Monday, 29 January 2018

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

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

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

The post can be found here

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ioanna Tantanasi appointed Research Associate for IMPROVER project

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

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

Monday, 15 January 2018

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

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

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

Friday, 12 January 2018

Interviews with students at graduation

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

Priya Mehta
MA Library and Information Services Management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syeda Hina Shahid
PhD Information Studies 

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

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

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

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

Aleksandr Koshkarov
MSc Data Science

“Professor Peter Bath inspired me”

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

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

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

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

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

Wen Si
MSc Information Management

“I love this school so much!”

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Dr Paul Reilly presenting two papers at MeCCSA 2018

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

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

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


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

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


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