The time is upon me where I must get some clarity about what my thesis will focus on next year. My dissertation will complete my part time study for a masters in eCommunication.
My ideas so far have been pretty vague and I’ve got only as far as deciding that my study will look at social media usage by local government. I’ve come across a couple of other people already researching this area but don’t think much has been done as it is such a new area.
Anyway, I’ve had a few ideas about what I might look at:

  • local government use of social media to engage with young citizens
  • library service use of social media and effect on take up of service

I am being encouraged to concentrate on service specific research as the other research so far looks to map who is doing what and why. While I don’t want to repeat existing research I would also like to think that whatever I look at will be of use within my organisation but perhaps also to others working in the sector.
So local government web people – is there anything you would like more research on or would find particularly interesting and useful for going forward? I obviously don’t want other people to decide my thesis for me but would certainly be interested in hearing the thoughts of my fellow local gov webbies.
Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read, think or respond to this!

12 thoughts on “Thoughts on my thesis

  1. Hi Sarah,
    Based on my own research, I feel there is an area which is pretty much neglected so far in this area. I know a lot of people who are already looking into the areas you’ve mentioned so I would stay away from it. The area I feel should have more attention is the impact or social impact of social media within local governments in terms of intranet/internal eCommunications and how is it having an impact on LA officers themselves in relation to their skills, knowledge, LA hierarchy, openness and leaders ability to adapt and encourage social media take up in LAs. The focus is narrow enough for a Masters dissertation and you have the advantage to the wealth of connections in LA to make the most of your data.


    Just a suggestion, hope you find an area that will suit your interests 🙂 Good luck.

  2. Social media and local government is certainly an excellent topic.

    At this stage of the game I’d say that there is possibly little chance of duplicating because it’s such a new area and there’s been such an explosion in it of late.

    Research on how to connect with young people sounds particularly good. Not least because they are hard to connect with through traditional routes but also because so many people in local government, and there’s no easy way to say this, ain’t young!

    I’m sure there’s some really good examples out there.

    There’s some good stuff the Home Office have done with knife crime, for example.

    On a smaller level, public art for Walsall Wood used Bebo to see what young people thought of some proposals.

    I’m sure if you dug around there would be plenty to keep you busy with this area.

    Let me know if we can be of any help.

    Dan Slee, Walsall Council press office. and @danslee.

  3. Thanks Liz – turning the eye inward might be a good way to research something new and could be of real use as well! Thank you!

  4. Thanks Dan – really useful suggestion and examples. We do some of this ourselves (Derbyshire CC) with our b_line brand (You Tube, Bebo, MySpace etc) so interesting to hear of other examples for both the thesis ideas and in work life as well!

  5. Hey Sarah

    I would personally love to see more on the young citizens theme. There is a lot of anecdote and under-the-radar activity going on – but right now very little I’ve found by way of good quality benchmarks / case studies and evaluation.

    The communities at and both exploring this from the practitioner level – but mostly basing our work on non-academic research and loosly documented action research right now.


  6. Hi Tim – thanks for your comment. I’ll check those links out. Cheers for taking the time to respond. 🙂

  7. Hi Sarah,
    Lots of good suggestions. Just thought I’d add, if young citizens tickles your fancy, then I really recommend that you look at Danah Boyd’s work at . She’s done a lot of great work with young people and definitely a top researcher in this area. Good luck!


  8. Thanks Liz – that’s really helpful. I’m keeping track of all these leads as even if youth angle doesn’t end up being my angle for thesis I am sure we’d be interested in some work-based research to inform our b_line brand 🙂

  9. Yup, narrow down your target.

    You twitter so pick on twitter’s effect (microblogging’s if you will) upon a) councils, b) young people.

    Is there evidence of an overlap and coming-together?

    Take a little-used local library service (seek out the worst-used on purpose) which evolves a branch to explicitly engage with young ppl (OK, big discovery – the twitterati – young-minded-people) and communicate directly to those that subscribe.

    Lessons learned, advertising cost must be less than 100 ukp etc.

    Use your twitter network to create the ideas, and the implementations …

  10. I agree with Liz, even though you might just have decided on social media and youth-participation.

    The question that drives me with such an thesis is how effective any “project” for eParticipation with regards to youth will be if there’s no organisational awareness on the work-related implications of social media and web2.0 technology? If anything web2.0 tech can have a huge impact on the way we work internally, and we might just need to wrap our heads around it if we’re ever going to be successful in utilizing it in our dialouge with citizens, both older and younger.

    Anyways, good luck with your thesis!


  11. Thanks again to everyone who gave me feedback and ideas and leads etc!
    I’m about to blog about the decision that I’ve made and which has been approved for me. I have a little time before starting further work and the main thesis will be done next year. I’m sure I’ll be utilising social media then!
    Until then though, once again, many thanks for taking time to read my post and answer.

  12. Whislt you are doing your back-ground research you might be interestind in this

    We all find clients approach targeting youth differently from keeping youth messages on their main sites, to going for “youth style” sub-sites to full on social networking sub-sites.


Comments are closed.