Dr Lauren Smith

Research Associate

Computer and Information Sciences

Personal statement

Lauren Smith is a Research Associate in the Department for Computer and Information Sciences. She is interested in issues around access, equity and inclusion in education and information, critical approaches to education and librarianship, information behaviour, information literacy, public libraries, political participation and citizenship. She is particularly interested in the role of news and the media on people's political perspectives, values and beliefs, and the influence of misinformation/disinformation.

She is currently researching around critical approaches to information literacy, digital literacy and participation and citizenship, and has been involved in research into issues of equity and social justice in relation to widening access to higher education, and issues around homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. She is also writing research proposals in the field of information behaviour. Her PhD focused on young people's political information experiences and how young people evaluate news and political information to develop their worldviews.


Young people’s conceptions of political information : insights into information experiences and implications for intervention
Smith Lauren N., McMenemy David
Journal of Documentation Vol 73, pp. 1-25, (2017)
Information literacy as a tool to support political participation
Smith Lauren
Library and Information Research Vol 40, pp. 14-23, (2016)
School libraries, political information and information literacy provision : findings from a Scottish study
Smith Lauren N.
Journal of Information Literacy Vol 10, pp. 3-25, (2016)
Enhancing agency through information : a phenomenographic exploration of young people's political information experiences
Smith Lauren, McMenemy David
Proceedings of the 79th ASIS&T Annual Meeting, (2016)
Widening Access to Higher Education for Students from Economically Disadvantaged Backgrounds : What Works and Why? [Summary Report]
Sosu Edward M., Smith Lauren N., McKendry Stephanie, Santoro Ninetta, Ellis Sue
Widening Access to Higher Education for Students from Economically Disadvantaged Backgrounds : What Works and Why?
Sosu Edward M., Smith Lauren N., McKendry Stephanie, Santoro Ninetta, Ellis Sue

more publications

Research interests

Lauren's research interests centre broadly around the relationship between information, education and social justice.

Professional activities

In Love With Libraries
Top Scots uni apologises and removes ‘surveillance devices’ from under desks after uproar from students
Loss of libraries in schools puts Scottish ministers under pressure
Urgent call for more school librarians to halt slide in literacy standards
Call for extra funded places to improve university access
From Secondary Education to Beyond: Information Literacy to Support Young People’s Educational Transitions

more professional activities


Content filtering in UK public libraries
Smith, Lauren (Researcher)
Most local authorities / bodies running library services in the UK block websites using third-party content filtering software. This software offers various categories of filtering (eg. "pornography", "gambling", "weapons" etc.) and a local authority/body selects which of these categories it would like to block. In some instances, they will also block specific URLs. A group of volunteers sent identical requests to public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act (2000) and the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland). Seven questions were asked to ascertain the extent of public authorities' filtering decisions, and these responses were tracked and made public via the website http://www.whatdotheyknow.com.
Period 01-Sep-2015 - 31-Mar-2016
Learning Lending Liberty: Can school libraries be engines for youth citizenship? Exploring how school libraries in Scotland support political literacy
Smith, Lauren (Principal Investigator)
This report presents the findings of research which explored the role of school libraries in helping young people to participate in politics. The project sought to identify the role libraries played in supporting young people’s political participation in two major political events – the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014 and the UK General Election 2015. The project also explored the information and information literacy needs of young people relating to political participation. The findings of the survey responses, interviews and case study highlight the ways in which information literacy provision can play a key role in helping young people to meaningfully participate in politics.
Period 01-Jan-2015 - 31-Jul-2015
Self-censorship and surveillance concerns of Scottish writers
McMenemy, David (Principal Investigator) Smith, Lauren (Co-investigator)
In the human rights and free expression communities, it is a widely shared assumption that the explosive growth and proliferating uses of surveillance technologies must be harmful—to intellectual freedom, to creativity, and to social discourse. But how exactly do we know, and how can we demonstrate, that pervasive surveillance is harming freedom of expression and creative freedom? We know—historically, from writers and intellectuals in the Soviet Bloc, and contemporaneously from writers, thinkers, and artists in China, Iran, and elsewhere—that aggressive surveillance regimes limit discourse and distort the flow of information and ideas. But what about the new democratic surveillance states? The question of the harms caused by widespread surveillance in democracies, is underexplored. In partnership with Scottish PEN, we are conducting a survey of Scottish writers to better understand the specific ways in which awareness of far-reaching surveillance programs influences writers’ thinking, research, and writing.
Period 01-Sep-2016 - 01-Sep-2017
Widening Access to Higher Education -Research Dissemination Conference
Sosu, Edward (Principal Investigator) Smith, Lauren (Researcher) Ellis, Susan (Co-investigator)
Period 22-Jun-2016 - 22-Jun-2016
Scottish ESRC Doctoral Training Centre DTG 2011 | Smith, Lauren
McMenemy, David (Principal Investigator) Gibb, Forbes (Co-investigator) Smith, Lauren (Research Co-investigator)
Period 01-Jan-2012 - 20-May-2016
Widening Access to Higher Education for Students from economically disadvantaged households: ‘What works’ and why?
Sosu, Edward (Principal Investigator) Smith, Lauren (Researcher) Ellis, Susan (Co-investigator)
In Scotland, there are significant social inequalities in regards to access to higher education. Students from the most disadvantaged households are less likely to enter higher education, and when they do, are more likely to go to college rather than university. Research suggests that several factors including poor academic performance and subject choice at secondary school account for this access gap. Over the last two decades there have been various attempts to tackle the educational access gap associated with poverty in Scotland. A recent flagship approach has been the signing of outcome agreements between higher education institutions and the SFC/Scottish Government. This agreement commits universities and colleges to widen access and increase the proportion of students coming from areas of high deprivation. Additionally, the SFC has funded the Schools for Higher Education Programme (SHEP) widening access initiatives to help quicken the pace of change. While modest progress has been observed with respect to the increase in number of disadvantaged students entering university and for those attending SHEP initiatives, it's not entirely clear what is facilitating this process. As far as we're aware, there's currently no systematic documentation of evidence on what makes these programmes successful. Additionally, a starting point to quicken the pace of progress in Scotland is to examine evidence from the wider literature on ‘what works and why’, in order to widen access for disadvantaged students. Funder - Scottish Funding Council Impact for Access Fund (£116, 314)
Period 17-Aug-2015 - 17-Aug-2017

more projects


Computer and Information Sciences
Livingstone Tower

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