I am on my holidays in America just now, and I’ve brought my PhD along for the journey. It is something that I’ve done with great hesitation because I know that I won’t get as much done as I’ve told myself I will… but I also hesitated because I should be taking advantage of my holidays as a chance to have a break and live that whole “work-life balance” thing I’m always talking about.
But I am running short on time, so I can’t really afford to take time off. So I need to at least pretend that I will get a bit of work done whilst I’m away.
And so, I am hoping to do some PhDing on my holidays.
Of course, that makes me question (once again) the toxic environment of “all work no play” that many PhD students find themselves in—myself included. And it makes me realise that prior to starting my PhD, I was really good about taking personal time and rarely bringing my work home with me. (Well, other than on “work from home” days. But then I stopped working when the “day” was done.)
What has changed? Why do I feel the need to work all the time as a PhD student? And why do I feel so very guilty when I am not working on my PhD?
Sadly, that is a long blog post for another time. (Trust me, it is in draft mode now. I shall save it for a longer musing once I’m done with my PhD though.)
Instead, I will just use these last lines to say that I am on holiday. And that I’ve brought my PhD with me. And I know I will get some work done on it. But I also know that I won’t get as much done as I’d hoped. Because I am here to visit my family and I didn’t fly 6,000 miles just so that they could watch me write my thesis!
This qualitative study used participant diaries and in-depth, semi-structured interviews as data collection tools. It involved 45 UK-based participants, and data collection took place between October 2015 and January 2016.
The content of the poster shares findings related to three areas of identity building. These are:
The creation and use of online “personas” and identities
The use of anonymity and pseudonyms through information sharing – or concealment – practices
The ways in which private and professional selves blur or merge together in online environments
The main finding presented in this work is that individuals present elements of their offline lives using online information to showcase different “personas”. However, they do not do this with the intention of building identity. The findings explored in this presentation are contextualised with reference to identity building in the more formal setting of academic reputation management, i.e. through the use of citations.
Please stop by the poster session to learn more about this research and my doctoral studies as a whole. You can also find me during the coffee breaks or other social activities.
Not in attendance? Don’t worry! As part of my “professional persona” I like to share information online. The links below will allow you to engage with my presentation from afar!
Building identity in online environments: an Information Science perspective
Abstract: The research presented in this poster is concerned with the ways in which people use information to build identities for themselves online with reference to the themes of personal reputation management. To date these two themes have been under-explored together in the research literature, both in general, and from an Information Science perspective. The poster content shares findings related to three areas of identity building: (1) the creation and use of online personas and identities; (2) the use of anonymity and pseudonyms through information sharing – or concealment – practices; and (3) the ways in which the blurring or merging together of participants’ private and professional selves. This study used participant diaries and in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 45 UK-based participants. The main finding presented here is that individuals present elements of their online persona or personality using online information, but that they do not do so with the intention of building identity. The findings explored in this presentation are contextualised with reference to identity building in the more formal setting of academic reputation management, i.e. through the use of citations.
I will share a digital version of the poster and handouts before the conference poster session. I will also be tweeting during the whole of the event, so be sure to follow me on Twitter (@FrancesRyanPhD).
This past week was spent in Aberdeen attending what I like to call “iWeek”. It included a one-day doctoral colloquium (iDocQ) followed by a four-day international conference (i3)—both at Robert Gordon University.
This year’s iDocQ started off with a series of “One Minute Madness” presentations. The slide template we were given was a bit challenging, but I feel that I managed to make it work for me. (See it here!) The big thing I learned from the quick presentations was that I need to develop a couple new versions of my “elevator pitch”. I am quite good at a layman’s explanation of my research (social media and reputation; people get that!). However, I find it difficult to explain my conceptual framework clearly in a short time span because I have to explain what bibliometrcis and citation practice means. And if I mention altmetrics, it’s even harder! The reality is that I will rarely need to explain that in 60 seconds, but it would be great to find a simple explanation that is true to my research. (Note to self: Sort this out before your viva!!)
After the presentations, we enjoyed a keynote talk by Dr Luke Sloan of Cardiff University. (Via Skype: Technology to the rescue after our speaker’s cancelled flight from Cardiff.) Sloan’s talk was titled “Social Science ‘Lite’? Understanding Who Uses Twitter & What This Can Tell Us About the Social World. It was an interesting look at who uses Twitter and asked questions about how we are able to accurately identify those users. The keynote was very fascinating and I took some great notes that (I hope) will help me as I write up my methods chapter for my thesis. (Which is slowly getting written.)
The rest of the day was spent in a series of workshops and discussions on writing, being adaptable (and accepting rejection), and a Q&A panel. It was a very insightful day, though a bit long for me, leaving me to skip out on the after-event pub session.
The conference was a great opportunity to connect (and re-connect) with other Information Science academics. I was very pleased with the programme’s offerings as there were several papers that were of great interest to me. I especially found great interest in listening to the methods others are using for their research as I am keen to consider new modes of investigation for my own future work. (Though I must finish that darn PhD first!!)
I have been given the opportunity to submit an extended version of the paper for review as a full journal article. I will be working on that article over the next few weeks and hopefully, I will have some good news to share about its acceptance before the end of the year. In the meantime, the slides from my conference presentation are below. (Please get in touch if you have any questions about the presentation or my research as a whole.)
Oh! And as a wee inside joke, I developed a new model to share at the end of my presentation. For those familiar with the contentious topic of “not another [censored] model”, this is a funny thing. Trust me.
Like many people, I look forward to attending conferences because I am excited to hear presentations on papers and current research. However, this conference was more than that for me. This was an opportunity to meet with other academics to discuss my research, our common research interests, and potential collaborations. In fact, my overall goals for this conference were aimed at building my academic confidence and further my researcher networks.
In preparation for the conference, my PhD supervisor (Professor Hazel Hall) and I created a flyer detailing the Centre for Social Informatics (CSI) at Edinburgh Napier University. This way, I had something (other than a business card) to share with people who were interested in potential collaborations with me or others in the CSI. It was also a useful hand-out for the night of the University Reception, where Hazel and I (wo)manned an information table for the CSI that we shared with two other Scottish universities (University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow).
Dr Roued-Cunliffe met a couple of times over the course of the conference and she provided me with some great insights (leading to increased confidence!) for how to explain different aspects of my research. There are a few parallels to our academic journeys (which are quite different!) and it was refreshing to hear the views and opinions of someone who seems to have a good understanding of some of my concerns. I was so grateful for her input at the conference and am even more grateful that she has agreed to keep in touch, should I have any future questions or challenges that I want to run past her.
The rest of the colloquium session was quite useful in a “general” PhD manner. Whilst we didn’t speak directly about our individual research projects or thesis-related questions, we did engage in some useful round-table discussions about life as a researcher and academic life in general. In addition to the doctoral students, there was a good group of established academics with a range of experiences. The one-on-one meetings with Dr Roued-Cunliffe were probably more useful in the short-term, but the discussions (and, importantly) the connections with other academics and doctoral students will certainly prove to be invaluable in the longer term. (I’m too focused on the short-term right now, as I am preparing for my major write-up time!)
I attended a variety of paper sessions and talks over the course of the conference, too. Whilst they were all quite interesting, my favourite sessions were (1) Digital Sociology and Information Science Research and (2) New Takes on Information Behaviour. The first session was a great opportunity to talk about the changing climate of information studies, with inclusion of “digital” interests in other domains (in this case, sociology). It helped to remind me that there are many crossovers from information science into other disciplines—something I have long known, but I still struggle to fully appreciate. The second session was about information behaviour, but my main takeaway was new takes on methods of investigation for information behaviour studies. And when I think about the two sessions combined, I think that it would have been very interesting to have a round-table discussion about digital sociology’s role in information behaviour. (Just think about the interesting research methods you could come up with there!)
The conference was also a very social one. There were lunches and evening receptions each day, but as most people were staying at the conference hotel, even breakfast was an opportunity to meet with other conference-goers. In fact, some of my greatest networking moments happened whilst waiting in the queue at the omelette bar!
ASIST really was a great event for me, and I am so pleased to have been able to attend. I have come away from the conference feeling a bit more confident about my own place within the international Information Science family. I have also come away with some great ideas and insights for how best to explain some of my research in my thesis. And I owe it all to Cilip and the John Campbell Trust!
I won’t be attending any more conferences until next year now, but I do have a few lectures and one-day workshops and training sessions to look forward to. Of course, there’s also a question of that pesky PhD thesis that needs (a great deal of!) my attention. I am pleased to say that I am feeling very motivated at the moment though, so hopefully, I will manage a great deal of writing over the next few months.