A source of new ideas leads UC researcher to PhD

A source of new ideas leads UC researcher to PhD

21 October 2014: Dr Lubna Alam's seven year research journey culminates after receiving her PhD from the University of Canberra.

Dr Lubna Alam

Dr Lubna Alam after receiving her PhD on graduation day.

After spending seven years juggling her research, full-time work and raising two daughters, University of Canberra lecturer in information systems, Lubna Alam was rewarded with a PhD from the University of Canberra, when graduating on 8 October.

Dr Alam spent the better part of a decade researching how Australian businesses and governments can benefit from the use of non-profit crowdsourcing to cut costs. 

Crowdsourcing allows organisations to tap into large online communities to acquire services, ideas and content through the internet and social media.

Her research focused on the National Library of Australia's Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program (ANDP) and how it uses crowdsourcing to invite the public to donate their time to help in the process of digitising newspaper text to make them available online for free.

"Cultural institutions are increasingly adopting crowdsourcing technologies due to budgetary constraints and to stay relevant," she said.

"I wanted to know more about how non-profits use crowdsourcing for social engagement particularly for galleries, libraries, archives, and museums where no financial incentives are offered to contributors."

"The research findings show that there was a need for frequent alignment of crowd motivations when designing and implementing crowdsourcing applications for the not-for-profit sector."

Dr Alam, who teaches about social media and social informatics at the University, said she was particularly interested in how Facebook and Twitter played a part in soliciting ideas.

"I have always been fascinated by the staggering participation in social networking sites in recent years," she said. "I am interested to explore motivations behind uses and outcomes of social media in work places, particularly in public sector."

She said her biggest challenge during her research was finding the time to work full-time as a lecturer at the University, study part-time and raise two daughters, Samah (13) and Saira, (6) with her husband, Raquib.

"I constantly struggled to balance the demands of a young family and work-study balance. In fact, Saira, my six-year-old daughter, was born and raised during research for my PhD," she said.

"I received a lot of support from my family, friends and University of Canberra colleagues for which I am forever indebted."

Dr Alam said she's proud of her achievement and hopes it will motivate her children.

"I hope my own achievement will also become an inspiration for my daughters who will learn to follow their own passions."

Originally from Bangladesh, Dr Alam came to Canberra to study her Bachelor of IT at the University on an AusAid scholarship in 1996.

After three years as an academic in Bangladesh, she migrated back to Canberra with her family and joined the University as a lecturer in 2003.

While she was "relieved" to finally complete her thesis she said she can't wait to start researching again.

"This has been a memorable journey –often through rough patches. A milestone and possibly the biggest accomplishment in my career," she said.

"Now it is time to extend further in my research aspirations. The PhD is only the stepping stone into exciting future academic endeavors."