[CfP] Can I interview you about NHS Test and Trace?

As part of my new role in the UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) Hub I am looking to interview a wide range of people about their perceptions of NHS Test and Trace. The only requirements are you must be over 18 and a current UK resident.

The study aims to understand your opinion, and any concerns or suggestions you may have, particularly in the area of trust. The intention is for the findings of this interview to be used to create a larger scale questionnaire to survey this public perception more widely.

The interview which should take around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how much you have to say! The interview will be audio-recorded for analysis and it will take place online.

You will receive a £15 Amazon voucher for contributing to this study.

I hope to conduct the majority of these interviews in the week of the 10th August 2020 but I am flexible around your availability.

If you are interested, please email me (liz.dowthwaite@nottingham.ac.uk) or get in touch another way (my smoke signalling equipment is on the blink I’m afraid). I will send you more information about the study, and we will work out a time that suits you for the interview.

****I will not ask you questions about your medical history, or whether you think you had COVID-19. The questions will be about your understanding and your perception of the NHS Test and Trace system more generally and the role of automation (e.g., computers making decisions).****

[CfP] Online Job Searching study

Have you ever wondered what is behind online recruitment?

One of the projects I work on, ReEnTrust, is trying to understand how online systems that use algorithms can be designed to help people to feel more confident about using them. This is a collaborative project between the Universities of Nottingham, Oxford and Edinburgh.

We are running a study about online job searching (erecruitment) which should take around 60 minutes to complete. You should be aged 16 years old or over to take part and no skill in computer science is required.

The study is all online and designed as a three part experiment: first a questionnaire, then an exploration of a job searching website from which participants are asked to complete a series of short tasks, and finally some post-take questions and feedback about the platform.

If you want to take part, send us an email to: reentrust-erecruitment-study@inf.ed.ac.uk

We will confirm your participation by responding with the link to the study and an access code.

By participating, you will give us a better understanding of how explanation and transparency  of online job searching would impact your trust. The results of the experiment will be used in the design of methods dedicated to assessing online trust.

For giving us some of your time, you will also be rewarded with a £10 Amazon voucher.

No personal information will be required. You will be given the entire privacy policy statement before starting the experiment.

Thank you for your time.

The ReEnTrust Team

[CfP] Image sharing on Social Media

Help Ioanna enjoy the Summer!

One of my very talented PhD students, Ioanna Ntinou, is running a study that focuses on the sharing of information through photographs on social media platforms.

If you have experience of using any social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc) please take part in her survey that attempts to identify social media users’ behaviours and attitudes with regards to uploading photos of themselves. There are no right or wrong answers as Ioanna is interested in understanding common attitudes and practices when using images to interact on social media.

The questionnaire should take no more than 20 to 30 minutes and will ask a series of questions about your privacy views, opinions, and practices surrounding social media.

On taking part you will have the opportunity to enter a prize draw of £100 shopping vouchers. The survey does not involve any particular risk but you must be aged over 18 to take part.


[CfP] Study on wellbeing and trust online


Have you been online for any reason in the last month? If so, we want to hear from you.

ReEnTrust is an interdisciplinary and collaborative project between the Universities of Nottingham, Oxford and Edinburgh. One of the aims of this project is to examine online wellbeing, and how this relates to trust.

We are currently running an online questionnaire which should take around 20 minutes to complete. You must be aged 16 years old or over to take part. The questionnaire will ask a series of questions about your online activity in the past four weeks, and ask you to rate statements about your experiences in terms of how true they are for you.

Click here to take part.

Your participation may help us understand how spending time online affects your wellbeing, and how this might be related to trust. This will help us to develop a measure for assessing online wellbeing and trust.

There will also be the opportunity to enter a prize draw for shopping vouchers (1x£100, 2x£50, 4x£25). There are no risks to taking part. We will not ask for any sensitive information and you will not be able to be identified from your responses.

Once again, the questionnaire can be found here.

Looking back (and a little bit forward)


This is Mike and the Mechanics. They sang the words “looking back over my shoulder” which I have had stuck in my head since I started this post.

Happy New Year!

I thought I would take this opportunity to recap on the past year, as a way to take stock and realise that I maybe actually did achieve some stuff  (hello impostor syndrome, my old friend), and lay out some of the things I have coming up in 2020.

2019 was the first year of the 2 year research project ReEnTrust, which I spend half my time working on. It is a collaboration between the Universities of Nottingham, Edinburgh, and Oxford, and focusses on issues on user trust in algorithmically mediated platforms. I work mostly on the part of the project that focuses on identifying the things that affect people’s trust in the websites they use, and how this might affect their behaviour and general wellbeing. In 2019 we ran 9 workshops with 75 participants in 2 age groups – 16-25 and over 65s. Other areas of the project have run stakeholder and policy engagement workshops, created mockups and prototypes of online tools, and ran public engagement events. The project followed on from the previous UnBias project, which we continue to publish results from. Four of my 2019 papers led directly from these projects:

I have had an abstract accepted to Ethicomp which will take place in Logroño, in La Rioja, Spain in June. It describes the preliminary creation of a scale to measure Online Wellbeing and trust. I will also be submitting a full paper for publication in an accompanying book/proceedings. We also submitted a journal paper on the impact of algorithmic decision-making processes on young people’s wellbeing just before Christmas, so hopefully that will be successful too.  This year will also see a large online study with the Online Wellbeing Scale and Trust Index to investigate how using the Internet affects general wellbeing and trust. We are also working on papers on online transparency, age appropriate content moderation, and the results of the workshops with both the older and younger adults so I’m going to be kept pretty busy writing!

The rest of my time is spent working on various other projects, some of which will hopefully also bare fruit in 2020. The ‘In My Seat’ project aimed to look at using technology to engage users of public transport in their journeys, and just before Christmas we submitted a paper detailing the co-creation of a prototype app. Also towards the end of the year we released our final online study for our project on Personal Understanding of Data, which is still running, and will be written up into a journal paper later this year. 

Finally, last year I spent quite a bit of time pursuing my own research interests in citizen science and crowdsourcing. This led to the following papers:


I also published a working paper on SSRN, resulting in work which will take up half of my time for at least the first part of this year, looking at the psychological basis of motivation to take part in online citizen science on the Zooniverse, including basic psychological needs and psychological distance. This is a result of years of useful chats (me rambling on to people who smile politely), and I am hugely excited about it.  

I also have some pretty exciting life changes coming up this year, so there may well be a part two of this blog. But for now, Happy New Year and good luck to us all for 2020.


[CfP] Sharing personal data with online services and apps


What types of information are you willing to share with online services, apps, websites and other digital platforms?

When you are asked to share this information, does the type of service it is affect this decision?

We are currently running an ONLINE QUESTIONNAIRE to examine these questions. You will be shown a series of hypothetical apps and asked about the data you would be willing to share to use such a service. 

This research aims to understand how users of online services think about different types of data. To do this, a series of hypothetical apps have been created; this study will ask you to consider the use of different types of data by these services. The questionnaire should take no longer than 30 minutes and is open to everyone over the age of 18. 

Your participation will contribute to an ongoing research project to understand why different types of personal data are considered more or less controversial with regards to sharing with online services.

On completion you will be entered into a £50 voucher PRIZE DRAW

To take part click here.

University student? Do our study!


How can we raise awareness among young people (and people in general) about the human rights issues that affect lives around the world?

We are currently carrying out a study which explores the efficacy of short videos made from popular films and games for doing just that.

If you are a current university student we would love for you to take part.

The study involves completing two short questionnaires, one week apart. In the first, which should take approximately 30 minutes to complete, you will watch a short series of clips from some popular films that are adapted to discuss Human Rights issues, and to answer some questions on them. You will then be emailed a link to a second online questionnaire approximately one week later, which will ask you to reflect on the videos you watched in the previous week.  The second online survey should take approximately 5 minutes to complete.

After completing both surveys, you will be given the opportunity to supply an email address that will allow you to enter into a prize draw, where you will have the chance of winning one of two £50 Amazon vouchers.  The prize draw will take place once the questionnaire has closed.


[Belated] New Paper Alert: “… They don’t really listen to people”

Towards the end of July we had another paper published from the results of the UnBias project in the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, entitled “…They don’t really listen to people”: Young people’s concerns and recommendations for improving online experiences. It took the results from 14 workshops carried out with young people between 13 and 17 years of age, presenting their concerns about the online world and their recommendations for making it fairer and more transparent. Much of the work done with young people surrounding their use of the internet focuses on their interactions with other people, especially online safety and cyberbullying. We took a different approach and discussed how and why websites (especially social media, search engines, entertainment, and shopping websites) collect and use personal data to present content, the underlying algorithmic processes that dictate this content, the ethics surrounding this, and what young people would like to see happen to create the ‘ideal internet’. This paper in particular focuses on agency and (dis)empowerment, and how provisions of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) might be meaningfully enacted and enforced.

On a more personal note, this paper marks my 6th journal article published this year. I was hoping it would be out in June to get 6 for 6, but I’m pretty pleased with this! I’m spending August putting together some more papers for submission (#amwriting) but they are unlikely to be out this year. As ever, continue to watch this space.

Purpose: The voices of children and young people have been largely neglected in discussions of the extent to which the internet takes into account their needs and concerns. This paper aims to highlight young people’s lived experiences of being online.

Design/methodology/approach: Results are drawn from the UnBias project’s youth led discussions, “Youth Juries” with young people predominantly aged between 13 and 17 years.

Findings: Whilst the young people are able to use their agency online in some circumstances, many often experience feelings of disempowerment and resignation, particularly in relation to the terms and conditions and user agreements that are ubiquitous to digital technologies, social media platforms and other websites.

Practical implications: Although changes are afoot as part of the General Data Protection Regulation (herein the GDPR) to simplify the terms and conditions of online platforms (European Union, 2016), it offers little practical guidance on how it should be implemented to children. The voices and opinions of children and young people are put forward as suggestions for how the “clear communication to data subjects” required by Article 12 of the GDPR in particular should be implemented, for example, recommendations about how terms and conditions can be made more accessible.

Originality/value: Children and young people are an often overlooked demographic of online users. This paper argues for the importance of this group being involved in any changes that may affect them, by putting forward recommendations from the children and young people themselves.”

New Paper Alert: Quantifying gendered participation in OpenStreetMap

We have a new paper out in GeoJournal: Quantifying gendered participation in OpenStreetMap: responding to theories of female (under) representation in crowdsourced mapping. It is based on the work of Dr Zoe Gardner investigating the gender balance in contributions to OpenStreetMap, an online crowdsourced mapping project. Women contribute much less to the project, and when they do, they exhibit different behaviours to men, both in which categories they work and what kind of work they do. This has implications for the kind of content that gets added to maps, and how this relates to the overall interests of the wider community. This paper addresses this as well as the discourses on gender relations and motivational factors that may lead to this imbalance. This was a fun and interesting paper to work on with Zoe.

“This paper presents the results of an exploratory quantitative analysis of gendered contributions to the online mapping project OpenStreetMap (OSM), in which previous research has identified a strong male participation bias. On these grounds, theories of representation in volunteered geographic information (VGI) have argued that this kind of crowdsourced data fails to embody the geospatial interests of the wider community. The observed effects of the bias however, remain conspicuously absent from discourses of VGI and gender, which proceed with little sense of impact. This study addresses this void by analysing OSM contributions by gender and thus identifies differences in men’s and women’s mapping practices. An online survey uniquely captured the OSM IDs as well as the declared gender of 293 OSM users. Statistics relating to users’ editing and tagging behaviours openly accessible via the ‘how did you contribute to OSM’ wiki page were subsequently analysed. The results reveal that volumes of overall activity as well editing and tagging actions in OSM remain significantly dominated by men. They also indicate subtle but impactful differences in men’s and women’s preferences for modifying and creating data, as well as the tagging categories to which they contribute. Discourses of gender and ICT, gender relations in online VGI environments and competing motivational factors are implicated in these observations. As well as updating estimates of the gender participation bias in OSM, this paper aims to inform and stimulate subsequent discourses of gender and representation towards a new rationale for widening participation in VGI.”