Just published

One of the cool things about having your own blog that is just about you (as Just Frances is) means that I get to shout from the keyboard when I’ve managed to reach a personal goal. So, here goes: This week, I had an academic paper published! (Yes, a successful academic career is a personal goal!)

The paper is titled “Managing and evaluating personal reputations on the basis of information shared on social media: a Generation X perspective” and shares some early findings from my PhD research. (Which, if you didn’t know, is about the role of online information in the building, maintenance, and evaluation of personal reputation.) I presented the paper at a conference in Zadar, Croatia, this September (more on that hereherehere, and here) and it has now been published in the most recent volume of Information Research. (Academic-y details below)

How exciting!!

But because Just Frances is also my little corner of the world for sharing my self-doubts and all that rubbish… I’ll move onto the less-exciting thoughts in my head now.

Not to belittle my achievement, but part of me feels that it’s “only” a conference paper that has been published. Yes, I know it’s still a big deal and that it’s still a great accomplishment. But I am one of those silly people who quite often wants to best her own successes. So whilst I will happily revel in the glow of publishing this, I will also start thinking about the next goal, and how best to smash the heck out of it.

(Though really, the next goal is to get that bloody PhD thesis written. Which is happening. Slowly, but it is happening!)

Anyhow, I won’t try to re-create a Just Frances version of the Just a PhD post here. Instead, I’ll leave you with a straight copy-and-paste job. So without any further ado … here we go!

Published: A Gen-X preview of online information and reputation management

My paper, “Managing and evaluating personal reputations on the basis of information shared on social media: a Generation X perspective“, has been published in Information Research. The paper is co-authored with my PhD supervisors, Peter CruickshankProfessor Hazel Hall, and Alistair Lawson and shares some early findings from my PhD research, specific to my Generation X data subset. The paper was presented at the Information Seeking in Context (ISIC) 2016 conference in Zadar, Croatia, this past September. (Slides can also be found below.) Some of the results shared in the paper indicate that:

  • Participants view their online identity (or identities) as representations of their offline personas. In some cases, personal and professional personas are kept separate by using different online platforms for different aspects of an individual’s offline life.
  • Self-censorship is a key tool in the management of reputation, with censorship activities varying based on the platform and perceived audience.
  • It can be difficult to identify information behaviours that elicit positive evaluations of others, yet negative evaluations can be made in an instant if someone shares information (for example, a tweet or Facebook post) that is in stark contrast to their own views and opinions.
  • The levels of intentional reputation management varies, and is more often concerned with how the information will be received by others, rather than the impact on their own reputation.

The full study is expected to be completed in spring 2017. The full results will combine the Generation X subset with data gathered from an equal number of Generation Y and Baby Boomer participants. At that time, the three datasets will (most likely) be combined to discuss information behaviours based on the four research questions as a whole, rather than as generation groups. However, I hope to be able to pull at least some generational-based data for future small reports, papers, or posters. The full text of the paper is available in Information Research, along with other papers from the ISIC conference. Below is an abstract and the presentation slides. Please get in touch if you have any questions about this paper or my research as a whole.

Managing and evaluating personal reputations on the basis of information shared on social media: a Generation X perspective

How to cite this paper: Ryan, F., Cruickshank, P., Hall, H., Lawson, A. (2016). Managing and evaluating personal reputations on the basis of information shared on social media: a Generation X perspective. Information Research.


Introduction. The means by which individuals evaluate the personal reputations of others, and manage their own personal reputations, as determined by information shared on social media platforms, is investigated from an information science perspective. The paper is concerned with findings from a doctoral study that takes into account prior work on the building and assessment of reputations through citation practice, as explored in the domain of scientometrics.

Method. Following the practice of studies of everyday life information seeking (ELIS), a multi-step data collection process was implemented. In total forty-five participants kept diaries and took part in semi-structured interviews. In this paper, fifteen of these participants are represented.

Analysis. A qualitative analysis of the data was undertaken using NVivo10 to consider the information practices of one of three age group cohort generations: Generation X.

Results. Results generated from this initial analysis show some clear alignments with established knowledge in the domain, as well as new themes to be explored further. Of particular note is that social media users are more interested in the content of the information that is shared on social media platforms than they are in the signals that this information might convey about the sharer(s). It is also rare for these users to consider the impact of information sharing on personal reputation building and evaluation.

Conclusion. The analysis of the full dataset will provide further insight on the specific theme of the role of online information in personal reputation management, and contribute to theory development related to the study of information-seeking behaviour and use.

Managing and evaluating personal reputations on the basis of information shared on social media: a Generation X perspective from Frances Ryan

[Photo note: That is a photo of me outside of the conference venue the day I presented my paper.]

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