Introducing *Dr* Lyndsey Middleton!

IMG_2049I am pleased to report that as of late yesterday afternoon, I was notified that both of my PhD thesis examiners had approved my thesis corrections and I will formally be awarded my PhD in our July 2020 graduation. Although I technically should not call myself Dr until I am awarded my PhD at the graduation ceremony, this comes as a huge relief and the most welcome email after what I can only call a pretty awful afternoon. It also means that I have now also completed the SGSSS-SDS Collaborative PhD Programme which will be finalised once our Research Degrees Committee sign-off the decision of my examiners in May (and then the university can make my thesis public).

I now have several things that I am working on to bring a final end to my PhD and all related work. Firstly, I have updated all of my social media outlets to reflect my (nearly) new title. To me this is an important step as it involves removing my student status from most of my profiles and replacing it with my Assistant Statistician role (keeping the PhD as an educational qualification of course).

IMG_2048Secondly, I have plans in place with my PhD supervisors to write two journal articles for submission: one on the main innovation framework I developed as part of my PhD research and one on the influence of information literacy on innovative work behaviour development. I already have my first paper planned out and we are hoping that this can be submitted for journal review before I graduate as a final achievement before the very end (i.e. when I am formally awarded my PhD).

Thirdly, I have some unfinished work with Skills Development Scotland. I have drafted up a policy briefing paper but have figured that the main issue with writing this before the thesis is approved/made open access is that the SDS staff are unable to see the finished thing (the thesis, not the paper!). This means that some of the context to the policy paper is missing and questions have arose from my policy paper draft that have actually been answered in my thesis write up itself. As a consequence, we have decided to postpone the finalisation of the policy paper until SDS have time to read the relevant sections of my thesis once it is publicly available. Only then can we have a proper discussion of the work needed to bring the policy paper drafting to an end and formalise that very final draft.

In addition to this policy briefing paper, I have also provided Skills Development Scotland with a draft copy of my innovation framework. The reason for doing so this early was so that SDS colleagues can seek feedback from policy colleagues as to the applicability of the framework in their own work. I am unable to change the actual output of my PhD as this is the framework I have developed from my practical work, but SDS may very well wish to undertake some additional work to explore the use or implementation of my framework in practise as part of their own future developments.

After this, who knows what will happen to my PhD research and related research work…

**Fully-funded PhD studentship opportunity** Natural language interfaces to support career decision-making of young people

doctoral studentThe school of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University currently have a vacancy for a fully-funded PhD student to start in October 2020.

The scholarship is part of the same funding scheme as mine and is a Skills Development Scotland Collaborative award, offered through the ESRC-funded Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS).

The research is entitled ‘natural language interfaces to support career decision-making of young people’ and the PhD centres on the development of a dialogue system utilising existing data held by Skills Development Scotland, for young people to engage ‘in conversation’ about their career interests, aspirations, and strengths. The system to be developed is anticipated to take the form of an interactive avatar with identifiable human characteristics. As a previous careers adviser, I know that this is a hot topic and something we need to invest in!

The successful student will be supervised by staff from two research groups in the School of Computing plus a supervisor from the School of Applied Sciences:

  1. Professor Hazel Hall, Director of the Centre for Social Informatics;
  2. Dr Dimtra Gkatzia based in the Nature-inspired Intelligent Systems group;
  3. Dr Pete Robertson from the Social Sciences Research Group in the School of Applied Sciences

I have been supervised and supported by two out of the three of these staff members and can personally recommend the great supervisory team myself!

As a student who has very nearly completed my PhD on this funding stream, I know the fab experience that students have throughout their years of study. For example, apart from being supervised by very experienced and knowledgeable staff (see above), the School of Computing has a very strong track record of supervising SDS collaborative studentships, with two completions to date (in 2018 and 2019) and three on-going studentships.

This knowledge is also extended from the appointed sponsor each SDS student will be given to provide advice and guidance throughout the study. This is imperative to ensure that the research fits with the needs of SDS but also so that you, as the student, are able to understand how SDS and other professionals/practitioners will befit from the outputs of your work. For me, this understanding has been vital in the last two years of my research, especially post-thesis submission when I have been able to work with SDS and present my work to key stakeholders at networking events before writing a final policy briefing on the key findings and applications of my research. This is something not offered by all studentships!

In addition, students will have various opportunities to present their research at conferences, both locally and internationally. My international conference participation took me to more local places such as Aberdeen and Sheffield, and more further afield such as Zadar (Croatia), Krakow (Poland), Vancouver and Finland (not a conference as such but I got t present my work in a local university during my visit) – all of which I presented my work in paper or poster form. I have also been able to network with other students and learn more about my own domain of research and academic life by attending the doctoral workshops offered by most of the conferences.

We are also very blessed in the School of Computing to have some funding available to help doctoral students to travel and take part in these conferences and also attend various training and development opportunities offered both in and outside of Scotland. The training and development focuses on many aspects of developing as a researcher, so no matter which area you feel you would like to improve, there is always training and developmet activities offered to help. For me, I used to hate presenting my work and delivering those nerve-wracking talks. However, this is something I have been able to work on over the past four years and I don’t think twice about saying ‘yes’ if now asked to talk to others about my own work.

You can find more about the specific requirements of the PhD studentship on the blog post from Professor Hazel Hall (https://hazelhall.org/2020/02/04/fully-funded-phd-studentship-opportunity-natural-language-interfaces-to-support-career-decision-making-of-young-people/and also on the SGSSS Grad Hub where you will apply (https://www.sgsss.ac.uk/studentship/natural-language-interfaces/.). The key dates for the studentship application are as follows:

  • Applications for this studentship should be submitted to GradHub by Friday 28th February 2020 at midday
  • Interviews are scheduled at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus for the afternoon of Friday 6th March
  • The start date for successful candidates is Thursday 1st October 2020

Full details of eligibility criteria and the application process (through GradHub) can be found on the Current studentship opportunities page of the SGSSS web site.

For further information about this studentship, please contact Dr Professor Hazel Hall (h.hall@napier.ac.uk) or Dr Dimitra Gkatzia (d.gkatzia@napier.ac.uk).