Half-way through the internship!

SGSSS logo


So as you know I am not PhD-ing at the moment, I am working instead. I took a SGSSS internship at the Scottish Government (number 36 on the list for the Scottish Government internships) when I was offered the post earlier in the year. The start date was prefect and it meant that I could take a break from my PhD and do some research in an area that was completely unrelated to my own doctoral work (this was a specific requirement for an internship for me).

As part of my internship I am based with a specific team within St Andrews House in Edinburgh. I am based within: Directorate: Health & Social Care Integration, Division/Team: Digital Health & Care in the eHealth: Policy & Strategy team of the Scottish Government. I joined the team in the processes of a new Digital Health and Care Strategy being developed, which was in its final stages of approval. As you can now see, the strategy has been published and my internship work aims to feed into the strategy and will eventually (hopefully) help/support the implementation of specific elements of this.

I was looking forward to starting my internship and quite nervous at the same time.  I started just after the Easter bank holiday so I got a nice rest before all the hard work began. My first week was very induction focused. I met most of the team and a lot of other people who may be interested in the findings of my work. I also completed quite a lot of e-learning which was a requirement of the internship so that I was trained to the necessary standards of the government. I have since met some of the other interns working in health too. There are more of us than I had thought!

My second couple of weeks were spent planning out the project (e.g. developing a project plan and analysing literature around the project). The project plan was developed so we can see if the project is on track and so we could schedule what tasks needed doing and when. This seemed to work for my PhD (in my first review) so taking this approach was definitely useful for the 13 weeks of work ahead. My literature searching was something I had not done in a while, and something I had not done in the Scottish Government. I learned about the library the Scottish Government has and the vast amount of resources where literature (both policy and strategy related and academic journals) are based. I started to look into the relevant policies and strategies created either by or in partnership with the Scottish Government to help me set context to the research. My next task was to explore the literature ad determine if there was a gap – luckily there was (this was determined before I was even an intern but I had to fins this out for myself too!). but it was still good to know my internship work has basis and it was filling a gap where this needed to be filled.

A while back I bumped into some other PhD students and joked about this being a mini-PhD project in 13 weeks. In my eyes I see the same structure and planning phases but some of the procedures (e.g. data collection and ethics) do differ as this is not an academic project. It was good to learn about how things work within the Government so that I am learning about the non-academic/public sector side of things too. This is all helpful for the potential future career move to non-academia when the time comes.

I have also completed the stages of data collection preparation (e.g. developing questions to ask participants), piloting and am now in the process of collecting data for the project. As you can see from the internship project advert, I was required to carry out some interviews with practitioners. We decided to take a slightly different approach in data collection (still qualitative) than originally planned but this makes the project even better. This is now going to be a mix of focus groups, interviews and other qualitative methods so that we can reach the people who we need to in the time given for the internship.

By the end of the week I will have collected around 90% of the data so far and managed to transcribe it all too. The method of transcription is a little unique compared to that of my PhD but it is based on a specific methodology that has research and academic grounding (and publications) to help justify its use.  You will be able to find out more about this in my report once it is approved and published, keeping in mind that this could take a little while as it needs to go through a lot of reviews before it does.

Aside from the project planning and data collecting, I have been able to attend some interesting meetings too (some project related and some not) and get to know how the Scottish Government works with other services (e.g. the NHS, Care Inspectorate, homecare services etc). I have been able to listen in and observe carefully to actions taken to develop and implement the new strategy as well understand the roles of others involved. I have been able to explore what mobile working technology products are available out there, which in turn is helping to shape the development of the project and its future applications.

Part of my internship project is to present the findings of the research to practitioners Scottish Government Staff and other associated staff too. This is something that I am having to work towards and I will be able to prepare for this towards the need of my internship seeing as though I am booked in to present this on my final day as an intern. To help me prepare, I am able to present the findings of my part of the larger project at a local networking event next week where my internship supervisor will discuss the wider project and her quantitative results too. I will then have the opportunity to discuss the preliminary findings from my data collection so far and help to facilitate what all of this could mean in health and social care practice. One things I am having the opportunity to do (soon) is present my doctoral work within the healthcare division. My work relates quite nicely to some team goals the service is developing so having that opportunity to share knowledge of my work and some results of one of my case studies I something that I welcome. We have not yet scheduled a time for this just yet but it will be a valuable opportunity for my work to have some form of impact, not only in the healthcare of the Scottish Government but in an area outside of the intended audience of my doctoral work (a bonus indeed!).

So as a quick recap half way through – I am thoroughly enjoying my time here. I think that the work will benefit my own PhD work in that I will see where the applications lie. Similarly, the internship is giving me an insight into working in the Scottish Government should this be a career move in the future. I am seeing a huge difference in my own working pattern in terms of my time in the office, my workload and this is completely different to what my PhD has brought. I had said to one of my supervisors that I taught that the new schedule would hit me ‘smack in the face’ in the first couple of weeks and so it did. Luckily I have got used to the change in schedule very quickly and working location and this has not bothered me one bit!

More internship updates will follow when I can…


Participation in iDocQ 2018!


I was able to take some leave from my Scottish Government internship and attend iDocQ this year. iDocQ is a great way for information science PhD students to network, present their work and get to know others in the field. In its eighth year, iDocQ was held at Edinburgh Napier on May 3rd 2018 and we had a blast. This blog post is just a short overview of the colloquium and some of my own reflections on the day.

The programme for the day was wonderful. There were ice breaker activities, presentations and workshops for us all to enjoy. Our ice breaker for the day saw us creating a ‘brain’ figure out of paper pictures and making up a story of his/her life and the PhD related issue they faced. In our group, we created Alex, a PhD student who needed help with writing – quite fitting considering the PhD stage I am at.

We then heard from our keynote speaker, Professor Brian Detlor from McMaster University who spoke about his digital storytelling work. You can find a copy of this slides here. It was interesting to see how his methods have been deployed and to hear about the research he has done. I must be honest his research area is not something I have been interested in in the past but it is definitely something I will be looking into soon!

Brian’s presentation was then followed by a series of student presentations, 20×20 format presentations to be precise. There were six of us students presenting before lunch and there was a good mix of research interests in the bag. I must admit that my presentation was not the best given that it was rushed in preparation and I did not have much time to run through either (we shall blame the internship!). A copy of my slides can be found here and you can also see slides from the other presenters here too. Bruce Ryan was also wonderful and created a video of presentations. Many thanks to Bruce for doing this. Mine can be found here. Admittedly, I was more pleased that I introduced myself with the correct name and not my maiden name as I feared that I may do. However, I was pleased that I managed to present my work as it has been a while since I have done so and it is sometime us PhD students tend to forget we need to do (every now and then). I won’t go into too much detail about presentations and preparation but one of our PhD students, Frances Ryan, has given a lovely overview of the 20×20 presentation and you can see this information on her own PhD blog post – 12 tips for a 20×20.

Our afternoon workshops were just as good and even better that they were relevant too. We participated in a writing workshop delivered by Grainne Barkess, our Leader of Researcher Development, who talked about writing techniques to keep us going and things we can do to keep us writing. This was a particularly interesting session for me as I am current yin the process of wiring my internship report, something very different to that done in academics. That being said, I will return to my PhD at the end of June and I will be I writing mode form then on so I am hoping that this workshop and my internship work act as a bit of a motivation when I myself ned to keep writing until I submit.

We then heard from Dawn Smith, Napier’s Public Engagement Officer, who talked to us about engaging with and present our work. We were given some handy hints and tips on how to make this work, some do’s and don’ts so that we can consider these when we next present. This workshop was particularly fitting given that I have four presentations to deliver in the near future and I often feel the nerves. I just wish that I had had this type of training early on in my PhD so that I could have prepared myself for what was to come.

Our final workshop of the day was on the topic of mental wellbeing in the PhD, or in research. Two of Napier’s Mental Health Advisers, Angus and Leah. References were made to the techniques we could consider to keep maintain a good level of wellbeing even when things get tough. They both made reference to a couple of blog posts that I had written whilst in their ‘care’ and training sessions and the links to the blog posts are here and here.

We finally had a panel Q&A session where students asked questions about all things PhD. We had plenty of questions on the topic of careers, literature reviewing, saying no to your supervisor and much much more. We did run out of tie for any final questions but this is just because the day was great and we were having too much fun to fit it all in.

Overall, a huge thank you to Dr Laura Muir and the local organising committee (Dr Bruce Ryan and Alicja Pawluczuk). Also thank you to the rest of the organising committee – I do not have links for you all but you can find information on the picture of the programme below.

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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: https://www.napier.ac.uk/~/media/worktribe/output-1017697/applications-and-applicability-of-social-cognitive-theory-in-information-science-research-2.pdf

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:

Email: L.Middleton@naier.ac.uk

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

PhD Blog:lyndseyjenkins.org


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!



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!