Research

Since 1998 Professor Jackson has been researching email communication and has published a large number of papers on its impact and how to overcome email overload <read papers>. I conducted research for a number of organisations e.g. ASA, Citi, Rolls-Royce, AstraZeneca, SAP, Microsoft, DSTL.

Other areas of research include, Knowledge Management, Information Overload and Information and Emotion – <read more> about the projects

HOW MUCH DOES EMAIL COST? – Email Calculator

I’ve created email cost calculator which shows you how much email costs <Email Costs Calculator>. Or you can download the interactive spreadsheet <download> which will help you make a case for tackling email communication within your organisation. It is based on over 15 years of research into email.

Email Costs Calculator - Prof Jackson

NEW EMAIL APP

Our new email app is nearly ready – here is a screenshot (more info)

REMS - Email App

 

EMAIL OPTIMISATION

In 2009 I combined the email research we had  undertaken and added some exciting new material to create the E-mail Optimisation Toolkit Book. The one stop guide to overcoming the problems of email communication within the workplace.

The Email Optimisation Toolkit - Dr Thomas Jackson

The E-Mail Optimisation Toolkit Book <buy>

Read the review of the book <read>

Interests

  • Making sense from large terse data sets
  • Email Preservation and Archiving
  • Extracting the Meaning Of Terse Information in a Geo-Visualisation of Emotion (EMOTIVE)
  • Prediction modelling of swimming participation
  • The Cost Effectiveness of Electronic Communication within Organisations
  • Tool Assessment to Optimise the Knowledge Management Environment
  • Extracting Knowledge from Email Communication
  • Applying Autopoiesis to Knowledge Management in Organisations

Laboratory Personel

Dr Suzanne Elayan

Dr Suzanne Elayan

Research Associate

Personal webpage
Dr Ejovwoke Onojeharho

Dr Ejovwoke Onojeharho

Research Associate

University webpage
Dr William Johnson

Dr William Johnson

Research Associate

University webpage
Dr Zhenxin Qin

Dr Zhenxin Qin

Research Associate

University webpage

Current Research Associates

Research Projects

  • EMOTIVE

    Extracting the Meaning Of Terse Information in a Geo-Visualisation of Emotion

    This is an EPSRC and DSTL funded project and looks at the effective management and efficient use of data. The scale, diversity and distributed nature of current and emerging data assets are increasing. For example, every sixty seconds there are 98,000 tweets, 6,600 images uploaded to Flickr, 695,000 Facebook status updates, 79,364 Facebook wall posts, and 168 million emails sent [1]. As data becomes ever more ubiquitous and critical to decision making it is vital that it is turned into meaningful information.

    This research offers opportunities to filter a selection of this communication traffic, to identify words and phrases sensitive to defense and national security, to estimate the strength of feeling (emotion) associated with the language and to present the results in a simple but effective interface comprising a concept cloud which is geographically sensitive.

    To find out more please visit our dedicated web site EMOTIVE

    [1] Go-Globe.com, 2011, In sixty seconds, [last accessed 14/11/2012]

  • AI2M

    Adaptive Informatics for Intelligent Manufacturing

    This ESPRC project brings together a cluster of academic and industrial practitioners in information science and manufacturing to research and develop an on-demand, intelligent product lifecycle service system for increased yield for products and processes that can bridge the information gaps associated with inefficient supply chain integration and the lack of knowledge on product usage throughout design, development and operational lifecycles. The outcomes of this project will have application across a diverse range of industrial sectors, for both those consortium members already identified (aerospace, automotive, defence, R3 (i.e. reuse, recycle and remanufacture)) and other manufacturing and service companies alike.

    Click image to view full size

    AI2M - Adaptive Informatics - Dr Thomas Jackson

    The challenge of this project is to develop an on-demand intelligent product lifecycle service system for increased yield (Table 1) for products and processes that can bridge the information gaps associated with inefficient supply chain integration and a lack of knowledge on product usage throughout lifecycles. Current commercial solutions are limited to “on-site” silos of information that are restricting UK manufacturing in terms of its ability to: (i) optimise efficiency in materials, resource, energy utilisation, (ii) speed up innovation, (iii) improve the generation and exploitation of manufacturing intelligence, (iv) support supply chain collaboration throughout the product and process lifecycles and (v) enable new business models and technologies to be readily adopted (e.g. product service systems (PSS) supporting either product operation, usage or results oriented business models).
    Key research challenges cover: (i) Service Foundations (e.g., dynamically reconfigurable architectures, data and process integration and sematic enhanced service discovery); (ii) Service Composition (e.g. composability analyses, dynamic and adaptive processes, quality of service compositions, business driven compositions); (iii) Service Management and Monitoring (e.g. self: -configuring, -adapting, -healing, -optimising and -protecting) and (iv) Service Design and Development (e.g. engineering of business services, versioning and adaptivity, governance across supply chains).

     

  • Information Overload

    Very short description of the project.

    As the volume of available information increases, individuals and organisations become overwhelmed by the plethora of information. This can reduce productivity and performance, hinder learning and innovation, affect decision making and well-being and cost organisations large amounts of money. This paper develops a new theory-based model of factors affecting information overload and provides a formula for calculating the extent of overload, potentially of use as a diagnostic tool supporting individual or organisational development.

    Theory-based model of factors affecting information overload<
    download the paper>

    This particular study, which focussed upon email usage in organisations, made an important contribution, by not only confirming that employees do become seriously overloaded by email messages, but also by demonstrating that this is a function of both the volume of emails, and the ways in which employees interact with the technology.  Although there has been much prior research on email overload, this study is very different in that it is the first ever model to be published that shows the interrelating weighted factors for information overload.

    Moreover, this modelling process could now be applied in many different areas connected with information management where a diagnostic tool is required to help measure and manage informational workloads, in a variety of different organisational contexts.
    The impact of this study has been evidenced through an invitation to give a prestigious keynote presentation, this time in Australia.

    Here’s a trailer of Information Overload:

    Here’s an attempt to demonstrate Information Overload to undergraduate students in a lecture theatre using a remote controlled helicopter (film taken by a student):
    <

    You will see on the second projector screen a twitter feed – the idea being students can tweet during the lecture about things they don’t understand. Oh the maturity of some students!

  • EMAIL RESEARCH

    Very short description of the project.

    Research carried out since 1998 by Dr Jackson has examined some of the tangible costs of using email in the workplace and has focused on improving the effectiveness of employees using email systems. There have been several key findings and they are contained within the key selected papers on this page.

    Did you know?

    Since 1998 we have done lots of research, but in summary here are the main findings:

    Majority of employees react to emails within 6 seconds of them arriving (70%)

    There is a 64 second email recovery time. So it takes 64 seconds to get back into the work you were doing before the email interruption

    The way the majority of employees deal with email causes email /task overload

    Most employees have their email application set-up to check for new email every 5 minutes. This means if an employee has an email every 5 minutes they only have 2 window before the next interruption.

    The effect of seminar email training only lasts for a month – employees revert back to their old habits.

    How to Optimise Email Communication?

    This Email Optimisation video will provide a guide to how to optimise your email. It is based on over 14 years of research.

    Key Papers

    To back up these findings have a look at these papers

    Understanding Email Interaction Increases Organizational Productivity

    The Cost of E-Mail within Organisations

    Try out this new Email Calculator to determine the cost of using email in your organisation email_cost

    What to know more….
    Can I improve the way I send email
    Should I invest in email training?

  • EMAIL STRESS

    Many organisations worldwide are benefiting from the use of electronic mail (email) for workplace communication. However employees continue to report email concerns regarding email stress. Unlike any other email research to date this research explored the physiological and psychological impact of email on employees at a UK government agency, using blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels and paper-based diaries. The findings show a link between email and stress and indicate that employees were more prone to increased stress during information gathering (reading) and sharing (sending) activities, and less susceptible during information management and retrieval activities (finding and filing email messages). Below is a reading from an individual from the study.

    Email Stress

    Here is the mean cortisol reading from a day with email and a day without email:

    The mean cortisol recorded from all 30 participants, (90 samples collected in Day 1 as indicated by the red line), demonstrated a normal cortisol metabolism curve and diurnal rhythm, with highest levels observed in the early morning followed by continued gradual decline and lowest levels reported at the end of the day (which is normal). However, the aforementioned sample of participants who showed increased blood pressure and heart rate during email use (as indicated with the green line in Figure 4) were instead found to release constant cortisol concentration levels in the body between Sample 2 (mean nmol/l = 0.709) and Sample 3 (mean nmol/l = 0.7). This indicated a heightened cortisol response occurred for those participants during email use, which both supports blood pressure and heart rate readings, and is a key display of participants’ sustained or raised levels of stress.

    Identifying underlying reasons for the reduced and increased stress levels are likely to be multifaceted but the majority of participants (26) did relate to email stressors, such as email overload. This finding is similar to Hair et al.’s (2007) research which identified ‘email stressed’ as a key characteristic that users denote themselves to be. This research showed that employees were glad to receive new email for timely information, in response and in gratification for work complete. Employees were particularly annoyed to receive new email when irrelevant, an immediate response was required or when it interrupted and distracted them from their work tasks. The employees also raised a number of adverse effects such as increased expectations, misinterpretation, alienation, and blame culture, as a result of email use.
    Mano and Mesch (2010) suggested email gave rise to side-effects, such as increased psychological burden and distress that directly affected well-being. The results of our study support the assertion that when information is organised, in this case when email is filed, a sense of well-being (i.e. low blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol) occurs, and a sense of ill-being (i.e. high blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol) occurs when email is unfiled. These physiological findings concur with the non-physiological studies by Whittaker and Sidner (1996), and Peric (2009) that users who file are less likely to suffer from stress than those who do not file. This research also supports Hogan and Fishers’ (2006) research that implicate users are less likely to suffer email overload if they feel that they can keep on top of their email through filing.
    Kanungo and  Jains’ research (2008) hypothesised that high stress levels could be found to occur when the rate of incoming email increased. Our findings support that an increased level of email is likely to cause stress, for example going from no email to receiving email causes stress. It is unclear to whether the volume of email is an addition stress factor and at certain daily volumes the employee might show signs of fatigue and reduced productivity as found in Jackson’s research (Jackson, 2009). As already mentioned, the use of single physical responses to monitor the effects of email on users were conducted by Taylor et al. (2008), which found blood pressure was higher when a recipient received email; and Jackson (2010) – with the use of heart rate monitoring showed individual stress was causal of email use. Our results showed four employees showed physical signs of elevated stress, therefore increased blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol secretion, during email use.  Six participants showed sharp increases in blood pressure and seven with an increased heart rate on return to email use after ‘email free time’. More specifically than the other studies our results showed the most common reported email tasks were reading and sending email and 18 participants showed an increase in blood pressure and heart rate when undertaking these tasks as opposed to finding and filing email messages.
    Over the years email has been the focus of many research studies and is sometimes portrayed as a bad communication medium. Indeed, in this study it has shown that email causes stress when compared to having email free time. However, if email is compared to other ways of communicating which was also observed in this study, email is no worse than any other media. In Figure 3, 5 and 7 it also shows an increase in stress whilst undertaking non-email activity. This study indicates that it is how we use communication media which is likely to increase stress levels, and in particular the situation that we find ourselves in, in having to multi-task to complete tasks on time.  Multi-tasking email alongside other communication media, such as phone and face-to-face meetings, increases the risk of becoming stressed. For example the results showed the majority of participants (92%) displayed a negative stress response, with many recording elevated blood pressure (23) and heart rate (14) readings, during email and phone use. With multifunctional devices like Blackberry’s and iPhones allow workers to be accessible 24-hours a day unlike ever before and because of this it is likely that there will be an increase in stress levels. Another concerning aspect is that many employees do not realise that they are stressed, as in this study users perceived themselves not to be stressed when the physiological findings showed their bodies were under increased stress. This would indicate that employees might find it difficult to self-regulate their use of communication media to ensure they do not become overwhelmed by stress. The significance of this is that long term short sharp increases such as this can lead to long term chronic health conditions such as hypertension, thyroid disease, heart failure and coronary artery disease (Info Blood Pressure2008; Medtronic 2010).

    Media Coverage

    Do emails increase your stress levels and affect your health?
    stv.tv – Loughborough University Professor Tom Jackson, who conducted the research, spoke to Scotland Tonight

    Loughborough Echo – Emails give us stress! »

     

    Press Coverage in the USA

    Inc Magazine, USA
    How email is ruining your health »

    Statesman, USA
    How email is ruining your health »

    Press Coverage in New Zeland

    Email stress could damage our hearts
    MSN NZ News
    Researchers from Loughborough University in the UK tracked 30 government office workers and found that when they were reading and sending emails their blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels all increased. Cortisol is released by the adrenal

     

    Press Coverage in India

  • Email Knowledge Extraction

    Its a world leading email knowledge extraction system that currently has the best f-measure output in the world. The software has gained interest from many organisations, for example, Citi Bank, Welsh Assembly, The National Archives. We are continuing to develop the research with the ASA and The National Archives and software to perform an extended range of tasks, for example, automatic email classification that can be used on email archives at The National Archives. The research has also led to a number of academic publications and keynote talks at the Records Management Society Conference and the Public Sector Forum Conference.

    How it Works?

    1. When you send an email EKE will parse your email for keyphrases it thinks might represent your knowledge – a lot of natural language processing required!

    2. The email sender will then be asked to rank if the keyphrase – either n/a, expert, basic knowledge or working knowledge

    3. The keyphrases are then stored in a central database that can be searched by employees

    4. The database can then be used to find out who knows what within the organisation.

    Dr Thomas Jackson - Email Knowledge Extraction Video

    To find out more about the application take a look at this paper – Expertise Profiling: Is Email Used to Generate, Organise, Share or Leverage Knowledge .

    To hear more about “The Challenges of Email Management and Research into a Solution” watch a seminar given at the CimTech Conference 2010 by Dr Thomas Jackson. Three years on I wonder if they are still the challenges – what do you think?. Jackson

    Part 1

     

    Part 2

  • INFORMATION & KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

    Can Knowledge Management really Work?

    Can Knowledge Management really Work?
    Empirical evidence at the employee level is rare, accordingly Bircham (2003) many key studies involved in encouraging knowledge sharing hold the prior assumption that an individual will share knowledge regardless of how KM is implemented. 

    Here the KM practitioner is led to believe the corrective effect and heterogeneity of KM will unite the relevant stakeholders together and knowledge will be shared, contrary to the inescapable fact that Knowledge Management cannot be successfully introduced where a knowledge culture is lacking (Davenport et al., 1998; Ipe, 2003).

    Dr Jackson's Research - Applied Knowledge Management

    Measuring the Knowledge Culture
    Q. So how can Knowledge Management be introduced within an organisation when the working practices are unknown? 

    A. This is an issue we are trying to address by adapting Autopoiesis to act as a framework to measure the working practices.

    The Future
    The predominant KM tools used today tend to focus on explicit knowledge and its re-workings even though the received wisdom acknowledges that it is the tacit knowledge or ‘know how’ that leads to greater effectiveness in organisations. The future challenge in this area is to develop tools to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit in an easy and effortless manner. One approach may be the development of multimedia technologies such as digital video that capture and store an individual’s ‘know how’ for storage, indexing and future retrieval via a search engine. This would enable a much richer form of communication between individuals and allow the addition of a diversity of audio-visual signals from the spoken word to tone of voice and body language.  However, whilst building these tools we must not neglect the cultural issues of sharing knowledge
     <Read More>

    OTHER PROJECTS

    – Decision Capturing for Optimised Knowledge Management in Clinical Development UK <read more>

    – Implementation and Management of Information Systems within SMEs <read more>

    – Autopoiesis and Knowledge Management <read more>

     

  • iMAPS

    Integrated Mapping of fActors for Participation in Swimming

    This project will use the output, a statistical model, from previous research (Jackson, Bartlett, Parboteeah) on profiling and predicting swimming demand in the UK to create a visual analysis and prediction tool for the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA). With the Olympics renewing interest in sport, this is an ideal opportunity to validate the model and to add a visual interface that will enable end-users easy access to what is currently a complex SPSS interface. By testing the model on swimming data and other sports, and providing a user-friendly interface, it will bring the tool closer to commercialisation. To achieve this, a number of objectives have been identified:

    1. Conduct a systems requirement analysis to determine how the ASA would use the visualisation analysis and prediction tool, and understand their needs for the system.
    2. Design the analysis and prediction tool using UML and liaise with project stakeholders (as identified in objective 1) to determine the final design.
    3. Create the historical analysis of part of the visualisation tool. This aspect will take historical data inputs, conduct the analysis identified during the previous research, and present a visual representation of the results. The view would be customisable and could focus on certain areas/demographics if desired. Output – visual data analysis and presentation tool for swimming.
    4. Test and validate the results and interface of the tool.
    5. Construct the prediction component of the visualisation tool. This aspect will use the approach identified in the previous research project to conduct analysis on the same dataset previously imported (objective 3) and make predictions on swimming numbers and factors. Output – visual demand prediction tool for swimming.
    6. Test and validate the results and interface of the tool.
    7. Once tested and validated, explore opportunities to apply the modelling and visualisation techniques to swimming on a worldwide scale, and other sports to aid with potential commercialisation of the tool. Output – visual demand prediction tool for other specific sports.

     

    The outputs of this project will have significant societal impacts.  The positiveimpact of participation in sport and active recreation on physical health is now well accepted. The overall aim of the ASA is to increase the number of people who swim. Better understanding the reasons for both participation and non-participation, as well as being able to easily analyse and interpret the data will help achieve this aim and, ultimately, increase the health of the nation, both physically and mentally.   Understanding of localised factors for swimming participation will enable campaigns to be tailored specifically with the aim to break down the barriers facing participation within certain communities and under-represented groups.   Accompanying this impact on well- being and health comes the economic benefits of there being less resources spent on health care, where currently considerably more medical costs are incurred for inactive people.  Thus increased participation potentially will reduce premature mortality.  Additionally the project will create new business models for leisure centres and the like based upon the embedded knowledge from understanding the localised factors for participation.  One of the five legacy promises of the previous Governments published Legacy Action Plan(June 2008) was to make the UK a world-leading sporting nation: this included a commitment to help at least two million more people in England be more active by 2012.  The output of this project will enable analysis of this legacy with relation to swimming.  It will also enable informed decisions on campaigns, like free swimming to the over-60 and under-16 age groups that some local authorities are endorsing.
    It is also envisaged that this tool will be able to do some post event evaluation, to assess any extra interest in sport generated by the Olympics, making this project very timely. Beyond swimming, the model will be adapted so it can be applied to other sports. This enable benefits to the country as a whole, as it will enable coordination of leisure resources in a particular region; having the knowledge to know when and how to target a particular audience and, having the ability to accurately predict demand and usage, brings clear economic benefit in times of austerity.

  • RESILIENCE

    Robust Lifecycle Design and Health Monitoring for Fuel-Cell Extended Performance

    The durability and reliability of producing high quality power for long periods of time have the potential to be the leading marketing factors for future hydrogen and fuel cell power sources.  Improvements to current real-world environment durability levels, and hence improving the performance criteria, is limited by: (i) a lack of understanding of the state of the cell/stack, (ii) the lack of ability to deal with data currently obtained in an informed manner, and (iii) the limited support and decision making throughout the lifecycle to optimise performance.
    The vision of this proposal is to develop an optimal integrated fuel cell system design, encompassing an intelligent health monitoring capability, to enable maximised lifecycle performance.  This will be achieved within a real-time dynamic and adaptive intelligent lifecycle infrastructure yielding the increased optimised performance of cells (e.g. self: -monitoring, -adapting, -optimising and –protecting). Providing an intelligent information infrastructure leading to smarter, optimised cells will require leading edge research to semantically model relationships between the cell and environmental data coupled with the necessity of performance techniques which enable systems to be optimally designed for reliability, with an intelligent diagnostic and prognostic capability.

    Robust Lifecycle Design and Health Monitoring for Fuel-Cell Extended Performance (RESILIENCE)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The proposed research will form a new platform of activity in hydrogen and fuel cell reliability and durability intelligence, underlining the principles of one of the UK’s key strategic targets on energy production and reduced emissions, and having direct commercial utilisation and impact with engagement from one of the leading fuel cell companies with the UK. The RESILIENCE project is a timely extension of the current SUPERGEN Hydrogen and Fuel Cells HUB programme activities aimed at research into hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.  The area of research of this proposal is distinct in nature though will prove insightful to the work within the HUB, in particular to Work Package 2 (Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Systems), Work Package 3 (Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Safety) and Work Package 7 (Polymer Electrolyte Fuel cells).
    The research will deliver a broad generic capability applicable to industries where replacement of current high emission power sources is paramount.  The RESILIENCE beneficiaries include: Intelligent Energy via improved fuel cell technology development, improved system design, and enhanced prognostic ability, all enabling improved service provision and enhanced reputation in the low carbon power source field; and other power source companies currently utilising fuel cell power source technologies, such as automotive, aerospace, railway and electrical power distribution, via an improved capability to maximise the durability of the system.
    All of these beneficiaries highlight the national importance to addressing the long term UK emission targets for a sustainable future. The proposed research activity will position the Hydrogen and fuel cell community with new, internationally leading capabilities to offer in durable low emission power generation.  Commercialisation may be via UK fuel cell third parties, new UK business investment or SME supply chain development and partnerships.