Out and about to celebrate almost-Dr Cruickshank!

My brilliant colleague Peter Cruickshank has finished all the work for his PhD by published works. He has submitted his thesis, defended it in an oral exam, made the very few and very minor corrections emerging from the exam, and submitted the final version. So there’s only a bit of bureaucracy between him and being doctored.

To celebrate this, our prof (Hazel Hall) and her husband (Tim) invited Peter, his wife (Sam), me and my wife (Elly) to lunch last Sunday. Here are the happy people:

Peter, Sam, Hazel, Tim, Elly (photo by Bruce)

Peter and Sam (photo by Hazel)

Bruce and Elly (photo by Hazel)

I can’t do justice to Peter’s thesis here. However, writing from it may appear in future papers, and the actual thesis may appear in Napier’s repository.

But I do want to publicly thank Peter for his massive support for my career as a researcher. In September 2011 I started a part-time MSc in ‘information systems development’ at Napier, after illness put an end to my publishing career. (My progress through the MSc is documented in my original blog, Just another bipedal sack of DNA and neuroses, because that’s what humans are.)

In my second term, I was supposed to chose between ‘software development 2’ and ‘web-enabled business’ modules. I didn’t want to stop learning how to code, yet I was intrigued by the latter – what influence do the web and capitalism have on each other? (This was despite having maintained a website for my former employer – a for-profit business!)

With Peter’s permission, I took both of these modules. (Peter’s was the only module where I didn’t get a distinction grade.) I also found that Peter’s research interests were around computing in democracy – ace! I was rather concerned that I wouldn’t be able to complete the dissertation part of the course. Peter kindly agreed to supervise a ‘dry-run’ project to survey community councils’ online presences. This was reported in

  • Ryan, B. M. & Cruickshank, P. (2012). Community councils online 2012. Edinburgh Napier University.
  • Cruickshank, P., Ryan, B. M., & Smith, C. (2014). Disconnected Democracy? A Survey of Scottish Community Councils’ Online Presences. Scottish Affairs, 23(4), 486-507. doi: 10.3366/scot.2014.0045. ISSN 0966-0356.

Peter then supervised my dissertation project. Here I attempted to find reasons for the general paucity of community councils use of the web. This work was reported in

Following this, Peter and I were commissioned by the Improvement Service to create a web-map of Scotland’s community councils. Hey – I got paid to write code, and was introduced to the joys of Leaflet! (That work is archived on Napier’s server – the IS has since produced an up-to-date version on its improved community council website, www.communitycouncils.scot.)

Peter and I were then commissioned by the Scottish Government to create and run collaborative workshops to share knowledge on community council online presences. The resources produced in and for those workshops are available on my professional blog’s ‘publications and outputs’ page. The workshops themselves are documented in

I can’t remember how it came about but I was then recruited by Hazel Hall (the professor who runs Napier’s Centre for Social Informatics) to work on a project to map the library, archives, records, information and knowledge management UK workforce. While Peter wasn’t on that team, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been if he hadn’t been mentoring me for several years. The mapping work is documented here

Hazel then recruited me to work on an evaluation of her DREaM project, as documented here. (Note the second author!)

  • Hall, H., Cruickshank, P., & Ryan, B. M. (2018). Long-term community development within a researcher network: a social network analysis of the DREaM project cadre. Journal of Documentation, 74(4), 844-861. doi: 10.1108/JD-05-2017-0069.
  • Hall, H., Cruickshank, P., & Ryan, B. M. (2019). Closing the researcher-practitioner gap: An exploration of the impact of an AHRC networking grant, Journal of Documentation, 75(5), 1056-1081. doi: 10.1108/JD-12-2018-0212.

Following that (and a year off ill), Peter and I worked on some projects to understand the role of information literacy in community council online presences. This work is documented in

  • Hall, H., Cruickshank, P., & Ryan, B. M. (spring 2017). Information Literacy for Democratic Engagement. Edinburgh Napier University.
  • Hall, H., Cruickshank, P., & Ryan, B. M. (autumn 2017). Information Literacy for Democratic Engagement. Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh.
  • Hall, H., Cruickshank, P., & Ryan, B. M. (2018). Exploring information literacy through the lens of Activity Theory. In S. Kurbanoğlu, J. Boustany, S. Špiranec, E. Grassian, D. Mizrachi, & L. Roy (Eds.), Communications in Computer and Information Science; Information Literacy in the Workplace (Vol. 810, pp. 803–812). St Malo: Springer, Cham. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-74334-9_81.
  • Hall, H., Cruickshank, P., & Ryan, B. M. (2019). Practices of community representatives in exploiting information channels for citizen democratic engagement. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 51(4), 950–961. doi: 10.1177/0961000618769966.
  • Cruickshank, P., Hall, H. and Ryan, B. (2020). Information literacy as a joint competence shaped by everyday life and workplace roles amongst Scottish community councillors. In Proceedings of ISIC, the Information Behaviour Conference, Pretoria, South Africa, 28 September – 1 October, 2020. Information Research, 25(4), paper isic2008. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/25-4/isic2020/isic2008.html.
  • Widén, G., Ahmad, F., Nikou, S., Ryan, B., & Cruickshank, P. (2021). Workplace information literacy: Measures and methodological challenges. Journal of Information Literacy, 15(2), https://doi.org/10.11645/15.2.2812

And after that, Hazel recruited me for the RIVAL project, which has been a lot of fun since summer 2019. I’ve also worked on a project on information avoidance and diabetes (supervised by CSI colleague Gemma Webster); on a project to create videos for information literacy workshops (supervised by CSI colleague David Brazier, co-researcher Rachel Salzano); and lots of marking! Outputs from these projects so far (there will be more) are

I think it’s pretty clear that without Peter I would never have discovered social informatics (the study of information and communication tools in cultural or institutional contexts) and got into a very rewarding research career. Thank you almost-doctor C!


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