research students (PhD)

Our CityLIS MPhil/PhD Programme web page gives full details of our course structure and applications procedure, but before making a formal application you must contact either myself or David Bawden to discuss whether your research is something we can supervise.

I am particularly interested in proposals to investigate new media documents and documentation, especially documents with a temporal, immersive or participative quality, such as dance, digital art or performance.

I am also pleased to discuss proposals with a focus on information history and philosophy, information ethics, innovation in information behaviour, information literacy, or new technologies as they relate to library & information science theory and practice.

To begin an informal discussion, please send me a copy of your CV, and attach as full a proposal as possible including: provisional title, potential research questions, brief literature review, scope of the study, the methods you might use and the benefits and impact associated with your project. You should also include anything you have already written or published in the area. You need to be able to demonstrate prior interest and engagement with your chosen research topic, and whilst we understand nascent researchers may not have significant publications, you should at least have a relevant, active, professional or research blog or other social media presence. We can help you develop your proposal but you need to demonstrate committment to your project and the ability to work independently.

Think carefully about why you want to study for your doctorate, how you feel it will benefit you, and where it will lead to professionally. You should include this information in your proposal.

Please consider how you will finance your studies. If you do not already have a grant, full-time study at City is for three/four years, and you will need to support yourself living within striking distance of London for that time, in addition to paying tuition fees. Full-time study requires engagement for at least 40 hours per week.

City offers a part-time study mode, for up to seven years, which allows for students to undertake paid work at the same time as studying, (there may be restrictions on working hours for international students). If you are contemplating the part-time study route, it is helpful if you have support from your employer, at least in respect of the time committment required, if not financially. Part-time study requires engagement for at least 20 hours per week.

Once I have received your draft proposal, I will let you know as soon as possible whether your project is something we are able to supervise at CityLIS. If I think we can work together, the next step will be to arrange an informal interview to discuss the proposal further.

Once we have an agreed, working/draft research proposal, your next step will be to apply formally to the University.

All members of CityLIS are required to maintain a professional, online profile, and to engage with digital scholarship and open practice whenever possible. If you are accepted on our research programme, you will be expected to promote the work and reputation of our Department at all times, including via social media and networking events, and you will be expected to share your research regularly through a variety of publication formats. You will also be asked to contribute to Departmental activities such as open events, meetings and seminars, where appropriate. We believe that every member of CityLIS should fully understand and promote our discipline and professional values.

CityLIS has an established community of researchers, a highly successful rate of completion at doctoral level, and a strong publication record. We place an equal value on social skills, trustworthiness and personal integrity, as that which we place on academic ability.  We focus on the employability of our students both within and beyond the academy. We welcome applications from researchers and practictioners with a demonstrable interest in documentation, digital culture, scholarship, innovation and creativity within LIS and related fields. We are especially keen to hear from anyone interested in interdisciplinary work with potential for wider impact.

Here is a list of my research students in alphabetical order:


Owen Ablett: Building documents: the built environment as document.

Jerald Cavanagh: Impact Evaluation of Information Literacy initiatives: Case study of EU Erasmus+ projects in the Western Balkans.

Rachel Cummings: The Information Behaviour of Undergraduate Fashion Students

Dominic Dixon: Philosophy of Information and LIS

Petra Killoran: Traversing the Ethical Badlands of Social Media

Ian Rodwell: Liminal stories: a comparative exploration of how storytelling is used to make sense of liminal states in two contrasting, high performance environments.


Zaki Abbas, 2018: Information behaviour of law students; the impact of mobile devices on information seeking behaviour and provision in the 21st century

Ohoud Alabdali, 2019: Measuring the development of Saudi Arabia as an information society

Richard Gartner, 2018: Intermediary XML Schemas

Jutta Haider, 2008: Open access and closed discourses: constructing open access as a ‘development issue’

David Haynes, 2015: Risk, Regulation and Access to Personal Data

Deborah Lee, 2017: Modelling Music Classification: a theoretical approach to the classification of notated, Western, art music.

Charlie Mayor, 2012: The classification of gene products in the molecular biology domain: realism, objectivity and the limitations of the Gene Ontology.

Elizabeth Poirier, 2012: Slow information in theory and practice: a qualitative exploration into the implications of a Slow perspective of human information behaviour.

Ludi Price, 2017: Serious Leisure: Information behaviour in fan communities.

Andrew Robson, 2013: Models of communication for pharmaceutical information.

Katharine Schopflin, 2013: The encyclopaedia as a form of the book.

Chris Serbutt, 2020: The Changing Place Of Information. An examination and evaluation of how context affects the information conveyed by objects.

*This award was made posthumously, as very sadly Chris died before his viva took place.

Sandra Tury, 2014: Information-seeking behavior of distance learners: a case study of the university of London International programmes.

Toni Weller, 2008: Information in nineteenth century England: Exploring contemporary socio-cultural perceptions and understandings.

Rupert Williams, 2017: Museum Pieces? The role of national museum libraries in the digital age.