Methods Sessions 2020-21 Archive

Thursday 23rd July, 2-3pm

Doing Twitter Recruitment and Research – Jaime Garcia, University of Manchester

This presentation will explore the benefits and drawbacks of conducting participant recruitment through Twitter. We will explore a case study in which participants were recruited for a study about taboo and deviant sexual practices via Twitter. We will address: how to build trust and rapport with participants, negotiating gatekeepers, understanding sampling bias, and ethical issues in using Twitter. Finally, it will also include some suggestions about how to practically engage in Twitter communities.

Registered 30 Attendees


Thursday 30th July, 2-3pm

Open Access Resources: The Internet Archive/Archives on the Internet – Rebecca Bowler, Keele University

This talk will give some examples of open access online resources and some methods for creative internet source searching. It has a C20th literary/historical focus but will be useful to any Humanities students who have limited physical access to a university library.

Registered 30 Attendees

Thursday 6th August, 2-3pm

Learning for wellbeing – Clare Holdsworth, Keele University

Learning a new activity is popularly assumed to be beneficial for wellbeing. During lockdown the opportunity to learn a new skill maybe tempting to combat the anxiety of isolation. In a research project carried out before lockdown we established the importance of a person-centred approach for learning embodied crafts such as crochet. The challenge in a socially-distanced world is how to maintain a commitment to person-centred learning. In this session we discuss the findings from our research and the challenges of translating these to an online forum. We are very interested to hear about your own experiences – frustrating and rewarding – of learning in lockdown and this session will share experiences of crafting self-care during Covid-19. Registered 14 Attendees

Thursday 13th August, 2-3pm

Conceptual Analysis – Sorin Baiasu, Keele University

We all use words for at least part of our research. Some of these are central for the particular project we pursue – these are our key concepts, and it is important to have a good understanding of them, to define them properly and use them consistently. This session presents some of the rules of a good definition and briefly discusses the nature of concepts. Participants will be expected to bring a few important concepts they use in their research. By the end of the session, they will know how to analyse and define them; the session will also be useful, since the process of analysis and definition can be presented as part of the respective project’s methodology. Registered 30 Attendees

Thursday 27th August, 2-3pm

Researching Film Online – Katherine Whitehurst, University of Liverpool

In this talk we will explore some of the ways that film can be explored through the use of online materials and archives. We will seek to explore the common methodological approaches undertaken in film studies to outline how online resources can help to faciliate scholars analysing film in relation to fandom, industry, socio-historical context, discourses of promotion and advertising, and critical reception. Registered 30 Attendees

Thursday 3rd September, 2-3:30pm

Participatory action research during and after C19 – Louise Hardwick, Kim Ozano, Kerry Traynor and Andy Davies, University of Liverpool

In this discussion we will present examples from existing projects using participatory and/or action research approaches and how these have been adapted during COVID-19. In addition, early career, junior and other researchers will be invited to bring problems they may be encountering in the COVID-19 context and ask panel members and attendees for advice and guidance about possible solutions and adaptations to research plans. Registered 40 Attendees

Thursday 10th September, 2-4pm

Qualitative Diary Methods – Laura Radcliffe & Leighann Spencer, University of Liverpool

Qualitative Diary Methods (QDMs) are increasingly recognised as a valuable and important method in social science research, due to concern across disciplines with an overreliance on cross-sectional research, a lack of focus on temporality, and the need to capture evolving processes and the daily dynamics of phenomena. This workshop will provide researchers with a new range of methods to add to their methodological toolkit, ‘Qualitative Diary Methods’, including support and guidance in managing some of the challenges associated with these methods, and insights into qualitative diary (longitudinal and ‘shortitudinal’) analysis approaches.

Registered 30 Attendees

Thursday 17th September, 2-3pm

Writing Methods Beyond the Academy – Ronnie Hughes, University of Liverpool

A session based on my own methods of writing by varying where I write, how I work and the genres I work in. From a background in social activism and a decade of writing the Liverpool blog ‘A Sense of Place’ I’ve now been applying my walking, observational, blog writing, poetry, nature, fiction writing and photography methods to my post-graduate sociology work for two years. So this will be a discussion of these methods together with a consideration of how they might be applied to your own work. Writing better by taking some risks, enjoying what you do and producing work that arguably stands a better chance than the standard academic approach of being an informed pleasure for other people to read.

Registered 30 Attendees


Thursday 24th September, 2-3pm

“Being there”: Rethinking fieldwork in the time of Covid – Evi Girling, Keele University 

This session reflects on the impact of Covid-19 on fieldwork and specifically on the ethnographic aspiration of ‘being there’ in the context of an ongoing three year ESRC project on Place, crime and insecurity in everyday life.  We will reflect on the practical challenges and the impact of restrictions on fieldwork through the lens of this project and on some of the opportunities (and risks) of the migration of fieldwork online. We will also explore the extent to which Covid-19 and its associated disruption of the expected certainties and uncertainties of the processes and aspirations of qualitative research offers an opportunity for reflexive turns in the journeys of ongoing research.  There will be opportunities to discuss how Covid-19 has impacted on and changed the way in which you conduct or plan to conduct your own research. Registered 30 Attendees

Thursday 1st October, 2-3pm

Repurposing journalism and the ethnographic gaze – Ciara Kierans, University of Liverpool

This session asks how journalistic reporting brings different kinds of analytical affordances into view for ethnographers, when dealing with tricky, contentious or ‘hard to reach’ ethnographic concerns, especially those that move beyond the confines of ethnographic enquiry temporarily and situationally. Discussion for this session will initially be organised around a medical scandal taken from my own fieldwork in Mexico. This can be used as a spring board for your own study problems. Related readings will be sent in advance.

Registered 30 Attendees

Thursday 8th October, 2-3pm

Deleuze’s methods in the sociology of health and illness – Lena Theodoropoulou, University of Liverpool

This session will provide examples of how we can do empirical research in the sociology of health and illness using Deleuzian methods. I will specifically discuss the deployment of the Deleuzo-Guattarian assemblage for the description of spaces of recovery from drugs and alcohol. Empirical sociological methods like interviews and visual methods will be discussed under this prism, as connection-building devices that drive the unpacking of the caring practices that constitute the recovery assemblage.

Registered 28 Attendees


Thursday 15th October, 2-3pm

Using patient casenotes in narrative, social or medical researches – Alannah Tomkins, Keele University 

This session will consider the value of nineteenth-century asylum casenotes for students of personal narratives, or historians of social life and medical change. Casenotes survive in multiple archives across England, the fruits of legislation from 1808 and 1845 to ensure a network of institutions able to cure or contain the ‘lunatic’ poor. The format of casenotes varies a little between different establishments, but collectively they contain a wealth of information about patient cohorts. Furthermore, these materials are increasingly being calendared or digitised. What do such documents offer, and how can we make best use of them? Examples of casenotes from asylums in the English midlands will be circulated before the workshop, alongside a narrated PowerPoint slide setting out preliminary questions for discussion. This preparation will ensure that the majority of our shared time can be devoted to unpicking the contents of the casenotes and devising strategies for their use in answering literary or historical questions.

Registered 25 Attendees


Thursday 22nd October, 2-3pm

Working with ‘Found Data’, Insights from Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis – Phil Brooker, Alex Holder, Michael Mair (University of Liverpool), Chris Elsey (De Montfort University) & Patrick G. Watson (Wilfrid Laurier University)

When gathering data first-hand becomes difficult, it can be worth thinking about what we might pick up second-hand. In this session, therefore, we want to focus on ‘found’ data, data we might happen to come across and how we might best approach it and make use of it. Drawing on our experience of doing ethnomethodological and conversation analytic studies of everything from military operations, the use of lethal force by the police, space missions and the public disclosure of mental health issues in sport through to game-playing, music making and life vlogging, we will discuss how objects that have often been treated as supplements to research (documents, texts, videos, etc.) can themselves yield in-depth understanding of cultures, workplaces and forms of practice. Approached creatively but rigorously, the use of ‘found data’ can be a way of pursuing studies by means other than primary data collection. Registered 30 Attendees

Thursday 29th October, 2-3pm

Crowd Sourced Digital Heritage – Ben Anderson, Keele University

In this talk, we will consider the nuts and bolts of undertaking online crowd-sourced heritage exercises, including some of the technical requirements behind the design of websites, copyright information etc, using some existing examples. We will also discuss the potential of this style of research for both qualitative and quantitative analysis, as well as its limitations and silences. Registered 30 Attendees

Thursday 5th November 2020, 2-3pm

Introduction to Network Analysis – Dr Tomas Diviak, University of Manchester

What do diverse entities, such as global cities, terrorists, football players, non-profit organizations, students in a classroom and scientific papers have in common? There are connections among them, which can be seen and analysed as a network. This allows us to see which football player is most important in a given team, which terrorist may have access to key information, whether a classroom is cohesive or fragmented, whether some NGOs cooperate closely with particular others, or whether there is a hierarchy among global cities. Social network analysis (SNA) provides the tools to answer these (and many more) research questions. In this presentation, we will introduce basic concepts in SNA as well as their applications in current social scientific research. Registered 25 Attendees

Thursday 12th November, 2-3pm

Machine learning in the Social Sciences – Francisco Rowe, University of Liverpool

This session will provide an intuitive introduction to machine learning for social scientists focusing on key concepts and regression and classification approaches. It will provide an on-hands practical experience using R computational notebooks and reproducible examples.

Registered 30 Attendees

Thursday 19th November, 2-3pm

Using Freedom of Information Requests in Research – David Whyte, University of Liverpool

This session aims to provide participants with an understanding of the uses and applications of data obtained by Freedom of Information requests, and to develop an ability to analyse, write up and disseminate data obtained in this way. It will also provide an overview of the limitations of this data source, and offer a series of practical methods to overcome those limitations.

Registered 30 Attendees
11th February 2021, 2-3pm
Listening to older people living in care homes: reflections on communication strategies
Helen Hindle (University of Manchester) This seminar will focus on Mind Maps and Talking Mats and how I used them to enhance communication when interviewing older people living in care homes. These strategies have wider application and there will be opportunity to discuss how communication strategies might be applied in your research. Registered 29 Attendees
18th February 2021, 2-3pm
New forms of data for public safety
Reka Solymosi (University of Manchester)
Crowdsourcing and civic technologies offer new forms of data, facilitating insight into people’s experiences with public safety. These data sources allow us to follow people along their routine activities at unprecedented scales. Researchers can transform such insight into learning about experiences of place and crime. In this talk I will discuss my work on making use of such crowdsourced data to better understand topics of: fear of crime, disorder, sexual harassment, and police use of social media. I will introduce methods for data collection, and issues with data analysis. The aim is to illustrate the potential of using such approaches to better understand the situational factors associated with crime and fear of crime as experienced by people in their everyday lives, and encourage discussion of the strengths, limitations, and ethical and policy implementations of these emerging methodological approaches. Registered 12 Attendees

25th February 2021, 2-3pm
Reflecting on asynchronous internet mediated focus groups for researching culturally sensitive issues
Claire Pierson (University of Liverpool) and Noirin MacNamara (TU Dublin) This session will consider the use of Internet-mediated focus groups (FGs). We will outline their use in a study and consider the advantages and disadvantages of internet-mediated FGs and reflect on their use for researching culturally sensitive issues. Our study utilised text-based asynchronous internet-mediated FGs to explore attitudes to abortion, and abortion as a workplace issue. We will outline three key elements of text-based asynchronous online FGs as particularly helpful in researching culturally sensitive issues – safety, time and pace. The session is based on this methods paper. Registered 40 Attendees
4th March 2021, 2-3pm
Studying space from a study space: A sociology of the atrium
Paul Jones (University of Liverpool)

What was intended as an empirical study of architects has ended up as a theoretical account of the spaces that they design; this shift explains the title, and will be reflected on in the discussion. Still, sociology has much to offer with respect to illuminating the place of architecture vis-a-vis contemporary accumulative strategies. The world over, the atrium is a familiar architectural feature of contemporary building types. Effectively a double-height or larger void internal to a building, atriums are bound up with the creation of surplus values of different kinds, and as such are architectural spaces ripe for sociological interrogation.

Based on the research I’ve done instead of that which I originally planned, I’ve come to see that atriums add momentum and meaning to acquisitive activity in three key ways: they entail the creation of tall architectural structures, allowing for the production of material and symbolic surplus value; atriums produce resonances of informality in institutional context, allowing for self-representation and the hosting of commercial activity in an ostensibly non-corporate setting; and they are key to the visually arresting internal spaces that allow for – and intensify – consumption and associated transactional activity. By way of this example, I want to examine and open discussions around methodological strategies for pursuing what we’re interested in despite restrictions on research.

Registered 12 Attendees
11th March 2021, 2-3pm
Making use of secondary data sources and engaging policy makers: an example using the Crime Survey of England and Wales
Carly Lightowlers (University of Liverpool) In this session, we will discuss recent collaborative work undertaken by Carly Lightowlers at the University of Liverpool and Lucy Bryant at the Institute of Alcohol Studies to examine the socio-economic distribution of alcohol-related violence. This study made use of a longstanding and rigorous source of secondary data – the Crime Survey for England and Wales. Results – which find that finds alcohol-related domestic violence victimisation is up to 14 times as common in the lowest socioeconomic groups – have also captured the interest of parliament and feature in ongoing policy debate. Using this research as a case study, this session will discuss the benefits of using secondary data for doing social research and for generating impact and engagement with policy makers. It will speak to both the benefits and limitations of using such data sources as well as the opportunities (and challenges) for engaging a policy audience in the findings. Familiarity with the Crime Survey for England and Wales or indeed quantitative methods is not required to attend/participate. Registered 16 Attendees
18th March 2021, 2-3pm
Working with Twitter
Joseph Allen (University of Manchester) Twitter has recently been a fantastic source of data. Never before has an individually been able to so trivially access historic opinions and watch them develop over time. In this talk I will cover scraping historic and live data from Twitter and running real-time sentiment analysis. Programming will be using Python. Registered 45 Attendees
25th March 2021, 2-3pm
Critical Thinking
Yiovi Derpsch (University of Liverpool) Do you know what ‘critical thinking’ really is and is not? Can you define it? Are you able to explain its importance within research and beyond? Critical thinking has been deemed the most important 21st century skill, sought-after not only in academia but also within the workplace and society. However, studies show that many students only marginally improve their critical thinking skills, complex reasoning and academic writing during their journeys through higher education. Moreover, employers often note that their workforce struggle to perform tasks that require reasoning, problem-solving and creativity, i.e., skills that are rooted in critical thinking. This session will help you understand better what critical thinking is, its importance in research and personal life, and distinguish what tools are needed to develop the basic skill set and become a better critical thinker. You will also learn about the basis of argumentation. By the end of this session, you will be better able to:
  • Explain what critical thinking is and it is not
  • Describe its components
  • Understand the importance of argumentation
  • Apply the basic argument structure to your reading & writing
Registered 44 Attendees
15th April 2021, 2-3pm
Reflection on data collection via telephone/videoconferencing with older people
Julie Longson (Keele University) Face to face interviews was the planned method of data collection for exploring childhood experiences of World War Two.  Covid-19 prevented this and participants were offered the option of telephone or Zoom interviews but (lack of) access to technology proved to be an additional barrier.  A third option – providing written accounts was added.  This talk explores how the challenges of data collection during a pandemic were addressed. Registered 40 Attendees
22nd April 2021, 2-3pm
DIY Desert Island Discs: a toolkit for exploring musical memories and emotions
Alexandra Lamont (Keele University) Covid-19 has propelled many researchers to adapt methods and consider new ways of gathering data in a pandemic. In this talk I illustrate an example of a recent project I am leading on people’s favourite music choices. I will talk about how something originally planned as a small-scale ‘interest’ project turned into something of immense value to many of its participants almost overnight, to illustrate how serendipity can be developed into strategy and impactful research can still be done under restricted conditions. Registered 24 Attendees
29th April 2021, 2-3pm
Data Pre-processing
Anran Zhao (University of Manchester) Data pre-processing is a data mining technique that involves transforming raw data into an understandable format. With the increasing amount of data available for research and analysis, real-world data is often incomplete or inconsistent and thus not ready to be used directly. Multiple spreadsheets, missing values, typos, numbers shown as text, unnecessary columns… Data without adequate preparation will deliver poor or misleading findings. This is exemplified by the pithy data scientist phrase ‘GIGO’, which stands for ‘Garbage In Garbage Out’. This talk introduces data pre-processing and its workflow, including steps on data integration, data cleaning, data reduction and data transformation, as well as some of the issues people should be aware of in this process. Registered 40 Attendees
CANCELLED 6th May 2021, 2-3pm
4 C’s of Passing: Creating a New Framework to Fit your Research
Billie-Gina Thomason (Liverpool John Moores University)
This session will begin by sharing with you the case of a gender passing individual named William Seymour. William was a biological woman who lived and presented as a man in all aspects of their life. It will then explore the conceptual framework of the 4 C’s of Passing that I created to explore the life of William and other gender passing individuals like him. It will conclude by offering a working example of using this framework and consider how we can be creative in our research and use what is around us to develop new framework’s and alter older ones to fit our own research.
13th May 2021, 2-3pm
Observational sketching as method
Sue Heath (University of Manchester) This seminar will focus on the possibilities for using observation sketching as a qualitative research tool. Building on lessons learnt from a Leverhulme Trust-funded Artist in Residency project, which saw artist Lynne Chapman embedded in the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives for a full academic year, the session will explore the insights that sketching can bring to research, whether as a tool for personal reflection or as a research method in its own right. The session will be informed by some of the ideas explored in this paper (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13645579.2018.1484990) You may want to have a pencil and paper to hand! Registered 40 Attendees
20th May 2021, 2-3pm
Reflections on data collection, using online modified Delphi survey as an alternative to face-to face research methods during pandemic (COVID-19)
Noureen Shivji , Siobhan Stynes and Jo Smith (Keele University) In this session, we will present how an online modified Delphi survey method was used in two studies ‘EASIER’ and ‘POiSE’. For the EASIER (achEs and pAins and LivIng BEtteR) project, as part of the final stage of the study, Nominal Group Technique (NGT) was planned to gain consensus from professional stakeholders on supported self-management intervention components to develop an evidence based logic model. However, we adapted and used an online modified Delphi survey to gain consensus from an expert group of health professionals and experts from the third sector to review the evidence and findings from earlier work within the EASIER study. The results from Delphi study will be used for the logic model development. For the POiSE (Predictors of Outcome in sciatica patients following an epidural steroid injection) online Delphi study, clinicians with expertise in Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI) as a management option for patients with sciatica were invited to take part. The aim of this two round Delphi study was to gain consensus on which factors are potentially associated with outcome following an ESI for disc-related sciatica and should be included in data collection in a future planned large clinical cohort study. This talk will address how we overcame the challenges and successfully conducted these online Delphi studies, using Keele Health Survey* as the online data capture tool. Finally, we will also share the recent experiences and ‘top tips’ of Keele Clinical Trials Unit when moving from a postal to online method in carrying out data collection across a number of health research studies of the older population. *underpinned by LimeSurvey – Free and open-source Software Registered 38 Attendees
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