Slower academic travel

So this is the second blog post that stems from my (Elina’s) trip to Lancaster, where I was the external examiner at Kelly Widdicks dissertation, the first blog post is more of  a travel journal, and you can find it here. In this blog post, I want to pen down some thoughts on slower academic travel and how you can make an academic visit more valuable.

My first reflection is that when the trip takes so long, I naturally felt that I wanted to stay longer. Had I been flying, I guess I could easily have come over the day, or maybe stayed only one night. And staying for a few more days made me want to fill the days with meaning.

So what is then meaningfulness? This is a hard question. One thing I reflected on is that I wanted to be with the people at Lancaster. My host Mike Hazas had kindly booked a room for me to sit in, on my own, and work, which of course would make my work more efficient. But I wanted to socialise with the people at InfoLab, even if only meant sitting in the same room! But sitting in the same room meant that I was invited for coffee breaks and lunch more easily.

Another thing to make the trip more meaningful is that I offered to give a talk, either concerning research or our teaching, an offer that was readily accepted and which led to the Tuesday lunch seminar. I also did two workshops in related to the FLIGHT project, discussing academic flying. When planning, I also looked at what other universities would be ”nearby” and that I could visit. Hence my trip to Edinburgh over the day, because it was only 2 hours away by train. What I did not do, and partly regret, was to offer to give a talk to either university I visited in Edinburgh. With some more time for planning, this might have been a valuable thing, because more people could have engaged with me and my research.

Edinburgh
Edinburgh, a place I probably wouldn’t have visited, had I flown to Lancaster. After taking the train for 2 days to get to Lancaster, 2 hours to Edinburgh felt like nothing in comparison.

To plan my stay, I had started an open google-document, where anyone with a link could edit or comment. This meant that as the detailed planning of my trip was unfolding, different people interested in meeting me could see whether there were spots open for meeting up with me. I haven’t asked my hosts what they thought about it, but for me it reduced the amount of emails sent around. I could also note down addresses and phone numbers and have it all in one page for later reference, when I was trying to find my way.

My last reflection concerns something I did not suggest, but that I have been considering after the trip. People at school of Computing and Communication at Lancaster got to know (some) of me when I gave a talk, but I never really got to know them, at least not what they did in terms of research. So here is a suggestion, maybe something we can implement next time we have a guest: to do a research speed-dating. The way I see this, is that all researchers (including phd-students) prepare a pecha-kucha presentation about themselves and their research. If the presentations are 9 slides long, 20 seconds each, this would mean 3 minutes per person. If the division one is visting isn’t too large, this could be feasible for a short presentation of the group. After this it will be easier to strike up spontaneous conversations regarding research.

To summarise, here is a list of things one can think of, when travelling or receiving a visitor to a research group:

  • Make an open document where people can se your plans and make suggestions
  • Suggest to give a talk regarding something you are working with
  • Look at neighbouring universities, can you visit them as well?
  • Try to borrow a desk among everyone else, or to sit in a place where many pass by
  • Ask to get an overview of what people work with (for example through pecha-kucha)
  • Make sure there are some social events
  • Make sure you have some free time for more spontaneous meet-ups

This list is by no means exhaustive, and I believe this is a practice we need to develop, slower travel means perhaps more meaningful travel. Personally I am so pleased with how this trip turned out, even though it was a very long ride.

 

Paper Accepted: A Systematic Review of Digital Behaviour Change Interventions for More Sustainable Food Consumption

After one year of reading fantastic titles of (in our eyes) crazy research, skimming abstracts and keywords, reading papers, discussing quality of research, and writing, our systematic literature review on digital behaviour change interventions for more sustainable food consumption is finally published!

Hedin, B.; Katzeff, C.; Eriksson, E.; Pargman, D. A Systematic Review of Digital Behaviour Change Interventions for More Sustainable Food Consumption. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2638. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092638

 

Abstract:

Food production and consumption present major sustainability challenges, and finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of food, for example through behavioural changes by consumers, is becoming increasingly important. In recent years, digital interventions have become important tools to change behaviours in many areas. In this review, we evaluate the status of current scientific knowledge of digital behaviour change interventions for sustainable food consumption practices. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) checklist for how to conduct systematic reviews, we searched multiple databases for papers containing terms related to food, sustainability and digital behaviour change interventions. Only studies where the digital interventions were actually implemented and evaluated from a behaviour change perspective were included, resulting in 15 primary studies in the final review. The quality of the studies was evaluated from a behaviour change perspective, and the approaches used were categorised using two intervention frameworks, the Behaviour Change Wheel and the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy v1. The results show that all of the included studies had major quality issues when evaluated from a behaviour change perspective. This means that we could not find any evidence regarding whether the digital behaviour change interventions examined worked or not. Most studies further lacked theoretical grounding or a clear approach to how or why they should be effective for behaviour change for more sustainable food consumption practices. Our main recommendation for future research in the field is to expand from the current exploratory phase to conducting scientifically rigorous studies of higher quality, more thoroughly grounded in behaviour change theory and methods. Furthermore, based on our study, we suggest changes to the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy v1.

On this blog’s functions

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This blog is written by and (at least initially) also for the sustainability team at the Department of Media Technology and Interaction Design (MID), School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC) at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden.

We decided to start the blog at our kick-off meeting on Dec 18, 2012. Blog posts here are supposed to be short and these are some of the things we imagine the blog will be used for:

   – Short presentations of team members
   – I read a good/interesting book/article, here are my thoughts
   – Take a look at this upcoming seminar/workshop/Ph.D. course/conference/call for research grant applications
– I’ve been to this interesting seminar/workshop/conference, here are my thoughts
   – I handed in a research grant application
   – I got funded!
   – I’ve formulated a new master’s thesis proposal
   – I’ve been the advisor of a bachelor’s/master’s thesis
   – A short presentation of the upcoming team meeting external guest
   – Here’s what we did at our latest team meeting!

I’ve written a longer blog post about our kick-off meeting on my personal academic blog – read more here!

Daniel Pargman, team leader

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