X Close

DIS Student Blog


Department of Information Studies


Doctoral Placement at University of Toronto. By Nenna Orie Chuku

By Ian Evans, on 5 July 2023

Participating in the UKRI Globalink doctoral placement scheme, Nenna spent 12-weeks in Toronto, Canada studying at University of Toronto. Read on to learn about her experience of short-term mobility as part of her doctoral studies.

Between January to April 2023, I spent 12-weeks in Toronto, Canada as part of a doctoral placement scheme funded by UKRI and Mitcas. During this time, I undertook a standalone research project in the Faculty of Information (iSchool) outside the focus of my doctoral study, which was supervised by Dr Jenna Hartel. The research project focused on bullet journaling, in particular the habits, practice, and environment of bullet journalers. As part of my placement, I participated in Dr Hartel’s Information Ethnography module, which provides training in the theoretical and methodological framework of ethnography and its use in Information Studies.

The bullet journal project consisted of three distinct parts: (1) interviews with bullet journal keepers, (2) observations at journaling related sites (such as stationery stores and book shops) and, (3) review of instruction manuals. Outings to related sites provided a chance to visit different parts of Toronto. Highlights include visits to “Paper Plus Cloth” in Parkdale on West Queen St West, “Wonder Pens” on Clinton Street, “The Paper Place” on 887 Queen St. West and “Labour of Love” on Carlton Street. Each of these stores are run by enthusiasts of paper and pens who provide advice along with a warm welcome.

Visiting Toronto during the winter months did present challenges; keeping warm whilst commuting during snowstorms, and getting out and about when it snowed or was snowing. Nonetheless, it was a great experience. I packed a long-padded coat and had the appropriate footwear, so kept things moving. As the weather warmed nearing the end of my placement, I got to see another side of the Greater Toronto Area. The hike organised by the Centre for International Experience and led by hike leads from Let’s Hike T.O. was another highlight, as it provided a different introduction to Toronto.

As a visiting graduate student, I was exposed to the higher education system in Canada, which has vast differences to the UK system. From this, I was able to meet amazing masters and doctoral students who provided a warm welcome into the various support and social networks available at the University of Toronto – thank you!

The experience of planning the placement (working on the research plan and the process of applying for funding) and spending time at the Faculty of Information has been invaluable to my doctoral experience. Whilst it did take a good amount of time and effort to organise, I would recommend a placement or similar types of mobility opportunities to other doctoral students.

Thanks to the funders (UKRI and Mitacs), Professor Oliver Duke-Williams, Dr Jenna Hartel, Ena Wehr and Ian Evans at UCL DIS, Kathy Shyjak, Carol Ng, Dube Burin and Alfredo Gonzalez all from the Faculty of Information for their support.

By Nenna Orie Chuku

Leave a Reply