Dr Andrew Cox

BA (Open), MA (TVU), MSc (UWA), MA (Open), MEd (Sheffield), PhD (Loughborough)

Information School

Senior Lecturer

Dr Andrew Cox
+44 114 222 6347

Full contact details

Dr Andrew Cox
Information School
Regent Court (IS)
211 Portobello
S1 4DP

After graduating from Aberystwyth with an MSc in Library Studies, I spent a number of years working in development projects around the use of ICT in library contexts, funded by EC, JISC and others.

I completed my PhD at Loughborough in 2006. The topic was knowledge sharing among web management professionals, on and off line, informed by notions both around communities of practice and theories of professionalisation.

I have continued an interest in online community/social media and professional identity in later work.

Another area of interest is Research Data Management. I also have an interest in the theory of information, especially influences from practice theory and embodied cognition.

University responsibilities

  • Head of the Digital Societies Research Group
  • Steering committee, Faculty of Social Science Digital Society Network
  • Director of Research
  • Module Coordinator:
    • Management and Strategy for Digital Libraries
    • Archives and Records Management
Research interests

My main research interests are in three somewhat interconnected areas:

  • Communities of practice as a theoretical construct and increasingly the application of practice theory (Schatzki, Nicolini) to information science, to theorise how people seek and create information and unravelling the complex process of technology adoption and use.
  • The evolution of the concepts of virtual community, Web2.0 and social media, especially related to information sharing, creation and use in “serious leisure” pursuits, such as photography and running.
  • The nature of the information professions, informed by Abbott’s theories of competition for jurisdiction between professions. My current interest is in the response of information professionals to issues around Research Data Management, arising from the “data deluge” and calls for open sharing of research data.

Most of my research uses qualitative methods, including using visual methods.

Research projects

Place-making for sustainable development: Learning from Xochimilco

TuOS GCRF QR funding Principal Investigator £6,800 1 January 2019 6 months

The purpose of the project is to explore how to capture and share narratives of placemaking for their role in sustainable development, from a case study of Xochimilco, Mexico.

TUoS Teaching fellows fund: Remapping learning landscapes on campus

TUoS Senate teaching fellows fund Principal Investigator £6,969 1 January 2018 18 months

A project to explore and expand the ways that students and staff use different spaces as an essential part of their learning.

SCONUL Transformation Group: Mapping the Future of Academic Libraries

The Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) Co-Investigator £9,600 1 April 2017 6 months

A study of the future academic library for the next 10 to 15 years, in the context of the decline in importance of the printed book and its repercussions for use of library space, development of services, and deployment of staff.

Faculty of Social Science student use of library and informal learning space

TUoS Faculty of Social Science Principal Investigator £1,950 January 2016 3 months

In preparation for the proposed new building for the Faculty of Social Sciences, the study seeks to investigate how students currently use library and informal learning spaces, especially the Diamond since this has been little studied.

Competencies for bibliometrics

Lis-bibliometrics group Principal Investigator £1,400 March 2016 12 months

Development of a set of bibliometric competencies for librarians.

Wicked Ways with Research Data Management

Leadership Foundation for Higher Education Principal Investigator £8,565 1 April 2014 12 months

Many issues in UK universities have all the hallmarks of being wicked problems: complex, hard to solve issues that stakeholders perceive in very different ways. Leadership has to be different in such contexts. A new wicked problem for universities that has emerged in the last few years is what to do about improving research data management (RDM). The aim of the Wicked Ways project is to bring together a network of those involved in tackling the wicked RDM problem in different institutions and through an iterative, reflective and participative process construct an open educational resource about leadership in wicked problem contexts. This resource will be freely available to the wider UK HEI community and help promote the understanding of the wicked problem concept. The process will also itself help to create a supportive community of practice for participants. The collaborators in creating the learning resource are drawn from the various stakeholders in RDM: researchers, research administrators, IT professionals, librarians and record managers and facilitated by the Sheffield Information School. They will be drawn largely but not exclusively from the White Rose Consortium partners, the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. As people currently engaged in addressing this wicked problem space, they will have immediate experiences to reflect on and opportunities to try out ideas in practice.

Digital Society Network

University of Sheffield Steering Group Member £24,000 1 February 2014 18 months

The Digital Society Network (DSN) draws together an interdisciplinary team of researchers engaged with research at the cutting-edge of society-technology interactions. Underpinning the network is a concern not only with how societies and individuals use digital technologies, but also the social implications and outcomes of an increasingly digitised world on numerous scales. In this way, digital society is understood as being the social aspect of the digital - a concern with who uses and does not use digital technology, for what purposes digital technologies are being used, how effective technologies and platforms are, and the implications and outcomes of these practices.


Joint Information Systems Committee Investigator £60,000 1 July 2012 12 months

A JISC funded project to produce taught and continuing professional development (CPD) learning materials in Research Data Management (RDM) tailored for Information professionals. RDMRose developed and adapted learning materials about RDM to meet the specific needs of liaison librarians in university libraries, both for practitioners CPD and for embedding into the postgraduate taught (PGT) curriculum. Its deliverables included OER materials suitable for learning in multiple modes, including face to face and self-directed learning. RDMRose brought together the UK’s leading iSchool with a practitioner community based on the White Rose University Consortium?s libraries at the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Development of content and teaching was iterative, based on a highly participative curriculum development process and with a strong strand of student evaluation of learning materials and activities.


Higher Education Academy Principal Investigator £2,858 2 January 2008 5 months


  • Cox A & Verbaan E (2018) Exploring Research Data Management. London: Facet Publishing. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


Book reviews

  • Cox AM (2014) How to Conduct a Practice-Based Study: Problems and Methods. JOURNAL OF THE ASSOCIATION FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, 65(7), 1511-1514. RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers


  • Cox A & Benson-Marshall M (2021) Drivers of the use of SCONUL member libraries RIS download Bibtex download
  • Cox A (2021) The impact of AI, machine learning, automation and robotics on the information professions: A report for CILIP RIS download Bibtex download
  • Pinfield S, Cox A & Rutter S (2017) Mapping the future of academic libraries: A report for SCONUL View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download


Research group

I am interested in supervising PhD students in Virtual Community and Communities of Practice.

I am head of the Digital Societies Research Group.

Current PhD Students

  • Maram Alajamy: The Role of Academic Librarians in Institutional Information System Strategic Planning: A Grounded Theory Study of Syrian Governmental Universities
  • Anas Alsuhaibani: Investigating the Role of Social Media in Supporting International Students Transition to Study in the UK
  • Penny CS Andrews: The Role and Influence of Current Research Information Systems (CRIS) in UK Higher Education and Scholarly Communication
  • Bethany Aylward: Web-archiving needs of archives in South Yorkshire
  • Linhao Fang: Conception, Design and Development of a Self-Directed E-Learning Component of a Phonetics Blended-Learning Environment
  • Paula Goodale: Supporting Information Access in Digital Cultural Heritage Collections
  • Daniel Grace: Creating the convivial library: exploring the effect of technology on the public libraries capacity to promote community resilience
  • Catherine Hoodless: Subject v. functional: the relationship between changing organisational structures and the transformation of academic libraries and the profession of librarianship
  • Itzelle Medina Perea: The socio-cultural life of personal health data flows in the UK healthcare sector
  • Lee Pretlove: The quantified runner: the long-term value and preservation of parkrunners' self-tracking fitness data from the perspectives of the parkrunner, self-tracking device manufacturers and archival institutions

Completed PhD Students

  • Preeyanuch Voravickositt: Understanding the relationship between users' reading attitudes, behaviours and e-books collection management in Thai academic libraries.
  • Melanie Benson: Information Use of Migrational Individuals and Public Library Space: An Ethnographic Study.
  • Piyapat Jarusawat: Lanna Information Management.
  • Nicolas Kylilis: Social participation in online and offline communities.
  • Titima Thumbumrung: Knowledge sharing across boundaries in interdisciplinary scientific and technological research projects in Thailand.
  • Mashael Al Omar: Scholars research related personal information management: An investigation of PAAET, Kuwait.
  • Abadelkarim Agnawe: An investigation of the influence of cultural dimensions on the use of the Internet by Libyan academics.
  • Nordiana Ahmad Kharman Shah: Factors influencing academics' use of microblogging in teaching and learning.
  • Soureh Latif Shabgahi: The impact on information seeking and sharing behaviour of the adoption of social networking tools by SMEs.
  • Xuguang Li: A study of knowledge sharing and construction in virtual product user communities.
  • Martin Simmons: Exploring the value of different aspects of culture: a mixed methods study focusing on the perspectives of the public and culture providers in Derbyshire.
  • Nora Agustero: The Collaborative behaviour of academic libraries: The case of library consortia in the Philippines.
  • Khalfan Al Hijji: Strategic Management and Planning Practices in Academic Libraries in Oman.
  • Meshal Al-Fadhli: Technology Adoption in Academic Libraries in the State of Kuwait.
  • Elizabeth Brewster: An investigation of experiences of reading for mental health and well-being and their relation to models of bibliotherapy.
  • Inaam Idrees: Clique and Elite: Inter-Organisational Knowledge Sharing across Five Star Hotels in the Saudi Arabian Religious Tourism and Hospitality Industry - a Grounded Theory Study.
  • Gibran Rivera Gonzalez: The use of Actor-Network Theory and a Practise-Based Approach to understand online community participation.
  • Nashwaran Taha: Factors Shaping the Network Dynamic of International Students in UK Higher Education.
Teaching activities

My main areas of teaching are:

  • Library applications of ICT. I led the RDMRose project 2012-13 to develop learning materials on research data management for information professionals.
  • Library space
  • Virtual community, social networks and information. This encompasses social media sites like Flickr and blogging and also applications in corporate contexts (under the broad heading of KM), e.g. around communities of practice and virtual communities of practice.

I have been heavily influenced in my teaching style by the inquiry led approach promoted by CILASS.

I won a University of Sheffield senate award for teaching in 2009-10. I am a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Teaching projects

International internet use  
University of Sheffield internationalisation fund   £1,500 2013  
Project with Journalism undertaking case studies of the pattern of internet use in different countries.
Course Videos and Employability
University of Sheffield Faculty L&T enhancement fund   £1,100 2013  
Project with with Architecture and Landscape. Students created videos about the experience of learning at the Information School.
RDMRose, Research Data Management
JISC Principal Investigator £60,000 2012-2013  
Creating an Open Educational Resource for information professionals supporting research data management.
Hand it to you
University of Sheffield Faculty L&T enhancement fund Principal Investigator £1,100 2012  
Project with Law School to redesign the student handbook.
Promoting intercultural encounters
TUOS – Internationalisation fund Principal Investigator £1,000 2011  
Project with Architecture investigating Chinese and UK students’ differing views on group work.
Picturing University
University of Sheffield widening participation fund   £1,000 2011  
A joint study with TILL and Oncology of how children from working class backgrounds in two Sheffield schools perceive university.
Early career narratives of Information Management Graduates
CILASS - SURE Principal Investigator £1,080 2010  
A study of what IM graduates views of employability.
Opened Up Learning: generating content and learning opportunities with communities beyond the classroom
University of Sheffield – Learning and teaching development grant Principal Investigator £7,740 2009  
Using film making as an assessment task.
Multimedia Assessment in Information / Knowledge management (“Maik”)
HEA-Information and Computer Science Principal Investigator £3,000 2008  
Developing multimedia slideshows as an assessment task.
Professional activities
  • I was on the national committee of a Chartered Institute Library Information Professionals (CILIP) special interest group, Multimedia and Information Technology (MmIT) for a number of years, being closely involved in organisation of its successful annual national conferences (in Sheffield in 2012 and 2013) and other events on specific topics such as content management and ebooks.
  • I am a co-editor of Online Information Review. I am on the editorial board of Information Research.
  • I have reviewed for journals such as Program, Information Research, Journal of Documentation, Journal of Information Science, Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, Journal of Library and Information Science, Higher Education and for numerous academic conferences, including the Association of Internet Researchers, ASIS&T annual meeting and the iSchool iconference.
  • I have been external examiner for PhDs at Loughborough, MMU, York, Wolverhampton and UCL in the UK and Lund in Sweden and for an MPhil at Aberystwyth.
  • I have written book reviews for Program and Journal of the American Society of Information Science and Technology.
  • I was an invited keynote speaker at the Special Library Association (Gulf chapter) conference, Bahrain, April 2012 and at the European Library Automation Group Conference, Helsinki, 9-11 June 2010.
  • I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • I received CILIP Fellowship in 2013.