Research seminars

Our Research Seminars provide an informal setting for intellectual debate, sharing ideas and collaboration. You are very welcome to join us!


Upcoming events

Watch past seminars

There's a playlist of some of our past seminars on our YouTube channel.

Watch them here

Past events

7th May 2024
14th March 2024
7th March 2024
28th February 2024
15th February 2024: Smarter, Greener Extractivism
31st January 2024: How helpful are artificial intelligence and bibliometrics for assessing the quality of academic research? - Prof Mike Thelwall Inaugrual Lecture

Professor Mike Thelwall Inaugural Lecture

Researchers spend vast amounts of time as quality controllers assessing each other’s work. This is necessary for journals, conferences, and books as well as for internal university Research Excellence Framework (REF) preparation and, if a REF assessor, for the REF itself. If this time-consuming task could be taken over by Artificial Intelligence (AI) or at least supported by automatically calculated bibliometric data, such as citation counts or Journal Impact Factors (JIFs), then we could all do more research! This talk assesses whether this is possible using large scale machine learning experiments and bibliometric analyses of confidential REF2021 article-level scores. The results show that there are substantial field differences in the value of these approaches and give insights for those considering them for research assessment.

7th December 2023: Transparency, accountability, and using data for journalism

Transparency, accountability, and using data for journalism

Dr Jingrong Tong - University of Sheffield

Seminar abstract

This talk draws on my research on data journalism and media freedom. I discuss the concepts of transparency and accountability, the opportunities brought up by the datafication of society for journalistic practices and the implications of the changing political discourses and practices about transparency and accountability for using data for journalism. I also discuss journalists’ strategies to push back to increase transparency and accountability. With the capacity to influence society, journalism is an important cultural institution that powerful individuals and authorities cannot afford to ignore. Using data for journalism potentially catalyses data’s power to shape existing power relations. Thus, data has become an object over which power relations struggle to cast control, with potential of transforming the relationship between transparency and accountability.

Dr Jingrong Tong

Dr Jingrong Tong is Senior Lecturer in Digital News Cultures at the University of Sheffield. She is the author of Data for Journalism: Between Transparency and Accountability and seven other books. Her current research focuses on media freedom, the impact of digital technology on journalism, and social media communication of social issues.

27th June 2023: Understanding and Facilitating Human-Data-Algorithm Interactions through Visualisation

Understanding and Facilitating Human-Data-Algorithm Interactions through Visualisation

Prof. Cagatay Turkay

This talk will explore how data visualisations offer ways for diverse audiences for engaging and working effectively, rigorously and meaningfully with data and algorithms, as well as a lens to study how human-data-algorithm interactions take place. Building on our recent research, I’ll explore and share examples from a range of contexts where such interactions take place.

I’ll first discuss how visualisation could support decision-making for expert audiences by acting as a facilitator for informative and critical interactions with data and models. We will then explore how visualisations act as mediums for discourse on data artefacts with/in the public.

The talk will also touch upon how perceptual and cognitive characteristics of humans could be considered and studied within human-data-algorithm interactions. Through these, I will try to establish human-data-algorithm interactions as a problem space that offer both challenges and opportunities for methodological innovation and impact.

Cagatay Turkay is a Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick, UK and a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, London, UK. His research investigates the interactions between data, algorithms and people, and explores the role of interactive visualisation and other interaction mediums such as natural language at this intersection. He designs techniques and algorithms that are sensitive to their users in various decision-making scenarios involving primarily high-dimensional and spatio-temporal phenomena, and develops methods to study how people work interactively with data and computed artefacts.

29th March 2023: Aesthetics of Certainty: Power/Knowledge in Visual Investigations

Aesthetics of Certainty: Power/Knowledge in Visual Investigations

Dr David Young - Royal Holloway

The idea that contemporary military operations are fundamentally shaped by tasks of data management has been productively explored in recent literature on the technopolitics of warfare. What has received less attention, however, are the ways in which the “datafication” of war also guides a range of distinctively “digital” counter practices pioneered by visual investigators. These counter practices rely on the collation of data from various sources on the internet to construct a narrative of military violence: multiple pieces of media are brought together to produce a credible account of an event. Considerable political weight has been attached to this approach. Bellingcat has pitched visual investigations as a quest for “truth in a post-truth world”, the New York Times claims to “hold the powerful to account”, while the BBC has praised the democratising capacity of this approach.

These claims raise questions about the kinds of information required to ascertain a reported “fact” as credible, and how designers demarcate the resultant thresholds of certainty and uncertainty in their visualisations. Such thresholds are necessarily imbricated with questions of power and knowledge in that they involve the translation of real-world events and individuals, documented in heterogeneous forms, into computable schemas, properties, and quantities.

Drawing on theories from software studies, the sociology of human rights, and digital aesthetics, this talk explores how visual investigations configure such relations of power and knowledge. It asks: How is certainty assembled out of fragments of diverse media objects? What aesthetic principles are employed in the visualisation of this information? In addition, the talk also considers how the answers to such questions might inform a critical framework for teaching data visualisation.

Dr David Young is a Lecturer in Digital Media Culture and Technology at Royal Holloway, where he teaches software art, data visualisation, and the history and theory of computational media and free/open source culture. His teaching is organised around exploring how a creative and experimental approach to programming can be integrated within theoretical inquiries into the politics of software.

His research focuses on archiving digital media, histories of computing, and the technopolitics of contemporary militarism. He completed a PhD at the Centre for Critical Theory, University of Nottingham in 2021. His doctoral research studied the institutional discourses of US Air Force command and control systems through an analysis of bureaucratic 'grey' media gathered through archival research, specifically analysing how ‘human operators’ were understood in relation to machines.

8th February 2023: Veni, vidi, vici? On the rise of scrape-and-report scholarship in online reviews research

Veni, vidi, vici? On the rise of scrape-and-report scholarship in online reviews research

Dr Philip Fei Wu - Royal Holloway

In this talk, I reflect on the rise of scrape-and-report scholarship in online reviews research, drawing upon my own experience in conducting and reviewing academic work in this area. I unpack some of the main pitfalls in the processes of scraping and reporting ‘Big Data’ from online review platforms, such as hypothesising after results are known (HARKing). I argue that customer review data scraped from the Internet are neither “complete” nor “raw”, nor are they faithfully representing the sociomaterial reality. I outline some recommendations for critically examining the sociomaterial life of online reviews with a pluralist methodology.

Dr Philip Fei Wu is a Senior Lecturer in information management at Royal Holloway. He holds a PhD from the iSchool at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA. He is Deputy Director of Postgraduate Research in the School of Business and Management, and a cluster lead in the Digital Organisation and Society (DOS) research centre.

Broadly speaking, his research looks at human behaviour in technology-mediated environments from sociopsychological perspectives. In recent years, his work focuses on online reviews, online health communities, information privacy, and digital labour platforms. He serves on the editorial board of Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST).

18th July 2022: Analysing Clarification in Asynchronous and Synchronous Information Seeking Conversations 

Analysing Clarification in Asynchronous and Synchronous Information Seeking Conversations 

Dr Lelia Tavakoli

RMIT, Melbourne Australia

29th June 2022: Enabling Exploratory Search within Academic Digital Libraries

Enabling Exploratory Search within Academic Digital Libraries

Dr. Orland Hoeber

When academic searchers are faced with complex information needs that are ambiguous, multi-faceted, and open-ended, the simple look-up model that is commonplace in web search is not sufficient to help the searcher resolve their information needs. Exploratory search has been proposed as a more suitable approach for this situation (White & Roth, 2009), wherein searchers start with exploratory browsing activities, and as their uncertainty in what they are seeking reduces, they transition to focused searching. While the concept of this model is attractive, there remains limited support for exploratory search activities within the search interfaces provided by academic digital libraries.In order to enable exploratory search, a simple query box and search results list is not sufficient. Some academic digital library search interfaces have started to include features that can support exploratory search activities, such as faceted navigation and workspaces. While these are a step in the right direction, more research is needed to study the various ways in which exploratory search can be enabled within the search interface

In this talk, a specific focus will be placed on supporting the activities of learning and investigation that occur within the exploratory browsing phase, and discussing how this can lead to a reduction in uncertainty and a transition to focused searching. Consideration will be given to cross-session search and task resumption, given that complex academic searches often span multiple sessions. Cross-device searching will also be discussed, as it enables searchers to use whichever of their devices is convenient, supporting a “search anytime, anywhere” ethos. Within the mobile search context, special consideration will be given to how the effects of distractions, interruptions, and task switching can be mitigated.A review of the presenter’s recent work on enabling exploratory search within academic digital libraries will be provided (Hoeber & Shukla, 2022; Gomes, Boon, & Hoeber, 2022), which focuses on using information visualization and interactive techniques to enable exploratory search. An outline of in-progress and future research projects will also be provided.

Dr. Orland Hoeber is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Regina. His primary research interest is at the intersection of interactive information retrieval and information visualization. He has an active research team working on the design, development, and study of visual and interactive software to support exploration, analysis, reasoning, and discovery in a broad range of information-centric domains including digital library search, mobile search, social media analysis, and sport analytics. Dr. Hoeber was a Program Co-Chair for the 2020 ACM SIGIR Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (CHIIR), the top academic conference at the intersection of information retrieval and human-computer interaction. He is a regular senior program committee member for CHIIR and program committee member for SIGIR, and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST) and Information Processing & Management (IP&M).

9th June 2022: Contextualizing Datafication in Peru: Insights from a Citizen Data Literacy Project

Contextualizing Datafication in Peru: Insights from a Citizen Data Literacy Project

Dr Katherine Reilly, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Can van Dijck’s (2014) datafication-dataism-dataveillance framework be used to understand data processes in local, historical context?  The critical data literacy project Son Mis Datos accompanied volunteers who used Peru’s national data protection law to request personal data held by Peruvian companies, and then showed them how to audit corporate data use based on the results. While our approach had a positive impact in some aspects of data literacy, we found that our work was insufficiently grounded in local experiences, needs and values. In this talk we'll look at how van Dijck's work can be used to uncover local experiences with data power in terms of institutions, ideas and affordances, however we'll also look at how Peru’s complex experience with digitization and digital transformation stretch Van Dijk’s universalist understanding of ‘datafication.'

Dr. Katherine Reilly is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver Canada. She does critical, community engaged, policy-relevant research in the field of information and communications technologies for development, with a particular focus on Latin America. Her current project develops techniques for conducting citizen-centred data audits of private sector use of personal data with a view to contextualizing and historicizing digital transformation in the region. This work is being done in collaboration with ObservaTIC at the University of the Republic in Uruguay, and digital rights organizations in Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru.

7th June 2022: Theoretically developing a biosocial-digital perspective to analyze health (inequities)

Theoretically developing a biosocial-digital perspective to analyze health (inequities)

Visiting Professor Sundeep Sahay

This talk will cover a work in progress project relating to interdisciplinary theory development around understanding the phenomenon of digital global health, with a primary focus on health inequities. Health inequities result from unfair social arrangements and represent avoidable harm. As digital technologies are increasingly implicated in global health processes, it is important to interrogate the research questions of how and if digital technologies and data makes visible underlying social arrangements and build an evidence base and political-technical capabilities to mobilize action to mitigate inequities. The theoretical aim is to develop conceptual foundations to address this research question a “biosocial-digital” perspective reflecting the complex intertwining of biosocial and digital processes, which is inherently non-linear and inherent with multiple paradoxes.

25th May 2022: Information and knowledge management with focus on information literacy and social capital

Information and knowledge management with focus on information literacy and social capital

Gunilla Widén, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

Social capital is the network of relationships possessed by an individual, and the set of resources that are possible to access through that network. Wisely used, these conditions and connections come with a potential to reach information and knowledge resources that are beyond the resources of an individual and it has been shown that a positive connection between knowledge management, social capital and firm performance exist. Knowledge management is concerned with the processes of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information of an organisation, but the link between employees' information literacy and organisational social capital has not been much studied. However, this link is important to make considering that social capital has been proven to have a positive impact on business success, meaning that an investment in information literacy is potentially an investment in social capital. This talk will focus on connecting the social capital and information literacy frameworks, and reflect upon how this connection could be studied.

Gunilla Widén is Professor of Information Studies at Åbo Akademi University, Finland and holds the Title of Docent in Information Mangement at University of Tampere, Finland. She has led several large research projects investigating key skills in information society as well as various aspects of social media, information behavior and information literacy, for example the DiWIL project on the impact of information literacy in the digital workplace (Academy of Finland, 2016-20). She has recently also been involved in European projects on youth information service development. Currently she is leading research on Trust in Information, part of the project Diversity, Trust and Two-Way Integration (Mobile Futures) funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC), Academy of Finland (2021-26), and on cultural policy decision-making, the case of Helsinki Central Libary Oodi, in the PolyCul project funded by the Norweigan Research Council (2021-24). She has published widely in her areas of expertise and been appointed expert in several evaluation committees.

27th April 2022: Data infrastructuring in schools

Data infrastructuring in schools: new forms of edu-data expertise and entrepreneurship

Dr Lyndsay Grant - University of Bristol

This talk will discuss the role of social and material intermediaries involved in the datafication of schooling. Drawing on a sociomaterial ethnography of a secondary school in England, I will explore the behind-the-scenes work of data infrastructuring, in which people, platforms, systems and tools come together to create, enable and maintain data flows. In the process, teachers were both de-professionalised and re-professionalised, creating new kinds of edu-data experts and entrepreneurs while also excluding those outside data flows. At the same time, data infrastructuring worked to both reinforce and reconfigure existing governing power flows within and beyond the school.

Dr Lyndsay Grant is a Lecturer in Education and Digital Technologies in the School of Education at the University of Bristol. Drawing on critical data studies, science and technology studies and sociomaterial theoretical approaches, my research explores how digital and data technologies reshape educational practices, policies and cultures. My current research is focused on exploring data intermediaries in education; anticipatory performance of educational futures and developing approaches to ‘data literacy’ as a playful and critical sociomaterial practice.

9th March 2022: Introducing the new UKRI open access policy

Introducing the new UKRI open access policy

Dr Emily Nunn, Scholarly Communications Librarian, University Library

The new "Plan S" aligned UKRI open access policy applies to journal articles and conference papers submitted on or after 1st April 2022 and to monographs, chapters and edited collections published on or after 1st January 2024. There are significant changes to the current policy, including the addition of a 'rights retention' element, restrictions on what UKRI will fund and the inclusion of monographs in scope for the first time. This seminar introduces the new policy, setting it in the context of recent developments in open access, discusses potential areas of concern and signposts to support the Library can offer.

10th November 2021: What's next for UK research funding?

What's next for UK research funding? - Professor James Wilsdon - University of Sheffield

After the Spending Review: what next for UK research funding and strategic priorities?

After the rhetorical heat of the Conservative Party conference, the Budget and Spending Review on 27 October should be a point of light – bringing the clarity of a Treasury spreadsheet to the government’s programme for the next three years. For higher education and research, a lot is at stake. And having set itself the unusually concrete target of investing £22 billion in R&D annually by 2024-25, the government needs to explain how it will move from current levels – around £15 billion – in three short, steep jumps. All this while the economic seas get ever choppier.

While the research community hopes to see the government deliver on these promises and wider ambitions for the UK as a “science superpower", it is also braced for more disappointing outcomes, including some kind of funding fudge that spells yet more uncertainty. And beyond the headline numbers, important dilemmas persist about the strategic coherence of R&D policies, the balance of funding through the system; and the UK’s post-Brexit plans for international competitiveness and collaboration.

Taking place two weeks after the Spending Review, this seminar provides an opportunity to take stock of what we’ve learnt about the size and shape of the UK’s research budget, and the priorities likely to determine how it gets spent. James Wilsdon will interrogate the Treasury’s spending plans, and highlight some of the implications, opportunities and uncertainties of these plans for researchers in the Information School, and across the University of Sheffield.

About the speaker

James Wilsdon is Digital Science Professor of Research Policy in the Information School at the University of Sheffield and Director of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI), an international consortium working to advance transformative research on research systems, cultures and decision-making. Over his career, in addition to posts at the universities of Sheffield, Sussex and Lancaster, James has worked in think tanks and as director of science policy for the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy. Previously, he chaired the UK’s Campaign for Social Science, and led an independent government review of responsible uses of research metrics, published in 2015 as The Metric Tide. He was co-founder—and from 2015-2021, vice-chair—of the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA). In 2015, he was elected a Fellow of the UK’s Academy of Social Sciences. He serves on the editorial board of the OA journal Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, and tweets @jameswilsdon.

23rd June 2021: Artificial Intelligence for a Better Future

Artificial Intelligence for a Better Future - Bernd Carsten Stahl - De Montfort University, Leicester

Watch the recording here

Smart information systems (SIS), those systems that incorporate artificial intelligence techniques, in particular machine learning and big data analytics, are widely expected to have a significant impact on our world. They raise significant hopes, for example to better understand and cure diseases, to revolutionize transport, to optimize business processes or reduce carbon emissions. At the same time, they raise many ethical and social concerns, ranging from worries about biases and resulting discrimination to the distribution of socio-economic and political power and their impact on democracy. A case in point is the discourse on the use of contact tracing apps during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Contact tracing has proven its effectiveness in disease containment for 500 years, but the application of advanced information technologies raises concerns about privacy, discrimination, and exclusion from essential public services to entirely new levels.

Drawing on the findings of the SHERPA project (, the presentation will suggest a categorisation of the concept of smart information systems and a resulting categorisation of ethical concerns that these systems raise. It will suggest that one perspective to better understand these systems and their social and ethical consequences is to use the metaphor of an ecosystem to describe them, a metaphor already widely used in the policy discourse on AI. The talk will analyse what the use of the ecosystem metaphor means for the evaluation of ethical issues of smart information systems and which conclusions can be drawn from it and how these can inform recommendations for policymakers and other stakeholders.

The presentation is based on the material developed in a book with the same title, which is freely available from:

About the speaker

Bernd Carsten Stahl is Professor of Critical Research in Technology and Director of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK ( His interests cover philosophical issues arising from the intersections of business, technology, and information. This includes ethical questions of current and emerging ICTs, critical approaches to information systems and issues related to responsible research and innovation.

He serves as Ethics Director of the EU Flagship Human Brain Project (, Coordinator of the EU project Shaping the ethical dimensions of information technologies – a European perspective (SHERPA; and is Co-PI (with Marina Jirotka, Oxford) and Director of the Observatory for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT (

26th May 2021: Towards Safe and Trusted AI

Towards Safe and Trusted AI - Prof Michael Rovatsos - The University of Edinburgh

While the ethical issues raised by AI have recently become the subject of much debate, we are still far from operationalising the principles advocated by the plethora of ethical guidelines and frameworks that are emerging. In this seminar, I will present a view of safe and trusted AI systems that emphasises the technical challenges we need to address to satisfy key social and ethical objectives, including the elicitation of these objectives from human stakeholders. Using examples from my own research, I will explore some of the contributions multiagent systems research can make to this emerging area. I will then proceed to propose three concrete research challenges as key avenues for future research: distributed value alignment, auditable AI architectures, and digital twinning of social systems, reporting on recent contributions I have made to these areas.

About the speaker

Michael is Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the School of Informatics, Deputy Vice Principal of Research, and Director of the Bayes Centre at the University of Edinburgh. His academic research interests are mainly in multiagent systems, i.e. systems where either artificial or human agents collaborate or compete with each other. In recent years, much of his work has focused on ethical aspects of AI, primarily through the development of methods for designing fair and diversity-aware AI algorithms and architectures that adapt to the values of human users. Michael has authored around 100 scientific articles on various topics in AI, and has been involved in research projects that have received around £17 million of external funding.

19th May 2021: Did you wash your hands? Designing communication for hand hygiene

Did you wash your hands? Designing communication for hand hygiene - Dr Sophie Rutter, Information School, University of Sheffield

Watch the recording here

Hand hygiene is a key strategy for preventing the spread of infections, including COVID-19. Although we know we should wash our hands we do not always do this. In this talk, I will discuss three hand hygiene studies conducted at the Universities of Sheffield and Leeds that investigate hand hygiene communication. The first study is with primary school children where together we designed Persuasive Space Graphics to encourage hand washing in school toilets. In the second study using software that analyses facial expressions we measured people’s emotional reactions to different images and text to investigate which type of messages would most likely encourage hand hygiene. The third study is in collaboration with Savortex (an SME specialising in SMART hand hygiene technology). This project, recently funded by Innovate UK, will develop and deploy an innovative SMART loT (Internet of Things) hand sanitiser device that connects into a building's SMART operating system. The technology will be able to monitor sanitiser use in real-time and send reminders to staff to sanitise their hands, or restrict building access for those who haven’t.

About the speaker

Dr Sophie Rutter is a Lecturer in Information Management at the Information School, University of Sheffield. Prior to this she worked in the School of Design, University of Leeds (2018-2019). Sophie is interested in health communication and how the environment influences the way people interact with, and use, information.

30th April 2021: Bold Minds: Leading libraries into the future

Bold Minds: Leading libraries into the future

Margaret Weaver - Former Director of Library and Learning Resources, Birmingham City University

Dr Leo Appleton - Information School, University of Sheffield

A research seminar based on the recent Facet publication Bold Minds : Library Leadership in a Time of Disruption. Whilst not technically a research piece ‘Bold Minds’ provides a thorough and informative international environmental scan of the current library leadership landscape across a range of library and information sectors. The presenters will talk about how they have brought together international library leaders, who in turn frame many aspects of current library provision and who carry responsibility for the library models of the future to consider how librarians and libraries can be a driving force in a time of disruptive economic, technological and cultural change.

The seminar will be centred around four particular library leadership provocations, addressing: the political and global perspectives; new business models and the regeneration of services; alignment with user communities; and, the future library professional.

The presenters

Margaret Weaver is former Director of Library and Learning Resources at Birmingham City University and prior to this was Head of library Services at Brunel University, and Director of Library and Student Services at the University of Cumbria. She is a founding member of the Northern Collaboration group of academic libraries and has written and presented widely on library leadership and management.

Dr Leo Appleton is a Senior University Teacher in the Information School at the University of Sheffield. He was previously the Director of Library Services at Goldsmiths, University of London, and has held numerous other library leadership and management positions in further and higher education institutions throughout his career. He is a chartered fellow of CILIP and is the editor-in-chief of New Review of Academic Librarianship.

9th February 2021: Tools for Life: Data Sharing and Public Health

Tools for Life: Data Sharing and Public Health - Dr Jonathan Foster, The Information School, University of Sheffield

Watch the recording here

The purpose of the Tools for Life project is to engage the public in a dialogue about the benefits and risks of patient data sharing for public health. This talk will discuss the approach to the project and its results.

After a brief introduction to the project and its mixed-methods approach, the talk will discuss findings from an initial set of exploratory qualitative interviews conducted with members of the public on the topic of patient data sharing. This will be followed by a discussion of the results of a sequential survey aiming to generalise the findings to the broader population. While members of the public are willing to share their patient data for the benefit of public health, their willingness to do so is subject to a number of ethical and governance principles being met. Further planned public engagement activities will also be discussed.

About the speaker

My principal research and teaching interests are in information governance, digital economy, and institutional and classroom perspectives on the implementation of information and communications technology in educational settings. I have higher degrees in Information Systems and in Education (M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning from the University of Sheffield), and received a PhD in Information Studies (Social Sciences) from the University of Sheffield. I have been PI for an externally-funded AHRC project investigating the implementation and evaluation of digital archives; and has led a number of learning and teaching development projects including Computer-Based Collaborative Learning (funded by TLTP) and Managing Innovation in the Digital Economy (funded by University of Sheffield). I am currently PI for a University of Sheffield Digital Transformations Research project on Collective Intelligence (2013-14); and a strand of this project is investigating shared understandings of the impact of technology on privacy, and organizations’ handling of personally-identifiable information.

27 January 2021: The Implications of Artificial Intelligence for Knowledge Work: The automation of creativity?

The Implications of Artificial Intelligence for Knowledge Work: The automation of creativity? - Professor Donald Hislop, Management Studies Discipline Group, Aberdeen University

Watch the recording here

Artificial intelligence refers to a broad suite of technologies which replicate human cognitive capabilities, and which increasingly have the capacity to learn and adapt. There is currently significant debate regarding their implications for work and employment, ranging from those who speculate about mass unemployment with large numbers of jobs being automated, to more optimistic scenarios highlighting opportunities for growth and economic expansion. One area of debate and interest relates to how AI will impact on knowledge and professional work, which will be the focus of this presentation, where the ability of these technologies to automate human creativity, will be considered.

About the speaker

Donald is Professor in the Sociology of Work and Technology in the Management Studies Discipline Group at Aberdeen University. He has been working in Aberdeen since January 2019. Prior to this he worked in the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University (2007-2018). Donald has a broad range of research interests, focussed around the relationship between technology and work. He currently has a primary interest in how artificial intelligence and robots are shaping work, particularly professional and knowledge work, and service work.

24 November 2020: The value of investigating discipline and field differences in research on research questions

The value of investigating discipline and field differences in research on research questions - Dr Helen Buckley Woods

Watch the recording here

Research investigating the disciplines is notoriously difficult to organise and execute. The challenge is to explore the breadth of research knowledge whilst finding results that are granular enough to be meaningful. In this presentation I will share some of my experiences and findings from my first venture into disciplinary research taken from a qualitative, institutional case study. My aim is to discuss an article currently in progress, based on this work.

In a ‘research on research’ context, gathering data across disciplines increases understanding of the research process as it offers a close reading of the context in which researchers operate. It also enables a helicopter view. This is through close reading of individual disciplinary accounts and by comparing these data. In conjunction with a theoretical framework, this process reveals commonalities and differences in disciplinary ways of working that are dependent or related to the type of knowledge people produce. In this presentation, I will share examples of themes and data drawn from my EdD research and draw on the theoretical frame of ‘social realism’ as expounded by Michael Young, as well as other models and theories of knowledge production such as the work of British sociologist Basil Bernstein, and the landmark study by Tony Becher and Paul Trowler.

My intention is to offer a reminder of the usefulness of taking a disciplinary perspective when investigating research systems. I will share my experience in order to illustrate the value of this kind of approach to research on research. This presentation will focus on the UK higher education context. However, the examples and ideas can be applied to other research systems, and a myriad of research questions, particularly those concerned with research culture and practice.

About the speaker:

I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Sheffield. I am part of the core team at the Research on Research Institute (RoRI) which is an international consortium, formed by a collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield and Leiden, Digital Science and The Wellcome Trust. My doctorate is in higher education studies, where I conducted a qualitative, institutional case study. In this study I investigated researchers’ working practices and the knowledge they produced in the context of increased demands for instrumental research in UK universities. Prior to working at RoRI I spent ten years at Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research focused on information retrieval and evidence synthesis.

30 June 2020: Back to better? post-pandemic challenges for research cultures, policies and prioritisation

Back to better? post-pandemic challenges for research cultures, policies and prioritisation - Professor James Wilsdon, The Information School, University of Sheffield

Watch the recording here

Among the myriad disruptions and uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic, now rippling across all aspects of our social and institutional lives, within research systems, the crisis has triggered some rapid innovations in funding, peer review, dissemination and communication. What evidence and insights can we draw from these responses to help in strengthening research systems and cultures over the longer term?

Can we identify wider lessons for processes of research prioritisation; for the use of rapid or flexible funding mechanisms (e.g. & the Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator); for wider process innovations (e.g. in collaboration, review and open research); and for longer-term changes to research practices (e.g. more digital modes of working, fewer conferences, more crowdsourcing).

There are also risks and uncertainties that require evidence-gathering and analysis: that the economic shock will prompt cuts in research investment; that the crisis will exacerbate existing inequalities within research cultures, or create new ones; that responses will distort funding priorities or create new imbalances; and that the rush to publish work relating to Covid-19 is exacerbating problems in some areas of poor study design and irreproducibility.

Covid-19 raises questions about how policymakers, funders, publishers and research institutions can respond with urgency and agility in a crisis, while preserving commitments to quality, fairness, rigour and accountability. Drawing on emerging analysis from the Research on Research Institute, and wider community of research policymaking and meta-research, James Wilsdon will explore whether and how research systems can bounce back to something better, as the crisis slowly subsides.

James Wilsdon is Digital Science Professor of Research Policy in the Information School at the University of Sheffield, and Director of the Research on Research Institute (RoRI)

6 March 2020: Bringing Chatsworth archive to life: facts, stories and agency

Bringing Chatsworth archive to life: facts, stories and agency - Fran Baker, Lucy Brownson and Professor Jane Hodson

The archives at Chatsworth are exceptionally rich and well-preserved, including legal papers, estate records and family correspondence from more than five centuries. In this seminar we consider the challenges inherent in unlocking stories in – and about – the archive and using them to enhance the experience of visitors to Chatsworth today. The twentieth century saw a structuring of the family papers into ‘ducal’ correspondence sequences, perhaps obscuring the many female voices also represented in these letters, and sidelining a wide range of other surviving personal documents like scrapbooks and journals. The legal and estate papers potentially provide a rich source of information about non-elite lives. Can the archives be read ‘against the grain’ to highlight stories of women, non-elites and those who have curated and shaped the archives over the years? What are the gaps or absences in the archives? What creative and imaginative processes might be necessary to engage modern visitors with these stories? And what are the ethical implications of using the archives in this way?

Speaker details:

Fran Baker came to Chatsworth as Archivist and Librarian in 2018; she previously worked for many years at the John Rylands Library (University of Manchester) where she curated the literary, social/political history and born-digital archives. She has published on literary and email archives, and has interests in correspondence studies and historic house archives.

Lucy Brownson is a WRoCAH-funded PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield, where she is researching the Devonshire Collection Archive at Chatsworth - namely how, why and when it was consolidated, with a focus on how women’s lives and voices have shaped the collections across time and space(s). Lucy is interested in democratising archival practice to bring through overlooked and radical histories, having previously worked on a project to preserve the history of the worker co-operative movement, as well as working in business and museum archives.

Jane Hodson is Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Sheffield. From 2014-17 she led on impact and public engagement for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. She has been working with Chatsworth on a range of different activities for more than 6 years, including supervising three recently completed PhD students (Lauren Butler, Fiona Clapperton, Hannah Wallace) who worked on the "Servants to Staff" project.

28 Feb 2020: Data as an artefact

Data as an artefact - Dr Konstantina Spanaki, Lecturer at Loughborough University
Seminar abstract:

The data evolution provided innovative opportunities for growth through multiple analytical applications in decision-making but also a large number of social, technical and ethical concerns. Data as an artefact is comprised of various characteristics, attributes and aspects that could assist in defining measurements of quality control, sharing agreements as well as policies, standards and protocols for access control. Understanding these data characteristics is essential for individuals and organisations to realise new ways of value creation and how to avoid data sharing issues. This presentation will highlight these topics around data, and the associated challenges and explore how the society could deal with them.

18 February 2020: Enterprise search research: status, opportunities and challenges - Martin White, Visiting Professor and Managing Director of Intranet Focus Ltd.

Seminar abstract:

Despite the ubiquitous use of search applications within organisations there are perhaps fewer than 30 peer-reviewed research papers published on this topic. In this seminar I will outline the key features of enterprise search, present the outcomes of research on user satisfaction, comment on the current extent of published research, identify opportunities for future research and consider the challenges that researchers might face in taking full advantage of these opportunities.

Martin White, Visiting Professor and Managing Director of Intranet Focus Ltd

I am a chemist who decided in 1970 that being an information scientist offered more opportunities. I have never regretted my decision. I have been in the consulting business since 1979, with work experience in nearly 40 countries. I set up Intranet Focus Ltd. in 1999 and provide clients with advice on intranet, enterprise search and information management strategy development and implementation. I work on a vendor-independent basis. I estimate that over 500,000 employees have used intranets and search applications that I have been involved with.

I am the author of eight books. The 2nd edition of Enterprise Search was published by O'Reilly Media in 2015 and Managing Expectations - Building Client-Consultant Partnerships was published by Intranatverk in 2016. I have recently written a history of intranet development from the 1960s to 2002 for publication by Intranatverk in 2017.

I have been a Visiting Professor, the Information School, University of Sheffield since 2002, and am currently working with Professor Paul Clough on the development of evaluation methodologies for enterprise search.

I am honoured to have been elected a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Chemistry and the British Computer Society. I am an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

As well as a passion for search I have a passion for classical music. I play both the piano and organ to a reasonably high standard, and have played for services in a number of cathedrals in the UK.

7 February 2020: Dr. Andrea Jimenez & Jun Zhang - "Innovation and ICTs"

Presentation 1
Where the Global meets the Local – Unpacking the Multiple Spaces of Innovation Hubs

Seminar abstract:

This research studies innovation hubs as part of a wider phenomenon of innovation for development. Innovation hubs are collaborative spaces for entrepreneurs that include aspects of coworking, incubators, innovation centres and makerspaces. Despite the lack of clarity of what
impact they have, hubs have been spreading in the Global North and Global South, funded and promoted by international agencies and local governments. Consequently, they are expected to create successful ventures, contribute to job creation and innovation development. My research critically evaluates the discourses of innovation for development and examines the implications of innovation hubs for beyond the mainstream development perspectives, drawing upon two case studies of innovation hubs in Zambia and the UK respectively. As such, I focus on how individuals participating in hubs perceive themselves in innovation, and how social, historical and structural forces shape these perceptions.
Dr. Andrea Jimenez. Lecturer in Information Management, Information School, The University of Sheffield

Presentation 2
An investigation of smart transportation system (STS) data integration within Chinese cities: A socio-technical perspective

Seminar abstract:
The study aims to explore the challenges and opportunities of initiating a data-integrated smart transportation system application in the context of China’s new-type urbanisation from a socio-technical system perspective. To achieve this aim, this study adopted a qualitative, interpretative, single case study methodology, and provides both theoretical and practical implications of initiating future STS solutions. It provides an enhanced theoretical understanding of using a socio-technical approach to examine the challenges and opportunities that are likely to be faced with the initiation of future STS solutions. It also delivered practical guidance for smart city practitioners to initiate more citizen-focused, value co-created and sustainable STS solutions.

Jun Zhang. PhD candidate, Information School, The University of Sheffield

24 January 2020: Archives, memory and truth in Mexico

Professor Julio César Bonilla Gutiérrez


The link between archives, the access to public information right and the right to truth involve not only a legal evolution regarding the creation by the legislative branch of acts and various norms responsible for the prevalence of said triad. Said prevalence has also an inevitable connection with the administrative development of society, the construction of a collective social or regional memory, a well-informed society and most importantly, the guarantee by the State in connection to the exercise of human rights and the non-repetition, especially in countries with a profound legacy of violence and the occurrence of crimes against humanity.
In Mexico, the General Act of Archives, has purported as one of its main objectives to contribute to the exercise of the rights to truth and memory, thus emphasizing the former, a circumstance which makes it possible for the society as a whole to review the recent past where grave violations against human rights have occurred.


Prof. Julio César Bonilla Gutiérrez is currently the Commissioner President of the Institute of Transparency, Access to Public Information, Protection of Personal Data and Accountability of Mexico City, where he presently resides.
He has a master´s degree in Law by the Graduate Studies Division of the Faculty of Law of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He specializes in Electoral Law.

29 November 2019: Vanessa Lopez, IBM - "Extracting actionable knowledge from healthcare policies"

Vanessa Lopez, IBM - "Extracting actionable knowledge from healthcare policies"


The abundance of digital information gives an unprecedented opportunity to use data science in domains such as health and social care. However, the real value of the data is in the information and knowledge that we are able to surface and materialise. Knowledge Graphs (KGs) emerged as a unifying technology that facilitates the aggregation and representation of data from multiple and diverse data sources, both inspired by, and influencing, research in areas such as AI, cognitive computing, the Semantic Web, Search, Question Answering and Information Extraction. In this talk, I will provide a perspective from my journey and experience in adopting research in KGs and related areas to address significant problems in the healthcare industry through two use cases.

The first scenario, Fraud, Waste and Abuse in healthcare, accounts for financial loses in the tens of billions of dollars each year in the US, which limits the amount of funding available to those with legitimate needs. Regulations around compliance are described in text policies, which investigators have to review and refer to in an investigation case for further recovery actions. This is a labour-intense task, the sheer volume of claims and policies to review leads to poor understanding and coverage to prioritize investigations based on the likelihood of (money) recovery from inappropriately paid claims. The aim is to support investigation units identifying improper payments for unnecessary services, services exceeding the permitted unit limitations, or services that should not be billed separately on claims submitted for reimbursement by medical providers.

The second scenario is the delivery of care. Care professionals need to quickly dig through multiple sources to find information about patients. Furthermore, the high volume of (unstructured) case notes written by care professionals for patients receiving multiple services makes it easy to overlook what is really important. The goal is to provide insights from large volumes of unstructured notes to support informed decision making.

KGs combined with natural language, machine learning and semantic reasoning techniques allows us to capture actionable knowledge from policy text to identify improper payments, as well as from unstructured health records (case notes) to answer complex user information needs, and for better suggestions and predictions to be derived from diverse data. The challenges are still plentiful: to validate the value of cognitive systems in providing actionable insights that ultimately lead to better outcomes for individuals, to empower domain experts to co-reason with the system, and for systems to continuously learn from the actual practice of care professionals.


Vanessa Lopez is a researcher scientist at IBM Research Ireland since 2012, where she investigates AI solutions for integrated healthcare. Her research combines semantics, natural language and learning to create applications that support care professionals taking informed patient-centric decisions, which received the 2017 US-Ireland Research Innovation Award. She is currently the team lead on a project that extracts knowledge from healthcare policies to support detecting fraud, waste and abuse on claim data. Prior to that she was a research associate at KMi (Open University) from 2003, where she built pioneering prototypes for Natural Language interfaces over Linked Data and obtained a PhD. She graduated with a master’s degree in computer engineer from the technical university of Madrid (UPM). Her current research interests are to investigate how technology can be made “smarter” to better understand human needs and to support us, as a society, to target complex problems. In particular, using knowledge graphs as a unifying technology that facilitates capturing, aggregating and interpreting knowledge from diverse data sources, both structured and unstructured. She has participated actively in several EU projects, PC committees and chairing, and co-authored more than 50 publications in high impact conference and journals, with over 3000 citations.

4 November 2019: Prof. Robert Davison, City University of Hong Kong - Reflections of an IS Career Researcher

Prof. Robert Davison, City University of Hong Kong - Reflections of an IS Career Researcher


Prof. Davison's published work well exceeds 200 papers in prestigious academic journals and conference proceedings. In this seminar, he will provide some highlights of his research on knowledge management and the use of information systems within primarily Chinese organisations and SMEs, with a focus on the most interesting and important aspects.


Robert Davison joined the Department of Information Systems in July 1992 where he is currently a Professor. Since 1998, he has received approximately $5.3 million in grants as PI. Professionally, Robert serves as the Editor-in-Chief of both the Information Systems Journal and the Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries. He is also the Chair of the IFIP WG 9.4 (Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries). Since 1993, he has published in excess of 200 academic articles. His research has been cited in SCI/SSCI 2000+ times (H=24), in Scopus 3400+ times (H=31) and in Google Scholar 8000+ times (H=46). His current research focuses on Knowledge Seeking and Sharing activities in Chinese SMEs. Robert is Programme Leader of the MSc in Electronic Business and Knowledge Management.

22 October 2019: Dr Styliani Kleanthous, Open University of Cyprus - Fairness in Proprietary Image Tagging Algorithms

Image analysis algorithms have become indispensable in the modern information ecosystem. Beyond their early use in restricted domains (e.g., military, medical), they are now widely used in consumer applications and social media enabling functionality that users take for granted. Recently image analysis algorithms, have become widely available as Cognitive Services. This practice is proving to be a boon to the development of applications where user modeling, personalization and adaptation are required. But while tagging APIs offer developers an inexpensive and convenient means to add functionality to their creations, most are opaque and proprietary and there are numerous social and ethical issues surrounding their use in contexts where people can be harmed. In this talk, I will discuss recent work in analyzing proprietary image tagging services (e.g., Clarifai, Google Vision, Amazon Rekognition) for their gender and racial biases when tagging images depicting people [1]. I will present our techniques for discrimination discovery in this domain, as well as our work on understanding user perceptions of fairness [2]. Finally, I will explore the sources of such biases, by comparing human versus machine descriptions of the same people images [3].

[1] Kyriakou, K., Barlas, P., Kleanthous, S., & Otterbacher, J. (2019, July). Fairness in Proprietary Image Tagging Algorithms: A Cross-Platform Audit on People Images. In Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (Vol. 13, No. 01, pp. 313-322).

[2] Barlas, P., Kleanthous, S., Kyriakou, K., & Otterbacher, J. (2019, June). What Makes an Image Tagger Fair?. In Proceedings of the 27th ACM Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization (pp. 95-103). ACM.

[3] Otterbacher J., Barlas, P., Kleanthous, S., Kyriakou, K. 2019.How Do We Talk About Other People? Group (Un)Fairness in Natural Language Image Descriptions. In Seventh AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing (HCOMP).


Styliani Kleanthous Loizou (female, Ph.D., University of Leeds, UK) is a research scientist at the CyCAT, Open University of Cyprus as well as the Research Centre on Interactive Media, Smart Systems and Emerging Technologies (RISE). Styliani’s main research interests and expertise are concentrated in the area of User and Community Modeling, Personalization and Adaptive Systems. She specializes in exploiting psychological and social theories for modeling user preferences, for designing intelligent interaction and adaptive user support. She has published over 25 papers in journals and scientific conferences, co-organized a number of international workshops and has given numerous presentations. Since 2004 she has been involved in different UK and EU-funded research projects for establishing requirements, modeling users and providing adaptive support for collaboration, learning, medical data analysis and identifying innovation networks.

3 October 2019: Morgan Currie - Numbers Will Not Save Us: Data Justice in Los Angeles

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

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.

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".

12 June: Dr Andrea Jimenez: Adopting 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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

15 February 2019: The Role of Information Science

 Professor Tom Jackson, Loughborough University

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