Via Figshare, I’ve published to of the key figures I find myself using frequently in relation to academic social networking sites. Figshare issues Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to resources hosted on the site, so if you do find them useful, this is a handy way to cite them.

The first figure is from my thesis; a timeline of academic social networking sites (DOI:

The second is a chart showing the number of registered users on and ResearchGate over time. The data is drawn from online articles about the sites, and on Figshare, the figure is accompanied by a spreadsheet with links to the sources for all the data points included (DOI:

At the moment, I’m doing a lot of writing, catching up on writing up papers from my PhD and other loose ends, and also drafting potential funding bids. It’s going well, but I find that I can’t sit and write non-stop all day. I need little side projects to do a bit of work on for a bit for a break.

Something which I’ve had in mind as an interesting side project for a while now is looking at the similarities and differences in pages about MOOCs in different language versions of Wikipedia. Initially, I was going to scrape the references from a sample of pages, and look to see which articles or resources are cited in different versions of Wikipedia. However, I quickly discovered that there isn’t much consistency in referencing – the same article could have a full citation in one version, but just a hyperlink in another, for example. I would also be relying on auto-translation, which adds another bit of uncertainty.

But, then I decided it would be better to look at the URLs of references, which would solve both issues. Happily, there is a way to retrieve all of the external links from a Wikipedia page automatically, using the Wikimedia API. For example (substitute whichever page name you’re interested in in place of ‘Coffee’):

With this, it was then simply a case of copying and pasting into a spreadsheet, and importing into Gephi to visualise the network of co-cited links. I included the Dutch, English, French, German, and Swedish Wikipedia MOOC pages (based on being the five largest editions in terms of number of articles – note that the Cebuano edition is second largest, but doesn’t have an entry for MOOCs):


I haven’t included labels in the static picture above as there were too many and too long, but the network can be explored in more detail in the interactive version here (opens in a new tab).

I also edited the URLs to the domain level, which reveals a greater level of overlap:


Again, labels aren’t included here as I haven’t managed to get a good layout with readable labels yet. But the nodes here are scaled according to out-degree, so the domains which are cited more highly are larger. The cluster in the middle represents the most frequently used sites (check out the interactive version for more detail and labels).

My initial thoughts on this are that I was surprised that there isn’t a greater amount of overlap; that the online Higher Education media is an important source of information (e.g. The Chronicle has a higher degree than any of the MOOC platforms); and cMOOC thinking also comes through strongly. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts!

Several years ago, when I was working with the Technology-Enhanced Learning Research Programme, I developed an interactive timeline for the website which set out a brief history of technology-enhanced learning, going back all the way to Victorian correspondence schools.

Out of the blue last week I received a message that it was no longer working, and whether I have a static version, as it’s a valuable reference resource. I had almost forgotten about it – the date on the webpage suggests I made it back in 2011 – but I’m glad that folks have found it useful whilst it has been quietly sitting on my website since then.

I’ve fixed the problem and tidied it up a litle but it is due for an update – notably, MOOCs have happened since then; I’ve added a couple of the major events to get started (but MOOCs could form a timeline all of their own and this is supposed to be a brief history!) – suggestions are very welcome 🙂

The timeline can be found at:


Last year, I realised one of my PhD student ambitions and was fortunately able to take part in the summer doctoral programme offered each year by the Oxford Internet Institute. I’d had my eye on the programme for a number of years – it has a great reputation, but my circumstances hadn’t been quite right in previous years (maternity leave & then catching up from maternity leave). 2016 was my last opportunity as a PhD student, and I can confirm that its fantastic reputation is well deserved. It’s a very intense fortnight, but immensely intellectually rewarding, and enormous fun too (I don’t think I laughed so hard in the whole of 2016 as I did on ‘Bill Spectre’s Oxford Ghost Tour).

The OIISDP is wonderful opportunity for anyone doing a PhD on a topic aligned with Internet Studies. As social media has permeated virtually every subject and sector to some extent, it’s quite common to be working in virtually any Department but studying a traditional topic through an Internet Research lens. I’m based in an Educational Technology department for example – which is online-focused and techie, but I don’t think anyone else attends the Association of Internet Researchers conference, for example.

Interdisciplinary research is novel and rewarding but comes with a compromised sense of identity and security of being ‘a [subject]-ist’ and in this sense the OIISDP was very reassuring as it showcased what does bind Internet Research together – in terms of topics, theories, and methods. Even the topics which seemed at first glance to be less relevant to my current work were fertile ground for developing new ideas. Although I was attending with near-final PhD draft in hand (literally – I got the first copy printed whilst I was in Oxford), I came away with several ideas for new ways of examining my data, and developing new potential projects. In addition to the student presentations, alumni, careers, and research methods sessions, the range of topics presented by OII faculty included:

  • Helen Margetts: Political turbulence: How social media shape collective action
  • Andy Przybylski: Internet Gaming Disorder: Investigating the clinical relevance of a new phenomenon using robust scientific methodology”
  • Heather Ford: How facts (in the form of Wikipedia articles and PhD theses) travel
  • Bernie Hogan: Social networks from metaphor to method to monetization
  • Luciano Floridi: The nature of power in mature Information Societies
  • Ralph Schroeder: Rethinking social theory after the Internet: Media, technology and globalization
  • Sanna Ojanperä: Big Data in development
  • Taha Yasseri: Collaborative knowledge creation and collection
  • Vicki Nash: The politics of protecting children online
  • Joss Wright: Discovering Internet filtering
  • Grant Blank: Cultural values and digital inclusion
  • Kathryn Eccles: Introduction to Digital Humanities and crowdsourcing for cultural heritage
  • Eric Meyer: Big Data knowledge machines
  • Huw Davies: “It’s the (political) economy stupid”: rethinking digital inequality

I’ve been following the work of the OII for a while so I had a good idea of what to expect in terms of content in the programme, but something which I hadn’t expected beforehand but viewed as a major benefit is the social network that OIISDP-ers become part of. I was able to have informal chats with several of the faculty members whilst I was there, and have formed firm friendships with the students in the 2016 cohort. There’s a paper on the horizon and I know that when I follow up on my new ideas in the future, I have a network of folks with a range of different specialisms who I could approach for collaborations. It’s also great to catch-up with other OIISDP alumni at conferences, and the community keeps the conversation going through its Facebook group. Hopefully I’ll be able to pop in as an alum and ‘proper academic’ to say hello to a future cohort one day 🙂


Applications for the 2017 OIISDP are currently open – apply at – closes 20th February. Good luck!

This is something that I find myself checking over and again, so am jotting a quick blog post for my reference and because it’s probably something that would be handy for everyone.

I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of the impact factor as a metric here – there are substantial cons, but it is something to be aware of.

It’s hard to judge too as (i) Educational Research is a field which has generally fairly low impact factors (or none at all), and (ii) it changes over time – journals sometimes seem to pick their ‘best year’ and put that on their website as their impact factor even if it is a bit out of date.

A website which I have found to be handy and interesting for reference is the Scimago Journal & Country Rank site ( It seems to be more extensive for Ed Tech than Web of Science, and provides a range of metrics.

Even better, the site allows you to generate widgets which allow the latest data to be embedded into your site – which I have done below for several Ed Tech related journals, to save having to look them all up again 🙂

A note on the metrics provided in the widgets:

  • SJR: “The SJR is a size-independent prestige indicator that ranks journals by their ‘average prestige per article’. It is based on the idea that ‘all citations are not created equal’. SJR is a measure of scientific influence of journals that accounts for both the number of citations received by a journal and the importance or prestige of the journals where such citations come from It measures the scientific influence of the average article in a journal, it expresses how central to the global scientific discussion an average article of the journal is.”
  • Cites per doc: “This indicator counts the number of citations received by documents from a journal and divides them by the total number of documents published in that journal. The chart shows the evolution of the average number of times documents published in a journal in the past two, three and four years have been cited in the current year. The two years line is equivalent to journal impact factor ™ (Thomson Reuters) metric.”

In alphabetical order:

British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET):

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Computers and Education:

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Computers in Human Behavior:

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Educational Technology and Society:

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Educational Technology Research and Development:

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

IEEE Transactions on Education:

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

IEEE Transactions in Learning Technologies:

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Interactive Learning Environments (ILE):

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning:

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (IJET):

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL):

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Internet and Higher Education:

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (JCAL):

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Learning, Media and Technology:

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Research in Learning Technology (formerly ALT-J):

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Studies in Higher Education:

SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Technology, Pedagogy and Education (TPE):
SCImago Journal & Country Rank


SCImago Journal & Country Rank

This is not an exhaustive list and I will be adding to it – if you have any suggestions for journals to add, please leave a comment 🙂

I had been trying to think of a clever title for this post, but failed. 2016 has, to put it generously, been ‘a mixed bag’.

I won’t recap on the all too palpable sense of melancholy about the rise of the far-right and so many deaths of cultural icons. On a personal level, writing up a PhD was likely one of the biggest challenges I will face in my life, combined with my Mum suddenly leaving my Dad (they were approaching their 40th wedding anniversary). This was difficult to deal with and my response was to find refuge in my PhD and focus exclusively on getting it finished on time. It was a bleak few months earlier in the year, for a while I hardly left the house or talked to anyone much, but it worked.

I am still catching up on some of the ‘side project’ requests from last year though as everything else took a lower priority compared to finishing my PhD – apologies to anyone who is expecting something from me. I haven’t forgotten and will catch up again soon.

But – some very good things happened in 2016, too. My personal highlights (in chronological order):

  • I was honoured to be invited to Sweden in May to keynote at a conference about MOOCs, organised by Anders Norberg. I gave a seminar about my PhD work at the Department of Applied Educational Science, Umeå University, and presented on ‘Learning in MOOCs and learning about MOOCs: Reflections on investigating completion rates’ at presentation at MOOC: Lokala möjligheter till globalt lärande’ at Campus Skellefteå the following day. I’ve made a transcript of my talk available online here, if you’re interested.
  • June included a trip to Swansea to see both the Super Furry Animals and Manic Street Preachers perform at the Liberty Stadium, as part of their ‘Everything Must Go’ anniversary tour. I know it’s not a work thing 🙂
  • In July I attended the Summer Doctoral Programme at the Oxford Internet Institute, and I can confirm that it does live up to its awesome reputation. I had a great time and came away with lots of inspiration for ways to build on my PhD or develop new projects, and met a wonderful network of folks. The call for applications for this year is currently open – if anyone has any questions about what it was like or anything about the experience, I’d be happy to help.
  • In October, I went to Berlin for the Association of Internet Researchers conference. It was my first trip to Germany and I quickly realised that the few German lessons I’d had at my school were useless! I very much enjoyed the conference, and exploring the city in between (with Berlin-period Bowie on my iPod of course).
  • November 4th saw my PhD viva, which I’ve blogged about already. I submitted my corrections for approval just before Christmas – finishing a PhD does take a lot longer than you think – but I am getting very close to being able to say “it’s DR Jordan actually”. 😉

At the start of 2016, I tweeted that my ambitions for the year were to finish my PhD and get a job. It’s still a case of fingers crossed for the latter – but more about that in my next blog post.


In October, I travelled to Berlin for this years’ Association of Internet Researchers conference, where I presented some of the key findings from my PhD research.

It was my third time at an AoIR conference, and my attendance tracks my PhD progress quite neatly. The same month that I started my PhD, I attended the conference in Salford in October 2012; in 2014, I travelled to Daegu and took part in the doctoral colloquium (which is a part of the conference every year and I would highly recommend); and this year, I presented a full paper.

Last year, I also attended the Web Science conference, which I had been watching with interest for several years and was fortunate in 2015 to have a short paper accepted. Like AoIR, I also found the Web Science to be a very enjoyable and stimulating conference, through the mix of topics and disciplines represented. I was surprised though that there were not more overlaps in attendance between the conferences. There did seem to be a greater overlap in this years’ AoIR conference though.

Which leads me to the main point of this post: what is the difference between Internet Research and Web Science? Although I have not attended one yet, the Internet Science conference is a more recent development but appears to be in the same spirit.

I recall that when I went to the OII ‘A decade in Internet time’ anniversary event in 2011, Dame Wendy Hall described the difference between Web Science and Internet Science with the latter being focused on “what’s below HTTP” (video here, ~13.30. While Internet Research and Web Science have contrasting disciplinary roots (Computer Science/Social Sciences), both appear united in their scope – examining the interplay of technology and society online. Based on the recent conferences, I am not sure whether the distinctions are clear cut anymore, as research in both communities seems to have increasingly moved into social media. Related to thinking about this, the following papers are also of interest, from the Web Science and Internet Science perspectives:

To explore this a bit, I had a quick go at mapping the papers and authors from the 2016 conferences. Clicking on the picture below will open an interactive version of the diagram in a new tab/window:


Below are Wordles based on the titles of papers presented at each conference:

AoIR 2016 conference paper titles

AoIR 2016 conference paper titles

Internet Science 2016 conference paper tiles

Internet Science 2016 conference paper tiles

Web Science 2016 conference paper titles

Web Science 2016 conference paper titles

Is the distinction valid anymore? Can we do more to facilitate links between the communities? Wordles are a quick-and-dirty way of exploring this, but I have also been collecting the abstracts too. Would anyone be interested in teaming up to analyse them properly and do a paper for next years AoIR conference perhaps? (paper submission deadline 1st March).