The multi-disciplinary project is ultimately quite technical when compared to my own skillset and research areas. That means that I sometimes struggle to explain the full project. (I find it quite fun and easy to explain my part of the project though, which is nice!) In the end, I generally explain that the project aim is to build a tool that helps people to stay safe online.
But as luck would have it, we have just finailsed a short video that helps to explain the project in plain language with simple graphics. The video is about a minute and a half and is an easy watch, so check it out below.
ABSTRACT: Introduction. The broad theme of this paper is the use of information to build, manage and evaluate personal reputations. It reports the findings of a study that considered the extent to which social media users replicate in online environments the established information practices of academics when they assess their peers. The three platforms considered are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Method. A multi-step data collection process was implemented for this work. Forty-five UK-based social media users kept journals and took part in semi-structured interviews. Analysis. A qualitative analysis of the journal and diary data was undertaken using NVivo10. Information practices were analysed to considered the similarities or difference between social media practices and related practices deployed by academics related to citations. Results. The findings expose the ways in which social media users build, manage, and evaluate personal reputations online may be aligned to the citation practices of academics. Conclusions. This work shows where the similarities and differences exist between citation practices and related information practices on social media as related to personal reputations. Broadly, the findings of this research demonstrate that social media users do replicate in informal online environments the established information practices of academics.
I have recently started work on a new research project, titled DISIPRAC: Digital identity security information practices of citizens. The project scope is to investigate the security information practices associated with digital identity, in particular, the sharing of log-in details and to develop the concept of “social proxies” for managing digital identities.
Over the last decade, most levels of government have been implementing a policy often called “digital by default” or “digital-first” in the name of efficiency and cost savings to prioritise online services such as Universal Credit and myaccount. At the same time, the security of online systems has been increasing, making it more challenging for everyone to actually accessing the services they need. This is bound to impact the information practices of many users. One result might be the temptation to avoid the use of some online systems altogether, but this is often not a practical option. Another could be individuals using risky behaviours with their digital identity, such as sharing passwords, with obvious implications for data protection and privacy.
At this time, we are conducting a literature review and
beginning to plan for a workshop in February that will be used as our primary source
of research data. The workshop will be for professionals, citizen support and advocacy
groups, and other similar stakeholders. Its aim will be to understand the
issues they face when supporting (potentially vulnerable) citizens to better
cope with increased levels of security for government systems that are increasingly
integral to their every-day lives. We will do this by working through a set of
pre-defined scenarios over the course of the day, based around access to
services provided by UK, Scottish and local governments.
Ultimately, this project will address the gaps in current
research related to users’ real-world information practices around their digital
identity, particularly by citizens and customers in a non-discretionary
We are very excited to have a chance to find out more about
this highly topical area. We will learn more about the relationship between
identity (who we are) and digital identity (how IT systems recognise us), and
we recognise that information practitioners in libraries and voluntary
organisations are at the front line of the change in public services. This
project is a great opportunity to make contacts and hear stories – and
hopefully provide the basis for a larger future project.
As part of my work with the Living Digital group at the University of Dundee, I am starting to recruit participants for a study related to trust and online dating. I will be using qualitative interviews and focus groups for this study, and I am hoping to have about 20 participants.
This study forms part of a larger project that looks at how
users establish trusting relationships online. In total, we will look at four
different scenarios in which users make trust judgments online: e-commerce,
health forums, online dating, and managing ‘Internet of Things’ devices. For my
qualitative portion of the project, I will aim to outline key factors that
contribute to trust behaviour in a particular online environment. These
findings will then be further examined in future studies, which will contribute
to the development of an automated system for authenticating the online
identity of other users who you are interacting with.
Later, with the full support and encouragement of my husband, Paul, the plan changed to doing part-time postgraduate studies whilst we raised our family (we were getting ready to adopt from the foster care system). But my beloved Paul died before I was meant to begin my studies, and so I put my dreams on hold so that I could relearn how to breathe. (No, really. When you become a widow, you can forget how to do simple things like breathe, eat, sleep, laugh, and even hope…)
My PhD studiesbegan in November 2013 under the supervision of Professor Hazel Hall (director of studies), Alistair Lawson (second supervisor), and Peter Cruickshank (third supervisor). Whilst the “ideal” PhD journey is about three years, my journey took a bit longer than that. Which isn’t uncommon, but I am a bit disappointed at myself for not finishing sooner. (Some of the delays were out of my control, but I have to acknowledge that some were down to me and my self-confidence – or lack thereof.)
Of course, this dream could never have been realised without the encouragement and support of others. So, thank you to all of my family and friends in America, the UK, and in the virtual world for helping to see me through this crazy adventure!