Working with the same thing, being in my comfort zone all the days of the week would really make me bored. I think that the feeling of “empty work” would haunt me after quite a short time. I want the excitement of learning new things, but of course not all days of the week. However, some periods in life really are too full and the calendar gets packed. It feels like I run from one thing to the other all day (but I don’t run – I sit at my computer), and there is no room for reflection or a pause. The picture for this blog post would illustrate those weeks, or months.
This fall I talked to a full professor of work environment who said that there needs to be a balance in life over time. And that this balance might be personal (there is no one-size-fit all), but we need to be aware that variation is key when it comes to stress. I think that this person has a good poting.
Perhaps my ideal life would look like this:
There is no point for me to aim for a life where there would be long periods with too little to do, or to think that this would be good for me. I like when life varies, and when there are some days that are really filled with new and exciting, and stressful, things. I am really looking forward to an exciting spring with some new things, and also many things that are completely in my comfort zone.
The HCI people at the department had a two day writing retreat at my house again. This time it was a real girl-power retreat, and it was only women who came. We spent two full days writing and also doing some social activities.
Writing retreats work very well for me, and I get more things written than a normal day when I am sitting at my desk. The feeling of being focused and only being allowed to write is really great.
During the retreat I wrote on the following texts:
- A paper on sharing of patient accessible health records with relatives. The work on the paper is lead by Leysan Nurgalieva, and the study is based on interview data as well as a survey that was sent to patients.
- An application for funding to do research on psychiatry medical records online and how that affects the work environment in health care.
- An application to the co-funded call Gender-Net Plus
When you have finished your PhD at Uppsala University you are invited to participate in the conferment ceremony in the main university building at Uppsala University. This is a very traditional ceremony, and parts of it is still in Latin. 😳
The link to the film below is taken when the PhD students and the other people in the procession enter the room.
Here we go!
The feeling during the conferment ceremony is that of the Nobel Prize award. It is indeed very formal, serious and honorable. This year I am attending the ceremony to see when Thomas Lind gets his diploma.
Last year I had a great visit at the University of Pretoria, where I met Helene Gelderblom and her UX in South Africa team. I was very impressed by their work, and since then we have been looking for opportunities to continue our collaboration. Many of my research projects are in the same area as theirs, and it would be so interesting to do research together on how to improve the quality of IT system.
Now one opportunity for funding has appeared! Uppsala University and 27 other universities in Sweden has a newly started collaboration with South Africa, and they have a call for applications to join a research and innovation week at the University of Pretoria. You find information about their initiative here. Several of the challenges they are addressing in the South-Africa Sweden University forum are related to my research, and it would be great to discuss them with other researchers and look for collaborations. The week will also include some research and innovation activities, and there will be a delegation from Uppsala University going to Unversity of Pretoria.
We’ll see if the application is granted or not. There might be many researchers who are interested in joining this Please hold your thumbs! And please join me and write an application to this call for joining a research and innovation week.
Methods are truly important when you do research, and depending on your research tradition there are indeed many strong opinions about what is a good and bad method. Generalizability, validity and reliability are for some the only quality criteria possible. And if you do an interview study you need an enormous number of interviews according to some people.
Some would argue that human-computer interaction is indeed a melting pot of different opinions and perspectives on methods. Indeed, I have seen some very harsh comments on some of the methods that I have used from people with a completely other world-view. The problem when I get these comments is that I don’t really know what to write as an answer. Please take a course in qualitative research and relevant quality criteria for that kind of research is perhaps not the most politically correct rebuttal text to write.
One of my favorite stories related to methods is from my supervisor, Jan Gulliksen who was a part of a long review process where one other researcher claimed that the method was un-important:
I don’t care that the method is flawed. I like the results!
Before the Christmas holiday Christiane Grünloh presented a workshop paper that we wrote together that presents a mixed methods approach to analyzing interviews.
“Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a melting pot of different theories and methods. The combination of qualitative and quantitative methods in studies is still quite rare, but has become more and more common. In this paper, we present our experiences from doing a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis to shed some light on patient accessible electronic health records. We conducted a national survey to patients to learn about their experiences of accessing their electronic health records. The questionnaire was informed by previous interviews with physicians related to effects on their work environment, and we made use of identified themes from that study as a lens to analyse survey data.”
You find the paper free for download here.
I wish you all a very merry christmas and a happy new year. I will take some time off work and be with family and friends. See you again in mid-January!
The writing retreat that we organised for people who want to write applications for promotion was really a success! We finally got time to write our applications, and we also had nice discussions related to what to put in an application and not. I learned quite a lot from the discussions, and the company was really inspirational.
When asked for anonymous comments the participants wrote the following that was good about the retreat:
- Good food & nice company
- Raise awareness of what is important, but typically insufficiently emphasized.
- Good to have some interrupted time-off to work on our applications.
- To see other people’s applications and hear what others think and say
- Time to write
- More time to talk about career choices etc.
- Great tips such as leadership courses
- Time! Time! And talk during breaks.
Sigtuna Stadshotell really offered a warm and Christmas like atmosphere, and it is a place i strongly recommend for retreats of any kind.
You can find the plan for the retreat here.
After one day, there was an evaluation of the retreat, and day two of the retreat we added a walk during the lunch break to get some air. Now we are planning to meet and see to it that these great applications are sent in.
One could think that doing a PhD at one university would be the same thing as doing it at another university. Well, I can tell you that this is not the situation.
There are many different things that can vary for PhD students, and if you want to do a PhD you need to make sure that you know what you can expect from the department you enroll at.
If you ever consider doing a PhD you have to make sure that the following is clear:
- Does the supervisor seem to be a person who you would like to collaborate with?
- What is the research project going to be about? Are you going to work in a project with a specification you need to follow?
- What kind of PhD courses do they offer at the department?
- Who else are you going to work with? Is your supervisor going to be on your project?
- What kind of funding is available for conferences, computers etc?
The Academic Senate was earlier presented in this blog post, and this week we had a meeting.
This time the meeting was held in the Humanistic Theatre, which is a room made for discussions. The room was indeed impressive, and very nice. It looks a bit like Gustavianum inside.
The first point on the agenda was a discussion related to the role of the academic senate. There were several invited guests who presented their experiences from the senate, and also gave opinions about the possible new role that the senate might play. One problem earlier has been that few attend the senate’s meetings, and one guess what this was due to the senate having no power in the organisations. Others disagreed, and thought that the senates’ role as a discussion partner for the board of the university is important.
The meeting also included a presentation and discussion of the Quality and Renewal (KOF in Swedish) report that was recently made official. One of the things that were mentioned in the presentation was that the university needs to be more inclusive, and there will be a discussion about the language used. This was interesting to hear, I think, and will probably be something that I will work with in the future. Another thing presented was that the university will be looking at implementing some kind of metrics system. We will also need to develop tools for that kind of metrics.
It will be interesting to be a part of the Academic Senate these coming years, and learn more about the university’s strategic work. The next thing that happens in the Senate is a retreat in March. I’ll be back with some more reflections then.
Last week I listened to a very interesting and inspiring talk by Olle Terenius on Wikipedia and outrearch. You can look at something similar online, found here. The abstract of the talk was:
Wikipedia is at the core of knowledge transfer in contemporary society and one of the most efficient ways to communicate research to others. In order to keep Wikipedia relevant, as accurate and up to date as possible, it is important that researchers contribute in their field of expertise. In a world ripe with alternative facts, it is our job to stand up for transparency and the scientific method. Wikipedia also provides a place for your research and for you as a researcher where literally everyone looks.
I have edited Wikipedia some in the past, and this lecture gave me renewed inspiration to put a few hours adding references to research papers. Now you find 5-6 if my papers and some of my favourite research papers on Wikipedia. Perhaps you should try to make sure that your knowledge is found on Wikipedia too!?