Friday, 26 June 2015

Information School Represented at ISHIMR 2015

The Information School has been well represented at this year's ISHIMR 2015 conference.

This year's conference is taking place in York between 25 and 26 June, and focuses on the theme of "Health Informatics for Enhancing Health and Well-Being".  ISHIMR 2015 has been jointly organised by the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at York St. John University and the Information School, University of Sheffield.

A number of staff and students have presented at the conference:

  • PhD students Tom Poulter, Eliza Mazlan, Wasim Ahmed, Catherine Ebenezer, Jean Stevenson, Adelina Basholli and Tomi Dimitrovski
  • MSc Health Informatics alumni Paul Warner
  • Professor Peter Bath and Dr Julie Ellis, who are presenting a poster on the ESRC-funded 'A Shared Space and a Space for Sharing' project 

More information is available on the ISHIMR 2015 website.

Recognition for Cox, Webber and Pinfield

The Information School would like to congratulate the following members of staff on their recent achievements:

Andrew Cox is now a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Sheila Webber has been invited to join the Steering Committee for the European Chapter of Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL). GAPMIL is a UNESCO initiative to promote international cooperation to ensure all citizens have access to media and information competencies.

Stephen Pinfield has been asked to join the new Expert Group on Science 2.0/ Open Science set up by the European University Association (EUA). Stephen was nominated for this role by UUK following their sponsoring of his recent research project on open access, conducted with Professor Peter Bath.

The Expert Group on Science 2.0/Open Science will build on and extend previous EUA’s work in the area of open access, namely the creation of a task force on open access in 2012, composed of experts representing three National Rectors’ Conferences. This task force was created in the context of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between EUA and the European Commission and its aim was to monitor developments in the area of open access and provide support to EUA in European-level dialogues on this matter. However, given the increasing complexity and wide range of issues related to the digital agenda and its implications for universities, EUA has decided to enlarge the task force and create an Expert Group on Science 2.0/Open Science, which will focus on a broader range of issues such as text and data mining and big data.

Dr Jonathan Foster Visits India

Dr Jonathan Foster of the Information School will be visiting India between 28 June and 6 July 2015.

His visit will cover three cities across India:

Chennai - 28 June to 1 July
Delhi - 2 July to 5 July
Mumbai - 6 July

During his time in India Jonathan will be visiting and speaking at Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan College of Engineering and Technology in Chennai, VIT University Chennai, Anna University in Chennai and NM University in Mumbai.  He will also be meeting prospective Information School students to discuss the Information School's range of courses and to allow them to find out why the Information School at the University of Sheffield is the perfect choice for their postgraduate study.

To find out more about Jonathan's visit or to arrange to meet him during his time in India, please contact Rachel Hayes, Marketing and External Relations Officer, by emailing

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Pinfield Speaks at LIBER Conference

On 25 June, Dr Stephen Pinfield will speak at the LIBER Conference 2015 in London.

He will deliver a paper entitled '6.3 'Open' Initiatives in Higher Education Institutions: Towards an Integrated Strategy' with Sheila Corrall from the University of Pittsburgh, and previously the Information School at the University of Sheffield.

Open approaches in higher education have evolved from open source software, open access to research, and open courseware, to initiatives concerned with infrastructure and process. Open science typifies this broader conception, but can be interpreted differently by stakeholders. Open developments are gaining impetus from bottom-up movements and top-down forces, but practitioner tactics and institutional policies rarely consider openness holistically, aspiring to similar goals without seeing the benefits of a coordinated strategy.

This research aims to describe what an integrated open strategy for a university could look like, addressing both content and process dimensions of strategy formation. The results have been used to elaborate the major components of a coherent open strategy, incorporating themes such as governance, licensing, and funding, and discussing issues such as stakeholders, skills, and culture.

Future research in this area shall also address the role of strategies and policies in creating capacity and changing behaviour, and the contribution of libraries in promoting open scholarship.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Data Power: A Digital Society Network Event

The Faculty of Social Sciences Digital Society Network is pleased to invite you to 'Data Power: A Digital Society Network Event' featuring talks by Mark Andrejevic and José van Dijck.

The event takes place on Tuesday 23 June, 09:30 – 11:15, in Cutlers’ Hall, Church Street, S1 1HG.  This is a free event, but please register here and bring a printed copy of your registration to get in to the event.  

Mark Andrejevic (Pomona College, USA)
Big Data Disconnects

Drawing upon ongoing interviews, this presentation explores a series of disconnects between how people think about the ways in which their data is being put to work and the discourses of data mining and predictive analytics. In particular it explores the disconnect between individual conceptions of the value of data and commercial practices of aggregation and sorting; on differing conceptions of the relevance of particular forms of data to different types of decision making; and on the disconnection between expectations of informed consent and the speculative character of data mining. The presentation situates these disconnects within broader concerns about the asymmetrical and opaque character of data mining and the power imbalances associated with control over and access to data gathering and mining platforms.

Biography: Mark Andrejevic is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Pomona College in the US. He is the author of Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched (2004), which applies critical theory to the example of reality TV to explore the changing character and portrayal of surveillance in the digital era. His second book, iSpy: Surveillance and Power in the Interactive Era (2007) examines the deployment of interactive media for monitoring and surveillance in the realms of popular culture, marketing, politics, and war. His third book, Infoglut: How Too Much Information Is Changing the Way We Think and Know, explores the social, cultural, and theoretical implications of data mining and predictive analytics. His work has appeared in a edited collections and in academic journals including Television and New Media; New Media and Society; Critical Studies in Media Communication; Theory, Culture & Society; Surveillance & Society; The International Journal of Communication; Cultural Studies; The Communication Review, and the Canadian Journal of Communication. His current work explores the logic of automated surveillance, sensing, and response associated with drones.

José van Dijck (University of Amsterdam)
The Social Web & Public Value

The 'social Web' is anything but a fixed concept; notions of 'privacy' and 'publicness' are constantly negotiated in the various attempts to shape network sociality. So far, most attention has been devoted to questions regarding privacy - the exploitation of personal data vis-a-vis commercial or government agents. And rightly so: over the past ten years, the norms for privacy have fundamentally shifted as a result of the emerging online ecosystem driven by powerful platforms such as Google and Facebook. Privacy issues have been a bone of contention between platform owners, state regulators, watchdog organizations and lawyers.

Equally poignant, however, are questions of publicness: how does a data-based social Web transform the public realm - a space where we create public value and define the public good? Questions of publicness are at least as important as questions of privacy, but they often seem less palpable and more diffuse. In this lecture, I want to reflect on the transformation of power relationships between citizens, (state) institutions and corporations in a networked world - a world that is still for the most part structured by (nationally based) institutions, which are increasingly mediated by (corporate) platforms. These platforms do not simply repackage or reroute everyday social traffic, but strongly influence basic relationships and democratic structures in societies. The case of online education will serve to illustrate these transformations.

The evolution of online sociality in relation to publicness is tightly interwoven with larger narratives of privatization, globalization, commercialization and de-collectivization. It is vital to not just study digital culture as a 'hard' system of technological and economic agents or as 'soft' process of narratives, but as dialectic. Looking at the mutual shaping of platforms, users, and institutions, I try to explain how social media platforms come to propose a certain version of 'public' and how institutions and individual users go on to enact it. These proposals and enactments may be conflicting contestations of what 'public value' actually means. But one of the core questions remains: what happens to public values once former institutional anchors are (partly) incorporated into the data-based infrastructure of the social Web?

Biography: Jose van Dijck is a professor of Comparative Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her work covers a wide range of topics in media theory, media technologies, social media, television and culture. She is the author of six books, three co-edited volumes and approximately one hundred journal articles and book chapters. Van Dijck served as Chair of the Department of Media Studies from 2002-2006, and was the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam between 2008 and 2012. Her visiting appointments include the Annenberg School for Communication (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA), Massachussetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge USA), and the University of Technology, Sydney (AUS). For more information, click here.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Webber at EAHIL + ICAHIS + ICLC 2015 Workshop #researchminded

Sheila Webber is attending the EAHIL + ICAHIS + ICLC 2015 Workshop in Edinburgh this week, delivering invited workshops on phenomenography (with Bill Johnston, Strathclyde University) and on running a journal club (with Marshall Dozier, Edinburgh University and President of EAHIL - European Association for Health Information and Libraries). Sheila also acted as a mentor in a session giving feedback on research projects.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Come and visit us at the CILIP Conference 2015

On Thursday 2 and Friday 3 July, the Information School will be at the CILIP Conference 2015 in Liverpool.  We'll be on stand number 31 throughout the Conference and will be available to discuss our wide range of postgraduate qualifications and research opportunities.  Make sure you come and see us if you are attending the Conference!

The Conference brings together professionals from across the library, information and knowledge world for two days of inspiration, debate, sharing knowledge and networking. CILIP has put together a wonderfully diverse programme of speakers and sessions, as well as giving delegates the chance to find out about the latest products and services from a range of exhibiting companies within the exhibition hall.

Setting the scene for debate around liberty and personal freedoms within the emerging information environment, Shami Chakrabarti, Cory Doctorow and R.David Lankes are to head up a diverse set of keynote speakers. Chakrabarti will draw on her work in campaigns from privacy laws to anti-terror legislation to talk about the threats to our democratic institutions and why our rights are paramount in upholding democracy. Doctorow’s keynote ‘Information doesn’t want to be free…But people do’ will examine how can libraries and their supporters can strike alliances to ensure information policy is afforded due respect, whilst satisfying creators; and Lankes will present his action plan for world domination through librarianship.

The Conference activities will be based around four key themes:  Information management, information literacy and digital inclusion, demonstrating value, and digital futures and technology. These themes reflect the issues that affect our sector on a day-to-day basis and the sessions, delivered by experts in their field, have been selected with a view to both entertain and inform and include the British Library, Sheffield University, Newcastle City Council and Historic England.

Finalists for Best Association Conference in 2013, CILIP promises to deliver another outstanding conference experience, and an opportunity for people to connect, debate and innovate.  Delegates are invited to book now by visiting the CILIP Conference website

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Patrick Meier on the Rise of Digital Humanitarians

On 22 May Patrick Meier visited the University of Sheffield and gave a talk on Digital Humanitarians which was hosted by the Visual Social Media Lab, the Digital Society Network and the Sheffield Institute for International Development.  

Patrick’s talk focused on the use of big data and social media during humanitarian crises including the Haiti and Nepal earthquakes of recent years.  He discussed a number of key issues surrounding digital humanitarians, which is emerging as an area of cross disciplinary research.  One particularly important and topical issue is that of image verification, which resonates with an area of the Visual Social Media Lab’s work.  

In society today many images get shared on social media, but why do false images get shared and how does this cause rumours to spread?  Patrick argues there is a need for impact evaluations and secondary research into images on social media – a topic which students may potentially be interested in for dissertations or theses.
After his talk, Patrick was interviewed by Dr Farida Vis from the Information School and discussed some of these issues in more depth.  The interview is available to listen to on iTunesU now.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Data Science Seminar - Data science in government, the OR profession and Department for Education

Join us on Tuesday 9 June for a data science seminar on "data science in government, the OR profession and Department for Education” by Madeleine Greenhalgh, Head of Data Science at the Cabinet Office, Richard Allison and Jonathan Edwards.

Large and complex data is increasingly becoming more readily and cheaply available, as is the technology to collect and analyse that data. Government already holds data which is being analysed by talented analysts, but we believe that applying data science techniques to this data and using insight from new and complex data sets can allow government to improve how we create policy and deliver services.

Madeleine Greenhalgh works in the central data science team in government and will describe how we are taking a practical approach to testing data science techniques as well as embedding these skills within government as a whole, particularly in the analytical professions.

Richard Allison is a member of the Operational Research profession and will show how OR analysts are moving towards data science with examples of data science being used in the profession.

In addition, several departments across government are using data science techniques in their policy making - Jonathan Edwards will give a flavour of some of the data science work undertaken in the Department for Education.

All are welcome and there is no need to book.  The seminar takes place on Tuesday 9 June at 13:00 in Information School Lecture Room RC-204, Regent Court.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Research Student Seminar - Information Literacy Experiences of English for Speakers of Other Languages Learners

On Tuesday 2 June Information School PhD student Jess Elmore will present a research seminar on 'an exploration of the information literacy experiences of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) learners.'

ESOL learners are people who have come to the UK for work, to join family or to claim asylum, who are learning English as part of adult basic skills provision. There has to date been little exploration of their information literacy experiences. This seminar presents the first stages of doctoral research which investigates the relationship between ESOL learning and information literacy. The research will be a qualitative longitudinal case study of three community ESOL classes. The seminar will discuss the planned multi-method participatory approach and the analytical and methodological findings from the completed pilot study.

The seminar takes place at 2pm in RC-231, Regent Court. All are welcome and there is no need to book.