our international links and provide greater opportunities to steer the field as a whole.

We are also happy to note, as the first European information school to join the iSchools movement, that two further European universities, Northumbria University and NOVA University of Lisbon, have recently joined.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

RDMRose in Florence

RDMRose's Eddy Verbaan participated in the DigiCurv conference "Framing the digital curation curriculum" in Florence 6-7 May. The project poster explained the project and invited conference attendees to identify directions for the library curriculum on Research Data Management.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Sheila Webber at Lund University

Sheila Webber is on a two week study visit to the Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden. Today she gave a research seminar on the Deep critical information behaviour project.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Peter Bath discusses 'The changing data landscape' at ESRC PhD student conference

Peter Bath participated in a workshop on 'The Changing Data Landscape' at a conference for final year PhD students organised by the White Rose Doctoral Social Science Training Centre and the Economic and Social Research council (ESRC) and hosted by the University of Sheffield.

Peter discussed his experience of using administrative data sets for research, harmonising data and record and data linkage. Also speaking in the workshop were Richard Rowe (Psychology) and Aki Tsuchiya (Economics / ScHARR); this led to a discussion on the opportunities and challenges of using existing data sources for research.

The conference was held at Cutler's Hall, Sheffield on 24th April 2013. Further details of the conference can be found at the conference web-site.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Lively debate for information school students

The school hosted a Question Time style panel discussion on the theme "21st Century Challenges: What contribution for Information Science?" as part of our series of events marking our 50th anniversary.

Panel members included Professors Peter Willett, Elaine Toms and Peter Bath and Professors Emeritus Tom Wilson and Bob Usherwood.  Questions touched on how information professionals could contribute to critiquing, resisting and building credible alternatives to the Government's agenda of cuts and privatisation; the nature of the LIS academic discipline in 20 years' time; and whether academia blazes the trail or analyses the results of information innovation.

Jo Bates chaired the discussion which could have gone on significantly longer than we had time for!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Graduate Laura Williams wins SLA Award

Laura Williams, graduate of our MA Librarianship programme, has won the SLA Europe Early Career Conference Awards 2013.  Laura, along with three other winners, will attend the SLA Conference & INFO-EXPO in San Diego in June.

Laura is currently working in the media library at ITV as a Media Logistics Co-ordinator responsible for delivering programme content on tape across the organisation for broadcast.

Friday, 5 April 2013

MmIT conference in Sheffield today

CILIP's MmIT group conference is in Sheffield today... #mmit2013

Several iSchool staff and students have been involved in its organisation... particularly Jen Smith, and current/prospective student helpers: Ben, Despina, Emily, Janine, Penny and Taghreed.

9:30 - registration and morning coffee - Richard Roberts Foyer

10:00 – Introduction and welcome – Chris Sexton, University of Sheffield, Leo Appleton, MmIT - Richard Roberts Auditorium

10:15 -11:00 – Keynote presentation by Karen Blakeman, RBA Information Services “Searching in the cloud” - Richard Roberts Auditorium

11:00 -11.50 – Parallel workshops sessions 1
·         Gurdish Sandu & Adjoa Boateng (University of East London) “The UEL Library: Entering the Cloud” - Room A84
·         Lise Robinson (OCLC) “Something good is going to happen” : an overview of developing a cloud based solution” - Room A85
·         Emily Goodhand (University of Reading) Cloud(y) Law: unpacking the issues for library & information professionals  - Room A87

11.50 - 12.10 – Break Richard Roberts Foyer

12.10-13:00 - Parallel workshops sessions 2
·         Andy Tattersall & Claire Beecroft (University of Sheffield) “CloudMe – Being an Effective LIS Professional without Touching Terra Firma” - Room A84
·         Andrew Cox (University of Sheffield) “Research data management – what is the library’s role?” - Room A85
·         Paul Walk (UKOLN) “Bring your own Cloud” - Room A87

13.00 – 13:45 – Lunch - Richard Roberts Foyer

13:45 – 14:30 – Rapid fire sessions - Richard Roberts Auditorium
Serials Solutions, Andy Bussey (University of Sheffield), Kaltura, Dave Parkes (University of Staffordshire), Ancoris, Ex Libris, Bethan Ruddock (MIMAS), OCLC

14.30 – 15:20 - Parallel workshops sessions 3
·         Dave Parkes (University of Staffordshire) “Implementing the Koha Library Management System”-  Room A84
·         Anthony Beal (JISC) "Collaborating to create ebooks in the cloud: media rich resources for teaching, learning and assessment" - Room A85
·         Bethan Ruddock (MIMAS) “Opening up – bibliographic data-sharing and interoperability” - Room A87

15:20 – 16:00 – Panel Q&A – Dave Parkes, Anthony Beal, Bethan Ruddock, Karen Blakeman, Paul Walk, Emily Goodhand - Richard Roberts Auditorium

16:00 - Close

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sheila Webber at LILAC

Sheila Webber was active at the LILAC conference in Manchester this week. She presented a workshop and a poster on the project #infolitpro: Developing profiles of the information literacy professional, an IFLA Information Literacy Section initiative that she is leading. She also presented a paper with some initial findings from the AHRC-funded Deep Critical Information Behaviour project: Collaborating for deep critical information behaviour (coauthors Nigel Ford, Mary Crowder, Andrew Madden). Current MA Librarianship student Roisin Cassidy also attended the conference, as one of the winners of a sponsored student place.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Cox and Pinfield at Research Libraries UK

Two iSchool staff are speaking at the Research Libraries UK AGM and members meeting on 22nd March: Dr Stephen Pinfield talks about Research data management and libraries: current activities and future priorities and Dr Andrew Cox on RDMRose: Taught and CPD learning materials about Research Data Management Tailored for Information Professionals

"From Amazon to iTunes" - Jonathan Foster talks digital economy at CIOL

As part of his recent visit to India, Jonathan Foster gave an interview to CIOL, in which he discussed the characteristics of a digital economy. You can read the full article at CIOL.

Lunchtime Careers Events for ISchool Students

Over the last month we’ve had an exciting selection of lunch time Careers events for students in the ISchool. These included a visit from IBM with the opportunity for students to have a one-to-one with IBM staff, including former iSchool student James Ansell, and an Accenture Interview and Assessment Centre Workshop run by ISchool alumnus, now Accenture employee, Dr Claire-Marie Hanford.

We’re looking forward to more events after the Easter break, including a workshop on enterprise and making ideas happen, and sessions on information careers in the health and media sectors.  

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Jonathan Foster talks Information Management in Bangalore DNA

As part of his current visit to India, Dr Jonathan Foster spoke to the Daily News and Analysis about careers in Information Management. Click the image to the right to view the Bangalore DNA front page for March 12, featuring the article.

iSchool Student Bake Off - Wed 13 Mar

The iSchool Student Bake Off takes place on Wednesday 13th March, 12.00-14.00, in the iSpace, Regent Court.

Our students are supplying cakes, and you are invited to drop by and judge their efforts. There will be a vote to decide the day's Star Baker. For as little as £1 you can have a hot drink and cake, with all proceeds going to Comic Relief.

Jonathan Foster visiting India

Jonathan Foster is currently in India from the 10-16th March, visiting universities and educational agencies to raise awareness of PGT courses; and to talk with students who are looking to apply to our PGT courses here at Sheffield. The whistlestop tour is taking in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai; and it's proving to be a diverse, ordered, sometimes bamboozling place!