My first PhD publication is here!

I am happy to say that I officially have my first PhD publication. This was accepted in December 2017 and a copy is available now (link below).

The paper, due to be published in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, discusses the use of Social Cognitive Theory in Information Science research and it’s application to my doctoral work on the development of innovative work behaviour through workplace learning.

I co-authored this paper with two of my supervisors, Professor Hazel Hall and Professor Robert Raeside and appreciate the support they gave during the process.

You can find a copy of the paper from the Edinburgh Napier repository here:

iConference doctoral colloquium 2018


I thought I’d share my own views on the iConference doctoral colloquium, so here it goes…

This year the iConference doctoral colloquium was held at the beginning of the conference, unlike previous years. Also, unlike previous years, I was in attendance and presented my work to fellow students and academic mentors. As you can see from my previous blog post and a blog post from my Director of Studies that this conference doctoral colloquium is quite competitive and it is a privilege to be chosen as part of the iConfernce doctoral crew. You can find a list of doctoral colloquium participants here and you will see that students have travelled far and wide to benefit from the gathering that took place.

We had two main Chairs/organisers for the day, and I am thankful for their work on this. Our doctoral colloquium chairs were:

We also had seven mentors within our group, who I thank for their time and advice. Our mentors were:

We started off the day with the usual introductions and followed this with a ‘one minute introduction’ of ourselves. At my university, and across Scotland, we know this as a ‘one minute madness’ but I must say that the doctoral colloquium session was a little less mad and a little more informative. I was the first student to introduce myself (immediately after one of the doctoral colloquium Chairs, Kevin Crowston) so I was quite nervous for that. However, after nearly three years of introducing myself a hundred and fifty million and one times, I think I may have done okay.

We had a quick ice breaker activity to start off with – this was easier said than done. We had to piece together a ‘thesis puzzle’ and use six elements of research practice to help us identify a suitable project… and then explain this to the group. Our six information pieces were: (1) the PhD concept(s); (2) the setting; (3) the sample; (4) the design; (5) the methods used in the design and; (6) the analysis. Using lots of post-it note we had to meet other students and seek advice and information on what their post-it notes meant. By doing this we were then able to attempt to put together a research project, something I did not succeed in doing fully I must admit! We heard back examples of the thesis projects that some of the group had developed, critiqued these and decided if the project was a starter or something to bin here and now. It was a good to see how pieces of paper can help develop a research project, especially when we did not know what some of the information on the notes meant, and often had to make it up as we saw fit. It was also beneficial to see the main considerations to developing a research project (numbers 1-6 above) and being able to answer these can help give a summary of your doctoral research overall.

We then started splitting off into groups with a ‘mentor’. We took turns to discuss our work and got feedback from other students and staff on our work so far. In my group we talked about everything from justification of the project and main concepts to methods used. Our mentor helped us iron out any concerns we had. For my work, I talked about my main concepts (workplace learning and innovative work behaviour) and we discussed the use of a specific definition of learning (not workplace learning, just learning). It was advised that I can apply my own definition of learning to both individual and collective entities as my own definition of learning fits with both. I also talked about my use of innovative work behaviour over innovation and why this may relate to processes of learning. One of my supervisors found a wonderful article last week which helped me explain this relationship in more detail to my group. Employee-led innovation (including innovative work behaviour) has a unique relationship with learning but it did take me a while to figure this out and digest why – it also took a while for me to articulate this to my group! In the end I think I managed, just. We also talked about the amount of data I have collected and how this is going to be used in my PhD. I explained the rationale behind my three case studies and how they were specifically designed to target a certain organisational group – and a PhD does look so much better (in my opinion) with data collected from three different countries around the World (Scotland, England and Finland).

One thing that I did discover in the later discussions was that I am absolutely terrible at my own ‘elevator pitch’. It was good to be able to sit down with someone and work out what my PhD could mean to other people – both in the academic sense and practice. From this, I was able to come up with my introductory statements as to how I will draw people in, and apparently this will be effective in future interviews when I explain my work.

Our afternoon comprised more group discussions (a lot on career related stuff and what I plan to do after the PhD), coffee and chat, then a panel session of academic staff. The panel comprised:

We talked about thesis expectations and feelings, publications and publishing in the PhD and finally job/career moves.  In terms of feelings, we were quite honestly informed that you will at some point grow to hate your thesis. This is apparently a common feeling amongst academic staff who have gone on to research other things (related and unrelated to their PhD topic). However, we also discussed that the process of a PhD is very rewarding and that embracing the knowledge and learnings you gain from the process is something you will never forget.

Our panel discussed the purpose of publications, when to publish and when not to publish too. They highlighted the cultural differences between where thesis are developed and written (location wise – these differ in Canada, USA, across Europe and the UK) and sometimes it is the doctoral programme you are on and its requirements that dictate whether and how you publish. I have learned that the USA doctoral system is much much different to ours, and some of the candidates were surprised that we (in the UK) are not required to submit publications as part of our PhDs. I explained the general structure to my group earlier in the day and they seemed surprised that we have no requirements to have to submit publications. I did tell them, however, we have a very sensible research group director who supports us to submit articles to journals and conference papers/posters throughout… because you know, she knows the benefit of doing so herself! I also explained the amount of publications, presentations, posters and other dissemination techniques I have used over the last three years and pointed them in the direction of my list here. We also talked more about career relate stuff and the cultural differences in this too. In the UK we do not have the concepts of tenure anymore as this was abolished yet this is still prominent within the USA. We still do, however, have systems for promotion and working your way up the ladder but this is quite different to other systems in place and it is often individual to each institution. We talked about making ourselves fit (or see where we fit best) within certain departments and schools, and if you cannot see yourself working there and fitting in, then it must be questioned as to whether you would really work out in the first place.

We explored the use of social media (with a specific example of a ‘fancy website’) in the application and interview process for a job. Media was deemed useful if it explained you and your research in a professional, appropriate way. Employers look for publications and dissemination techniques (oh yeah, and a submitted thesis!) rather than ‘fancy websites’ so focusing on things that will make you more employable is a preference. There were varied views on this, and it’s a note I will leave here seeing as though I am writing this comment on my own media outlet… my own views on the use of websites and media in your own promotion remain under wraps for now.

As a final note we were encouraged to get support from people around us, in our school and departments, when looking for jobs. We were encouraged to network and go to conferences to make it known that we are ‘on the market’ and seeking the next steps in our careers. It was also noted that more successful candidates often seek out these opportunities themselves, but at the same time tell others (e.g. their supervisors, colleagues, other staff) that they are looking for work. The student needs to connect with as many people as possible, tell everyone they are available and looking for work and then finally promote themselves, their abilities, their unique qualities and skills.

A very final note is a thank you to our conference organisers and mentors who worked tirelessly to make the day a beneficial experience. I would especially like to thank J. Stephen Downie (our group mentor) for his wisdom, advice and humour during our group sessions.

You can find out more about the goings on of the doctoral colloquium and the iConference itself on twitter. Search for the hashtag #iconf18 and follow the iConference twitter site for further information. I must admit I spent more time liking and retweeting tweets than actually tweeting myself but the event was highly covered.

Some pictures I took during my visit to Sheffield are in the slideshow below.

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Preparations for iConference 2018

iconf2018Back in November I submitted my doctoral work to the iConference hosted by iSchools. This is an international conference where lots of academics in the field get together and discuss/present work on critical information issues in contemporary society. This year’s conference is slightly different as for the first time it is being hosted by a UK institution. For me this is good as it means I do not have to travel far to benefit from participation but at the same time I don’t get to visit a nice country abroad (this time)! So I will be off to Sheffield next week!

My supervisors and I decided that my doctoral work was not at the stage where I had something ‘new’ to present. My data collection was still on-going and I had already presented my theoretical framework elsewhere. This mean that I did not have enough material for a poster or paper so we decided the best approach was to aim for the doctoral colloquium. The application process was fairly straight forward – a thesis summary, a CV and also an explanation of why we wanted to attend the conference and how we felt we met the requirements of attendance. However, I did know there was an outside change I would not get in, it is an international conference after all.

acceptNeedless to say I was quite pleased when I was told of my doctoral colloquium acceptance in November and we started planning my trip South straight away. Each submission was reviewed by four academics and suitability of attendance was decided. My feedback from the reviewers was particularly positive and all but one reviewer (yes, reviewer 3!) recommended acceptance. It was nice to get some feedback on my work anonymously and see how my research fits in. I’m hoping that my colloquium attendance is beneficial and that I can talk about my work to other students in the field and reflect upon my work so far.

So as of next week I will be on my travels again and out and about in Sheffield. The conference venue is not far from the city centre so I am able to travel there by train, and browse the conference programme and doctoral student research abstracts en route. I’m sure I’ll post a blog or two one I am back.



Changes are coming!

change 1Contrary to the title of this blog post, changes are not coming, changes are here!

As a student, it is always a worrying time when things change – more so, if they need to change for the bad. Luckily all of the changes in my own PhD are (nearly) good and quite positive ones, and some changes were made by me.

My first change comes in the form of a temporary change of role, and also a change of working location too. You may be aware that the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science advertised internships where PhD students have the opportunity to work elsewhere (e.g.  with the Scottish Government, NHS, Skills Development Scotland). The adverts were made public in December 2017, around the tie I was in Finland, and I knew then I really wanted to apply. My funders have always supported internships for students and actually offer some themselves. Some are are offered in conjunction with SDS and the SGSSS so I thought it was perfect that I apply. I decided to apply for two of the schemes in the hope I would be successful in an offer being made. In the end I was made an offer for each scheme, and have decided to choose the one I felt was right for me.

The opportunity to undertake an internship does bring big change as I will be out of my office for 13 weeks (14 really as I have a conference in Sheffield the week before). I will not be there each day to say hello to my colleagues and I will not be attending supervisions in that time. This was quite a daunting thought at first as it scared me a lot to think I would not be there. However, after being in touch with the hosts of my internship at the Scottish Government, I feel more at ease knowing my internship is in great hands (and my supervisors will get a break from me!!). I also have the support of my review PhD review panel and was given some sound advice on this yesterday (i.e. it’s not the worst thing to be away – absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? I will also blog more about my experiences as I progress in my new internship role, and will be able to keep in touch with the folk at the office which is something I find quite nice.

My second change is more permanent and comes in the form of a new addition to my supervisory team. I am now supervised by Dr Laura Muir, an Associate Professor in our School. Laura was brought to the team as an additional supervisor to help me progress through the final 6 months of my write up process, partly due to the absence of one of my supervisors, but partly because I really needed the extra support. Laura’s knowledge and expertise go hand in hand with my research area and I am sure she will be able to add more depth (and opinion!) to my work. For example, Laura has a lot of contact with businesses and a lot of knowledge on how business and research can meet. Laura also has a fair amount of knowledge on some of the more technical side of things such as information systems and user centred research too – which is all good knowledge for me. The addition of Laura to the team also sees a potential new approach. This means that Laura may have some new ideas for my research during these final stages and some good feedback too. We have already experienced this in in the very early days (when writing conference submissions) which has made me consider my own approach further. Laura’s support and help during the next few weeks will be valuable, especially in our very first task to write a paper to a highly competitive conference. I am sure that is something we will be able to succeed in doing and we will go through a process of learning how we work together.

photo 1My final change was one I decided made quite a while ago, around February 2017 to be precise. That decision to change saw me get married earlier this year, a big (non-PhD) change for me. However, with this change also brings a change in name and a change in title, something I have been working to change over the last few weeks. I have now been able to update all of my online profiles, social media and email communication to reflect my new name and my new contact details can be seen below:


University profile:



This change has not been without its difficulty as I have already forgotten (on a few occasions) that my surname has changed. This also presented awkwardness during a conference submission when I had to add my new email address to an account as apparently the system would not allow for a submission on behalf of someone else (it clearly has not realised people change their names haha!).

Coincidently my research has actually explored the process of change and how people think/react to change – some people think it is great and some people just hate the thought! Overall I am looking forward to the challenges that the changes bring. I am sure I’ll be a little nervous when I start my internship in April but I know this is something good for me, good for my work and something that will be good for my research too.  The change in my surname, however, is something I am still getting used to…