Bringing together research and teaching in a blog

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I like the way this blog functions. It was created as an outlet for the work of her undergraduates. They bring together research and teaching, and in the process are building a substantial community of interest. This methodology could perfectly works out for other subjects like sociology or research methods, publishing the working class discussions, case studies or whatever. For instance, when working on shrinkage, every student could find and describe cases of shrinking cities all over the world and then blog them. This may contribute to both engage students in class and build a community of interests around certain research interests and topics.

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El éxito de facebook y el uso de investigación cualitativa

 

 

Me ha gustado esta explicación de Zygmunt Bauman sobre el éxito de Facebook (en realidad de las redes sociales en general) recogida en esta entrevista:

El éxito del invento de Zuckerberg consiste en haber entendido necesidades humanas muy profundas, como la de no sentirse solo  nunca (siempre hay alguien en el planeta que puede ser “amigo” Tu) y vivir en un mundo virtual donde no hay dificultades ni riesgos (no hay discusiones, las rupturas son sencillas y pasan rápidamente al olvido, todo es infinitamente más soportable que en la vida real).

Y me ha gustado entre otras cosas porque sugiere cuál es una de las esencias de la investigación cualitativa, es decir, la capacidad de entender y explorar determinadas necesidades humanas que difícilmente son expresadas de forma abierta pero que permanecen semi-inconscientes en nuestro interior. Trasladado al mundo de la investigación social, el éxito de determinadas políticas sociales radica precisamente en la capacidad de entender las verdaderas necesidades humanas en la comunidad y que a menudo pasan desapercibidas.

#ethnography: Trends, Traverses and Traditions

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Call for Papers – deadline extended to 1 May 2014
ESA midterm conference, Research Network on Qualitative Research (RN20)
#Ethnography, @Amsterdam #August_27-29_2014 http://aissr.uva.nl/ethnography

Ethnography is often seen as one of the principal approaches in qualitative methodology in general. The ESA midterm conference for the Research Network on Qualitative research (RN20) will be on trends, traverses and traditions in Ethnography. The central question posed at this conference will be: How do current societal and technological trends influence ethnography when we are studying that same society? One could think of more concrete questions such as:


• Is ethnography changing due to social media, such as Twitter and Facebook? In what ways?
• What happens when we use mobile field recording devices, Skype and Youtubein our fieldwork? 
• What theoretical innovations have led to new approaches in ethnography? 
• How does the current economic crisis influence ethnographic practices for researchers? 
• What turn are we at now? 
• What other trends do we see in ethnography today?

In times of digital information overload, conferences are useful venues to discuss the trending topics within our field. Some of the questions posed above could be used to approach the vast array of ‘new’ trends in ethnography. Since one of the methodological virtues of ethnography is the possibility for adaptation to local and new situations, the question might rise whether these trends are actually methodologically new. Different specific sessions will be organised by leading specialists. Please see the website (http://aissr.uva.nl/ethnography) for the list of specific sessions.

We hope to organise an interesting conference in the heart of Amsterdam, combining classic presentations with a social program that consists of a Fieldwork Experiment: Mass – Observation in the Amsterdam Red light district, interactive lunch sessions and interesting keynotes by Susie Scott, Christian Heath, Peter Geschiere, Stefan Timmermansand Ruth Wodak. 

Authors are invited to submit their abstract either to a specific session or to the open sessions. Please submit each abstract to a single session only. 

Abstracts should not exceed 250 words. 

Abstracts can only be submitted at http://aissr.uva.nl/ethnography and no later than 1 May 2014.

Social Media in Social Research 2014 – 4th annual conference

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The SRA is pleased to announce the 4th annual conference on Social Media in Social Research. This one-day event at the British Library in central London will feature these presentations:

  • Uninformed consent and social media research.  Dan Nunan, Henley Business School. In social media research, is informed consent possible without limiting access to the most valuable data? Do we rely on a set of ethical norms that are outdated in the internet era, and are there alternative and more effective approaches to consent?
  • Using social network analysis for social media in social research.  Dhiraj Murthy, Goldsmiths, University of London. This presentation will explore the use of mixed-method Social Network Analysis (SNA) to interpret social media in social research contexts. Methods of visualization will be discussed using Twitter and other social media data.
  • The Collaborative Online Social Media ObServatory: a progress report.  Rob Procter, University of Warwick. Rob will outline the main features of the Collaborative Online Social Media ObServatory (COSMOS) and demonstrate their application through examples of current research by the COSMOS team. He will also give a brief overview of development plans.
  • The ESRC’s social media agenda.  Samantha McGregor, ESRC. This presentation will outline the ESRC’s current thinking and future plans for social media data and research. This will also be an interactive session, with delegates encouraged to ask questions and discuss future priorities.
  • A social media case study – Facebook and Scottish independence.  Preriit Souda and Alastair Graham, TNS BMRB. An analysis and graphical representation of the thousands of conversations and influencers of the two campaigns in the Scottish Independence debate, together with results of opinion polling on voting intentions and attitudes, relating these to the Facebook analysis.
  • The social media challenge within the Food Standards Agency.Dr Joanna Disson and James Baker, FSA. The FSA’s communications and social science teams  are working together on the opportunities presented by social media. Where does communication end and research begin? When does ‘insight’ become ‘data’ and are the right skills in place to enter this new territory?
  • Analysing digital activism: The use of multi-layered digital ethnography in the social sciences.  Suay Ozkula, University of Kent. A case study of digital activism based on research with Amnesty International, using online and offline ethnographic observation, and short-term and long-term social media monitoring, as well as interviews with Amnesty staff and online participants.

Panel discussion: The future of social media research

Date: May 1, 2014

Start Time: 10:30 am

End Time: 4:30 pm

Price: £105.00

Further details: http://the-sra.org.uk/event-registration/?ee=151

4 crucial things to bear in mind before undertaking your own research project

There are four things all researcher must bear in mind when formulating a research topic.

1º Being open to find unexpected things. In the 1960s 3M research scientist, Spence Silver, was trying to enhance the adhesive used in tapes. However, he discovered something quite different, since the resulting adhesive was not enough strong to stick tapes. Throughout the next five years he talked about his new adhesive to people working in the company. Later, a new 3M researcher was frustrated by how the scraps of paper he used as bookmarks kept falling out of his church choir hymn book and he realised that Silver´s invention could be a solution. Soon, after the concept was developed and market research undertaken, the wildly used office product Post-it was launched in 1980. Nowadays, it is rather difficult not find it in any office. As well as in this case, the results of your research might not match the initial objective, so that be open to unexpected things.

2º Discussing your idea with others. A success factor in the Silver´s invention was the fact of having talked about to people working in the company, what highlight the importance that interaction with others has in the research process. It is quite common that students do not talk openly about their research ideas. Sometimes for fear the ideas to be plagiarized, but in most of cases just for fear to make a fool of oneself. Both sentiments must be overcome and all researches, both veterans and beginners should have a few good friends willing to listen their ideas. This is actually crucial. Far from feeling shame of your ideas, a good critic might be crucial to make research ideas and topics consistent from the beginning of the research process. On top of that, in the rise of the so called network society (Manuel Castell, 2005) the transnational research groups are emerging from a wild range of academic and professional networks. It is very recommendable to take part of the existing debates in your interest field in such group or forum. You could also test the feasibility of your research idea. It will surprise you to what extent anonymous people are willing to devote you part of their time.

3º Sustaining your professional/academic and personal interest. The first stage in any research process is always the fact of “wishing to research” which may though be obvious; it is not hold by many students. You might be interested just on obtained your graduate, which is a completely respectable position. However, researching, as well as other life´s facets, doing something that really matters and which you are fascinated with is usually a key issue. Before engaging the research world, my recommendation is to be sure you really like it. Secondly, finding your sub-branch of interest is also important. Perhaps you are passionate about doing a research in management, but at the same time, you should concretize your field of interest like, for instance, accounting or human resources. Finally, many authors suggest that research on things that really matter you from a personal point of you might be another success factor. Your commitment is going to be higher and also, regardless whether your research results are valuable for academic or professional community, at least you will be contributing to a major knowledge of yourself or the people or things around you. This one could be a good question to find a research idea: What does really make you happy? Or in terms of the philosopher Punset, what is your element? (you might be interested on this post)

4º Being sure about what you are going to research. This reminds us of the quote made by the recognised Chinese philosopher Confucio (孔子): “the wind never blows in favour of those who do not know where to go”.  Uncertainty is likely a very common obstacle for developing a good research and it definitely starts at the beginning of the process. As mentioned above, testing your research ideas among colleges and friends is essential to discard those inconsistent ideas that like everyone else you might consider when formulating your research. And this difficulty is very well illustrated in a conversation between Alice with the Cheshire Cat in Alice´s Adventures in Wonderland (Carroll 1989:63-4) Here you have both the dialogue and the video of this scene:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to”, said the Cat

“I don´t much care where”, said Alice.

“Then it doesn´t matter which way you walk”, said the Cat

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References

Becker, H. S. (2007). Writing for social scientists: How to start and finish your thesis, book, or article University of Chicago Press.

Camino, J. R. (2011). Cómo escribir y publicar una tesis doctoral ESIC Editorial.

Castells, M. (1996). The rise of the network society Blackwell Publishers Oxford.

Lewis, P., Saunders, M. N. K., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business students Pearson.

Punset, E. (2007). The happiness trip Chelsea Green Publishing.