Half-time seminar by Marie-Therése Crafoord

On the 22nd of November 2019 I was a member of the examination committee for Marie-Therése Crafoord at her half-time seminar. Marie-Therése Crafoord does her PhD education at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Nursing

Marie-Therése Crafoord presented very interesting work with the title:

Patient and health care values – A RCT study in patients with cancer evaluating an interactive ICT-platform for reporting symptom distress during treatment

The PhD thesis will be based on three different studies on a eHealth application for cancer patients. She uses the concept of engagement to look into the user experience and use of the app, and has one submitted paper in that area at the time of the half-way seminar. There are also two other studies planned that will go into her PhD thesis.

The process at a half-time seminar at Karolinska Institutet includes going through and discussing all parts of a PhD, and as a member of the committee I took part of transcripts of records and a description of the PhD education.

Marie-Therése Crafoord has done a very thorough work, and I very much look forward to following her studies in the future. In the discussions it became clear that she is very knowledgeable in her area, and her reflexive way of talking about her work was indeed impressive and will take her a long way!

Panel Member Discussing Leadership in Academia

I was an invited member of a panel recently to discuss leadership in Academia. The panel was a part of a leadership course at Uppsala University. I must say that this was quite a nervous thing to do. It feels like you need to have all the answers to tricky leadership questions, and also you need to be a good leader. I always try to be a fair and supportive coach, but for sure there are areas of improvement for me when it comes to leadership -despite many leadership courses in the area.  One area of improvement is indeed creating an environment where people do their best in this competitive area, and don’t loose confidence when things don’t go their way, and where people experience wellbeing and a good work environment.

I managed to present myself for ten minutes, and not the fifteen minutes that was the plan, and then there was a discussion around different topics connected to leadership.

One topic that we discussed was diversity and my time management. Why do I chose to put time working with diversity in an environment where the academic achievement is what is counted – not aiming at being a more inclusive environment. My answer to this was that diversity is a core value for me, and that it feels really important to work with.

Another area that came up was work-life balance. I guess I got this question since I am a full professor with four kids. However,  I do not work more than full time any week of the year. I simply don’t have the time. Many weeks I think I work less, when the kids are going through tough periods. I don’t think that I said this at the panel but I think I am quite good at being efficient, lower quality of deliveries when possible, and I also work with many good people where collaboration works amazingly good so that everyone works less even though the results are really good.


What is needed in the future when it comes to digital competence?

What is needed in the future when it comes to digital competence? This is the topic of a project coordinated by the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis. My role in this will be as one of the experts filling in a Delphi study and joining in a one day meeting in Stockholm next year. And as you can imagine, I have been asked as one of their gender equality experts related to digitalization.

The questions that are asked are:
• What do jobs look like in 5-10 years?
• What digital skills are needed to perform these tasks?

The knowledge of how the tasks performed at the job will change is contradictory and under construction. This makes it difficult today to understand what digital skills will be needed to do the jobs in the future. In order to gain a deeper understanding of what digital skills will be needed in the future, a study is conducted focusing on the following three areas:
• Industry
• The service sector
• Gender equality (women / men)

Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysishas written a number of reports on digitization. The new project Digital competence, how is the present and future in education systems and business begins by updating the knowledge of how digitally mature Swedish companies are today. The Authority’s new maturity calculations include, among other things, components that showcase the companies’ digital competence.

This will be an interesting learning experience, and I hope to be able to contribute with my  knowledge about competence, work and gender!

Examiner of Anders Klingerg’s PhD thesis on mobile teleconsultations in acute burn care

Anders Klingberg has defended his thesis on mobile teleconsultation in acute burn care, and I was one of the external examiners. The PhD is in public health sciences from Karolinska Institutet, but it includes several papers on acceptance and user experience and that is where my  competence is.

The process at Karolinska is that the papers are read and accepted by the committee some months before the defence, and a chair of the committee sees to it that a paper is signed about the quality of the papers. I was the chair this time, and coordinated the others’ comments.

The thesis is based on four papers, of which three were accepted before the defence. The topic of the thesis is super relevant, and the interdisciplinary approach of the research is indeed impressive. The ultimate aim of the thesis is to improve acute burn injury care in South Africa. Congratulations to a very interesting PhD thesis, and an excellent PhD defence!


Anders Klingberg is in the middle of the picture, together with me and Mårten Kildal who also was one of the examiners.

Below is a copy of the abstract from thee thesis – a recommended read! You find the full thesis here:

  • https://openarchive.ki.se/xmlui/handle/10616/46876



Background: Burn injuries are a global health problem with severe consequences for those affected and nearly 95% of all burns occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). While minor burns can be treated locally such as at the emergency department, severe burns need transfer to a specialist burns centre. However, non-specialists often lack the training and experience to accurately diagnose and manage burns. While smartphones have been shown to be feasible for remote consultations between frontline providers and burns specialists, barriers may impede successful uptake.

Aims: The aims of the thesis were to deepen the knowledge about referral patterns of patients with burns in resource poor settings, and to study perceptions and experiences among emergency staff’s use of smartphones as a diagnostic support to improve the assessment, initial care and referrals of patients with burns.

Methods: Study I was a retrospective case study of 871 paediatric patients with burns at a trauma unit in Cape Town. Demographic, injury characteristics, and disposition was used to determine whether patients were referred according to local criteria. Study II was a mixed- methods study of the usability of a smartphone app (the Vula app) for burn injury consultations. Twenty-four emergency doctors and four burns specialists were enrolled in the study. A think-aloud study was conducted with all participants and their interaction with the app was video-recorded and later analysed using content analysis. The twenty-four emergency doctors also completed a usability questionnaire. Study III was a qualitative study where semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 doctors regarding their experiences using the Vula app for burn consultations and referrals. The interview-guide and thematic analysis were informed by the Normalisation Process Theory. In Study IV, fifty-nine frontline health workers completed a questionnaire to assess their intention to use the Vula app. The questionnaire and the analysis were informed by the technology acceptance model (TAM).

Results: Study I. Most referred patients fulfilled the referral criteria. However, of those treated and discharged from the trauma unit, 8 out of 10 children also fulfilled the criteria for referral. In Study II, the usability test and questionnaire showed that the doctors perceived the Vula app to be easy to use and useful. However, some problems were identified mainly related to navigation, and understanding of meaning of icon’s terminologies. Some users also said that predefined options in the app limited their ability to express their clinical findings. Study III revealed several barriers and promotors for successful integration of the Vula app. Promotors included the already prevalent practice of using smartphones, that it was easy to use and the learning opportunity that the app offered. Barriers to successful integration included; inconsistent use of the app across specialities and lack of information, policies and infrastructure to support the users. In Study IV, almost all health professionals used smartphones in their work and were positive towards using Vula. Access to wireless internet and access to smartphones was mentioned to be a barrier.

Conclusions: Identifying patients with burns who are in need of referral is challenging. Mobile teleconsultations is therefore a way of assisting with diagnosis and initial management. The Vula app was easy to use and perceived to be useful, but several barriers need to be addressed for the app to become an integrated part of the practice in emergency care. In settings with considerably fewer resources, these barriers will likely be even more important to address prior to implementation.

Hoping for an “innovative training school” about digital and health literacy among healthcare professionals and the public

I am a part of an international consortium that will submit an application to an “Innovative Training School” in the area of health literacy among health care professionals and the public. This is the official description of an Innovative Training School  copied from the website:

“The Innovative Training Networks (ITN) aim to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers, able to face current and future challenges and to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit.

ITN will raise excellence and structure research and doctoral training in Europe, extending the traditional academic research training setting, incorporating elements of Open Science and equipping researchers with the right combination of research-related and transferable competences. It will provide enhanced career perspectives in both the academic and non-academic sectors through international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility combined with an innovation-oriented mind-set.”

The consortium members will be meeting in Brussels to discuss the application, and to work on it  in a couple of weeks. Before the meeting we will prepare different parts of the application, and I have already had a meeting with our EU coordinators to get some help. As usual this kind of application will take a couple of weeks’ work, and you don’t know if you are funded  and the likelihood of getting accepted is probably around 10-20%. However, if the application is funded we will have a joint research school with PhD students coming from different universities. This would be super nice!!


Visit to Kila School for Kids to Talk about How to do Research

In Kila school the children who go to 6th grade participate in a competition where they work in teams around a theme. This year the theme is called City Shaper and the kids on the class I visited had chosen two quite different themes to work with. The class with work with the project for a number of weeks and then present their ideas in front of a jury.

Below is a YouTube video describing the set up of the project

I must say I was super impressed by this set up!! It is very similar to the IT in Society course for engineering students at Uppsala University and the focus is not only on knowledge but also on core values. This is a short translation of a description translated from their web page:

These are our core values:

  • Discover: We are exploring new knowledge and ideas.
  • Innovation: We use creativity and endurance to solve problems.
  • Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
  • Inclusive: We respect each other and benefit from our differences.
  • Collaboration: We are stronger when we work together.
  • Fun: We have fun!

During my  afternoon in class I briefly presented what research we are doing, and then I sat down with the different teams to discuss their ideas with them. Very inspiring!

Several Rejects This Week – again :-(

Working in academia is not always fun, and there are lots of opportunities where you are valued in a competition about getting published, or getting funded. Often you have put down lots of time on the thing that you are submitting. Often the submission is the result of many discussions, and creative ideas to present what you want to say. The writing process can really be inspiring and fun!

However, when submitting to the top conferences the reject rate is often around 85% and with funding organisations it is around the same. This means that it is very likely that you are not accepted, and that you are not successful in getting funded even though you did you best.

I know that grit and perseverance are the two most important success factors for anyone in computer science. And most probably in academia also. I even wrote a paper on that with Roger McDermott and Mats Daniels, you find the paper here: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2742625.

I know that you need to keep fighting and not fall into imposter syndrome if you fail, but it is still tough. Even in teaching I run into this feeling of being a failure. I work a lot with teaching development, and that is not always a success either. Student centred learning is for example not at all valued by all students. I wrote a paper about one of our more recent failures there where we tried an idea with a presentation for a real client in a course based on a gaming idea. You can read the paper here if you are interested: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8190466.

I remember thinking that I will leave academia around five years ago when it was fail, fail, fail and fail all the time and I didn’t get any funders to believe in any of my ideas. My feeling was that obviously I am not the right person for this job, and it is not worth it! I also had quite a stressful situation at work generally with lots of conflicts and lack of support from important people.

We need to be better at supporting each other in academia, and to find ways where positive feedback is at the core of our work and not the negative and critical feedback. I am lucky to have a few of those very supportive people in my live, and I really appreciate them being there. I know some of them are reading this blog and they give me good and positive feedback:

  • Thank you for being such a support for me and always believing in me even when I fail, fail and fail!

To Tell or Not to Tell and the Title “Excellent Teacher”

I participated in the Uppsala University’s Academic Senate retreat the other week. Several very important areas were discussed related to teaching and research. One are that was discussed was the “Excellent Teacher” reform launched in Uppsala in 2011. First Maja Elmgren presented the background to the reform, and this was followed by Jan Lindwall who talked about his experiences being an Excellent Teacher.

Maja Elmgren described that Uppsala University has around 80 Excellent Teachers, most of whom come from the faculty of Science and Technology. I also know that a large part of those teachers are from my department, and that I am one out of many colleagues who have the title.

Maja Elmgren also described this faculty’s work with creating a community of practice with the people who has the title Excellent Teacher, and there were lots of discussions about possible future directions related to the title. Two of the questions that were discussed were:

  1. How can we take advantage of the excellent teachers to strengthen the link between research and education?
    2. If we think that the excellent teacher reform has passed its first phase, how can the excellent teacher role be designed in the future – in phase 2.0 – to strengthen the university as a whole?

Jan Lindwall presented his experience from being promoted to excellent teacher, which was really interesting and his talk resulted in a discussion around telling or not telling people that you have the title Excellent Teacher. It became obvious from the discussion that many of the people in the room who had the title seldom told anyone about it. Their experience was that:

  1. saying that you are an excellent teacher would raise people’s expectations of you as a teacher and they don’t want that
  2. It is not worth anything to say that you have the title since people are unaware that it exists
  3. It feels awkward for many to use the word “EXCELLENT” about themselves.
  4. Perhaps it should be possible to nominate others to become Excellent Teachers. There are too few who dare to apply.

I have a very different feeling about this and I have Excellent Teacher in the footer of my mail for example. I also celebrated being awarded this title in the same way as when I was awarded my more research oriented titles. My feeling about this is that of course we should tell that we have been awarded the title Excellent Teacher:

  1. I think that the Excellent Teacher reform is super important, and one step in the right direction for universities to focus on creating good learning environments for students.
  2. We should be promoting the fact that we have the title at our university, and help colleagues to be awarded the title too.
  3. We should aim at having many Excellent Teachers, and we should be proud of them.



Writing Book Chapters for a Forthcoming Book in Medical Informatics

Martin Rydmark and Göran Petersson are editors of a forthcoming Swedish book for students and people interested in learning about Medical Informatics. The book will be an updated version of a very popular book written in 1996 named Medicinsk informatik with Liber utbildning as the publisher.

I will be contributing to two of the chapters in the book: 

  1. One about usability and the work environment for health care professionals written together with Diane Golay and Minna Salminen Karlsson
  2. One focusing on person centred care and eServices written together with Axel Wolf, Isabella Scandurra and Maria Hägglund

We will be working with these book chapters in the fall and the first deadline is in November. At this point the work consists of being creative, as the illustration of this blog post is supposed to highlight. We are discussing, and planning the content of each chapter using different colours for the areas that we are going to write about.

For me writing a course book is a new experience, and I also very seldom write in Swedish so this will be something new.



Working at the Department of Informatics and Media in the Fall

This fall I have the great opportunity to work at another department at Uppsala University: The department of Informatics and Media. My research area (Human Computer Interaction) has two different belongings in the organisational structure of Uppsala University and I have gotten the chance to be a visiting professor at the other department that has Human Computer Interaction. I will be working at Informatics and Media around 30% of my time this fall! Geographically the distance between the departments is around three kilometres, and I will be using a bike to get around in town. The department where I will be visiting is in the faculty of social sciences, and the faculty I usually work at is a faculty of science and technology. Given that I have been at the same department for 17 years, it feels like it is about time to see a new place and for me this is a real opportunity!

During my time at the department I will participate in certain meetings in my role as professor, and I will also organise meetings for staff in human computer interaction. Mostly I will aim at getting to know people and their research, and try to find areas of collaboration.

My work at the department of informatics and media started a couple of weeks ago with a kick off at Lejondals slott. It was super nice, and the team seemed great!