Participation in the ISIC conference

name badge.JPGI have returned back to Scotland after a week in Zadar for the Information Seeking in Context (ISIC) conference and have many things to reflect on. The trip has been planned since May when some of our research group found out that their posters, presentations and doctoral workshop applications had been accepted. Last week we made the trip to the University of Zadar where the conference was being held. It has been an intense but enjoyable week and something I was quite looking forwards to with it being my first academic conference of the PhD journey.

The conference was split into two main sections – the pre-conference doctoral workshop and the main conference itself and I have so much to reflect on from taking part in each. Some of the things need further exploration and some need a lot of thinking but I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the workshop and conference as it has given me much food for thought about my own PhD research.

The doctoral workshop

On the day before the main conference, my colleagues (Frances, Iris and John) and I took part in the doctoral workshop. This was an opportunity to meet other doctoral students form all around the world and share our research collectively. It was an opportunity to present our work in smaller groups, and following this presentation we received feedback on our research from fellow students and academic mentors. It was a collective process of building venue.JPGfeedback and response in helping to improve our research and I as provided invaluable feedback my two academic mentors: Professor Ivanka Stričević and Professor Ina Fourie as well as all other students present.

The workshop gave me the opportunity to also present my work in a 10 minutes. This was not pre-prepared and I was nervous, but it was good to give an overview of my research to others in the group. I was questioned on my definitions of innovation, the relevance of the research to information science and given some recommendations on the use of different topics within the PhD (focusing on information behaviour and information seeking in learning). These suggestions were great and were just what I was looking for so they will be getting followed up and incorporated into my research.

My initial concerns when attending the conference was whether my PhD research had enough information science in the topic and whether it would fit. I questioned if my research could be improved at all to make it coherent within the information science domain and these concerns were unexpectedly answered in the doctoral workshop. The feedback I received has made me think about my topic and how I can emphasise the information science in it… it is an information science PhD after-all!. However, it has also made me reflect upon the reasons for doing my research and how much I enjoy it so changes to my research should not be something I welcome with uncertainty but something I should welcome with pride. As part of the doctoral workshop I asked questions regarding my theoretical framework and the relationships with my sponsors (relationship management) and was not surprised by these answers. I had experienced my RD5 review not long ago and we addressed these questions in my meeting so I was quite reassured when the answers form my mentors were within the same lines of what had already been said.

The workshop was organised by Dr Theresa Anderson and Professor Ross Todd, both of whom have great experience of how valuable the workshops are. They encouraged us all to mingle, chat together and presented activities together to test our learnings from the day. We even had a post-doctoral workshop dinner to continue our conversations elsewhere and meet others we had not done during the day. For me, it was good to see perspectives of sunset boat.JPGinformation science from an international view and explore research from other doctoral students at different stages of the journey.

I left the workshop with questions in my head about my theoretical framework and methods. More importantly I still had one major question which I was hoping to find grounds in the main conference…


Does my PhD really fit here in the Information Science Domain?????

The conference

From the main conference programme you can see that there were speakers from all over the world taking part in the three day event. Papers explored theories, methods and empirical research carried out in the current research context. I had gone into the main conference with specific talks highlighted that I wanted to hear, but ended up staying for the vast majority of them all. The topics were diverse and I was interested in exploring research in relation to learning in the workplace or learning in general to see the perspectives used to explore these areas. This theme appeared a lot more than I was expecting which made me feel a little at ease knowing my research was about learning itself.  I was intrigued to find a theory talk that I may be able to incorporate into mine, and after discussions with the authors of the paper, I have decided this is something I must explore further in terms of how it can be incorporated into workplace learning.

IMG_1765.JPGI was particularly interest in this talk here as I knew it was the most relevant to my research. Within the first 10 minutes my eyes were glued to the screen as some of Dr Moring’s justification for choices were very similar to mine.

For example, I am using both information science and organisational studies literature because I feel you cannot explore learning through one single domain. I also use the Social Cognitive Theory to underpin my research but this may be incorporated with another theory as there is (yet) no single theory in any domain to explain the whole of my research. Dr Morning has similar justifications for her paper too which comforted me in knowing my decisions were justified and that someone else in the field has had similar ideas and justifications to me.

My presentations

poster.JPGDuring the main conference I had three things to do: (1) a one minute madness presentation of my doctoral research (alongside all other doctoral students); (2) a one minute madness presentation of my poster, which was expected to be in more depth and; (3) my poster presentation.

As this was my first conference, not only PhD conference but international conference, I was spectacularly nervous for all of this. As I am not a fan of presenting in front of others, I needed to quickly pluck up the courage to address the whole conference for both one minute madness presentations. This fear is something just need to get over as my fears of completely messing my presentation up in front of everyone are clearly just all in my head. I must admit, I did practise the presentations beforehand knowing I often speak too fast. Whilst practising I realised I had far too many words to say in one minute so tried to cut these down considerably so I could speak slower and speak a little better with my accent. I think my poster presentation was delivered okay, and I had some interest in what I was doing. However, again my concerns were confirmed. My PhD has a certain audience and often not from the information science background so I had to explain the information science aspect of my research to those it was unclear to. Undoubtedly, this has clarified some decisions I need to make and some things I need to discuss with my supervisory team to make sure my research is relevant and fits in with all conf venue view.JPGdisciplines that the research crosses in its development.

The location
I believe that the organisers of the ISIC conference did a remarkable job of selecting a perfect location for the conference. I mean, who would not want crisp blue seas and glorious sunsets as you participate in conference and after conference related activities.
On a more personal note, attending the conference gave me the opportunity to explore part of the world I had never been to before and see how other cities live. I was able to explore some of the historical aspects of Zadar like the Old Town and some of the more touristy attractions such as the fabulous Sea Organ. Overall, having time away from old town.JPGEdinburgh has helped me reflect on my research as a whole. I enjoy being in Edinburgh but have the opportunity to travel and meet academics form all over the world is an experience which is just priceless.  Walking along the beautiful coast and having some time to think has helped me clarify
what I need to do for the next steps of my PhD and has given me a lot of food for thought. This food for thought will be relayed back to my supervisory team with the justifications of why I want to make the changes I would like to make.


Ada Lovelace day celebrations 2016!

This year, Ada Lovelace day is on Tuesday 11th October. If you are not sure why this day is important, you can find out more about it in this news article here from last year.

In celebration of this important day, Edinburgh Napier University have two events planned. These are detailed below.

Firstly there is a Public lecture hosted by the University and Equate Scotland. This will be delivered by Professor Caroline Wilkinson at 6pm followed by drinks reception. The event is open to all but you must register to attend.

The lecture will be held at the Lindsay Stewart Lecture Theatre, Edinburgh Napier University Craiglockhart Campus, Glenlockhart Road, Edinburgh, EH14 1DJ.

More details of the event can be found here on a blog post by Professor Hazel Hall:

You can register for this event here:

Secondly on the same day, there are workshops hosted by the School of Computing. These are at 4pm and will be followed by refreshments (and then the public lecture for those who wish to attend). The workshops are open to female pupils (S1-S3) and their teachers.

The workshops will also be held at Edinburgh Napier’s Craiglockhart campus and two workshops will run in parallel:

(1) Finger prints: a forensics investigation

(2) Hands on with Arduino.

More information on the workshops can be found here:

To register teachers should contact Debbie Meharg:

We hope you can join Edinburgh Napier for the Ada Lovelace events!

Lecture poster.png



Success at the I3E conference, September 2016.

image1Normally I blog about things relating directly to my PhD. However, this blog post is a little different. It’s not different in being about social things surrounding my PhD, it’s different because it’s about research done outside of the PhD as part of finishing up the research internship I started before moving up North to Edinburgh.

It was back sometime earlier in 2016 when the decision was made to pursue a collaboration different to what we had already considered. As part of my initial internship plans, the idea of two publications or two outputs was not set in stone but it was something that my supervisor / mentor (Dr. Jeske) and I had in mind.

My internship supervisor introduced me to Ruoyun Lin, a PhD student doing her research into the psychological effects of social media use. This was great. We both were part of research groups with similar research interests. More importantly, we both had data from other research projects that we had worked on with Dr Jeske and this data had not been analysed. From this, the decision was made to combine two research studies into one as the themes overlapped and worked well as a pair. Combing the results of two research studies started our journey to writing a paper together and to search for a place to submit it.

Not long after deciding this, I got an email about a conference taking place in September (which coincidently had a call for papers out). My former internship supervisor and Ruoyun had chatted about the conference and decided it might just be the perfect place to submit. I agreed with their suggestions and we began working on the paper with a full paper conference submission in mind.

The conference took place at the School of Management (Swansea University) in September 2016 with the theme of ‘Social Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly! This seemed like a perfect fit for our paper which looked at the benefits of using role models on social media and you can see more about what the paper is about here:


The current paper examined three research questions. First, what are the perceived benefits for social network users who have role models online? Second, to what extent does having role models online influence one’s self-presentation on social media? And finally, are users who expect more in return (greater reciprocity) more likely to have role models on social media? Using two opportunity survey samples and exploratory analyses, study 1 (N = 236) demonstrated that having role models was associated with greater perceived support for one’s career aspirations, and perceived access to information. The results of study 2 (N = 192) revealed that participants who had role models online reported that their online profile presented a more realistic self-presentation of values and priorities, as well as having higher reciprocity expectation.

We submitted the paper and found out in May that it had been accepted to the conference. I think we were all pleased knowing how much work we had put in and how much time the preparation had taken. Both my co-authors had both expressed interest in presenting the paper in Swansea. Unfortunately, due to external conference and academic commitments, I was not able to do so this time. I was a little disappointed about this but knew that my colleagues would do a great job and was happy to help out with presentation preparation when needed. I’m pleased this worked out in the end.

Feedback from Dr Jeske and Ruoyun was really good and they felt the presentation has gone well. Following the presentation, a number of colleagues at the conference expressed an interest in our work. The paper therefore helped us to start new conversations about research interests. For me, I like the idea that the paper started up conversations. It means it says that people responded positively and that interest was generated from the talk.

I was told of the biggest delight on the last evening of conference paper presentations, news I was overjoyed to hear:


… and I am still smiling about this now! 🙂

From my perspective, joint collaborations are helpful in a number of ways.  Firstly, there are lots of people with similar research interests. You just need to go and find them. Joint collaborations enable researchers to learn how to work in team with people they may have never met previously. Secondly, it’s really beneficial to a PhD student’s development if they can get some multidisciplinary work under their belt. I know my PhD is technically multidisciplinary but the work with my two co-authors on this conference paper has taken this to a new level. Here is a list of learning outcomes: I have learned so much about working as a team and how people from different institutions can bring different knowledge to the project, and this helps to make research more appealing so we can work to get it published. I have also learned how to (politely) critique written work and get feedback on my own. This has not only helped my own writing style but supported my own development in making sure I present my own feedback in an appropriate and non-abrupt manner. I think most important of all, I have learned one more thing: I have learned that no matter what institution you are based at and whichever research group you are in, collaborating with others outside of this context is great for many things. For me these have been increasing confidence, reflective practice and also feedback on work you are doing both in and out of the PhD.

I also found out that there are benefits of searching for and responding to calls for papers. Searching for them means you are exploring all options in terms of disseminating your research. Quite often, the call for paper has both full and short papers available so at any stage of the research there may be the opportunity for each. Particularly helpful are doctoral symposia which are part of many national and international conferences. If this is not the case, sometimes poster presentations are good options – just like my presentation for ISIC 2016. Either way, attending conferences where you present your work means that you can chat to academics in the field and gain insight into research practise outside of your research context. Similarly, talking to academics who get to know your work can help you to access more support in terms of advice and guidance on parts of your research that you may have questions on.

If you submit for a call for paper, it benefits your research as you have a deadline to write a certain paper altogether. Quite often students potter on with papers but do not submit these if there is not a set deadline. Working towards deadlines (or responding to set deadlines) ensures students can manage their time effectively and learn how to plan and anticipate their research better over time. Had we not found the I3E call for papers, we may have had to wait for an appropriate call for papers in the future and we may have had to search in more detail for outlets elsewhere. As a consequence of finding the I3E call for papers we were able to make a great collaboration paper out of two projects that were otherwise separate.

Paper reference:

Jenkins, L., Lin, R., & Jeske, D. (2016). Influences and benefits of role models on social media. In Y.K. Dwivedi et al. (Eds.):  I3E 2016 Social Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Ch. 60, pp. 673-684). Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS) 9844. Springer: IFIP International Federation for Information Processing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-45234-0_60 (

Preparations for ISIC 2016

image1-1This time next week I will be travelling to the Information Seeking in Context (ISIC) conference held in Zadar, Croatia. It is hosted by the University of Zadar and I will heading to the conference with three of the other PhD students in our research centreFrances, Iris and John. This is my first international conference, one which I hope has its benefits to my research and my own academic development.

I’m quite looking forward to attending the conference as I will have the opportunity to discuss my research with other doctoral students in the doctoral workshop the day before the official conference begins. This will give me the opportunity to talk about challenges I have faced with my research and get some advice from fellow PhD students and academics in the field. There are two main challenges I plan to discuss and these are:

  • Developing a theoretical framework for such a multidisciplinary project like my PhD
  • Managing relationships with a sponsor who requests actionable recommendations as an output of the PhD study

I have some ideas about how I am going to talk about this and we have provided some supplementary information to the conference committee already. However, I am very much looking forward to seeing how other individuals would approach the above problems to see if: (1) I am heading in the right direction and; (2) whether there are any changes or improvements I could make. At the doctoral workshop, there will be a variety of students form different academic backgrounds. Therefore I am hoping that the workshop will help me to discuss my research with academics in the field and bring back some information and advice to Edinburgh about what I have learned from the workshop that day.

On the second day of the conference I will be presenting a poster on my PhD thesis topic. Again, I will have the opportunity to discuss my research with other students, but this time there will be other academic delegates there too. This will provide me with good grounds for talking about my research in a more formal setting and receive questions on what it is that I am doing. I’m hoping to meet the academic who wrote a book chapter about my theoretical framework and question its relevance to my research. I have been told that this academic will be at the conference! I’m also hoping that I can chat about my methods and how these will be used to explore my research questions, but who knows? I don’t know what questions I may get asked but as you can see form a previous blog post I have been able to talk about my research before.

I still have problems with my confidence when speaking in front of others, mainly as I think it will all go horribly wrong. I did, however, prove myself (half) wrong earlier in the year at iDocQ. I think my main problem appears when I need to speak in front of other academics in case they criticise what I am saying and not the research itself. I don’t really have a problem with talking in front of others about other stuff, and I have managed to chair a couple of student-led conference sessions during the year. But my fears will be image2tested during this conference as I have two ‘one minute madness’ presentations to deliver. Fair enough they are only one minute each, and that means I am not speaking for long, but it’s still quite nerve racking and I fear that I will be hit by stage fright the moment I start to speak.

Overall, there is not a lot I can tell you about the conference just yet as I am not  actually there yet. However, I will be tweeting a lot from the conference and Croatia itself so I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say when I get back. I am going to the conference armed with my little business cards and have updated ALL of my online profiles so hopefully these will come in handy when talking to others and chatting about our research interests!

Learnings from the annual (RD5) review

RD5 report
The transfer report

I haven’t blogged for a while but there is a valid reason for this. I have been working on my transfer report to support my RD5 review. This is the review which determines if students are able to progress onto the PhD and whether their research projects are of PhD standard. So therefore this review is very important to my PhD progression.

I had my review on Wednesday this week. For some bizarre reason I was not nervous at all until the 15 minutes before I went in (when I bumped into my supervisor outside the printing room). I’m not really sure why this was. You might remember from my previous review blog post that I was very very nervous for that one… and it’s the RD5 which is the most important one so that’s a mystery to me. It could be because I knew my panel and I had spent the previous 10 weeks writing and preparing the transfer report in support of the RD5 review – who knows! Either way, I was able to get up and head into the office in good time and not panic until the last few minutes. As I had been full of cold for 5 days before my review, I did not think it would go so well. I thought my snotts might take over and wear me down. However, I gladly started to recover and by the time my review came, I had managed to control the cold (with a bit of vicks) to a point where it did not interfere with my review at all.

The outcome?

Oh I should say now that I passed my review first time round and am now officially a PhD student at Edinburgh Napier University (yippeeeee!). As I am only 10 month in, I had major doubts to whether my document was up to scratch and whether all of the effort put in would be worth it. I wholeheartedly thank my supervisors for the help they put in and the time spent helping me prepare and review the document. My fellow PhD students proved sanity and good advice when I needed their knowledge and experiences of their own RD5 reviews to keep me going. I also thank my family who proseccocame to visit bank holiday weekend as this was a lovely distraction away from the review. My dad told me that he reads all of my blog posts so this is a hello to him so that he can laugh when he reads this (hello Dad!)… and thank you to Chris who provided support and the prosecco for during and after the review  😉

What happened during my review?

So for my review what did I actually need to do? My university class this as a mini viva because it is the first time (as such) your panel will question you on things like the background, methods, contributions etc. However, this is not enough. For my review, I had to write a transfer report which comprised about 50 pages on the topics below:

  • Context to the research (ie, why it is important)
  • Literature review (where does the research lie within the literature)
  • Contributions (ie, gaps in knowledge to be filled and also theoretical and practical contributions)
  • Methodological approach and the research paradigm
  • Theoretical framework (the theory underpinning the work)
  • Methods used and the stages of research
  • A timetable / plan of the research for the next two years
  • Lots and lots of references

For me, this document was really important so that I KNOW what my research is about, how it will be done, and why. I think spending 10 weeks on the one document has helped me understand the research from a different perspective and has helped me bring it together as a whole. During the review I was questioned about my research questions first of all as they needed a little clarification and also about the contributions. I stumbled a little on these but it was good to chat to my panel chair about this because now I know my response if asked again. I was then asked about my sample and approach as this is a really important thing in my second year. If I cannot get organisations to participate in my research, what would my plan B be and how would I approach this? I can’t say that any of the questions shocked or surprised me which is good, but the nerves did kick in during this time thinking that I would not answer them right or thinking that I would make a terrible mistake. My supervisor and I agreed that I am ‘better on paper than speaking’ but this just means I need to improve my confidence when being grilled about my research. It turns out that having an ‘outsiders’ perspective on the research is a really positive thing and my supervisors and I now know what we need to tighten up and what we might think to change – the research questions being one of those changes.

My learnings from the RD5 process

During the process of preparing for my RD5 review, I learned a lot about my research, my supervisors and myself. Firstly, things don’t always go to plan, but don’t fret, this is normal apparently. My supervisors and I don’t always agree on everything, but I think this is good. It promotes discussion and encourages me to go look into things further so that we can come to some overall conclusion.  I like that we all come from different research backgrounds (information science, employment and psychology) so the research can consider all perspectives, even if they are not all included in everything. This is what makes us all a perfect fit for the research I think!

More importantly, I learned lot about myself and here are some of the things I now know:

  1. I can’t write academically to save my life. Well, it has improved quite a bit since I started but I had a 3 year academic break so this meant I did not write, search literature or even read much for that. I think that submitting work to my supervisors has helped with this a lot as I have been able to see mistakes in my writing style and worked to improve this. One of the comments of my transfer report is that it was well written so it cannot be as bad as I think.
  2. I don’t like tasks that take a long time (so why on earth am I doing a PhD???). I found that I get intimidated when I have a lengthy task that might take a while. I often want things done yesterday and don’t like the prospect of it taking forever. However, this approach is absolutely useless. Instead, I found that splitting larger tasks into smaller and more manageable tasks helped me get through it at a decent pace. I can then create a checklist of things I need to do and tick them off one by one as I go along. This way, I can see smaller progress steps and then feel happier with progress when I can see things are getting done rather than the big task not being done.
  3. I don’t like noise when I’m editing a document. We use a shared office space and this is great when I am doing other things, but editing a document is not one of those other things. I have found that I need silence (or a quiet space) for that so that I can concentrate which is something I am not used to. I have always preferred to work around people but this changed when I started working from home a little more over the summer and I found my productivity was even better than at the office (when editing my work).
  4. I need to take a good break every now and then. I found that taking time off really helped. During August, I look a little extra time off as I had holidays that I had not taken. This helped me to focus more on my tasks when I got back. It also helped to get time away from my desk and home so that I was not in the same surroundings during one of the most stressful months of my first year of study.lemon cake
  5. I need plenty of tea and snacks through the day when I am concentrating on writing. I found that this was odd. Normally I don’t like to take long breaks but during the RD5 preparation period the opposite happened. I found that taking a good tea (and cake!) break every now and then helped me to boost my energy levels through the day and also got me away from my computer. It meant that I did not feel so overwhelmed by what I had to get done knowing I could split my day into chunks and look forward to a little taste of heaven.
  6. I discovered that I need to do other things than the PhD. I know everyone advises not to let the research take over your life, but when you’re home alone quite often, what choice is there? I discovered that keeping myself occupied within non-research related things was good. I found that I can make a mean lemon drizzle cake and I enjoyed the process of baking this (and learning how to do this from my Dad) at a time where I would normally be stressing over work. More importantly, I look time away to go for coffee with friends and made sure that my days off were my days off, even if I did not have much planned.
  7. I discovered I like to moan on twitter, which student does not? Although not very productive, it’s good to get my struggles out there and moan a bit. However, I do know I would never moan about other people specifically and I would only moan (publically) about the stupid things I have done or the daft things I am encountering.
  8. I am stupidly (negatively) critical about things I do even if they are not bad. From previous experiences, I always criticise myself on what I do as I expect that others will do the same. This is not a problem as such but it stops me seeing the good stuff I have done and the progress I have made. I will not go into the event that has made me think this way but thankfully I have a great PhD team around me who see how far I have come and constantly tell me all the positive things they see in me (I love you all for doing this!).

RD5 planSo what advice would I give to people facing a similar review?

  1. Prepare early – I found that my preparation took a lot longer than expected, then the reviewing and editing took even longer. If you prepare early it gives your supervisors (or people involved) time to check over the work and help to make improvements;
  2. Get someone to proof read – after the review, my supervisors and I both said we should have got someone external to look at the work. This is because there were mistakes in it that we did not spot and an external person might have picked these up before the review;
  3. Take a break – take a break both in writing and also from the work as a whole. This helped me concentrate more when I returned back to the work if my goals were set beforehand;
  4. Seek help when needed – I have learned to ask for help when I needed it. I got stuck with a few things and I could not get these done on my own. For example, I asked other PhD students about the timetable of research and problems they encountered to help me write my timetable;
  5. Don’t panic – I would always say don’t panic (easier said than done). Whatever the result, your efforts will be noted so if you have put the work in then the outcome should reflect this. If you don’t, then you can’t expect miracles to happen.
  6. If you do feel worried, tell your supervisors – I found that I was concerned, but my supervisors helped reduce my worried by explaining things that had happened in other (anonymous) reviews they had been involved in. This helped me understand that everyone has problems and successes and whatever happens its probably happened before to someone else.