About Thomas Lancaster

I am an experienced Computer Science academic, best known for research work into academic integrity, plagiarism and contract cheating. I have held leadership positions in several universities, with specialty in student recruitment and keen interest in working in partnership with students. Please browse around the blog and the links, and feel free to leave your thoughts.
Website: http://thomaslancaster.co.uk
Thomas Lancaster has written 130 articles so far, you can find them below.

How To Get Your CV In The Bin

Here’s an interesting article provided by the HEA and based on the experiences of a real (but anonymous) recruiter.

Unlucky 13 – 13 Reasons Why I Binned Your CV

It goes through the problem of taking 114 applications and having to get down to a shortlist of 20 as quickly as possible.

I’ve certainly spotted many of these problems with CVs, so this could be usefully used as a “checklist” to ensure that the CV passes the “bin test” used by many recruiters.

Why The Computing Discipline Cares About Sandwich Year Placements

Over the past year, I’ve been involved with the biggest research project I’ve participating in since completing my PhD.

I say “involved”, as this for research I’ve been in charge of a small team of two Research Associates looking into the issues surround Sandwich Year Placements within the Computing discipline. This has been a 15 month study funded by the Higher Education Academy Teaching Development Grant scheme.

We’re now approaching the time when the research results can be officially released for the first time. Again, I say “officially” as we’ve factored in several types of dissemination into this project to ensure that as many people are as aware of the findings as possible. And, we’ve delivered talks presenting some of the results from the early parts of the research.

We will shortly be holding workshop at BCU presenting the results (you can view details of the workshop here and you can also access a News item provided by Birmingham City University here). The research will also be available in the form of a Final Report and several papers have already been produced relating to this.

The Computing Discipline is starting to care about Sandwich Year Placements.

These are valuable for students as they provide a year of work experience, they mean exposure to a real company working on real-life problems and they allow students to develop the type of skills that would be impossible within the classroom.

There are outstanding problems.

Not every student wants to take a placement, even when they know about the benefits. And, there are not always enough suitable placement positions available for students.

These are all issues that the Computing sector needs to address.

As part of the research sector, we’ve identified several solutions and pockets of good practice into placements and employability that are being used across the country. We’ve also been able to quantify how well we are doing as an academic discipline. All those results will be discussed at the workshop.

The main take home idea is that we can do more to get students into placements. That way, they get to take advantage of all the many benefits and they become a more employable student by the end of what would now be a full four year degree.

Social Media Branding For Computing Professionals

Here’s a copy of a talk that I delivered for the Cheltenham and Gloucester branch of the British Computer Society.

The talk is designed to show some of the methods that I’ve identified for Computing Professionals to build a professional brand online, primarily by using social media and their own professional websites.

To keep this presentation light, I’ve included plenty of examples. These are based on my experience, from work I’ve done with students and from other professionals I know who use social media in their business.

The slides are hosted in my SlideShare account (Thomas Lancaster on SlideShare).

The correct use of social media by students is a particularly hot issue within teaching right now.

I do believe that helping students to build their own personal brand whilst they are studying will help them with their long-term career.

How To Create A High Value Web Site In A Day

As part of my continued research and teaching into student employability, I’ve been investigating the best ways to help students to present what they can do online.

One very underlooked technique by students is to create a web site on an area of interest to them (and which will benefit them in a professional sense).

That’s what I’ve demonstrated with the creation of my new web site related to contract cheating (shared with my research colleague, Robert Clarke).

Contract Cheating New Web Site

In this case, the web site serves multiple purposes. As well as being a demonstration to students and other academics that setting up a web site is possible, it also provides a central source for research into contract cheating, which is something that is missing at present.

Setting up a web site like this is something that has been within my plans for a couple of years now, but just didn’t ever quite make it high enough up the priority list to process. In the end, I was surprised how quick and easy this was to create in a way that is also simple to maintain.

The actual site design took around four hours, and is based around the WordPress CMS. I already had the idea for the site. Much of the set up involved adding appropriate plugins and coming up with the right pages and headings to make this quick to maintain. I want this site to be one that I can update with new media stories and research papers, but without needing to spend more than ten minute per post. I also wanted to make sure that this didn’t look like a blog (even though it is based mainly on blogging software).

The other four hours has been spent adding content. I’ve mainly used a curation system for this, finding useful sources elsewhere, acknowledging them, and using this as a base for a discussion article. I’ve also added some of my own ideas, which largely overlap with the discussions that I’ll have when presenting on contract cheating.

I’d estimate around eight hours (or one day’s work) to get all this going, but this could certainly be completed quicker if it was done in one session.

There is still lots more content to add, but crucially, coverage of recent material is there. If nothing else, I can see this being useful on a personal level, as it’s surprising how often I find useful recent news stories and discussions about contract cheating, but these quickly disappear into subscription databases, or fall so far down the Google rankings that they’re impossible to find again. That’s just the nature of the Internet.

Other things still to do include social media integration (this is easy with WordPress plugins) and to add some video to the site.

Most importantly, this is a process that can be replicated by students. I’ve been pleased to see some of my Professional Practice 2 students setting up their own blogs, particularly related to technology and gaming, which are useful to demonstrate a wider interest in the Computing field. WordPress makes it simple to maintain a site, and anything related to the professional world, extended studies or technology is a good item to add to a portfolio. One recommendation I would make is to always set this up on your own domain, rather than being reliant on (and constrained by) a third party.

Still lots to do around other activities, but hopefully contractcheating.com will prove to be useful, as well as a simple example of extended professional practice.

Rescuing Academic Research

Whilst updating my academic profiles on Google Scholar and LinkedIn, I was rather surprised to come across several pieces of research that I’d written but not published in an official academic manner.

This research took several forms:

  • Some papers that had been developed early on in my PhD research and informed my later thesis, but which hadn’t been substantially well-enough “shaped” to submit
  • Two papers that I wrote with a BCU colleague after joining, but which I had rather lost track of asking he had agreed to seek publication for these
  • One paper written with a former MSc project student, which needed reducing in size before it could be published
  • And various papers which had been started, but not completed, with other academic commitments getting in the way

It’s unlikely now that the papers would be publishable without some substantial rework. If nothing else, the fields on which these papers were written will have moved on and the information will look dated. It does, however, seem a pity to have research that has been written but is not published anywhere, so I will look to see if there is any way to resurrect these.

Now, all that comes before other research which has been involved students which could easily be made publication ready (given time):

  • There are several good student projects which I’ve worked on previously with students which could easily be made into conference papers
  • In the Professional Practice 2 module students carry out a research investigation as part of an Action Learning Set. There have been some good efforts for this module too.

Both of these meet the wider requirements of  the “Students As Partners” movement which is rightfully gaining traction across the Higher Education Sector.

There are also pieces of research that I’ve carried out to involve students in modules which could also be published.

Finally, I recently wrote a sample literature review on an aspect of the contract cheating area, designed to show students how they could undertake an assessment of their own. Whilst the Literature Review probably isn’t publication ready in its own right, some gaps in the literature became immediately clear to me.

Generally, these were things that I remember presenting about (or watching other people give presentations on) during research seminars and workshops, but which had never made it through the formal documented process of an academic publication.

Some of these talks could easily be made into an academic conference paper with very little new work needed.

It just goes to show how much research is out there.

My Challenge

My challenge is to see what research can be rescued and used in some other form.

If nothing else, a number of previously published pieces of research are no longer available anywhere. Conferences which had web sites hosted by universities have since had their entire archives removed (one of the dangers of relying on a third party to host information).

I need to go back through the archive of what I’ve done, see what can be made available and see how it can be made available. Just having a single archive of papers and talks (linked to the appropriate copyright holders where necessary) is important, as opposed to stylistically different versions spread over multiple sites.

Just getting everything in order for my own records will represent a big achievement.

Your Challenge

Your challenge is to consider your own academic publications and see what information there is out there and how it’s stored.

If nothing else, I recommend updating your LinkedIn profile to include the Publications and making sure that these are archived on your own sites.

Students, as well, should think if there’s anything you’ve done which contains academic research and which might be publishable with the aid of your lecturers or project supervisor.

How does that sound? Is there anything that I’ve missed or which you wish to add?

Just comment below and do go ahead and share your thoughts.

Page 24 of 26« First...1020«212223242526»