Friday, 7 December 2018

Sheffield MSc Data Science – Industry Event

Tuesday 4th December 2018 was the date of our annual ‘industry day’ event organised for students on the MSc Data Science programme. The event invites speakers from various sectors in industry to share their experiences with utilising machine learning, AI and data science for applications within their domain. This year speakers from 6 organisations presented at the event:

· Billy Blythe, Head of Data Science, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

· Leanne Fitzpatrick, Head of Data, Hello Soda

· Lauren Rodgers, Data Scientist, and Tom Liptrot, Head of Data Science,

· Lisa Clark, Data Scientist, Virgin Media Business (VMB)

· Ben Chamberlain, Head of Machine Learning,

· Hayden Sansum, Senior Data Scientist, Ministry of Justice (MoJ)

Speakers discussed various topics such as the challenges, benefits and technologies involved in utilising data-driven analytical methods; current technological trends; and what role data scientists play within their organisations. Many examples were provided including analysing the behaviours of customers in debt (VMB), targeted delivery of services (DWP), supply chain optimisation (ASOS) and transformations in the criminal and justice system (MoJ). Particularly pleasing to hear from was Lauren Rodgers, a former student on the MSc Data Science programme who now works as Data Scientist for and shared her experiences of working life post-MSc course.

Support for the event was provided by the Information School and Peak Indicators.

Professor Paul Clough

MSc Data Science student ambassador Na Li had this to say about her experience on the day:

'The Industry event helped us to better understand data science applications and its importance in real industry. Also, by interacting with speakers from industry, we better understood the role which data scientists play in the workplace as well as the skills industry requires from data scientists. All these are important for us to better prepare for job applications after graduation.'

Speakers at the industry day event (top to bottom): Billy Blythe, Leanne Fitzpatrick, Lauren Rodgers and Tom Liptrot, Lisa Clark, Ben Chamberlain, Hayden Sansum

Thursday, 6 December 2018

'Skills for the future academic library' - a student's view on the CILIP briefing by Rhiannon Williams

On the 28th of November I had the opportunity to attend the CILIP briefing on ‘Skills for the future
academic library’ through a bursary from the Information School and CILIP. The event saw library practitioners and researchers present their findings and experiences of academic libraries, with a focus on what skills and developments they foresaw as particularly important for the future.

The day began with Stephen Pinfield’s presentation on the 2017 SCONUL report on
Mapping the Future of Academic Librariesby Stephen Pinfield, Andrew Cox and Sophie Rutter. This presentation introduced the concept of expanding our understanding of skills beyond traditional hard and soft skills, adding ethics and values, mindsets, and contextual knowledge as useful types of skills for LIS professionals to consider.

Values and mindsets

As the professional landscape changes, LIS professionals require not only different skills, but changes in mindsets.

Regina Everitt from the University of East London presented the
SCONUL Workforce Development Task and Finish Group’s recent research on LIS workforce development. Key focuses for the task group are addressing the lack of ethnic diversity in libraries, supporting new entrants to librarianship, and adapting to change. The group’s research found that librarianship has a 96.7% white workforce, and that 45% of BAME LIS professionals have expected racial discrimination at work. Continuing researchaims to further understand the workplace experiences of BAME LIS professionals and explore how to support diversity in the professional by reconsidering how we recruit in libraries and share information about LIS careers. Regina Everitt emphasised that “if we continue to hire in our own image, we need to be challenged on that.”

Andy Priestner, consultant on UX in libraries, also conveyed the importance of changing mindsets in his presentation on embedding UX research and design in libraries. Andy demonstrated the need for a focus on creativity, speed and flexibility, rather than aiming for immediate perfection, when trying out new services. UX-based service development also requires collaboration and user-feedback to be effective.

Soft skills and relationship building

Changes in the roles carried out by LIS professionals impact what soft skills need to be prioritised and developed.

Katie Evans shared her experiences of how a continuously developing research analytics service at the University of Bath has meant certain soft skills have become more important. In particular, the service has increased the library’s impact on strategic decision making and the need to build partnerships.

Michelle Blake’s presentation on relationship management similarly emphasised partnership-building at the University of York library. A project on
Understanding Academicshelped the library understand its users, enhancing the communication and support they could provide.

Oxford Brookes University’s Robert Curry’s presentation on collaboration also focused on understanding users, asserting that the academic library needs to relate its expertise to the contexts and objectives of its users to be effective. In particular, finding out others’ concepts of ‘information literacy’ enables better communication when sharing information literacy based skills and training.

Both Michelle and Robert considered it crucial that libraries demonstrate the impact of soft skills and the value of services through evidence, such as user satisfaction scores. This helps LIS professionals and others to advocate for the library.

Hard skills and digital development

The hard skills and tools used in LIS workplaces are constantly developing. As such, it is often the willingness to try out and learn new things that is crucial to LIS professionals rather than specific technical expertise.

A particular skill explored by Julie Glanville from the York Health Economics Consortium was
text mining, which is a valuable tool for systematic reviews and developing search strategies. Applying text mining tools to groups of records enables users to extract key terms, cluster related records, and more. Using this technology effectively still relies on strong ‘traditional’ LIS skills such as accurate record-making, as the tools need accurate data to provide meaningful results. This is an example of changes building on rather than replacing traditional skills.

A potentially significant change in the future of academic libraries is the development of AI, perhaps leading to the ‘intelligent library’, impacting how we search for resources and interact with users. Andrew Cox from the Information School presented on this topic, suggesting that LIS professionals need to anticipate this change and begin developing AI literacy. Particular challenges include the need for transparency and data protection.

What does this mean in practice?

Despite the many changes explored throughout the conference, many presenters noted the way in which current frameworks for LIS skills, such as the CILIP PKSB, provided scaffolding for adapting rather than entirely reworking current concepts of skills. By applying current skills in different ways to new contexts, LIS professionals will be able to respond effectively to change.

A workshop session provided participants with the opportunity to consider how future changes might take shape in their own workplaces. To apply the concepts discussed to your own practice, you might consider:

● How do the concepts apply to your context and priorities?
● What skills are required for addressing change, and where are the skills gaps?
● What do individuals, institutions and the LIS community need to do to move forward?

To read about the conference in more detail, search for #CILIPFutureSkills on Twitter.

Rhiannon Williams
MA Librarianship student  

Monday, 26 November 2018

The intelligent library - new paper published on AI in academic libraries

Our new paper explores the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence on academic libraries. Innovations such as Siri and the driverless car have brought public attention to the potential of the latest developments in computing power, combining machine learning and big data.

AI brings with it both exciting opportunities and risks to privacy, equality and employment. But until now the implications of AI for academic libraries have been relatively little explored.

Using data from interviews with library directors, library commentators and commentators outside the library world, the new paper, The intelligent library: Thought leaders’ views on the likely impact of artificial intelligence on academic libraries (open-access version available)explores the potential implications of AI for the academic library.

We try to capture how interviewees thought AI would impact on academic libraries and from this reveal eleven issues that will define the paradigm of the "intelligent library".

The implications for staff roles and competencies are discussed. We will be talking more about the implications at the CILIP Briefing "Skills for the future academic library" on the 28th November.

Dr. Andrew Cox & Professor Stephen Pinfield

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Training librarians for our schools – Dr Briony Birdi

There has been talk in the professional press recently of school librarianship, and the importance of preparing future generations of librarians to work in our school libraries. There can be little doubt as to the importance of library provision in schools, but as concerns mount about the public funding for both education and libraries at large, it easy to see why this is a hot topic.

At the Information School in Sheffield (as at many other library and information departments), we are committed to providing Masters level education for both those working in school libraries and wishing to move into the field after graduating. We currently offer two Masters programmes with an emphasis on librarianship: the MA Librarianship, which is delivered here in Sheffield, and the MA Library and Information Services Management which is a distance learning programme. Both of these programmes include library services for children and young people (in school and public libraries) as elective modules.

More than 10 years ago I developed a ‘Library services for children and young people’ module, which has now become the ‘Public and youth library services’ module, and covers both public and school libraries. Many students taking this module as part of the previously mentioned degree programmes are interested in working in school libraries, and they meet and visit current practitioners from both school libraries and school library services. Also core to our Librarianship programmes are the Information Literacy modules, a key part of which focuses on models and theories of teaching and learning, enabling students to reflect on their development as teachers of information literacy – key skills for a school librarian. All students study a range of modules enabling their development as professionals, as managers, and as experts within their chosen field.

Over the years we have worked in regular partnership with school library staff, networks and professional organisations in developing teaching content and research projects, and each year a good proportion of our students complete Masters dissertations based in both primary and secondary school libraries. Topics investigated within the past 3 years have included the provision of primary school libraries, the promotion of reading in secondary school libraries, the provision of school library services for EAL pupils, the decline of professional librarianship in English state-funded secondary schools – just a few examples of the innovative work our students are undertaking.

At the Information School, we believe in the future of libraries and continue to give our students practice-informed, research-led teaching, to provide our libraries with skilled professionals who can further the library and information services field in the future – and, of course, in many ways this starts with schools.

Dr. Briony Birdi
Senior Lecturer in Librarianship, Information School, University of Sheffield

If you are interested in becoming a school librarian, why not take a look at one of our courses below?

Library and Information Services Management:
All our programmes:

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Dr Paul Reilly published in Journalism

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly has had an article co-authored with Bournemouth University colleagues Anastasia Veneti and Darren Lilleker published in Journalism.

The article entitled ‘Photographing the Battlefield: the role of ideology in photojournalist practices during the anti-austerity protests in Greece’ can be accessed here.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Dr Paul Reilly publishes new chapter on social media and paramilitary style assaults in Northern Ireland

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly is pleased to report that his chapter written with Faith Gordon, ‘Digital weapons in a post-conflict society’, has been published in ‘Anti-Social Media', a volume edited by John Mair, Richard Tait and Tor Clark.

A copy of the chapter can be downloaded here.

The Information School Celebrates #GlobalMILweek #infolit

24th-31st October is Global Media and Information Literacy week, the initiative sponsored by UNESCO. The iSchool is celebrating with a number activities that demonstrate its engagement with this field.

We have organised three webinars, free and open to all:
2pm-2.30 pm UK time (which is 10-10.30am US EST) Tuesday 30th Oct. Dr Laura Sbaffi  (Information School) presents her research on What makes us trust online information? The perspective of health information. Join the webinar (via Adobe Connect) at Enter as a "guest". You may need to download the free Adobe Connect application, so please allow a few minutes for that.

2pm-2.30 pm (which is 10-10.30am US EST) Wednesday 31st Oct. Sheila Webber (Information School) and Stephen Wyber (IFLA Manager, Policy and Advocacy.) will give their  Impressions of Global MIL Week feature conference. Join the webinar at As noted below, Sheila presented at the conference, and she will include a brief overview of UNESCO's MIL programme, trends from conference, and some highlights of her talk.

Recordings of both these seminars will be available afterwards. A recording of the first Gobal MIL week iSchool webinar, which ran last week, includes Pamela McKinney talking about her research on Information and data literacy of using mobile apps for diet and fitness tracking and Sharon Wagg “A literature review on the linkages between digital inclusion and information literacy”: . Sharon is a graduate of the University of Sheffield MA Librarianship programme, has worked for the Good Things foundation and is now undertaking a PhD at Loughborough University in the field of digital inclusion.

Sheila Webber co-presented at the conference (with Bill Johnston, Strathclyde University) on #AFMIL The Age-Friendly Media and Information Literate City: Combining policies and strategies for ageing populations in media and information rich societies. As Interim Co-Chair of the European Chapter of GAPMIL (Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy) she also participated in the feature conference closing session. Sheila liveblogged from the conference and her posts can be found here:

Additionally, iSchool students have been posting information about their Global MIL Week activities to a padlet at Information Literacy is a core module on both the MA Librarianship and the MA Library and Information Services Management programmes.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

iSchool staff attend launch of new H2020 project

Dr Jo Bates and Professor Paul Clough from the Information School attended the launch of the new H2020 funded CyCAT (Cyprus Centre for Algorithmic Transparency) project in Nicosia 8-9 October 2018.

Jo and Paul are investigators on CyCAT, a project hosted by the Open University of Cyprus (OUC), which aims to educate and raise awareness of ways in which data analytics and algorithmic processes can affect people's access to and interactions with information. The project will help promote digital literacy around algorithmic bias, transparency and fairness, a topic gaining considerable attention and media attention.

The CyCAT project started 1st October 2018 and will run for 3 years. OUC is the lead partner of the project with additional contributions coming from The University of Sheffield , the University of Haifa , the University of Trento (Università degli Studi di Trento), and The University of Edinburgh.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Down Mexico Way - Dr Andrew Cox's visit to Mexico City

It is always exciting to see a former PhD student again and find out more about what they are doing now, so it was amazing to be able to visit Mexico City and say hello again to Gibrán Rivera Gonzalez who gained his PhD at the Information School in 2013. He is now a lecturer at Instituto Politécnico Nacional, one of the top universities in Mexico. The picture below is of a seminar I gave on the need for qualitative research in the age of big data and AI.

Together we also went to the Entre Pares conference, in Pueblo, organised by CONRICYT (The National Consortium of Scientific and Technological Information Resources). The conference aims to promote scholarly communication in academic communities across Mexico. This year’s event had an impressive programme of presentations on a wide variety of information science topics. There was a track on Research Data Management, reflecting the increasing interest in this topic in the country.

It was good to be able to share some UK experiences around Research Data Management and open scholarship with conference attendees during a session with Dr Miguel Adolfo Guajardo Mendoza from CONACYT (National Council for Science and Technology), and at another event with repository managers.

Gibrán and I also visited the Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliotecológicas y de la Información (IIBI) at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), the National Autonomous University of Mexico. IIBI is one of the most important library schools in Latin America, and are doing some very impressive research activities such as publishing the journal, Investigación Bibliotecológica. Archivonomía, bibliotecología e información.

I was struck by how much interesting research is going on in the Spanish speaking world that we are often unaware of here in the UK. Actually, Investigación Bibliotecológica has a parallel version in the English language – very much recommended reading! While we were at UNAM, we also took a chance to visit their fantastic library building.

Everyone we encountered in Mexico was very friendly and welcoming. Luckily we were able to find some time to do some sightseeing! The ancient pyramids at Teotihuacan are very impressive. We also visited Xochimilco to see the amazing chinampas (floating gardens or man-made islands), originally created by the Aztecs. Xochimilco is one of the last remaining areas of lake which existed in Aztec times, most of which is now built over by the vast conurbation of Mexico City.

Dr Andrew Cox, Senior Lecturer

Thursday, 4 October 2018

PhD student Gianmarco Ghiandoni wins best poster at UK QSAR Autumn Meeting

Congratulations to Gianmarco Ghiandoni, PhD student in the Chemoinformatics Research Group, who recently won the Best Student Poster prize at the UK QSAR (Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship) Autumn 2018 Meeting, which took place at Lady Margaret Conference Centre, Oxford University, on September 26th.

Gianmarco's poster was entitled 'Fingerprint-based recommendation Models in Reaction-driven Drug Design'. The prize gives Gianmarco the opportunity to convert his poster to a 30 minute talk which he will give at the next UK QSAR meeting on 4th April 2019 in Cambridge.

Gianmarco's PhD research is on the topic of reaction-based molecular design, supervised by Professor Val Gillet of the Information School and Professor Beining Chen from the Department of Chemistry. You can find out more about his research here.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Dr Paul Reilly article published in The Conversation UK

Senior Lecturer Dr Paul Reilly and Research Associate Dr. Ioanna Tantanasi have published an article entitled ‘Social media’s not all bad- it’s saving lives in disaster zones‘ for the Conversation UK last week. The piece draws on their CascEff and IMPROVER work on social media and crisis communication.

Thanks to Stephen Harris for his editorial support and the invitation to comment on this issue.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Visiting Scholar – Josephine Nabukenya

Professor Josephine Nabukenya, Chair of Health Informatics in the Department of Information Systems, School of Computing and Information Sciences at Makerere University, Uganda, has paid a five-day visit to the Information School as a guest of Dr Laura Sbaffi and Dr Pamela Abbott, representing the Health Informatics and Information Systems Research Groups, respectively. Josephine’s visit follows on from a five-day research visit made by Drs Sbaffi and Abbott to Makerere University in April to establish research collaborations, which were initiated between Professor Nabukenya and Professor Peter Bath, Chair of Health Informatics and Head of the Information School.

While visiting the School, Josephine met researchers mainly in the Health Informatics and Information Systems research groups and presented a seminar on “Transforming Uganda’s Healthcare and Ecosystem Using Health Informatics Research”; details of the seminar are here. She also spent time exploring current research interests and future potential collaborations between Makerere University Health Informatics and Information Systems research groups. She has already been collaborating with the HI and IS research groups here on funded calls for research related to the use of Electronic Health Records in resource-constrained settings in Uganda and is keen to expand this portfolio of mutually enriching projects.

Josephine also has interests in collaborating on PhD supervisions and online teaching for the Masters in Health Informatics programme and has met with the programme coordinator and teaching staff on this programme both from the Information School and School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).

Josephine’s research profile and more about the Health Informatics Research Group at Makerere University can be found here

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Paper co-authored by Wasim Ahmed, Peter Bath and Laura Sbaffi presented at major social media conference

The 9th International Conference on Social Media and Society was held earlier this month in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Dr Wasim Ahmed, recent Information School PhD graduate (now assistant Professor at Northumbria University) presented his PhD work at the conference and his trip was funded by the Information School. The paper Moral Panic through the Lens of Twitter: An Analysis of Infectious Disease Outbreaks was co-authored by Head of School and Professor of Health Informatics Peter Bath, and Dr Laura Sbaffi.

You can access the paper here.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by Data Science student He Liu

It has been a while since my trip to the CILIP Conference in Brighton, and I believe this is the moment for me to express my experiences about this journey.  Firstly, I would like to thank the Information School of the University of Sheffield for providing me this opportunity with a student bursary. It was my great pleasure to attend the CILIP Conference.

This was not my first time attending conference. I was impressed to see so many admirable professionals and their brilliant ideas during the conference. Also, I felt welcome from the first day I arrived in Brighton. There was a city travel event on Tuesday evening before the conference. Even though I was the only student in our group, I made some new friends during the city travel. By the end, we spent a wonderful time enjoying the sunset at the lovely coast. At that moment, I was anticipating the next day’s conference.

No doubt, I couldn’t be more satisfied with my experience. Having the opportunity to be a member of CILIP during my studies can be considered as an advantage for my further career. This event proved to be very challenging, but it also offered exciting and new opportunities to learn from library and information professionals. Aside from a positive impact on my development, this also has an impact on a rather personal level. This particular conference experience provided me with an advantage in the field of work, as well as the possibility of being able to practice what I have learned from the Information School.

One of the many different perspectives offered during the conference, keynote speaker Helen Dodd from Cancer Reach UK highlighted the strong similarity between GDPR and the information life cycle. She concluded five steps to ‘collect, store, use, share, dispose’ for organisations to use their information. She announced that the implement of GDPR does not restrict the development of organisations, but is an opportunity for them. As she explained, ‘GPPR presents an opportunity to bring us closer to knowing how we use our information, and how we can use it better!’ For organisations, tackling GDPR is a first step in reducing risk, which provides a foundation for even more interesting, innovative work. Especially, she mentioned that GDPR activity in terms of core library and knowledge services skills: data processing reviews are information audits. As a data science student, her speech was really inspiring to me in my studies and advised me on how to progress my future career. After her speech, I couldn’t help myself but to meet her in person, and showed my gratitude.

Attending the CILIP Conference also provided me the opportunities to expand my social network. I completely understand that the power behind networking is quite a strong element in this conference. It does not just involve getting to know people, but it also allows people to practice personal learning. This conference was also a perfect platform for me to show my communication skills. As one of the student representatives, I got the chance to introduce my programme to people at the Information School exhibition stand. It refreshed what I have learnt from the class and shared my experience to prospective students.

To sum up, it was a wonderful experience for me to enhance my knowledge and skills, and to build my personality for attending the CILIP Conference in the future. Again, thanks to Information School of Sheffield for providing me this opportunity. It was a priceless opportunity in my life.

He Liu
MSc Data Science student

CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by Librarianship student Kathryn Aylward

I was absolutely gutted that I never quite got my application in for the LILAC Conference bursary, so when the opportunity to go to another, even bigger conference came up, I was determined to go – and I am so glad that I did! It was an action-packed two and a half days of fish ‘n’ chips, seagull attacks, fairground rides, and of course, lots of librarian shenanigans.

Brighton at night – taken from the pier on the way home from the Conference dinner.
Of all the sessions I attended over the two-day conference, there are three which really stand out for me. The first was the keynote by the Scottish librarian of the year, Sally Walker, who works as a children’s librarian for Orkney’s public library system. Her passion and enthusiasm for the job were so obvious that you couldn’t help but be swept up in it! Sally has achieved a lot whilst in the post, from introducing Code Clubs and LEGO/Minecraft sessions for the children, to working with disadvantaged families in the area to encourage their participation in library sessions. I came away from her talk feeling so inspired and energised by Sally’s great work, but also a little nostalgic for my first ever role as a library worker: I used to do children’s Storytimes, complete with books, crafts, and nursery rhymes, in a small branch library in York.

The second memorable session was the first parallel session of the conference, entitled ‘Networking for the rest of us’ and hosted by Jo Wood (host of the Librarians with Lives podcast – I appear on the CILIP Conference special edition!) and Michael Jones. This was part of the ‘Your Career’ track sponsored by Sheffield. I’m not a natural networker, but Jo and Mike made it so easy for us. First, they presented us with some simple but fool-proof tricks for successful networking, then they let us loose to practice! A stroke of genius on their part was providing us with board games and other activities to bond over – it meant that you had something common you were all doing and helped us stop overthinking things and just talk to each other. I feel confident in saying that this session was a roaring success for all involved, and I made some new friends which I continued to keep in touch with as the conference went on.

The end of the first day brought with it the conference dinner on Brighton pier – a perfect time to practice networking! We each received a fish ‘n’ chip dinner (or falafel for the veggies) and a wristband to ride the rides for free until 10pm. Riding a rollercoaster right on the edge of a pier, late at night, immediately after chips, is a surreal, exhilarating, mildly terrifying experience that I would heartily recommend to absolutely everyone.

The final session that really stuck with me was all about managing health information. It was presented by Steph Grey from Public Health England and Hong-Anh Nguyen from The King’s Fund, who talked about Health Information Week and Knowvember respectively. As someone with aspirations to join NHS Library and Knowledge Services, it was really interesting and useful to hear about the kind of campaigns that are being run within NHS libraries and the ways in which I could get involved in the future. Hong-Anh in particular was such a good presenter that I found myself getting really excited about knowledge management (for the first time ever)!

In addition to these three, I also attended parallel sessions on prison libraries, evidence-based practice, and information literacy, as well as keynotes from the House of Commons librarian Penny Young, journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed, and library activists John Chrastka and Patrick Sweeney. This shows how broad the range of sessions on offer at the CILIP Conference is – there is truly something for everyone.

In conclusion, I had a fantastic time at the CILIP Conference 2018, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to any future Information School students!

Kathryn Aylward
MA Librarianship student

CILIP Conference 2018: Spotlight by Information Management student Xindi Jiang

I was very honoured to have the opportunity to attend the 2018 CILIP conference in Brighton with a student bursary from the Information School at the University of Sheffield. The CILIP conference is one of the most important events for the library and information professionals in the UK. As an international student from China, this is not only an opportunity for engagement and communication with library and information professionals, but also a chance to learn more about the history and development of library and information management in the UK. During the conference, I found that the professionals’ discussions and speeches focused on the UK while also focusing on the worldwide library and information field. This made it easy for me to understand the discussions of the professionals.

This was my first time attending the CILIP Conference. What excited me was not only the conference, but also the Information School’s exhibition stand. During the two-day conference, I not only discussed the conference with others through Twitter, but also shared my experience at the Information School with many people in person at the stand.

The two-day conference schedule was packed with different keynote presentations and nearly 30 group seminars. Each session was very appealing and triggered intense thinking about related topics. The most attractive seminar to me was ‘Knowledge and Information Management’, delivered by Knowledge et al Managing Partner Paul J. Corney, Morgan Stanley Global Head of Business Information Services Stephen Phillips, and CJ Anderson. The House of Commons Librarian Penny Young also participated in this seminar. 

During the Knowledge and Information Management seminar, Paul J. Corney mentioned that ‘today’s digital workplace is a rich, diverse, shifting environment’. Then, he talked about three issues addressed by Artificial Intelligence (AI). For example, he said that “by leveraging the power of algorithm-driven automation and data analytics to 'productize' aspect of their work, a number of innovative firms are finding that, like Google and Adobe, they can increase margins as they grow, while giving clients better service at prices that competitors can’t match”

This was a good point of inspiration for me. Although I have not really worked in this field, this view has caused me to think about innovative companies from the perspective of information and knowledge management, and wonder how they can do better.

Paul J. Corney also give a definition of the ‘Knowledgeur’, which is ‘an entrepreneur who makes use of his/her/others’ knowledge in one activity or market and applies it for beneficial use in another'. He also outlined the core skills of a knowledgeur, and future roles of the knowledge manager: Investigate, Navigate, Negotiate, Facilitate, Collaborate, Communicate, Curate and Celebrate. I am lifelong learner. These seven core skills will guide me in my future career. I will continue to think deeply and draw on them in my future studies and work. 

Overall, this conference is a memorable and valuable experience. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the University of Sheffield Information School for this valuable opportunity and student bursary. I also hope that I can improve my learning ability and professional knowledge through more such learning opportunities. 

Xindi Jiang
MSc Information Management student

CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by Distance Learning student Katherine Burchell

I was fortunate to win a bursary from the Information School to attend the CILIP Conference held in Brighton. This was my first opportunity at attending a large-scale conference and to meet other likeminded professionals. Not only was it an opportunity to learn about all different topics, it was also a chance for me to meet other iSchool students at the iSchool stand and to also discuss the distance learning course to prospective students. I must say I was surprised at how many people wanted to discuss distance learning, and I am pleased to have been able to chat to them about the work and study balance.

With this being my first conference, I naturally felt nervous about the experience but I was immediately set at ease by how open and welcoming everyone was. This was something that CILIP were very proactive to alleviate and they set up a special “Welcome Zone” for first timers, a place where they could chat to each other, over a game of Connect 4. I had spoken to people online via Twitter before attending so I felt that these initial first conversations were a lot less daunting for me.

The conference programme was jam packed with four different keynote speakers and lots of breakout sessions, covering a wide variety of topics from library spaces to health literacy. There was certainly something for everyone. My favourite keynote speaker was Sally Walker, Scotland’s Library and Information Professional of the Year, who spoke of her journey to professional registration. Being very early into my career this keynote was perfect for me, as it gave me the confidence and drive to pursue my career and take opportunities given to me. Sally was so passionate about her job and the work she has done with Orkney libraries and the work she has done with children and their families.

My highlight quote from the whole conference had to be from Sally Walker when she said:

“I’m exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. That is peace”

I’m going to be taking this with me wherever I go and remember this moving forward with my career. I really enjoy hearing career stories, as I find they are a great way of finding out about career paths I didn’t know anything about before, they always get me thinking of all the different jobs I could have in the future.

There was so much to see and hear at the conference, that it was a tough choice to choose which breakout sessions to attend. I will just discuss two of my favourite sessions that I attended.

The first session I chose to attend was “Blurring the boundaries: the reshaping of library spaces”. I chose this seminar session as it has very close ties with my dissertation, so it was a great opportunity to hear about what other libraries are doing with their spaces. I was particularly amazed by the work at The Hive in Worcester, they have a fully integrated library, in which they have both a public and an academic library. It was great to hear how there is a focus on being more than just a library, something which I think is extremely important to the future of public libraries.

The second session I attended was a “Professional Registration Café run by Jo Cornish and Sonia Ramdhian both from CILIP. The “Your Career” strand was sponsored by the Information School and this session gave practical advice about Certification, Chartership and Fellowship. It was an opportunity to hear what goes into a portfolio and the types of evidence you need for it. There was opportunity at the end of the sessions to get into small groups to discuss what stage you are at with thinking about professional registration. For myself, I would like to do either Certification or Chartership within the next couple of years, and it was a great session, which gave me a confidence boost about the experience I have and how it can be used for professional registration.

Overall the conference was a great experience for me both personally and professionally and opened my eyes to all the different opportunities available to me as I progress. I look forward to being able to put all the new knowledge I learnt into practice and I look forward to my future in such a rewarding and welcoming profession.

Katherine Burchell
MA Library and Information Service Management (Distance Learning) student

CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by Distance Learning student Beth Jackson

This year’s CILIP Conference was held in Brighton and I was delighted to be able to represent the University of Sheffield at the Information School stand. This proved to be a really wonderful experience and afforded me plenty of opportunities to speak to current, former and prospective students and to chat with the myriad different information professionals who stopped by the stand throughout the duration of the conference.

The keynote speeches were really interesting and covered topics across different library and information sectors, from GDPR to children’s library services. I particularly enjoyed Penny Young’s talk about the scope of the House of Commons library service. In such a political turbulent time, much of what Penny discussed helped re-humanise MPs in the face of tabloid coverage and really emphasised the need for and use of evidence to inform our elected representatives. The work that the HOC library do is essential and extensive and it was fascinating to hear her experience of working in such a challenging environment.

I also enjoyed Samira Ahmed’s look at the important role that libraries and archives play in preserving important items that help to document our social history. She took us through a variety of examples that she had encountered through her career in journalism but my favourite was that of Paud’s Pins – a project unpicking the cultural significance of a collection of artefacts relating to the LGBT+ movement in the 1980s. I was aware of the project already, having stumbled across a Twitter thread that documented the discovery of the archive. I shared this on the conference hashtag which kicked off a number of really interesting discussions - you can read more about the discovery of this brilliant collection here. Samira also offered a word of caution about our role and offered some anecdotal evidence about how the biases of the information professional can impact how the social history of minority groups are described and recorded. I think this was an important take-away for every library and information worker; to critically analyse whether their working practices enforce structural inequalities.

I made a deliberate effort to attend break-out sessions that weren’t necessarily related to my current job role and I think this offered me a richer conference experience and a more comprehensive look at what different information professionals are doing in their sectors. Attending the ‘Preserving the past for the future’ seminar was an illuminating insight into a range of preservation projects, including the innovative use of heritage collections to support disadvantaged communities, the digitisation of Gulf history and Arabic science material at the British Library and the protection of our cultural property in the face of armed conflict or natural disasters. I was especially interested in Dr Nick Barratt’s example of using heritage collections to support reminiscence therapy for those suffering with dementia. The idea to open up recipe archives to help reproduce evocative smells and reignite lost memories was something I was particularly moved by and since this is a topic that is close to home for me, it was fantastic to hear of cultural history collections being used in such a meaningful way.

I also really enjoyed the ‘Voice and vision: the importance of diverse representation in literature for children and young people’ break-out session. The inclusive panel had a thoughtful, lively and spirited debate on the importance of intersectional diversity in children’s books. You can find my live tweets from this (and other sessions) here. One of the key themes that emerged from the discussion included the necessity for the literature to represent not only diverse backgrounds, but also to reflect a diversity of experience. Nadia Shireen cautioned that stories that have BAME protagonists don’t have to be intense or overly earnest tales – they can and should also be funny, sad or romantic. Juno Dawson also attested to this by suggested that books with LGBT characters don’t have to be ‘coming out stories’ - in an ideal world, a character’s sexuality could be incidental to their other characteristics. The panel also highlighted the important role that libraries play as allies to BAME authors, by demonstrating to publishers that there is a real demand for a breadth of different stories from more diverse backgrounds and there is commercial gain to be had from engaging with a more inclusive range of authors and illustrators.

I had a fantastic time at the conference and it was a real pleasure to meet so many fantastic people over the course of the two days - I was also able to meet some fellow distance-learners (and lecturers!) face-to-face for the first time. I know that balancing work and study can be challenging and isolating at times, so this experience was a great way of engaging with and staying connected to the University and I would wholeheartedly encourage other DL students to apply for future bursaries.

Beth Jackson
PGDip Library and Information Services Management (Distance Learning) student

CILIP Conference 2018: Highlights by PhD student Catherine Hoodless

I was fortunate enough to receive one of the Information School’s student bursaries to attend the 2018 CILIP Conference, which this year was held in a very sunny Brighton. This was my first experience of the conference, which is one of the main events for library, knowledge and information professionals in the UK, and it certainly did not disappoint. The programme consisted of a variety of interesting sessions and keynote speakers that showcased some of the important and diverse work being carried out in the sector. Below are just a few of my highlights of the conference:

  • Penny Young, House of Commons Librarian, opened the conference with a fascinating keynote speech on the history of the Library and how it supports MPs by providing them with the information they require to do their work. Not only did it provide an intriguing insight into the workings and challenges of a Library I knew very little about, it also highlighted the important role information plays in democracy and how all libraries have a duty to equip the public with the ability to become active citizens.
  • Following directly on from this, Sally Walker gave an impassioned keynote speech, which focused on her professional journey to become Scotland’s first Library and Information Professional of the Year. From admitting to suffering from “imposter syndrome” for years, to the amazing work she does as Children’s Librarian for Orkney Library, her speech was inspirational. From the reaction on Twitter, the quote she ended with, from the children’s book Pax by Sara Pennypacker, clearly resonated with many individuals around the room – “I’m exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing, and that is peace.”
  • I found the breakout session “Blurring the boundaries: the reshaping of library spaces” particularly interesting because of its relevance to my PhD research. While my research does not deal specifically with changing library spaces, what stood out to me from this session was how professional roles and ways of working are having to change in order to complement new library designs. 
  • EveryLibrary, an organisation in the United States working to protect public funding of libraries, gave an extremely engaging and thought-provoking talk, which resulted in calls for a similar, targeted approach to securing library funding in the UK.
  • Finally, I can’t talk about my highlights without mentioning the drinks reception – riding the Crazy Mouse on the end of Brighton pier definitely made for a memorable conference moment!

Overall, I would highly recommend this conference to anyone in the library, knowledge and information professions and would like to thank the Information School for providing me with the opportunity to attend and represent the School. It is a brilliant opportunity to connect with professionals outside your area in order to hear what they are doing and see how the work you do fits in with the wider sector. It is a conference with a real sense of community!

Catherine Hoodless
PhD student

Friday, 13 July 2018

Using Linkedin for collaborative knowledge construction

In recent research, Information School alumni Xuguang Li, Senior lecturer Dr. Andrew Cox and Zefeng Wang from Shenzhen Energy Group Co explored a LinkedIn Dell User Group, where users help each other to fix product problems, as a case study in how social network sites can support the construction of knowledge.

They found that the groups users were actively engaged in collaborative construction of knowledge and that a key phase in this knowledge construction took place in discussions categorised as “proposing a new idea”. The research also found that the collaboration was supported by the ways that the LinkedIn platform enables one-to-one interaction. In the group there was frequent usage of the technical symbol @ to communicate with particular members about testing their idea, to ask focused questions and more.

The authors argue that the visibility of the users’ identity in the group was key to the cooperation and lack of verbal abuse that they saw in the activities on the platform.

‘In contrast to open technical support forums sponsored by producers, visible identities of participants and norms of cooperation developed on LinkedIn avoid trolling behaviours and verbal abuse.’ (Li, Cox and Wang, 2018, 13)

You can find the paper in Issue 3 of Volume 42 of Online Information Review:
Xuguang Li, Andrew Cox, Zefeng Wang, "How do social network sites support product users’ knowledge construction? A Study of LinkedIn", Online Information Review,

Follow Online Information Review on Twitter for updates, calls for papers and events.
Online Information Review (OIR) is an international, double blind peer-reviewed, ISI-listed journal devoted to research in the broad field of digital information and communication, and related technologies. The journal provides a multi-disciplinary forum for scholars from a range of fields, including information studies/iSchools, data studies, internet studies, media and communication studies and information systems.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Alessandro Checco & Jo Bates win Best Paper at HCOMP 2018

From Director of Research Professor Paul Clough:

I am delighted to announce that Alessandro Checco and Jo Bates (together with Gianluca Demartini) have won the Best Paper award at the prestigious Human Computation or HCOMP 2018 conference for the following paper:

Checco A, Bates J & Demartini G (2018) All That Glitters is Gold -- An Attack Scheme on Gold Questions in Crowdsourcing. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing. Abstract here;

Not only is it a significant achievement to even be accepted at this conference it is an outstanding achievement to be nominated for Best Paper and then to win it is incredible. Alessandro and Gianluca were awarded the prize at HComp 2018.

Alessandro had this to say about the paper and reviews:

"Feedback from chairs was that they really liked the fact we opened a new direction (that is having workers using ML solutions on the employers). We will have the opportunity to submit an extended version of the paper published in The Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research (impact factor 2.284)"

Well done Alessandro and Jo, but particularly Alex who, amongst other things, provided the inspiration for the paper.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Dr Jonathan Foster receives TESS Award

Dr Jonathan Foster, Lecturer in Information Management and Programme Coordinator for the MSc Information Management, recently received his Teaching and Excellence in the Social Sciences (TESS) award from the University's Faceulty of Social Sciences.

'It was wonderful experience to receive the TESS award, in recognition of the Deliberation Day that we hold annually during Induction Week', says Dr Foster. 'The aim of the event is provide an enabling context for new students - many of whom are international - to experience a setting where dialogue and the revision of views - rather than their dogmatic reception - becomes a distinct possibility.'

Dr Foster received his award, along with other colleagues from across the Faculty, at a reception in the ICOSS building at the University. During his acceptance speech he elaborated more on the influences he drew from for the Deliberation Day event. 'I believe that a democratic approach to learning and teaching is needed more than ever in a contemporary climate, increasingly pervaded by authoritarianism and technical decision-making', Dr Foster says.

'While the immediate inspiration for the event resides in the tradition of deliberative democracy, its more distant roots derive from the work of the American pragmatist John Dewey in particular his work on Democracy and Education.'

'John Dewey was someone who believed that education should be directed towards democratic social ends. In this respect, he believed that there are two practicable standards against which we can measure the worth of any form of democratic social life: "How numerous and varied are the interests which are consciously shared?" i.e. a standard of diversity; and "How full and free is the interplay with other forms of association", i.e. a standard of cooperative dialogue and discourse within and between those interests. Therefore, a worthwhile education for John Dewey is one in which we develop a) a capacity in our students to recognise a diversity of interests ii) a capacity to engage in dialogue with the interests of others, and c) to choose to revise our views in the light of that dialogue.'

Dr Foster's case was supported by a comprehensive case study, and at the award ceremony a testimony was also given by current PGT student Noora Ahmed Albalooshi, who attended the last Deliberation Day event.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Rutgers University Summer School Visit

In June, the Information School welcomed visitors from the Rutgers University summer school for library and information management. The summer school involves masters students from Rutgers and other partner universities, who are based in the UK for two weeks at Wroxton College near Oxford. The students are involved in lectures and seminars during their time in the UK involving speakers from this country and other parts of Europe.

The students visited Sheffield for a day and were involved in classes led by Dr Briony Birdi and Professor Stephen Pinfield. Briony led a class on public libraries and Stephen on academic libraries. There were some really excellent discussions, with students contributing based on their knowledge of good practice and the literature.

Students were also given a tour of the Information Commons and the Diamond building at Sheffield as examples of library and learning environments in the UK. Thanks to Helen Dickinson, Information Services Co-ordinator at the Diamond for showing students round and discussing the main features of the spaces and services.

It was a real pleasure to welcome students and their professors, Prof Marie Radford and Prof Kay Cassell, and to engage in discussion and learning with them.

Written by Stephen Pinfield, Professor of Information Services Management

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Successful seminar series co-organised by PhD student Yuhua Wang

A seminar series on post-PhD career development and opportunities outside of academia was successfully held on Wednesday 6th June. This event was co-organised by Yuhua Wang, a PhD student from Information School, and Youcao Ren, a PhD student from the Landscape Department. The PGR Forum of the Faculty of Social Science funded this event. This event has also received generous help and support from iSchool Society and Campus Capital, with Marc Bonne, president of the Society, chairing the seminars and Itzelle Medina Perea helping during the sessions.

Initiated by Yuhua and Youcao from as early as 2017, this event was designed to offer a variety of information on and insights into the job world outside academia, to help PhD students and graduates make more informed career decisions. Opened by Dr Darcey Gillie, an experienced careers adviser from The Researcher Development Team of the University, the event welcomed PhD students from a variety of departments including the Information School, Landscape Department, Management School, and Department of Sociological Studies for intriguing and informative sessions from a good variety of invited speakers, including industry practitioners, start-up founders, careers consultants and professionals from the domains of social enterprise and venture capital.

Dr Alice Mathers is the Head of Research and Explorations from Good Things Foundation, a leading UK digital literacy NGO. As an external member of our School’s Advisory Panel, Alice is committed to helping PhD students make better career choices, especially at the outset. Alice’s presentation, entitled ‘Parks, books and digital: from academia to industry’, shared her journey from the time when she first stumbled into the digital charity with little knowledge about what ‘digital’ implied after her PhD in Landscape Architecture, when she found the beat of research in industry and applied her transferable research skills to the real-life projects, to when she created a research team in the organisation. Now 10+ years into her journey, she has proven the impact of research in industry, and is continually leading the team to evolve and improve. Reflecting on her career, Alice suggested that it is important to keep curiosity and openness; good researchers’ qualities. Her experience gave the audience a living example of the possibility of continuing research in organisations, even if sometimes it is not one’s area of expertise to begin with.

Dr Alice Mathers delivering her session.
Elena Yang Liu, founder and director of Yang for Young, an R&D based company for social issues within health care and disability sectors, shared her experience of career development after obtaining her postgraduate degree. Displaying a sample set of her first product line (Brailler for children with visual impairment) during her presentation, Elena explained why she chose a difficult path of building a business from scratch over accepting a paid job. Being more in control and getting more satisfaction from self-worth realisation, she concluded, were the main driving factors. For any postgraduate students who have sparkling ideas and the potential to make a contribution to the betterment of the society, maybe Elena’s pathway is worth considering.

Elena Yang Liu addressing audience questions during networking lunch
In addition to the above personal journeys, following information sessions answered the questions of ‘H’s and ‘W’s for the audience, including: ‘How did people get where they are (and how do I get there)?’, ‘What qualities, recourses, teams should I gather so that to get there?’, and ‘Where are these resources?’

Stephanie Ward, manager of Vista Mentoring; Darren Chouings, network chair of SSEN (Sheffield Social Enterprise Network) and social enterprise specialist from the USE (University of Sheffield Enterprise); and Anu Adebajo, investment manager from British Business Bank gave very informative sessions. Stephanie introduced how to find a mentor (PhD graduates in industry) to discuss one’s career plans, which is an important feature that is often lacking in traditional careers consultancy. She also amazed the audience by revealing that she is not only in the role of managing such a big platform, but also a PhD student herself, now in her writing-up year.

Darren delivered an interactive session which introduced what a social enterprise is like and how to gain the necessary support to start one of your own. The real-world cases of social enterprise that Darren shared were in very different segments of society and have rather differing rationales behind them. This greatly inspired the audience who were from diverse backgrounds. In contrast to social enterprise, Anu explained what a VC (venture capital) is, how it differentiates itself from other funding sources and how to pitch ideas and get funds from VC investors. In addition, Tom French from Good Things Foundation, and Tristan Westlake from Campus Capital also shared their thoughts with the audience at the networking session that followed the seminars, which has also received very positive feedback from the participants.

Darren Chouings giving a session on social enterprise
As Darcey stated at the opening, these cases and stories from our speakers show that one could do almost anything with a PhD, so have your eyes wide open to the vast job world both inside and outside academia, learn from others’ experience and utilise all the resources that are available to you. Research is everywhere in the continuum of PhD/academia and industry and has many faces - find yours.

Slides from the seminars are available here

Blog written by Yuhua Wang

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

PhD student Shuyang Li wins Student Employee of the Year Award

PhD student Shuyang Li recently won a Student Employee of the Year Award at the University's SEOTY awards 2018.

This is a national award, coordinated by the National Association of Student Employment Services (NASES). The award recognises and promotes students who successfully undertake a part-time job alongside their studies and who make an exceptional contribution to their employing organisation.

Shuyang was nominated by the Student Jobshop, part of the Careers Service, as she worked part time as a student ambassador and recently as a part-time researcher at the Careers Service.

Shuyang Li receiving her award from Wyn Morgan, Vice-President for Education.
"To me, this award means recognition for the work that I have conducted and trust from my employing organisation", says Shuyang. "As an international student, I also feel more confident at the working environment."

Find out more about the awards here.

See the full results listing here.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Professor Peter Willett celebrated at international Chemoinformatics conference

Professor Val Gillet and six other members of the Chemoinformatics Research Group are attending the 11th International Conference on Chemical Structures in Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands, May 27-31st 2018.

This is the major international conference in the field, with over 200 delegates from more than 20 countries. As usual, the Sheffield Chemoinformatics Group is making a strong contribution to the meeting with one oral presentation (Matt Seddon) and three posters (Antonio de le Vega de Leon, Christina Founti and Gian Marco Ghiandoni). Professor Gillet is on the Scientific Advisory Board and is a member of the Poster Jury.

The final session of the meeting on Chemoinformatics is dedicated to Prof. Peter Willett to celebrate his outstanding contribution to the field over 40 years. Val will chair this session and will open it by presenting some highlights of Peter’s career.