iConference doctoral colloquium 2018

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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:

Email: L.Middleton@naier.ac.uk

University profile:  https://www.napier.ac.uk/people/lyndsey-middleton

PhD Blog:lyndseyjenkins.org

Twitter:@Middleton_Ly

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…

 

The departure of a SGSSS student rep!

SGSSS logoYou may be aware that quite a while ago I applied to be a student representative for the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences and I was offered the role a short while later. You may also know that I  am in my final year of the PhD and I now have to make time to be able to collect the final parts of my data and then write the whole thing up! This has led me to decide that it is probably a good time for me to step down as a student representative for the SGSSS and allow someone new to take my place.

I have been in the SGSSS student rep role for nearly a year and a half and I have gained so much from doing so. I have been able to meet fellow social science students from a variety of disciplines, many of whom I did not know beforehand. These group of people have been a great support in terms of the PhD and discussing issues which we PhD students face. I think it’s really important to be able to know that other students do exist outside of your host university. For me, this role allowed me to travel far and wide across Scotland (well, Dundee, Glasgow…) and get to know others too.

I think this part of the student rep role was one of the most important as we have been able to gather views from students studying across Scotland, and bring them together in our quarterly student rep meetings. These meetings are around every 3 months but gave us a chance to catch up as a group and also discuss important issues in terms of student concerns, policy and practice (and how we could help).  We also got a chance to say what we really thought, and did not hold back in our views. We were able to talk things through and ironed out any concerns we had which I think PhD student need time and space to do.

student rep bubble

As part of the role, I have also been able to get involved in organising SGSSS events. The main student-led event was the Student-Led Symposium in April (and there is another one planned for May this year). This event was very useful for students to learn more about the PhD journey, the potential steps afterwards and help us ‘survive’ as PhD students. I got a lot form this event as I met over 60 other students in social sciences and also from universities that I had not been in contact with before. It was valuable to be there to welcome students and introduce myself as a student rep, and I even had others ask about how they could get involved. This event was not only a training session over two days but a social event too so we did get the opportunity to spend some time outside of the training sessions to get to know each other better. You can find out more about the event and its planning form my previous blog posts below. You’ll see that it does take a little while to plan and a lot of work behind the scenes (from the staff and other reps) but it is completely worth it in the end… especially when the event is a sell-out trip!

https://lyndseyjenkins.org/2017/04/23/reflections-on-sgsss-student-led-symposium/

https://lyndseyjenkins.org/2017/04/03/2017-scottish-graduate-school-of-social-science-student-led-symposium/

As part of the rep role, we are also invited to help organise other things too. These have included getting involved in organising sessions for the SGSSS Summer School (which I attended in both 2016 and 2017 but did not deliver a session myself). There are also things like getting involved in supervisory board and the SGSSS induction event and lots of other things too. Now we are expected to attend the 4 meetings each year and contribute to email/communication discussions on topics asked of us, but that is about it. The student rep role is not designed to interfere with your PhD at all and it is designed to be an enjoyable experience for all, so if there is something you are not keen on doing, and have a preference to help out with something else then that is usually okay too.

repsI think overall, the experience of being a student rep is something I feel I have learned a lot from – from how the SGSSS works to how students can influence what happens. The role itself is an excellent way to contribute to student views being heard and it is also a great experience for those who feel it is something they would like to do.

I’m very thankful that Dr Jo Ferrie (the staff member in charge of the reps when I applied!) who advertised some vacancies when new reps were needed and that the opportunity was there for me to apply. I’m also thankful to Dr Emmanuelle Tulle who (in around September/October time last year) took on the role of Associate Director with responsibility for the Student Experience at SGSSS and is now responsible for the student reps. They have both made the student rep role totally worth it!

The diary of a student visitor to Finland – week 2

This post is a continuation of my previous blog post: the diary of a student visitor to Finland – week 1. The blog post reports my little trip to Finland to collect PhD case study data.

Saturday December 9th 2017

It has been quite a busy day today given the fact that it was supposed to be my day off. I spent the day doing two main things: (1) working and; (2) vising some tourist places in Turku. I spent the morning working on a journal article review that I had been asked to do for a leading journal in Information Science. I had ben quite worried about doing this as it was my first review but my supervisor reassured me about it and said that I should be flattered that I was asked as a PhD student. It was not a difficult task, it just took time to go through the article, look at the literature, aims, methods and results. I also managed to write some of a report for the funding body that helped me get to Finland. You may recall that I was awarded a John Campbell Trust Bursary form CILIP and a requirement is that I write a shot report about my findings. I know I cannot write the findings yet, but my report is in draft form and I now just need to add in the results and findings from my data collection.

In the afternoon, I spent some time with one of the PhD students at Abo Akadmi University (Anu) and she showed me around. We took a trip to Turku City Library first of all and Anu showed me around the old and new parts of the library. It makes you realise how many people in Turku use this facility – it was packed with people of all ages! We then took a trip to the Christmas market and saw what was on offer. There was a lot of food luxuries, handmade items and drinks and Anu was kind enough to explain to me what things were and where they originate from. It was nice to have a bit of a tour and know what is going on 🙂 We decided to end our wander around with coffee and cake in a local café but came to the conclusion that we sold both return home to o some work. Clearly the PhD guilt got to s both when we were out and we both decided getting on with some work was the best plan.

Sunday December 10th 2017

This day was more chilled. I blogged and worked on the final parts of my report and that was all the work I did. I decided that I needed a day off work as I had worked all week and the day off would do me the world of good. I decided to take a wander up the river and see the marina, taking lots of photos on the way. I also needed to pop to the supermarket so that I could get some food for tomorrow’s lunch and some other odds and ends. I also made sure that I skyped home so that I could keep in touch. Sundays are perfect days for this as I can Skype my Mam whilst she visits my grandparents so I can say hello to everyone in one. The rest of my trip will be less-relaxed so I made the most of my time to myself!

Monday December 11th 2017

Monday was a day of more data collection – three interviews in three different places at three different (spread out) times of the day. I managed to pop to the office for 30 mins half way though just to show my face, say hello to my host and back up my data, but after that I was out an about all day. I woke up this morning to snow and you can tell from my pictures that this had been a little heavy overnight. In comparison to London (which I know went into some kind of meltdown due to 2 inches of snow), Turku cope very well and have small digger type vehicles clearing roads and paths so people can get around. It was nice to get some sold fresh air in my lungs as I had not been feeling great with a bad head, but this turned into a migraine type things and I had to spend a couple of hours in my hotel later after my interviews in a pitch black room to soothe my eyes and head. I think my body must be getting used to (or sick of) the types of food, drink and way of workings of Turku and maybe my body is just not used to this way of life. I felt a lot better after some decent food in the evening but possibly the lack of hot food and lots of coffee the day before did not help my head. Either way, I felt much better later on, got on with some work and prepared for my interviews of the next day.

Tuesday December 12th 2017

Tuesday was my final full day of data collection – another three interview ticked off the list. It was good to get to visit some buildings that I had not before and meet more people who I had not met before either. My participant provided me with some valuable data and I can now start to see differences between my UK case study data and Finnish case study data as well – this makes the data collection all worth it. The snow had fallen very heavily overnight and it was about 3 inches deep outside. All of the paths and roads were covered but as with yesterday Turku coped very well. Obviously my walk to work was full of photographs as people here enjoy the snow. Many people, however, get sick of the snow as they see it year in and year out so often it’s just the tourist in me that wants me to snap every picture I can. Turku looks very picturesque in the snow but I did not dare leave the hotel on the nigh given how slippery the place would be and how likely it could be that I fall on my bott. So far, this has nearly happened a few times but I have finally got the hand of walking at a decent pace in the ice and snow.

Wednesday December 13th 2017

Today in Finland it is St Lucia’s Day. This is the day (on December 13th) every year where many people (including those in Finland) come together to celebrate Saint Lucia bringing light over darkness. You can find more about it here but celebrations took place of the evening of 13th December including a precession of a young girl (dressed in a white robe and red sash) and the precession walks from the cathedral (or church) in Turku centre and towards the market place. This day normally symbolises a day in advent and signalling the official arrival of Christmas time in Finland and also its Swedish origin. IT was good to be here today as people kept telling me about what was happening so I just had to go and explore myself.

Oher than this, it has been my final day of data collection. I have 12 good interviews and am thankful for my 12 participants. My job now will be to transcribe and analyse the interviews form this and the remainder of case study 1. I spent the remainder of the evening packing up my stuff, making extra backup copies of my data and making sure everything is organised for my trip home.

Thursday December 14th 2017

This day is dedicated to my travel home. I am expected to arrive back in Edinburgh about 11pm if my flights are all on time. I am taking the same route as I did on my trip here so it takes a while longer than I had hoped. I have decided not to blog about this trip home. It’s dull, boring and quite depressing to think my trip is over

Learnings from my trip to Finland

I have learned quite a lot from my trip to Finland. It has been wonderful to see another place in my PhD and visit a different university for two weeks. I have learned that things are done differently in Finland both in terms of the way they live and the way doctoral degrees are delivered and assessed. The food over here is also so different too – lots of herbs and spices! I have found it quite easy to get used to the types of food and the differences in cooking, but found it hard when I have just fancies something plain (oh how I have missed my beams on toast and roast dinners this trip!). I have also missed a bath as most Finnish hotels only have showers in them. This means that you can’t soak your feet after a hard day’s work and you can’t just relax. I have missed this very much and will enjoy the moment I can have a bath back in my flat in Edinburgh.

I have learned that experiences like this in a PhD study are the most valuable and I have been able to collect a good amount of data for my PhD case study. I have learned that if you don’t take chance and apply for things like finding, you will not have the opportunities to go elsewhere and visit places never seen. I have also learned that two weeks is the perfect amount of time. I have not really felt homesick, although I have missed home slightly. I have coped by Skype, FaceTime, calling and texting my family so that I can keep in touch.

Overall my trip to Finland has been a complete success and I would recommend taking this kind of opportunity if anyone ever gets the chance! I would like to finally thank Prof Gunilla Widén for hosting my trip and also Anu (one of the other PhD students) for looking after me whilst I have been here! My trip here would not have been successful without you both.

 

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The diary of a student visitor to Finland – week 1

So I have just returned to my hotel after my first week vising Abo Akademi University and also collecting data for case study two. I successfully carried out PhD interviews and managed to talk in detail about my topic, so now my job is to transcribe, analyse and write up the results (when all data is collected). However, I thought I would give you an insight into what has happened in the past week and I thought I’d do that in the format of a day to day diary – sort of!

My visit was made possible as I won a John Campbell Trust award which enabled me to travel abroad for data collection. My director of studies encouraged me to apply as she believed that I would be successful in winding the award and so I was. My school also agreed to pay part of the amount of my trip so that I was able to travel there for a substantial amount of time, enough to collect some data. So we decided that Finland was a good place to visit as we could combine my data collection with a trip to see Professor Gunilla Widén and her research group. I am thankful to all of these people, especially Gunilla who has provided an office and work space for me, a computer and organised access to the buildings I needed – for this I am grateful!

Whilst in Turku, I have discovered many things. Firstly, it is colder than Edinburgh but the weather is quite the same in terms of rain and wind. The first day it rained a lot and then we got a couple of days of snow. This was short-lived as it was washed away by even more rain that followed (but I did get some lovely pictures of it all!). I have also found that Finish folk are really quite friendly, but only if you make the effort. If you ask for help or something like that then they are more than happy to help, but if you don’t then they don’t. Finnish people also walk very fast and travel a lot my foot and cycle (especially by the riverside). You need to be careful not to get knocked over by a bike as they cycle quite fast but this is something I got used to quite quick. I’m quite enjoying the Finnish culture, the quietness of the place, definitely the coffee and also my work so this could definitely be a place that I return to in the future should I get the chance! J

Saturday December 2nd 2017

This was my day of travel. I had to get three flights: (1) Newcastle to Heathrow; (2) Heathrow to Helsinki and; (3) Helsinki to Turku. I must admit that when we first booked these flights, I was very concerned about the lack of time between each flight and the lack of time to board the flights. I managed to check-in at Newcastle without a hitch and got to London with no problems. However, I only had time for a toilet stop and to eat a bag of crisps before it was time to board my next flight. The flight to Helsinki comprised a screaming child, one who would scream every time the plane made a bump. This was not good considering I was wrecked and needed to sleep and every time I shut my eyes she moaned. I was glad when this flight was over. We then had a total of 15 minutes to get from one arrival gate in Helsinki airport to our departure gate in the same terminal, and this was achieved with just seconds to spare. As soon as we boarded the Helsinki-Turku flight, the doors were closed and we were off… finally on our way to Turku. Now days before I left, my supervisor advised me to take a change of clothes in my hand luggage so that I had some for Sunday if my baggage did not arrive. I’m glad I took her advice as coincidently our bags did not arrive in Turku with us and our entire first full day was sent with nothing but our hand luggage – joy!

Sunday December 3rd 2017

This was our first day off before I began my work on the Monday. In true Turku style, it rained all day and we got absolutely soaked through. However, we enjoyed a walk around the riverbanks and a wander into town to find some emergency supplies. When finally got our bags late afternoon and were relieved that we had clothes to spare… I had however, bought an emergency set just in case so that I would not look like a total scruff on my first day at the university the next day (happily I did not!). It was in the evening that we discovered that most places close early for dinner (including the hotel). We searched around for a while to see what we could find and we were baffled that not many places were open. We decided to embrace the North East England heritage and pop into a takeaway for a kebab. I have to say that this was a pleasant experience and something I thought about doing again, but I just did not have the time. Unlike the UK, the kebab tasted fresh, the meat was not greasy and the sauce was just yum. I did realise that I would need to plan ahead on the Sunday to follow unless I wanted another emergency kebab!

Monday December 4th 2017

The two days to follow were interestingly fun and I enjoyed my first two days at Abo Akademi. I was welcomed very warmly by Prof Widén early morning on the Monday and she showed me my desk, facilities and associated things I needed to know. I was able to meet some of the staff and students at the university and settle in quite nicely with my surroundings. I quickly got comfortable and got on with some data analysis of case study 1 at my desk, and awaited the arrival of my supervisor soon after. Hazel is a Docent in Information Studies in the department so she has yearly visits here, so it was quite nice for me to schedule my data collection around this trip to so that I could participate in activities scheduled.

On the afternoon we participated in a paper review meeting where some of Gunilla’s researchers requested feedback on a paper they had prepared. Hazel and I had both read the paper before our visit and prepared questions / comments to ask. The paper was well presented and we both has comments we thought could be changed. It appears that the authors have had the same issue as me when I first started writing my recent theory paper in that we have all found the literature structure difficult. I really like the statistics in the paper and though this has bene presented well. It’s lovely to see a paper in this area with quite complex statistics in it and I was able to questions some of the reasons behind the statistical choices. This meeting gave us the opportunity to discuss a valuable paper (in draft) in the fired and for me to practice my paper reviewing skills. These are skills that are invaluable when you are a PhD student and I am thankful for being able to have the opportunity to use these skills in a university where I would not normally be based.

Tuesday December 5th 2017

This was Hazel’s second and final day of her visit to Abo Akdemi and we had more academic things planned. Most of our time was spent with some of Gunilla’s colleagues in a workplace information literacy meeting. This gave all of us the opportunity to discuss our work, and Hazel and I resented ours in PowerPoint form so that our audience had something to take away. You can find my slides here and Hazel’s slides here too. I found this experience to be quite beneficial both to me and my research. I was able to talk about my doctoral study in relation to information literacy but then explain the aims, methods and purpose of my research (including what I hope to get out of it). I also received quite a few questions which I enjoyed answering… normally this is the part I dread! The questions of methods, future research and the use of Social Cognitive Theory surfaced and it was good to know the theory had been heard before. I was also able to show the group a copy of my recent submission to the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science which discusses the use of SCT in Information Science research like mine. I am pleased to say that this publication has now been officially accepted so it will be published sometime next year! J During the afternoon, we heard about the research of Gunilla’s research group and discussed relevant issues in the field. These include the use of different methodologies, concepts in questionnaires and the literature review process which we all know is major part of all research. It was good to get to know that other research projects in this group actually do align and actually overlap with mine. It’s not surprising that I felt very comfortable in talking about my own research to this group and I could see where mine fitted in.

Wednesday December 6th 2017

Today was the 100th celebration of Finnish Independence so all university campuses were closed and we had a day off – kind of like a UK bank holiday. It was a day for celebration and you can find more about what was on offer all over the country here. We saw Turku Castle lit up in blue and white and had a walk up the river (in the snow!). Plenty of photo’s were taken up to now and some of them can be seen in this blog post.

Thursday December 7th and Friday December 8th 2017

These two days were dedicated to data collection for my PhD case study. In the run up to my trip to Finland, I was able to arrange 12 interviews with people who had openly volunteered. This was a good amount for European case study and my participant did not disappoint. I was able to interview a variety of staff form my participating organisation and ask their views on my topic. I brought all practical things with me (consent, info, schedule etc) so my main focus of the days was to travel around and meet me participants at their location of choice. It was a good to get to know how organisations work in Finland and also what influences the learning of employees. From carrying out only 5 interviews so far I can see a clear difference from my first case study data and this will be something I discuss in my work.

The most interesting thing of the day (Friday) was meeting someone who already had a PhD. This person explained the process of obtaining a PhD in Finland and also showed me copied of their ‘book’. You see, in Finland (and other similar countries), the doctoral programme is much different. The programme is usually 4 years compared to our 3, and there is a public defence involved. I have spent the day explaining the UK viva process and what this means for the candidate, and exploring how this differs from the processes elsewhere. I found a really interesting blog post here which explains the process of the public defence and the idea that many doctoral researchers are required to publish their own through the process before it can be passed. The doctoral thesis is still externally examined like ours, and you normally need permission form your primary supervisor to submit this for examination, although I have been informed that this is not always the case! I really could not imagine submitting my PhD without my supervisors being happy with it.

I finished my working week by blogging (this blog post) and feeling content that my data collection was progressing well. I also made plans with one of the Turku PhD students for over the weekend. I do not think the weather is particularly good though!

My next blog post will surface soon, probably when I return to Edinburgh!

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Finland here I come!!!

IMG_4391This time next week I will all packed and ready for my trip to Turku, Finland. For those of you who do not know, my trip was made possible by winning a Student Research Bursary and I did blog about this here. It has also been made possible due to the wonderful people in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University who agreed to part-fund the trip too. It was also possible because my Director of Studies had faith in me and encouraged me to apply for the funding which I won.

My trip to Finland has two purposes – firstly to help me collect some PhD data in a Finnish organisation and secondly so I can visit Åbo Akademi University to both share my own research and hear about work similar to mine.

As the identity of my case study organisations are confidential, I can’t really say much about who I am interviewing and where they are from – all I can say is that they are members of an organisation in Finland. I know this does not help the curiosity of some people who really want to know what I am doing, but in the case of my PhD integrity and ethics, this is just tough luck! 😉 I can say, however, that my panning is going well. We have some interviews lined up already and I’m hoping to have more scheduled in before I leave Edinburgh next week. I’m hoping I can come back to Edinburgh with some nice European data to analyse and lots to talk about after my trip.

My host whilst I am in Finland will be Professor Gunilla Widén. I’m very thankful to Gunilla for her help with the practical side of things and for her constant communication before my visit. It makes me feel very welcome even before I have arrived on campus. It is nice to know I will have an academic base whilst I am collecting data and getting on with work but it is also nice to know I can get to know more about the work of Gunilla’s research team as the research themes link quite closely with mine.

TurkuI have been frequently informed that Finland will be cold. As I type this blog post I am searching the BBC weather app which has lovingly told me that it is only going to get even colder for my visit (many minus numbers indeed). Fortunately, I have lots of layers of clothing, thick coats, hats, scarves and gloves to keep me warm as I bought much of these for Scotland and have not needed to use most of them since!

I’m sure I will return to Edinburgh with lots of stories to tell and lots of information to share. But for now, I have data analysis to get on with and a presentation to run through so I will just have to blog about my trip when I return.