Research Seminars

Our Research Seminars are open to academics, researchers and students from across the University (unless otherwise indicated). They provide an informal setting for intellectual debate, sharing ideas and collaboration.

Upcoming seminars

3 October 2019 - 1pm-2pm

Morgan Currie - Numbers Will Not Save Us: Data Justice in Los Angeles

In association with the Digital Society Network


This talk pairs radical democratic theory with the concept of data justice, a term that helps us identify the politics and interests driving data collection and use, as well as questions the relations between data practices, accountability, collective identity, and governance. One driving question of this talk is, can practices of data justice reflect the values of a more agonistic politics, and if so, how? To better understand these two complementary lines of thought, I look at the work of activists in Los Angeles who create, use, and contest various forms of politically consequential data, all with an eye toward shaping the horizons of civic action. I focus on civil society groups who ground claims of racial discrimination in sociodemographics of bus ridership and environmental harms, and on activists who conducted counter-surveillance research that maps the City’s secretive surveillance architecture. Throughout I insist on the performative, narratological, and relational aspects of data work.


Morgan Currie is Lecturer in Data and Society at Science, Technology, & Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Prior to her Lectureship she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University. She earned a Ph.D. in Information Studies from University of California, Los Angeles, in 2017, and a Masters in New Media from the University of Amsterdam in 2010.

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  1. Past event: 15 February 2019 - The Role of Information Science

     Professor Tom Jackson, Loughborough University

  2. Past event: 27 March 2019 - Understanding Digital Inequalities: Applying Bourdieu

    Understanding Digital Inequalities: Applying Bourdieu

    Professor Simeon Yates, University of Liverpool

    Wednesday 27 March, 4pm (Joint event with the Digital Society Network)


    "In this talk I will present data from a variety of studies conducted over the past decade into issues of digital inclusion and exclusion. The work is framed around the idea of “digital inequalities” but also by both policy issues and social theory concerns. The work addresses across social, economic and cultural aspects of inequality. The empirical studies I draw on range from statistical analyses and modelling of digital technology use across a range of demographic factors, through to qualitative and action research interventions in support of digital inclusion policy and practice. Analyses of data on digital media use are framed within Bourdieu’s model of social class formation and include similar and developed methodologies (Multiple Correspondence Analysis, Latent Class Analysis). Importantly this work critiques the currently popular idea of “digital capital” as sitting alongside social, cultural and economic capital of Bourdieu’s work – pointing out that this idea conflates both theoretically and empirically the contemporary role of ‘digital’ in all three elements of Bourdieu’s model. This empirical research has supported policy interventions within regions (South Yorkshire and Merseyside) as well as nationally and internationally through collaboration with GoodThings charity and Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport."


    Simeon is Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research Environment and Postgraduate Research at the University of Liverpool. His research on the social, political and cultural impacts of digital media includes a long-standing focus on digital media and interpersonal interaction. More recently, he has worked on projects that address issues of digital inclusion and exclusion. He was recently seconded to the UK Government's Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to act as research lead for the Digital Culture team. He remains the joint-chair of the DCMS Research Working Group on Digital Inclusion and Skills. His prior work covered topics such as the use of socio-linguistics of online interaction, digital technologies in the workplace, digital media use during crises and ICT use by the security services. The majority of his research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), EU and industry. Simeon’s work has often been interdisciplinary and has predominantly involved creative and digital industry partners.

  3. Past event: 29 April 2019 - The Intelligence of Things

     Dr Mercedes Bunz, Kings College London

    Artificial intelligence – data analysis and machine learning - drives many internet of thing devices from the speaking Siri on our phones to self-driving cars or smart cities. Devices are tracking and tracing their users and communicating with them, processing data and learning about their environment. In her talk, Mercedes will analyse how the agency of technology introduced by intelligent things is currently negotiated. Using critical discourse analysis, the first step will be to contrast technologies that are making things ‘intelligent’ with the way tech companies but also the media address this intelligence. In her second step, she will then focus on the potential of things which that sense their environment, which they offer through their data.

    Mercedes Bunz is Senior Lecturer in Digital Society at the Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London. She came to London in 2009 to work as the technology reporter of The Guardian. Her research explores how digital technology transforms knowledge and with it power; a question she explores currently specifically regarding medical knowledge with the Wellcome Trust grant for the project ‘Public data, private collaborator: will machine learning relocate medical knowledge?’ Recent publications: The Internet of Things (Polity 2017) co-published with Professor Graham Meikle, and the small Open Access publication Communication with Finn Brunton (University of Minnesota Press 2019), in which they discuss how contemporary communication puts us not only in conversation with one another but also with our machinery.

  4. Past event: 29 April - The Future of Healthcare: Automation, Computerisation, and General Practice Services

     Dr Matthew Willis

    NHS Primary Care faces numerous challenges: increased workload, greater service use, skill shortages, decreased patient consultation time, budgetary constraints, to name a few. Automation is typically seen as a threat to many industries but provides an opportunity to address these challenges in NHS primary care and beyond. This talk presents results from a multi-year and multi-method project designed to develop a linear scale of automatability, then, applies the scale to primary care tasks gathered through ethnographic observations. The project uses a machine learning framework to create a functional mapping between the skills, knowledge and ability characteristics of work activities and the ground truth of automatability elicited from an expert survey. Dr. Willis will discuss the quantitative framework and results along with his ethnographic observations and analysis of work practices in primary care. This project provides insight into tasks that can technically be automated but for social and organisational reasons, may encounter resistance to automation. The talk concludes with implications for the future of primary care.

    Dr. Willis earned his PhD in Information Science & Technology from the Syracuse University School of Information Studies where he worked closely with Professors Steve Sawyer and Carsten Osterlund. Dr. Willis has experience as a researcher in academic, government, and private institutional settings including Sandia National Laboratories, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and several university affiliated research centres where he was a contributor to multiple grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

    Currently Dr Willis is at the University of Oxford at the Oxford Internet Institute. He is interested in healthcare applications of AI, machine learning, blockchain, health data, and emerging technologies in healthcare. He is specifically interested in how the day-to-day use and design of these technologies impacts on patients, providers, and organisations. His approach to these interests is through the lens of Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Human-Computer Interaction, Social Informatics and Sociotechnical Systems.

  5. Past event: 20 May 2019 - Information Sharing in Online Health Forums: the importance of Trust and Empathy

    Professor Peter A. Bath and the Space for Sharing Sheffield team (Dr Sarah Hargreaves, Dr Julie Ellis and Dr Melanie Lovatt)

    This research seminar will present findings from the project, A Shared Space and a Space for Sharing ( The aim of the project was to examine the role of sharing in online health forums among people with a life-threatening or terminal illness and the importance of trust and empathy. The study used a qualitative approach in which a sample of posts from two online health forums, provided by Breast Cancer Care and the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association, were used to generate data. Semi-structured interviews were also undertaken with users of these forums. Thematic analysis of the forum posts was to anlyse the forum and interview data (Braun and Clarke, 2006). The seminar will report our findings on how people develop trust in others while using the forums and how this affects the information they share and use (Hargreaves et al., 2018; Lovatt et al., 2017). It will consider how information sharing among users supports the development of empathic connections and the development of friendships online. The talk will also report on the impact work we are undertaking to promote online health forums among patients, the public and healthcare professionals.


    Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

    Hargreaves, S., Bath, P. A., Duffin, S., & Ellis, J. (2018). Sharing and empathy in digital spaces: Qualitative study of online health forums for breast cancer and motor neuron disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(6), e222.

    Lovatt, M., Bath, P. A., & Ellis, J. (2017). Development of trust in an online breast cancer forum: A qualitative study. Journal of Medical Internet Research,19(5), e175.

  6. Past event: 21 May - Levelling Up: Developing Upstream Health Informatics Interventions to Reduce Health Disparities

    Dr Tiffany Veinot, University of Michigan

    Health disparities are differences in disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, or survival in one group compared to the general population. Health disparities are a product of macro-level social, political and economic mechanisms and intermediary social determinants of health such as living and working conditions and social networks. This presentation makes the case for “upstream” informatics interventions that focus on the social, political, economic and physical contexts in which health is produced. The presentation outlines key findings from three community-based research projects focused on developing and evaluating upstream informatics interventions. The first leverages social media to assess the food environment in socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods, and will ultimately result in a decision support tool for public health officials, urban planners, policy makers and non-profit organizations. The second focuses on stigma reduction in social networks to enhance the uptake of HIV testing among men who have sex with men. The result will be a blended online/offline intervention leveraging social networks. The third aims to reduce hemodialysis complications disproportionately experienced by women. The cluster-randomized, pragmatic trial compares the effectiveness of technology-mediated behavioural interventions for healthcare providers (tablet-based diagnostic checklist and team training) and for patients (tablet-based education and peer mentoring). The presentation concludes with recommendations for researchers and practitioners who aspire to enhance health equity with informatics.


    Tiffany Veinot is an Associate Professor (with tenure) at the Schools of Information and Public Health and Director of the Master of Health Informatics Program at the University of Michigan. She is the Principal Investigator of a $7.2 million, 5-year study funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, “Enhancing the Cardiovascular Safety of Hemodialysis Care: A Cluster-randomized, Comparative Effectiveness Trial of Multimodal Provider Education and Patient Activation Interventions (Dialysafe).” She has also held or co-held grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs, Institute of Museum and Library Services and several Canadian funders. Her published research has garnered seven publication awards from conferences, journals and professional associations in the fields of health informatics, information science, and human-computer interaction. She is on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), International Journal of Medical Informatics and the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST). She has served on the program committees for the American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposium and the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing. She is also guest editor on an upcoming special focus issue of JAMIA entitled, “Health Informatics and Health Equity: Improving Our Reach and Impact.”

  7. Past event: 12 June - Yingqin Zheng: Capabilities and Affordances in the ICT4D Context: Similarities, Differences, and Complementarities

    Dr Yingquin Zheng - Senior Lecturer - Royal Holloway University

    Abstract: The paper examines two concepts that have been frequently used in Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) research, capabilities and affordance. We seek to delineate their similarities, their differences, and their accurate application in ICT4D. Both concepts connote a space of opportunities, both are relational between artefact and human agency when applied in ICT4D, and both entail potential rather than actualisation of possibilities. By comparing the two at some length, we hope to generate a more refined understanding of both capabilities and affordance, as well as how they could be more accurately applied in ICT4D.

  8. Past event: 12 June - Dr Andrew Jimenez: dopting epistemologies of the South to reimagine innovation

    Dr. Jimenez will be joining the Information School after summer as a Lecturer. 

    Abstract: Innovation is a keyword mentioned in several Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as means of increasing economic growth and competitive advantage. However, dominant innovation theories and concepts have largely been developed in the global North. When implementing them in the global South, findings reveal they frequently reproduce existing uneven power relations. From a social development perspective, innovation processes frequently fail because they operate with inappropriate Northern models and assumption. This urges a need for Southern innovation models. An important step comes from literature on ‘inclusive innovation’ stressing an integration of the most marginalised in innovation processes. Moreover, the literature on global South innovation has paid little attention to diverse value systems of local people, including indigenous groups. In this sense, I ask how progressive innovation in the South might work in conjunction - not opposition - to ontologies and value systems which have existed for centuries, yet are frequently disregarded in mainstream development approaches. This research adopts the notion of Buen Vivir, an indigenous Andean intercultural knowledge. It proposes a relational ontological perspective subordinating economic objectives to social inclusion and environmental protection. While most innovation models see the environment as an externality, I will explore the theoretical implications of changing the lens on innovation to a Buen Vivir approach.

  9. Past event: 3 September 2019 - Fusion and Recommendation: Aggregation Strategies in Classical and Reciprocal Recommender Systems

    Dr. Ivan Palomares Carrascosa (University of Bristol) - Fusion and Recommendation: Aggregation Strategies in Classical and Reciprocal Recommender Systems

    Recommender System techniques provide users with tailored information to meet their needs and preferences, overcoming the nowadays humongous information overload in the Internet and helping us make good decisions when the amount of options available is simply enormous. Notable application areas include e-commerce, tourism, leisure, etc. The process of coming up with meaningful usually involves aggregating information from various sources or associated with different criteria, e.g. preference-based or context-based similarities. In this talk, I outline some recent works undertaken by Bristol’s Decision Support and Recommender Systems Lab in devising more ‘intelligent’ approaches to aggregate information in recommendation processes using aggregation functions typically investigated in multi-criteria decision analysis. I also show diverse applications of these approaches on urban resilience planning, group tourism and online dating.


    Ivan Palomares-Carrascosa is a Lecturer in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence with the School of Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Engineering Maths (University of Bristol, UK). He is also a Turing Fellow with the Alan Turing Institute (UK). He received his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science with Nationwide distinctions from the University of Jaen, Spain, in 2014. He currently leads the Decision Support and Recommender Systems research group at the University of Bristol. His research interests include data-driven and intelligent approaches for recommender systems, personalization for leisure and tourism in smart cities, large group decision making and consensus, data fusion, opinion dynamics and human-machine decision support. His research results have been published in top journals and conference proceedings, including IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems; European Journal of Operational Research; Applied Soft Computing; International Journal of Intelligent Systems; Information Fusion, Knowledge-Based Systems; Data and Knowledge Engineering; and Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, amongst others. Iván has recently published his book "Large Group Decision Making: creating Decision Support Systems at Scale".