Overview of Research
This submission is made on behalf of the Informatics Research Institute (IRIS) at the University of Salford. We define informatics in terms of a spectrum of research in information systems, computing and information and communications technologies (ICTs).
The mission of IRIS is to understand and shape the way information is experienced, used and managed in organisational and societal life, by developing and maintaining excellence in research, incorporating technical and social perspectives. The research agenda of IRIS, therefore, adopts multiple perspectives to include the development of technologies and techniques to support our mission, in addition to critical and interpretive approaches to the interaction of IT, organisations and society.
IRIS hosts two Research Centres which are being submitted to Library and Information Management: Information Systems, Organisations and Society (ISOS) Research Centre which addresses the theme of ‘critical and interpretive research’ and Centre for Future and Emerging Technologies – Research and Application (CFERA) which focuses on ‘enabling information and communication technologies’. Research on computing/IS education spans both Research Centres. These themes are elaborated below.
Summary of Research Achievements
Since RAE2001 our research has evolved and expanded with significant development of the critical and interpretive IS agenda, including IS and social inclusion, studies of user resistance and acceptance, methodological critiques of SSM and IS research approaches. Research on the development and application of enabling ICTs includes virtual environments, robotics, artificial intelligence and technologies to support knowledge management, information retrieval and virtual organisations in application areas including construction.
This has been achieved by (a) investing in, and developing new researchers; (b) continuing to invest in experienced academics to further enhance their research activities; (c) developing experienced academics not returned to RAE2001; (d) expanding the doctoral school; and (e) making targeted appointments of visiting chairs to support (a) to (d). Since RAE2001 IRIS has expanded with 8 new lecturer/senior lecturer posts while 6 staff have been promoted to professor and 6 to senior lecturer. 32 colleagues are returned in this submission compared to 23 in RAE2001.
Highlights of our research agenda shaping activity include:
• Substantial growth of the doctoral programme including 55 research degrees awarded in RAE2008 compared to 29 in RAE2001
• Major growth in research income to c£5M compared to £2.1M in RAE2001
• Significant shaping of international research directions through hosting/co-hosting 12 international conferences and workshops and producing a total of over 570 publications (not including visiting professors).
• Publication in leading journals, including 6 of the top 8 IS journals recently listed by the Association for Information Systems, the premier international professional body for IS.
• Increased presence in top international conferences including track chair and AE for ICIS and ECIS, membership of IFIP WGs including 8.2, 8.6 and 9.8 and presentation of papers at significant international conferences including: ICIS, ECIS, IFIP 8.2, IFIP 8.6 and various IEEE conferences.
• A leading role in the development of the first ICT roadmap for the adoption and deployment of ICT in construction (ROADCON);
• Significant development of the critical and interpretive IS research theme including 7 ESF funded research projects on ICTs and social inclusion;
• Expansion of research in enabling information and communication technologies including research projects on robotics, virtual organising, virtual environments and ICT and construction.
Theme 1: Critical and Interpretive Research (Adam*, Basden*, Bell, Burke, Burns+ Ferneley*, Fitzgerald(0.2)*, Fletcher+, Griffiths+, Heinze+, Keogh+, Kreps+, Light*, McMaster, Myers(0.2)*, Richardson, Wilson) (*Professor: + early career researcher)
A distinctive ‘Salford school’ of IS research has developed over the last twenty years. This is characterised by user-focused studies, informed by a critical approach and a range of social theories, critique and development of methodology and frameworks for understanding the field. The Salford school has been influential in shaping the research agenda of the IS community through the work of the many internationally renowned IS researchers who have worked at Salford, who disseminate this approach to the research community and who continue to work with us in its development either through publication or other research activities. This includes: Holland, Howcroft, Kautz, Mitev, Sahay, Truex, Venters, Vidgen, Wastell, Wood and Wood-Harper. We have an ongoing research relationship with Pennsylvania State University, three of whose academics have been visiting professors at Salford.
Since RAE2001 we have substantially increased research activity in critical IS to critique exclusionary design and practice in IS through the expansion of research on social inclusion and ICTs (including, gender, disability, health and sexuality) supported by £740K research funding and through the development of philosophical, ethical and theoretical underpinnings of IS research. Critical perspectives include feminist theory, anthropology/ethnography, critiques of SSM and IS research paradigms.
Our interpretive research has expanded its range of theories and research environments leading to a robust group of studies bringing a spectrum of perspectives to the implementation and use of ICTs in organisations and society. This includes the role of the user, strategies of user resistance and novel approaches towards the understanding of packaged software development, including ERP systems. We have increased our critical engagement with science and technology studies (STS) literature in the analysis of IS deployment as indicated below.
Klein, from State University of New York (Binghamton) has been a significant influence shaping our research in critical information systems. His published research addresses foundational issues in IS including critical reflection on the state of the IS discipline. He was a key participant in our two international workshops on critical IS (CRIS I and II: conference chairs - Adam, Basden, Richardson and Wilson) at Salford in 2001 and 2004. These workshops formed the basis for special issues of Information Technology & People (19:3 2006) and Social Science Computer Review (24:3 2006), both jointly guest edited by Richardson and Kvasny. In the RAE period, at Salford, Klein chaired research workshops on Habermas and reviewing and paper writing surgeries. The Leverhulme Trust funded his Salford appointment as Leverhulme Professor of Information Systems Research; part of his remit was to deliver a series of public Leverhulme Lectures on the philosophical foundations of IS (2006-7). He was keynote (with Basden) at NLDB07.
McMaster’s long standing involvement in IFIP WG 8.6 culminated in our hosting the 2007 IFIP 8.6 conference (Organising Chair: Ferneley, Joint Programme Chair: McMaster). Kvasny, Trauth and Sawyer (2007-8) from Pennsylvania State University have been visiting professors with us. Myers, from the University of Auckland and Fitzgerald, from the University of Limerick, are visiting professors for 2007-8. The most prestigious professional body for critical and interpretive research, IFIP WG 8.2, provides a focus for much of our work in shaping the agenda on critical and interpretive research activity with our visiting professors. Adam, Bell, Griffiths, Keogh, Kreps, and Richardson have presented papers at IFIP WG 8.2 and Adam, Light, McMaster, Richardson, Sawyer and Trauth are members. Myers chairs IFIP WG 8.2 while Fitzgerald is secretary. Fitzgerald, Myers and Trauth have organised and co-edited proceedings for recent IFIP WG 8.2 conferences and these have involved ISOS members as referees and programme committee members.
Social inclusion and IS forms a major strand of our critical research. Within this theme, Adam, Bell, Griffiths, Keogh, Light and Richardson research gender and IS. We have obtained ESF research grants totalling £660K for six projects researching the position of women in the IT industry in NW (WINWIT), all England (WINIT), equal pay (DEPICT), gender and age in relation to IT employment (GATE), women disappearing from the IT labour market (Disappearing Women) and the development of a knowledge portal to support women IT professionals (KAN). We are the largest group of gender and IS researchers in the UK. We hosted the 2006 WINIT International Conference on Gender and IT (Conference Chair - Griffiths). Forming the theoretical backdrop for these projects, Richardson (Richardson:2) sets out a critical agenda for research in gender and IS (Emerald Top 50 Management papers award, 2004). This paper elaborates themes from Adam’s and Richardson’s guest edited special issue of Information Technology & People (15:2, 2002). Providing theoretical development and empirical case studies, our critical gender research in IS is extended by Richardson (Richardson:3,4) and Adam (Adam:1,3). Results from the WINIT and WINWIT projects are reported by Griffiths (Griffiths:1,2) and Keogh (Keogh:1,2). Keogh presented this research to the DTI/Intellect Women in IT Forum in London and has hosted a DTI/Intellect workshop at Salford. She presented research findings to the House of Commons SET Good Practice in Equal Pay committee. Richardson and Adam were advisors for Trauth’s Encyclopedia of Gender and Information Technology (2006), contributing several articles with Keogh and Griffiths. Adam chairs IFIP WG 9.8 (Women and IT) and was editor of ACM Computers and Society (2004-2006), one of the longest running periodicals addressing social issues in computing. Our critical approach to gender/social inclusion and IS also includes Light’s (Light:3,4) innovative research on masculinity, sexuality and IS, the first time this has been addressed in the IS literature and Bell’s research on ICT and health (Bell:3).
Kreps has developed a novel analysis of web accessibility for disabled people using critical social theory and STS approaches informed by original technical analysis (Kreps:1,2). This research forms the theoretical backdrop for the ESF funded e-Discrimination project. He presented aspects of this research to a House of Commons Committee (PITCOM) on web accessibility and ICT for the socially excluded. His research is further disseminated through his work as a judge on the ‘Big Chip Awards’, Manchester Digital’s Accessibility Working Group and the charity, AbilityNet.
Our research activity in philosophical and ethical approaches to research in information systems includes novel work which challenges the foundations of IS, critiquing IS methodology and proposing alternative theoretical stances. Basden's monograph (Basden:1) is a foundational work offering an application of Dooyeweerdian philosophy in the IS discipline. In 2007, he presented this work in an invited lecture tour of South African universities. Also geared towards understanding the potentially foundational nature of IS, Myers’ (Myers:1) much quoted MIS Quarterly paper sets the agenda for IS to be regarded as a reference discipline. Further approaches to IS research methodology are offered by Myers (Myers:3), McMaster (McMaster:4) and Richardson (Richardson:1). Basden chairs the Religious Roots of IS group, funded by Metanexus/Templeton Foundation. He hosted the RRIS conference at Salford in 2006. He is a founder member of the International Centre for Philosophy, Technology and Social Systems. He (Basden:2,4) critiques SSM’s CATWOE, offering arguments for its improvement and assessing the contribution of Dooyeweerd's philosophy (Basden:3). Wilson (Wilson:1) presents a further critique of SSM through an analysis of a historical information system, derived from dialectics, also employing dialectics (Wilson:4) to provide a new approach to ontology in critical IS.
Burke (Burke:1) applies Dooyeweerd's philosophy towards understanding the complex nature of documents, throwing light on the culture surrounding them. Her research adopts an approach from information management to understand philosophical perspectives of research paradigms and organisation structures (Burke:2,4). She explores the concept of information fulfilment in relation to an empirical study (Burke:3), part of which was undertaken at the Institute of Information Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Krakow where she is a visiting fellow. Adam’s monograph (Adam:1) has received favourable reviews in Journal of Communication and Ethics in Society; Information Communication & Society; Gender, Work & Organization and The Information Society. This is the first work to apply critical feminist theory to a wide range of ethical problems in IS.
ISOS interpretive research adopts innovative approaches which challenge the traditional conception of the ‘user’. Ferneley introduces and develops the concepts of covert user (Ferneley:4), secondary user (Ferneley:3) and the workaround (Ferneley:2). This work was undertaken in conjunction with the UK Fire and Rescue Service and these research results have influenced the deployment and diffusion of mobile technologies in the emergency field. Wilson (Wilson:3) contributes to research on users by using grounded theory to explore user resistance, winning the Claudio Ciborra prize for the most original paper at ECIS 2004. Bell (Bell:4) uses the concept of bricolage to explore IS adoption and organisational change. Burns (Burns:1) further challenges the traditional IS approach towards users by illustrating the negotiable boundary between the developer and user. This paper is part of a programme of research which also produced a paper which won UKAIS 2006 Best Paper prize.
Fitzgerald is a leading figure on software development methodologies. He argues for the validity of a new model of open source software development (Fitzgerald:1) which moves away from the ‘hacker’ model towards a mainstream commercially viable form. He (Fitzgerald:2) also demonstrates that agile methods of software development can be tailored to produce benefits which are likely to prove significant in the market for globally distributed software development (Fitzgerald:3).
ERP systems represent major implementation challenges in organisations. The Salford approach critiques and questions conventional wisdom. Light (Light:1) applies a power-relations framework to interpret packaged software selection, challenging the technological determinism prevalent in research on ERP implementation (Light:2), through the STS concept of ‘configurational technology’. Light and Sawyer guest edited a special issue of the European Journal of Information Systems (16:5, 2007) on packaged software. Wilson (Wilson:2) offers an economic model of ERP systems while Myers (Myers:4) explains how conflicts over strategy can affect the success of ERP implementations using critical ethnography. Focusing on the industry level, Myers (Myers:2) seeks to understand the impact of IT via an empirical study. Further studies of the role of IS in organisations include those of McMaster (McMaster:1) who employs an ethnographic approach to research in a public sector IT department. The role of the change agent in technological innovation is explored in (McMaster:2), while (McMaster:3) critiques the notion of ‘diffusion’ in IS. McMaster guest edited a special issue of the Journal of Information Systems Education (14:3 2003). Adam applies STS approaches to moral delegation in a database (Adam:2) and proof of automatically generated software in an avionics case study (Adam:4).
The analysis of popular key terms from search engines reflects Fletcher’s ongoing engagement with debates surrounding IS methodology (Fletcher:3). This has also found expression in the deconstruction of situationist approaches in the context of contemporary IT-enabled culture and research regarding conflict in on-line environments (Fletcher:1,2). Fletcher guest edited a special issue of International Journal of Technology and Human Interaction (3:1, 2007):
Theme 2: Enabling Information and Communication Technologies (Antonacopoulos, Aspin, Cooper*, Gray*, Kaymak(0.2)*, Linge*, Meziane, Murano, Murray, Nefti-Meziani, Rezgui*, Roberts*, Vadera*, Whatley, Wolff+) (*Professor: + early career researcher)
This theme identifies advanced technologies as vital to work, organisations and society. The research ethos recognises that not only are technologies applied to real-world problems, but that the latter feed back into development of theory and technological foundations. The technologies currently addressed include: communications infrastructure, visualisation, advanced robotic and haptic devices, learning technologies and the tools and techniques for creating and managing the information and knowledge that control and drive these technologies. Current application contexts include construction, historical documents, food automation and manufacturing.
Aspin, Murano, Murray, Roberts, and Wolff develop and evaluate the use of visualisation, advancing the technologies of tele-collaboration, computer graphics, anthropomorphic and immersive interfaces, and the social simulation of people. They apply this to domains including construction, design, maintenance, medicine and emergency readiness, representing a major force in the field of developing new tele-communication technologies. Roberts leads an EPSRC project in communicational eye-gaze, partnering three other universities (Reading, UCL, Roehampton) and five companies (SGI, Visual Acuity, Electrosonic and Avanti). Roberts (Roberts:1) pioneers research in tele-collaboration linking Immersive Projection Technology (IPT) based devices across the UK, the first to achieve this level of interaction, shortly after it had been described by two other leading groups (UCL and Fraunhofer) as too hard to achieve with current technology. Following this, Wolff (Wolff:1) presented a detailed analysis based on extensive user trials. This extended the system and its construction based application across Europe, by utilising tele-conferencing and 3D video based tele-immersion, to contribute towards a roadmap for research into reproducing the face-to-face meeting (Wolff:2). Research on the AVATARS project is being used to inform design decision for Barcelona’s railway terminals. Murray (Murray:4) won the Best Paper award at IEEE ACM Distributed Simulation and Real Time (DSRT) Symposium in 2006. At the underlying technology level, Roberts has demonstrated a fundamental flaw in the most widely used optimisation in distributed simulation and has demonstrated a complete solution through using a complex consistency metric (Roberts:3). He chairs IEEE ACM DSRT and is guest editing a special issue of the Journal of Computing and Informatics on collaborative and cooperative environments.
Murray’s research into immersive interfaces (Murray:1) uses innovative, real-world applications (Murray:2), for example, to support the design and construction processes of buildings. Aspin’s research deals with low level data and visualisation issues, specifically the management of data in virtual environments and the problems of presenting data and inferences drawn from it in an intuitive manner. He has pioneered interface visualisation combining immersive projection technology and hand held devices, including a tablet PC, allowing users clear inspection of complex data while still perceiving the overall picture.
A further approach towards presenting a more intuitive interface to the user involves research on anthropomorphic user interfaces. Murano contributes significantly to contemporary research in two areas. The first (Murano:4) received the Best Paper award in ICEIS 2005. It addresses the issue of effectiveness and user satisfaction with anthropomorphic feedback at the user interface (Murano:1,3). The second approach (Murano:2) demonstrates that virtual reality models of buildings can have a positive impact in direction finding.
Further research involves advanced modes of interaction based on robotics. Gray explores haptic interfaces and advanced actuators. There are important applications in medicine, notably in pre-operative planning for hip arthroplasty (Gray:3) and in rehabilitation (Gray:1). Gray has taken a leading role in several EU robotics research projects including MULTISENSE, Robot-Cub and Novel Q (in conjunction with Nefti-Meziani). He is in the forefront of robotic applications for handling packaging and assembly in the food industry (Gray:2,4). Gray is founding chair of the DEFRA Food Manufacturing Engineering Group involving five universities and is Technical Director of the new multimillion pound CenFRA project supporting research and development in robotics and automation for the food manufacturing industry.
Innovative text handling, both recovering and using character images and intelligent indexing and retrieval, is an important part of CFERA’s research. Antonacopoulos researches mining scanned historical documents, proposing (Antonacopoulos:3) a new flexible approach that successfully recovers text in degraded documents. As text in web images cannot be recognised by standard OCR applications, he (Antonacopoulos:1) develops a method using characteristics of human colour perception to extract text from web images and a novel approach towards digitising Braille documents (Antonacopoulos:4). He won the Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the International Association for Pattern Recognition (2005). He is invited advisor to the National Library of the Netherlands on electronic preservation of historical documents and guest edited a special issue of the International Journal on Document Analysis and Recognition (9:4, 2007). Meziane researches text document consistency in large documentary corpuses, proposing (Meziane:2) a methodology based on similarity content techniques which was developed for the eCognos project.
Vadera and Meziane hosted and organised the NLDB04 conference which led to a guest edited special issue of Data and Knowledge Engineering (58:1, 2006). Meziane and Rezgui co-organised NLDB07, in association with CNAM and the University of Versailles. Nefti-Meziani chaired the doctoral consortium at this conference.
The construction industry, given its fragmented and knowledge intensive nature, presents particular challenges to technology and to work, especially in terms of virtual organisations. CFERA academics (Rezgui, Cooper) are leaders in this important application area with research which has attracted £1M research funding during the RAE period, involving collaboration with major organisations including Taylor Woodrow, British Airport Association, Vinci, OTH (France), Hochtief (Germany), YIT, Granlund (Finland), JM Bygg (Sweden) Fraunhofer Institute, BIBA (Germany), VTT (Finland), CSTB (France), BBRI (Belgium) and the Icelandic Building Research Institute. Research in integration, knowledge management and sense making has been carried out in the context of three EU funded projects (SciX, eCognos, FUNSIEC) and an EPSRC responsive mode project (C-Sand). The ROADCON project (funded by EU IST FP5) represents a major achievement as it developed the first roadmap for digital construction (RZ2006: Rezgui:4). This raised awareness of ICT adoption issues in the European construction industry, contributed to the formation of the European Construction Technology Platform and influenced the research agenda of national funding councils (EPSRC: GR/S48455/01 Network of Experts in Construction) and the EU (FP6 / FP7).
Rezgui has played a key role in three major EU funded networks in the area of Virtual Enterprises: ICCI, VOSTER, and VE-Forum. He (Rezgui:1,2,3) investigates the role of knowledge management systems and virtual collaboration technologies in fostering conditions which facilitate virtual teams. This research (OSMOS- IST FP4), anticipates current developments in web services, and provides valuable insights into the exploitation of web services, the semantic web, and related technologies to support industries in general. Cooper has developed an advanced decision support system (ADS) to support design decision-making in the context of CAD in the construction industry (Cooper:2). He addresses issues involved in open publishing in construction (Cooper:1), developing reference models, including a service-based knowledge management solution articulated around the use of ontology (Cooper:3). Linge’s (Linge:2) research addresses network security. He edited a special issue of IEE Proceedings - Communications (2003). Rezgui was conference chair and proceedings editor of the EU FW5 sponsored eSM@RT conference (2002), while Cooper was Organising Chair of the IFIP TC-6 TC-11 conference on Communications and Multimedia Security (CMS 2004) – both hosted by IRIS.
From Erasmus University, Kaymak is visiting the CFERA group during the academic year 2007-8. Vadera, Meziane, Kaymak and Nefti-Meziani explore a range of algorithms for processing, collating, and creating knowledge, based on machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence. Meziane (Meziane:1) applies fuzzy logic to the problem of e-commerce trust. Nefti-Meziani (Nefti-Meziani:1) has made advances in the area of fuzzy clustering, proposing a new algorithm for an adaptive navigation system applied to the field of robotics. This work was used as a test bed for an industrial project ‘ROMAIN’, an intelligent vacuum cleaner for Rowenta. She has developed (Nefti-Meziani:3) a fuzzy based approach for information retrieval and a new algorithm for fuzzy clustering (Nefti-Meziani:2, 4). Nefti-Meziani is visiting fellow at École Supérieure des Technologies Industrielles Avancées, visiting professor at LIP6 (Laboratoire d’Informatic de Paris 6). She also collaborates with the Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genoa.
A long-standing collaborator with Nefti-Meziani, Kaymak (Kaymak:3) proposes two extensions to objective fuzzy-based clustering. He (Kaymak:1) has investigated the use of fuzzy decision making in model predictive control (Kaymak:2), including application of probabilistic fuzzy systems to financial markets and a hybrid genetic algorithm approach applied to industrial data (Kaymak:4).
Collaborating with the Instituto de Investigaciones Electricas in Mexico, Vadera has developed a novel theory, model and algorithm for information validation utilising Bayesian networks applied to the real-time validation of temperature readings in a power plant (Vadera:4) His work on decision tree learning has led to a new induction algorithm with application in safety and medical domains. Building on work awarded a Commended Paper prize by the Emerald Literati Network in 2001, he (Vadera:2) explores the role of AI in operations management, identifying trends and suggesting areas of future direction. This paper is part of a broader goal to promote collaboration between AI and OR researchers which has included four special issues of journals (including Journal of Operational Research, 55:2, 2004) with a fifth to be published in 2008 and the co-hosting of two conferences at Salford: IMSIO II (2001) and IMSIO III (2005). Vadera is active in promoting professionalism in the discipline and represents the BCS in work related to the IFIP Professionals in Practice
Bell, Ferneley, Heinze, Linge and Whatley are active in developing approaches towards research in computing/IS education, especially in terms of applying learning technologies and public understanding of technology. In recognition of her role in learning technologies research, Bell has recently been appointed co-editor of ALT-J. Her research (Bell:1) on the use of double-cycle action research to develop a framework for on-line discussions in an education setting addresses the user experience in computer-mediated communication (Bell:2). Heinze uses blended learning to contribute to the understanding of educational theory and improvement of practice in information systems education (Heinze:1), offering an original critique of conversational theory (Heinze:2). Ferneley (Ferneley:1) presents a framework for practitioners and researchers in courseware development using a case study approach rather than the laboratory based experimental approach hitherto used. Whatley reports on-line learning research including the results of applying an agent based system which she developed to support on-line learning, and results from the Collaboration Across Borders (Socrates) project (Whatley:3). She was co-chair of INSITE 2006 which was hosted at Salford. Linge’s EPSRC funded research programme on public awareness of science and technology includes the delivery of a series of public lectures and the development of a new visitor information system (mi-Guide) for the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (Linge:4) in collaboration with BT Connected-Earth and SETPOINT Greater Manchester.
The University of Salford manages its research through a series of multi-disciplinary Research Institutes. Research Institute membership is awarded on the basis of performance across a range of indicators and is reviewed on an annual basis. Research Institutes are designed to encourage research by providing supportive environments and cohesive research strategies. Each Research Institute has its own funding and administrative support. All Research Institutes form part of the Research and Graduate College (RGC), which has overall responsibility for research and postgraduate activity.
IRIS research is supported by a diverse communication technology infrastructure. Of particular note is the Virtual Environments research facility which has provided access to possibly the world’s most representative selection of immersive display technology throughout the RAE period. A new virtual environments facility, aimed at developing future visualisation technologies, is being built, with the help of over ten companies including the BBC. It offers an unprecedented level of flexibility in the way it displays, captures and communicates information and social human communication within it. This new laboratory acts as the central hub for a wider university network of visualisation activity, which together received £1.6M from SRIF III.
IRIS runs an active seminar programme with a range of internationally renowned speakers including Hall, Klein, Kvasny, Lalmas, McKenzie, McGrath, Mahfouf, Makarian, Panteli, Paul, Pollock, Trauth and Venters. Speakers are balanced equally between scholars from the IS and Computing communities. The IRIS seminar programme is well attended by our staff and students and by colleagues and students from Greater Manchester universities and beyond.
Our approach to staffing policy centres on the development of new and existing researchers through the mechanisms described below.
Since RAE2001 the research capacity of the institute has been maintained and enhanced through a strong research culture which substantially contributes to the career progression of its members. Adam, Basden, Ferneley, Light, Rezgui and Roberts have been promoted to chair, while Bell, Burke, Meziane, Nefti-Meziani, Richardson and Wilson have been promoted to senior lecturer. A number of lecturers and senior lecturers have been appointed since RAE2001 (Antonacopoulos, Aspin, Burke, Fletcher, Heinze, Kreps, Murano, Nefti-Meziani). Academics in post but not returned to the previous exercise are now returned (Bell, Meziane and Whatley), whilst IRIS has expanded to include new research areas (Gray). Our EPSRC Academic Fellows, Griffiths and Murray are returned in our submission as are a number of research fellows (Burns, Keogh, Wolff).
The research development of academic staff is achieved as follows. IRIS academics working towards a PhD are encouraged to enrol on our Doctoral School: 6 completed since RAE2001. There are opportunities to present work in progress at internal seminars which run at Research Centre level. In particular, we run such workshops before submission to major conferences where academics and PhD students can obtain feedback on their draft conference papers. Further sessions on paper writing and submitting research proposals are offered by senior academics with support from our research projects officer. Visiting professors continue to offer much advice to develop our academic staff through formal and informal advisory sessions. Academics are encouraged to visit potential collaborators to develop research bids.
Early career academics are trained in research supervision through delivering sessions on the doctoral school and by joining supervisory teams before taking on new PhD students as main supervisor. The Research and Graduate College is funding Griffiths on a PG Certificate in Research Degree Supervision. IRIS funds staff attendance at international and key national academic conferences where a paper is being presented and colleagues are encouraged to develop conference papers into journal papers through mentoring by senior colleagues and working with peers.
Members of IRIS provide an annual assessment of their current research output (in terms of publications, postgraduate research supervision, funded research, and research presence) and plans. Interviews with Research Centre Director and Research Institute Director facilitate agreement of research allowances and research plans for the following year. Within the university’s policy for workload balancing, research active staff are offered resources to develop their research activities by means of research allocations of up to 50% of their workload. Academic staff wishing to embark upon research can apply for a 20% research allocation in accordance with the University’s Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship scheme. The scheme includes the allocation of a research mentor and financial resources to help launch the applicant’s research career (Fletcher, Kreps and Whatley have benefited from this scheme).
Dedicated administrative provision supports research. This includes the full-time support of a research officer, a postgraduate research secretary and the part-time support of a further research secretary and finance offer and a funded projects officer. The latter assists in disseminating information about research opportunities and writing bids. Academic staff with specific roles include the IRIS Research Institute Director (Adam), CFERA Research Centre Director (Cooper), ISOS Research Centre Director (Light) and Director for Postgraduate Studies (Nefti-Meziani).
The long-established IRIS Doctoral Programme has been extended and developed since RAE2001 to offer structured doctoral training across the full spectrum of Informatics. We have graduated 55 (FTE) research degrees since RAE2001, with over 80 research students currently registered or writing up. Students are supported by a supervisory team consisting of an experienced main supervisor in the specialist domain, co-supervisor (often from a different specialism and potentially a more junior colleague) and personal tutor.
The Doctoral School is an important foundation stone in our mission of shaping informatics research and developing doctoral candidates who will be future academics in the field. We regard the exposure of doctoral students to a wide range of research approaches and subjects to be an important part of research training. Hence, since RAE2001 we have extended the doctoral school to include research active staff drawn from all domains of informatics. Our visiting professors are active members of the doctoral school with Fitzgerald, Kaymak, Myers and Sawyer offering doctoral school sessions in the current academic year. The doctoral school runs on a Wednesday morning and seminars are timed to run on the afternoon of the same day, thus encouraging doctoral students to regard the seminar programme as an integral part of their research training. Visiting speakers often take part in the morning’s doctoral session before delivering an open seminar in the afternoon session.
Doctoral students have many opportunities to present their own work and obtain feedback in a supportive environment. Practice-orientated exercises include student presentations, mock vivas and reviews of past research theses. We are one of the few academic institutions selected to be part of a European network funded by the EUA (European University Association) to make concrete recommendations in relation to the theme of ‘Innovation in Doctoral Programme Delivery’. The Doctoral School is also supported by a Virtual Research Support Environment with details of the doctoral school, abstracts and videos of many doctoral sessions and seminars available on-line. The university also provides a central programme of doctoral support activities. Postgraduate students are expected to present their research in selected conferences and doctoral consortia. IRIS hosts an annual postgraduate conference with proceedings, where students submit papers, have these reviewed by IRIS academic staff and then present them to fellow students and staff. This affords them an opportunity for support and feedback from a wider group than their supervisory team and the experience of a conference in a supportive environment. The Director for Postgraduate Research undertakes research admissions, organises the doctoral school and provides pastoral guidance for all research students. This post is supported by the Research Centre Directors and Research Institute Director. IRIS research students are housed in recently renovated postgraduate research suites/laboratories where each has a dedicated machine, desk and office space. The requirements of postgraduate students are reviewed on a yearly basis via the university-wide learning agreement system. A number of our doctoral graduates enter industry or the public sector (e.g. BT Martlesham, Gillc Consulting, Agensi Nuklear Malaysia, Public Works Department, Headquarters of Malaysia) while many continue with academic careers, including, in this RAE period, lecturing posts at Aberystwyth, Auckland University of Technology, LSE, Manchester Metropolitan, Southern Utah University, Universiti Teknologi, Petronas, Malaysia and Wolverhampton.
We have achieved the four objectives signalled in our research strategy reported to RAE2001, namely attracting funding to support research expansion, increasing international profile, developing the doctoral school and focusing a multiple perspective approach on high priority areas achieving a significant broadening of our research presence since RAE 2001. For the future, our objectives remain the same with the addition of new research topics. Former colleagues have left to take up chairs at Cardiff, Manchester, Nottingham, Heriot-Watt and Kent. The interests of new researchers and the natural evolution of the interests of experienced colleagues has signalled a refocusing of some priority areas for research in addition to the enhancement of existing research areas. Priority topics for IRIS’s multiple perspective approach include social inclusion and ICT, privacy and fraud, social networking, IS and society, virtuality, robotics, digital libraries/culture, public awareness and intelligent systems. As evidence of the continued attainment of our objectives we highlight the following:
• Antonacopoulos has obtained research funding of over €1M for the IMPACT project on the European Digital Library which will research the accessibility of historical paper documents.
• Ferneley is guest editing a special issue of Knowledge Management Research and Practice with Venters of the LSE.
• IRIS is hosting a workshop on ‘Futures for IS Research’ in November 2007 with a follow up, two day workshop in June 2008.
• For ECIS 2008 Light is co-chair of the Social Networking and IS track while Ferneley and Griffiths are associate editors for tracks.
• IRIS is represented on a University of Salford/BBC working party to develop ‘Internet and New Media’ research collaborations, as part of the Media City development at Salford Quays, and the BBC’s move to Salford.
• Virtual environment researchers have recently been awarded two EPSRC CASE studentships in connection with the BBC and Vicon, respectively, for research on real-time tele-immersion.
• Linge is extending research on the mi-Guide through a new two year £234K EPSRC funded partnerships for public engagement grant involving existing partners and Salford City Learning Network and Centre for Science Education in Sheffield.
• Vadera has recently been awarded a KTP on data mining for financial inclusion.
EVIDENCE OF ESTEEM
In addition to the evidence presented above we highlight the following as evidence of the strong national and international profile of the Research Institute.
IRIS members participate in the work of a number of research funding and standards bodies including: Membership of EPSRC college (Adam, Antonacopoulos, Gray, Light, Linge, Rezgui) and ESRC college (Burke). Gray, Rezgui and Roberts are reviewers for the European Commission IST programme. Antonacopoulos is Vice-Chair of IAPR Technical Committee on Reading Systems (2004–present) while Bell is a member of the ALT Research Committee. Gray holds a number of senior positions in the robotics research community including founding Chair of the IET Professional Network on Robotics and Automation (2002-2006) and Chair of the EPSRC Network on Advanced Robotics (2002-2005). Nefti-Meziani is a member of the European Network for the Advancement of Artificial Cognitive Systems
IRIS members have given plenary and keynote addresses at international conferences in Sweden, Austria, London, Reading, (Adam); Switzerland (Antonacopoulos); France, South Africa (joint paper with Klein) (Basden); Poland (Ustron and Krakow) (Burke); Sweden, China (Gray); Manchester (Light); and Weybridge (Roberts). They have also been invited to present at numerous national and international research seminars including 20 national seminars and 14 international seminars in Sweden (Adam), Norway, New Zealand (Kreps), Denmark, France (Light, Meziane), Australia, USA (McMaster) and Germany (Wolff).
IRIS members undertake a number of important roles in the organisation of international conferences. In addition to those hosted at Salford, IRIS members hold the following roles: Publications Chair and Proceedings Editor of ICDAR2003, Co-Chair of the first two International Workshops on Web Document Analysis. (Antonacopoulos); Chair for IEEE Systems Man and Cybernetics TESADI’01 workshop, 2001, Organising Chair for Alternative Learning Technologies Workshop, 2002 (Ferneley): Chair of doctoral consortium for Cogsys’08 (Nefti-Meziani); General Chair IEEE International Conference on Computer Aided Control Systems Design, 2002. (Gray): Programme Co-Chair then General Chair IEEE ACM DS-RT international symposium (Roberts):
Conference track chairs include ECAP 2006, 2007(Adam); IRMA 2006 (Burke), ECIS 2008 (Light), ISOneWorld 2004, 2005 (McMaster); 4th International Conference on Innovation in Information Technology (Meziane).
IRIS members have over 90 conference programme committee memberships including: ICIS (Adam, Bell, Ferneley, Light, Richardson); ECIS (Ferneley, Griffiths, Light); IFIP 8.2 (Adam, Light, McMaster, Richardson); IFIP 8.6 TC8 (McMaster, Rezgui); IFIP Pro-VE (Rezgui), ICEIS (Murano, Rezgui); IRMA (Adam, Burke, Ferneley, Keogh, Light, Rezgui); ALT-C (Bell, Whatley); CATAC, CEPE, WiC (Adam); EIPub (Cooper); DS-RT (Aspin, Murray); UKAIS (Adam, Bell, Light); ICE-B (Kreps); EPSRC Annual Postgraduate Symposium on the Convergence of Telecommunications, Networking and Broadcasting (Linge); NLDB (Nefti-Meziani, Meziane, Vadera); IEEE International Conference on Fuzzy Systems, IMSIO III, International Business Information Management Conference, International Conference on Information Technology, SOLE (Meziane); AAS, IC-AI, SERP, IKE, METMBS, MLMTA, AMCS (Nefti-Meziani); IA/AEI, International Workshop on Autonomic Computing, International Workshop on Knowledge, Ontology, Metadata and Meaning Matters (Vadera); IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robotics and Systems (Gray, Nefti-Meziani).
IRIS members serve on a range of international journal editorial boards including: Information Technology & People (Adam, McMaster, Richardson); International Journal of Ethics; Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society; Information and Communications Technology Law (Adam); International Journal on Document Analysis and Recognition; Electronic Letters on Computer Vision and Image Analysis (Antonacopoulos); International Journal of Web-based Communities (Bell); Journal of Documentation; Library Review; Management Decision; International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing (Burke); Industrial Robot; Assembly Automation (Gray); IEE Proceedings - Communications (Linge); Bentham Science Publishers (Nefti-Meziani); Journal of Enterprise Information Management; Journal of Organizational and End User Computing; European Journal of Information Systems (Light); Journal of Information Systems Education (McMaster); International Journal of Information Technology and Web Engineering (Meziane); Journal of IT in Construction (Rezgui); Journal of Information Technology Education (Whatley).
Our visiting professors hold a number of senior positions in the research community, particularly in organisations where IRIS colleagues maintain a strong presence; a limited number of these are listed here. Fitzgerald has chaired a number of international IFIP sponsored IS conferences including: Programme Chair for IFIP 8.2 2001, IFIP 8.6, 2004 and Organising Chair 2006. Myers was President of the Association for Information Systems (AIS) from 2006 to 2007 and is Chair of IFIP WG 8.2 from 2005-present.
Myers was Senior Editor of MIS Quarterly from 2001-2005 and AE of Information Systems Research from 2000-2005. Fitzgerald is Senior AE of Journal of Information Science and Technology and AE for Information Systems Journal and Data Base. He is also on the editorial boards of Information Technology & People and Information Systems Research. Kaymak is an AE for IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems and on the editorial board of Fuzzy Sets and Systems.