Thursday, 26 March 2015

Information School Represented at iConference 2015

A number of members of the Information School are attending the iConference 2015 in California between 24 and 27 March 2015.

Dr Jonathan Foster will be presenting a paper at the conference on 'Implementing e-Learning at a Vietnamese University: A Configurational Approach'.  He is also chairing a preliminary papers session entitled 'The Other Side of Social Media'.

PhD student Paula Goodale is also attending the iConference and has been nominated for the 'Best Poster Award'.  Her 'Mapping Data Journeys: Design for an interactive web site' poster is based on research conducted as part of the Secret Life of a Weather Datum project and was produced with co-authors Dr Jo Bates of the Information School, also attending the iConference, and Yuwei Lin of the University of Creative Arts.  The winner will be announced on 26 March.






Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Open Access: How will Universities Respond to the Rise in Total Cost of Publication?

Dr Stephen Pinfield, Professor Peter Bath and PhD student Jennifer Salter have conducted research exploring the total cost of publication for universities in the era of open access.

Their research has found that the total cost will rise in the short term, and they highlight the need to consider the total cost of publication (existing subscription costs, article processing charges plus the costs of administering them) to make sure that universities and academics gain the best value from their research publications.

You can read more in Dr Pinfield's recent post on the LSE Impact Blog.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

iSchool features at faculty Learning and Teaching Conference

Today a number of iSchool academics are presenting at the the University of Sheffield Faculty of Social Sciences learning and teaching conference. The talks are:
Pamela McKinney and Barbara Sen: Situational analysis of group work: student reflective assessment
Paul Clough: Utilising MOLE for multiple choice assessments: a case study in the Information School
Peter Stordy: Back to the future: reinventing exams
Sheila Webber: Futurelearning! Reflections on teaching in the Future Learn Play MOOC
Briony Birdi: Supporting isolated adults via the Six Books Challenge in Sheffield: developing student cultural awareness and community engagement

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Librarianship student wins sponsored place at #LILAC15

Congratulations to MA Librarianship student Maria Nagle, who has won a sponsored place at the UK's information literacy conference, LILAC http://www.lilacconference.com/WP/awards/student-sponsored-place-at-lilac

Monday, 16 March 2015

Funding Success in the Information School

Congratulations to Professor Paul Clough, Dr Gialuca Demartini and Dr Farida Vis for their recent funding success in relation to the following projects.

Paul Clough and Gianluca Demartini gained funding for an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (studentship) with the National Archives on 'Investigating entity-centric methods for information exploration and discovery in digital archives'.

The aim of this research project is to investigate entity-centric methods for supporting users as they explore and navigate the UK Government Web Archive. This would allow users to explore the archive based on entities such as people, places, locations and events in addition to search and navigation based on the content itself. Forming an entity network structure over the Government Web Archive based on Linked Data would also allow connection with existing resources, such as DBPedia and Freebase. The network structure can also be used to create additional features, such as recommendations and identifying popular entities (“hubs”), to further support exploration. From a technical perspective the work will involve identifying entities, resolving ambiguous entity occurrences, for example the same entity being referred to in different ways, and creating links between related entities. Prototypes will be developed to enable investigation into how entity-centric approaches may help users make sense of large collections, such as the Government Web Archive, and support exploration and discovery.

Farida Vis received funding for a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (IF) for the 'ENGAGE: Encouraging Network Generation’s Accountability and Global Engagement' project.

The successful Fellow is Lin Prøitz, currently a researcher at the IT Research Group, Vestlandsforsking, The Western Norway Research Institute.

The key aim of the ENGAGE project is to address young people’s practices and participation in society via social media. Social media is a valuable knowledge area for current and future democratic processes and participation. Young people are important citizens who will be the future leaders, researchers, workers and thinkers in Europe. Consequently, exploring the perspectives they have on Europe and understanding better how they engage in shaping its future is crucial for the long-term success of the European project. ENGAGE focuses on unravelling, understanding and mitigating new forms of political and civic engagement within the digital visual cultures and social networked societies that young people from Norway and the United Kingdom are a part of.

Farida also received funding from the White Rose ESRC Doctoral Network which offers three studentships, one each at the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York.  The studentship in the Information School relates to the Big Data and Food Safety network.

The network brings together world-leading scholars working on different aspects of Big Data from complementary disciplines, including Media and Communication Studies, Geography, Sociology and Social Policy, Politics, and Management in order to develop critical methodological and theoretical innovation applied to Food Safety. The network will work closely with the Food Standards Agency to develop three projects that combine academic research with the emerging Big Data remit within the Agency.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Conference bursary award

MA Librarianship student Lucy Woolhouse has been awarded a free place at the UK Serials Group Conference, which takes place in Glasgow in April. Congratulations to Lucy!

Monday, 9 March 2015

iSchool team feature on #uklibchat

Pamela McKinney and Dr Stephen Pinfield provided a feature article (Career support for LIS students) for the popular monthly discussion group that takes place on Twitter, #uklibchat. The lively Twitter discussion took place on March 3rd: the hashtag is obviously #uklibchat, and their twitter stream is here https://twitter.com/uklibchat

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Bursary for iSchool student

MA Librarianship student Loukia Drosopoulou has won a full bursary from the Music Libraries Trust to attend the IAML(UK and Irl) (The International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres) Annual Study Weekend (ASW). Loukia is already an active member of IAML, as she is Book Reviews editor of its journal Brio and a member of its Conference Committee.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Goodale nominated for award at iConference 2015

Congratulations to Paula Goodale who has been nominated for the 'Best Poster Award' at the 2015 iConference.

The iConference is an international gathering of scholars and researchers concerned with critical information issues in contemporary society. The iConference is presented by the iSchools organisation, and hosted each year by a different member school. The 2015 host is the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine.  The theme for the 2015 conference is Create-Collaborate-Celebrate.  The Information School at the University of Sheffield was the first UK school to join the iSchools organisation.

Paula Goodale's poster is entitled 'Mapping Data Journeys: Design for an interactive web site'.  It is based on research conducted as part of the Secret Life of a Weather Datum project and was produced with co-authors Dr Jo Bates of the Information School and Yuwei Lin of the University of Creative Arts.

The winner of the award will be announced during the iConference on 26 March.  Good luck Paula!


Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Research Finds UK Cities are not as Smart as International Cities

Research led by Dr Alex Peng of the Information School has found that major cities in the UK are falling behind their international counterparts in terms of their use of smart technologies.

UK cities such as London are not as advanced as leading international smart cities, such as San Francisco, Barcelona and Amsterdam, because of a lack of citizen engagement with new smart technologies.  Smart and sustainable cities are essentially built by utilising a set of advanced information and communication technologies, such as broadband networks, wireless sensors, cloud services and mobile apps, to generate radical new ‘smart’ services and facilities within a metropolitan area.


A parking space sensor in London used as part of the city's smart parking service

A recent report by the UK’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills valued the smart cities industry at more than $400 billion globally by 2020, with the UK expected to receive a 10 per cent share.

The research team, led by Dr Peng, with research assistants Luqing Zheng and Ricardo Cardoso Ortegon, found that citizen engagement is severely affecting the rate at which British cities are becoming ‘smart’. The research specifically focused on London, which is one of the smartest cities in the UK, and its new smart parking service. The system aims to improve traffic congestion by helping drivers find a free parking space in the West End area by using an app that is connected to sensors located within parking bays. The sensors provide data on whether each individual space is vacant or not allowing drivers to see a real-time map of parking availability and be directed to an empty space.

Dr Peng said: “Our study found that from more than 100 randomly selected people who regularly park their cars in London’s West End, 85 per cent of them had never or very rarely heard about the service and 70 per cent said they know nothing or very little about the functions and usefulness of it.

“In addition, just over 78 per cent of respondents said they never or rarely use the app to look for parking availability in the West End.

“These results show that the majority of citizens are not fully aware of the existence and usefulness of the smart parking service that has been available since 2012, and their daily usage of this smart service has also been extremely low. As a consequence, and despite the substantial investment being made, citizens are not gaining the full benefits from this service.”

The parking app in London was given the Parking Technology Award at the 2014 British Parking Awards and the Innovation Award at the 2013 Tech Success Awards, and is an example of how ‘smart’ information and communication technologies can be used to improve the living experience of residents and visitors to cities throughout the world.

Research from the team also found that successful usage of the parking app can potentially bring substantial economic and environmental benefits to both the city and Londoners.

Despite the low usage of the app at the moment, the research showed that for those who used the service they can save an average of more than seven minutes each time when looking for a parking space. This in turn can lead to an average saving of £30 worth of fuel (24 litres of petrol) and reduce CO2 emissions by 62.5kg per driver per year.

The study also shows that if drivers become fully aware of the smart parking service each driver will have the potential to save an average of more than £115 (85 litres) on petrol and reduce CO2 emissions by 219.82kg per car per year. At city level, a smart parking system could help London save £266 million worth of petrol per year and reduce its annual CO2 emissions by 505,000 tons.

Dr Peng added: “Smart technologies such as the parking app in London have huge potential to improve everyday life within cities, but at the moment, a major barrier to deploying these technologies and push British cities into the next technological generation is a lack of citizen engagement.

“Imagine if the citizens of Hill Valley in Back to the Future had not engaged with Hoverboards and self-lacing shoes, or utilised real-time data to navigate their skyways – Marty McFly would never have saved Doc Brown from plunging into Clayton Ravine or prevented his son from committing a life-changing robbery with Griff Tannen.

“In San Francisco for example, their use of smart parking has led to a 30 per cent reduction in both vehicle miles travelled and greenhouse gas emissions from cars circling.

“Overall, the technologies to enable British cities to become truly smart already exist, but citizen engagement with these will determine whether the promises of smart cities such as London can finally become realistic. It should also be highlighted that the citizen engagement issue does not only exist in UK cities. In fact, there is increasing evidence to show that this is a crucial challenge affecting the success of smart city initiatives worldwide”

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Analysing Crime Data

The Information School’s MSc Data Science programme aims to give students the chance to enhance their analysis skills by working on real data sets.  As part of a recent assignment, students have analysed data sets on crimes which have been reported to the UK police.

One assignment, conducted by Rebecca Thorpe, investigated burglaries in the South Yorkshire region and specifically examined where burglaries occur in the Sheffield area, also looking for associations with other variables.  Using boxplots, time series, line charts and Holt-Winters forecasting, this assignment found that the mean number of monthly burglaries in South Yorkshire was higher in 2012 than in 2011 or 2013.  Using Holt-Winters forecasting, the assignment predicted that burglaries would decrease in South Yorkshire over the next three years.  Focusing upon burglaries in Sheffield, it was found that instances were highly concentrated in the eastern areas of the city and there was some correlation between unemployment and the number of burglaries.

The following diagrams were included in the analysis which was conducted in this assignment.

Box-whisker plot showing total number of burglaries in South Yorkshire per month from 2011 to 2013:



 Burglaries per capita in Sheffield from 2011 to 2013:



A second assignment carried out by Joseph Ellard analysed instances of anti-social behaviour in Cambridgeshire between 2010 and 2014 and also analysed bicycle theft levels.  Analysis was carried out using R, Holt-Winters forecasting, linear regression and ggmap for plotting.  Key findings from this assignment were that crime levels peaked during the summer and that they had decreased between 2010 and 2014.  Analysis also found that warmer weather typically resulted in an increase in crime, while increased rainfall caused fewer instances of crime.  Bicycle thefts were also found to peak during summer months although they were highest during September and October.  Most bicycle thefts were found to occur around Cambridge and Peterborough.

The following diagrams were included in the analysis which was conducted in this assignment.

Anti-social behaviour correlations:


Bicycle thefts in Cambridgeshire:


These excerpts from student assignments highlight the skills and techniques that are taught on the MSc Data Science course which prepare our students for a career in the data science industry.   For more details about the course please visit our website.




Monday, 2 March 2015

Professor Paul Clough and Paula Goodale featured in Cultural Heritage Information Book

Research on digital cultural heritage materials by Professor Paul Clough and Paula Goodale from the Information School is included in 'Cultural Heritage Information: Access and management', a new book published by Facet Publishing.

Their chapter is written in collaboration with Mark Hall and Mark Stevenson and focuses on the Personalised Access To cultural Heritage Spaces (PATHS) project which was funded as part of the European Commission's FP7 programme.  Their chapter discusses how information access to digital cultural heritage collections can be supported and also explores techniques that allow people to use and explore the information in these collections.  These include recommendations and visualisations which are key functions of the PATHS system.