Monday, 18 March 2013

Ethics case studies

I thought this was an interesting project: The Observatory for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT (TORRII) "A repository of information and methods about responsible research and innovation (RRI) in information and communication technologies." The website includes some descriptions of how particular issues have been dealt with in research projects. I just skimmed a few, but I noticed this exercise in:
Read, J.C. "The ABCD approach to working ethically with children in ICT research and development".
They identified key decisions and asked why, then gave the "excuse" and the "to be honest (tbh)" answers. e.g."What platform are we using? Answer; Android tablets
"Why this platform? Answer (Excuse for use) it will engage children (this would be their first exposure to this technology) and the technology has low power needs; Answer (tbh version) we want to showcase the work of our technology group"
There are also material relevant e.g. to those studying social network data.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Post viva questionnaire - responses from Robinah K. Namuleme

Robinah  (who led a discussion about her project in 2011) passed her viva in December 2012.  She kindly agreed to complete the post-viva questionnaire that was drawn up after last month's discussion group.  Her responses are below.

What is the title of your thesis?
Information and HIV/AIDS: an ethnographic study of information behaviour.

Can you provide an abstract (for inclusion in this blog)?
See Abstract.

How long did you spend preparing for your viva?
3 years and 4 months.

How long did your viva take?
1 hour 25 minutes.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Part of me thinks nothing - it is a learning experience, but practically I might have...
  • tried to obtain full funding for the PhD (to enable me commit ample time to research);
  • included a quantitative element in my study;
  • allowed ample time after writing up.  I would like to have got away from my work for at least a week and thoroughly re-read the thesis to be able to identify formatting problems, such as extra spaces, before submission;
  • published more papers. 
Did the examiners concentrate on any particular section of your thesis? If so, which?
Although my examiners moved systematically right from the abstract to Chapter 9, they concentrated on the methodology, including justification for the choice of the approach employed.  They sought to know how I gained access to the research setting, how I addressed ethical issues, and built a rapport with the participants.

Can you describe any part of your viva where you were pleased with your performance?
The literature review and findings chapters.

What was it you did that pleased you?
I was mostly pleased when the examiners said that my literature review and analysis were competently presented that they had no questions to ask.  I was also pleased by the fact that the examiners confirmed my claim about the contribution to knowledge.  They advised me to publish papers in order to disseminate the findings.

Can you describe any part of your viva where you were dissatisfied with your performance?
The model.

What was it you did that dissatisfied you?
Although my model was a good attempt to present all the findings, it was perceived to be complex.

Please give an example of a question that you found hard.
Why didn’t you use Grounded Theory (GT)?

Why was it hard?
It was hard because both my examiners are so much in the tradition of employing GTto Library and Information Science research.  However, I had strong reasons for choosing the ethnographic approach to the study of information behaviour of persons infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS.  This enabled me to defend my decision to employ ethnography and not GT.

What was the outcome of your viva?
The examiners recommended the award of a PhD subject to minor amendments.

Please give some examples of the sort of corrections you need to make (if any).
Some examples of the corrections I needed to make:
  • Spacing issues page 49,51,97,113,118,121
  • On occasions you omit spaces e.g 3,5,33,50, 97,
  • The model is complex.  It needs to be made simpler then it will have more impact and make it easier for the reader to follow the explanation.
  • Page.  38 cognitive needs a capital “C”
  • Different font sizes on page 48.
Do you have any tips for looking and feeling confident in front of the examiners?
  • Be passionate about your work
  • Know your thesis so well in order to defend it. 
  •  Practice answering viva questions
  • Request for a mock viva to be arranged
  • Talk to other people about your work.  Their feedback can greatly enhance your confidence
Can you think of any good advice that you would give to students who are preparing for their viva?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

More about journal clubs

This is to alert people to the fact that there is an online journal club meeting on 13th March at 8pm UK time. You can find more information here: I will be talking more about this on the researchers' meeting in the iSchool on 14th March.

Also if people want something to read about reading clubs, what they are and why people use them, a useful paper is:
Deenadayalan, Y, K Grimmer-Somers, M Prior, and S Kumar. (2008) “How to run an effective journal club: a systematic review.” Journal of evaluation in clinical practice, 14 (5), 898-911.