My days as a post-doctoral researcher are officially over so it’s time for quick summary or “précis” for the alliteration.

Since completing my PhD (submitted October 2018), I undertook work as a post-doctoral researcher on four different projects, each of which related to determinations of trust in online environments or technology. This includes trust in the technology, in legal protections, and in other individuals. Two projects were EPSRC-funded sociotechnical interdisciplinary projects under their Digital Economy’s TIPS (Trust, Identity, Privacy, and Security) theme, and two were related to the lived experiences of individuals who help others to access digital tools (one funded by The Carnegie Trust the other by Edinburgh Napier University). These projects were as follows:

“Social media by proxy: Strategies for managing the online profiles of adults with dementia”, funded by a Carnegie Trust Research Incentive Grant based at Edinburgh Napier University. I used qualitative interviews and focus groups to investigate the lived experiences of “social media proxies” who provide support in the use and management of social media accounts for adults with dementia.

“TAPESTRY: Trust, Authentication, and Privacy over a DeCentralised Social Registry”, an interdisciplinary EPSRC-funded project based at the University of Dundee. I used qualitative interviews to investigate how trust is determined in online health and medical information forums and online dating sites, including determinations of what platforms, individuals, and content is trustworthy and the due-diligence processes people undertake to keep themselves safe online.

“Digital identity security information practices of citizens”, funded by an internal research grant at Edinburgh Napier University. This was a small seed-funding project using participant workshops to investigate the information security practices associated with digital identity and “digital proxies”.

“RAInS: Realising Accountable Intelligent Systems”, an EPSRC-funded project based at the University of Aberdeen. I investigated issues of AI systems and accountability as well as and attitudes towards accountability and transparency in AI systems through a series of industry use-cases related to routine breast cancer screening and autonomous vehicles.

Through these post-doctoral experiences, I gained valuable lessons and insights into the wider academic environment. In time, I will share a longer post-post-doc missive about my post-doctoral experiences: The good, the bad, and the ugly. But I feel that I need to distance myself from it for a while so that I can reflect on it without the immediate bias that might otherwise shine through. That way, I am not over-selling my positive or negative experiences. Although, on balance, I can fairly say that my post-doctoral roles have been a good, positive thing for my academic career.

As for now, I am taking a short break before I embark on the next phase of my academic life: My first (last?) permanent contract. I am not sure how short the break will be as I need my new visa first, and that process is delayed on the government’s end. (Global pandemics combined with bureaucratic red tape makes for a great deal of uncertainty.)

I will make a formal announcement about the new job when I have my visa and the final paperwork is complete. In the meantime, I will be attempting to relax and unwind before the chaos of academic life begins.

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