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An Empirical Analysis of Ethical, High Quality, Open Metadata

   School of Computing, Engineering & the Built Environment

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  Prof Diane Pennington, Dr David Haynes  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

In this funded PhD, you will work under the supervision of two information scientists who are highly regarded as leaders in the areas of metadata and knowledge organisation. You would be based within the world-leading Social Informatics Research Group at Edinburgh Napier University, which Prof Rasmussen Pennington leads. Generally speaking, you would explore, identify, define, and observe empirically the currently nebulous but increasingly important concept of ethical quality metadata in online contexts. More specifically, you will study metadata in a particular context to be identified in collaboration with your supervisors, for example social media data, library catalogue discovery metadata, or metadata for institutional knowledge management. You will develop a theoretical framework that positions your analysis of that context, including defining the ethical principles related to ‘openness’ of metadata and how this relates to advancing the sharing of knowledge for the intended users of that data. You will then use that framework to conduct a mixed method data collection and analysis of a sample within the chosen context and conclude with both theoretical and practical implications of your results. 

Academic qualifications

A first-class honours degree, or a distinction at master level, or equivalent achievements ideally in the humanities or social sciences with a good fundamental knowledge of relevant information professional skills such as information organisation, metadata standards, and library cataloguing.

English language requirement

IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online. 

Application process

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the supervisor Professor Diane Rasmussen Pennington at [Email Address Removed] to discuss the content of the project and the fit with their qualifications and skills before preparing an application. 

The application must include: 

Research project outline of 2 pages (list of references excluded) with the details about: 

  • Background and motivation of the project. The motivation must be supported by relevant literature. You can discuss also the applications you expect for the project results. 
  • Research questions or objectives. 
  • Methodology: types of data to be used, approach to data collection, and data analysis methods 
  • List of references 

Statement no longer than 1 page describing your motivations and fit with the project.

Recent and complete curriculum vitae. 

Two academic references (but if you have been out of education for more than three years, you may submit one academic and one professional reference), the form can be downloaded here

Documents proving your qualifications and your skills. 

Applications can be submitted here. To be considered, the application must use : 

  • the advertised title as project title  


Macgregor, G., Lancho-Barrantes, B. S., & Rasmussen Pennington, D. (2023). Measuring the concept of PID literacy: User perceptions and understanding of PIDs in support of open scholarly infrastructure. Open Information Science, 7(1).
Snow, K., Shoemaker, E., Chan, M., Daniels, J., Furger, S., & Rasmussen Pennington, D. (2022). The development and future of the Cataloguing Code of Ethics. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 60(8), 786-806.
Rasmussen Pennington, D., & Spiteri, L. F. (Eds.) (2018). Social tagging in a linked data environment. London: Facet Publishing.
Haynes, D. (2018). Metadata for information management and retrieval: Understanding metadata and its use. 2nd ed. London: Facet Publishing.
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