Current PhD projects – University of Copenhagen

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Current PhD projects

Andersen, Jesper Steen

Project title: Evaluation of interactive systems for music search and analysis

Project start: 1st of January 2014

Main supervisor: Associate professor Jack Andersen, RSLIS

Co-supervisor: Associate professor Morten Michelsen, IKK

Until now, musicological scholars have not yet really begun drawing use of the potential of these automatic instruments, when analyzing music or searching for relevant music. They, mostly, analyze music manually, one work at a time, or search for music with no or little help from machines. All though music information retrieval (MIR) techniques hold the potential of allowing new types of music analyses and far more thorough searches that are able to answer new types of questions that has not been possible to answer until now. For example to be able to analyze thousands or millions of pieces of music at a time, in order to delineate larger patterns in music, such as identifying tendencies over decades on a more statistically valid foundation. Or to search within huge corpora of music, for example to search for audio with similar acoustical characteristics as other audio files, allowing for searches which possibly can help identifying hitherto unknown predecessors to a certain musical genre or unknown connections between songs.

My project is a part of the Cosound Project, a strategic research project that focuses on the development of methods and tools for an augmented audio experience and making the information actionable. The Cosound project is led by the Technical University of Denmark ( One goal of the Cosound Project is to develop an interface for students and researchers, which consists of these MIR tools, thereby giving them opportunities of doing these new and immense types of analyses and searches. The main focus of my project will be to understand how musicologists do research today, and, in collaboration with musicologists, to envision preferable computer techniques and tools that both can be helpful for their research and will allow them to pose new types of questions that are impossible without the help from a computer. 

Nicolaisen, Maria Skou

Project title: Digital humanities: the impact of digitization of humanistic theories and practices

Project start: 1st of May 2014

Main supervisor: Professor Niels Ole Finnemann, RSLIS

Co-supervisor: Professor Per Hasle, RSLIS

Textual technologies have had an enormous impact on the emergence, state and development of the humanities – both as means of knowledge production, distribution and consumption. The text as a cognitive device has facilitated and influenced the way we learn and how we think since the invention of script. The externalization of thought has enabled critical reflection and captured collective memory and must therefore be considered a major driving force in the humanities.

The success of text throughout society can hardly be disregarded with the rise of elaborate textual infrastructures such as libraries, bookstores and newspaper offices. 

The role and functionality of text is changing and expanding. The emergence of digital media has added and uncovered hitherto hidden aspects and possible functions of text.

The PhD project investigates how the interlude between print and digital technologies changes the concept of text. Each textual technology imposes different restrains on the dynamics of language. It is precisely this intersection between technology and language that is the focal point of the project. The project will draw upon modern textual theory as well as, to some degree, the digital and textual practices of textmining and markup.

The project will add a contribution to the field of digital humanities with a focus on the dual transformation processes between textual technology and humanistic thought. It will offer reflections on the computability of text as well as on some of the unspoken assumptions about text as a vessel for academic knowledge. From there it will attempt to offer a new conceptualization of text that can better entail the new digital reality.

Engström, Lisa

Project title: Libraries minus librarians equals what? - A comparative user-oriented study of staff-less public libraries in Denmark and Sweden

Project start: 1st of February 2016

Main supervisor: Associate professor Henrik Jochumsen, RSLS

Co-supervisor: Associate professor Carl Gustav Johanssen, RSLIS

Most western people use digital self-service solutions in their everyday lives. For example, they handle their banking and travel arrangements online, and use the internet to search for information or for booking movie tickets. Self-service solutions is also available in most libraries, and users can handle for example their loans or returns by themselves. Digitalization has enabled this type of self-service and we are expected to be involved in the digital society.

This technological development is one of several factors enabling so called staff-less libraries. I use the term staff-less library to refer to a library that, while sometimes unstaffed, remains open for users. In Denmark and Sweden, the number of staff-less libraries is steadily escalating. Librarians is traditionally in the heart of our understanding of libraries, therefore this development is striking.

My aim is to explore how the implementation of staff-less opening hours at public libraries affects the users’ position in the library. I want to gain more knowledge and understanding of the users’ experiences and interpretations of the staff-less library. What expectations do users have regarding staff-less libraries? Is accessibility improved by implementing staff-less opening hours? What practices are users of staff-less libraries conducting? Interviews with users and observations in staff-less public libraries in Denmark and Sweden will provide a basis to discuss these and other related issues.

The aforementioned technological advances enable the implementation of staff-less opening hours, but political and social changes are also significant. Over time, lending rates in many libraries has fallen and branch libraries in Denmark and Sweden have been closed. This has led to a discussion on public library’s roles and tasks. Meanwhile, New Public Management has influenced cultural policies and promotion of education and experiences aimed at growth is portrayed as goals for libraries. This trend is also reflected in, and shaped by, policy documents. I will therefore conduct discourse analysis of relevant policy documents in Sweden and Denmark and interpret them in relation to users’ experiences.

Staff-less libraries in Denmark and Sweden work similarly, but there are also differences between them. The comparative approach in my research helps to highlight differences and specific technologies, discourses and practices in each countries libraries, while the similarities and common traits also emerge.

Eva Pina Myrczik

Project title: Digital Museum Mediation in Denmark: A Critical Evaluation of the implementation, Affordances, and impact  

Project start: 1st of August 2016

Main supervisor: Professor Hans Dam Christensen, RSLIS

Co-supervisor: Associate professor Casper
Hvenegaard Rasmussen, RSLIS

Digital museum mediation has developed quickly in the course of the last three decades, carried forward by the development of digital technologies, culture policy requirements, public project funds, and public-private collaborations. This development was increasingly guided by a belief in the potential for technology to mediate experience (oplevelse), and enlightenment (oplysning). Consequently, this has led to the implementation of numerous new digital projects. Yet there has been no general collection and evaluation of the experiences so far. To sum up, this Ph.D. project sets out to research the multitude of ways in which digital mediation has entrenched itself and influenced the Danish museum world since its introduction. It will focus on the visitors' experience as mediated by digital technologies to seek a conclusion on the efficacy of the digital communication under investigation, guided by the following question:

In what ways does digital museum mediation promote participation, user experience, and the sharing of knowledge?

The data will be collected with one main quantitative method; the visitor survey. The results of this survey will be analysed and contextualised within existing studies, reports from specific projects (resultatkontrakter), cultural investigations, and in-depth qualitative interviews.

Susanne Krogh Jensen

Project title: Generalist or specialist – a study of the development of the museum profession from 1958 until today – focusing on the expected skills of the museum professionals 

Project start: 1st of September 2016

Main supervisor: Professor Hans Dam Christensen, RSLIS

Co-supervisor: Associate professor Line Hjorth Christensen, INSS

Since the first law concerning local historical museums was passed in 1958, Danish museums have experienced a professionalization in a number of fields. Changing perceptions of the institutional role of the museums and their tasks in the welfare society have led to changes in the work of the museum staff as well as to their expected skills. Thus, these changes reflect a number of the ongoing debates about museums as cultural institutions – not least the debate about the balance between information and experience in museums.

My project analyzes the development of museum work since 1958 based on the legislature and other related rules, the offered educational possibilities related to museum work as well and the organizational development of museum expressed in the strategic and practical fulfillment of the given framework. The purpose of the study is to characterize and discuss the development of the museum profession (or professions) as an expression of the museums’ status as cultural institutions in society and thereby provide the contemporary debates about museums and museum dissemination with a historical perspective. The project is part of the national research and development project about museum dissemination with the title “Our Museum”.

Yu-Tzu Lin

Project title: What Should Service Design Documentation Be Like? An Investigation of Service Design Documentation in Practice.

Project start: 1st of February 2017

Main supervisor: Professor Morten Hertzum, RSLIS

As the IT technology evolves and the economies in many countries are shifting from manufacturing to service, the need for designing innovative services is increasingly recognized. Designing services is challenging as it demands holistic approach, co-creation with stakeholders, and the collaboration of cross-disciplinary teams. With these demands, the amount of information collected and generated in a service design project is often abundant.

Documentation can support us in capturing design rationale, communication and reflection. However, how practitioners value documentation varies within different fields. For example in Scrum software development, documentation is considered important but often little documentation is available, while in the healthcare industry, researchers are questioning the value of having copious amount of documentation. In service design, there is research arguing the importance of documentation and encouraging more researchers to discuss this issue.

This PhD research project discusses the potential of documentation in service design by looking into designers’ information needs, documentation behaviour, and the relation between the two factors. Several qualitative research methods including in-depth interview and field observation will be conducted.

Mia Mathiasson

Project title: The Danish Public Libraries and Their Activities: participatory culture, democracy and the role of the public libraries in a digital age

Project start: 15th of February 2017

Main supervisor: Associate professor Henrik Jochumsen, RSLIS

Co-supervisor: Associate professor Casper Hvenegaard Rasmussen, RSLIS

Today, the Danish public libraries offer much more than access to books and other materials. As 'cultural centres' the public libraries are arranging and facilitating cultural events and activities for which the citizens are invited and increasingly also involved. A quick search on the activity calendar of any public library reveals a multifaceted variety of events: from traditional literary events, debates and documentary film screening to workshops for children as well as for grownups. However, what are the implications of the increased number of activities and events? And how can digitalization and democratic ideologies be seen in relation to this development?

My PhD project is a part of the Norwegian founded international research project The ALM-Field, Digitalization, and the Public Sphere, which investigates and questions how digitalization is influencing the role and function of the archives, libraries and museums (the ALM institutions) today. The ideas behind the ALMPUB project is closely linked to paragraph 100 in the Norwegian constitution, which imposes upon the State to provide the space for 'an open and enlightened public discourse' as well as the Norwegian law on libraries from 2014 where the library is obligated to function as 'an arena for public debate'.

Even though the Danish public libraries are not legally bound to act as 'arenas for public debate', the increased number of events and activities points towards a new role and function of the public libraries as social as well as cultural meeting places. Current debates on the social role and responsibilities of the cultural institutions emphasizes this development.

With a specific focus on the activities held at the Danish public libraries, the aim of my project is to investigate how digitalization has affected the social and cultural role of the public library in relation to the public sphere. What characterizes the activities held at the Danish public libraries? How are these activities developing in relation to participatory culture and (cultural) democracy? Based on these questions, I analyse how the development is reflecting the digitalization of society, and the significance of this development is discussed in relation to the relationship between the public libraries and the public. The results are compared to inter-sectoral as well as international examples, which provide new perspectives on the democratic potential of the ALM-institutions in a digital age.   

With this project, I wish to contribute to an understanding of the nature of the cultural activities at the Danish public libraries and the development of these activities in relation to the social and cultural role of the public libraries today.