Methods Sessions Archive


20th October 2022

Decolonising Methods – Admos Chimhowu (University of Manchester)

What does the decolonial learning discourse mean for social science research methods? As part of our celebrations of Black History Month, Methods NorthWest will host a panel discussion on Decolonising Methods featuring Dr Leon Moosavi (Liverpool University and Dr Njabulo Chipangura (The University of Manchester). The panel to be chaired by Methods Northwest Director, Dr Admos Chimhowu will explore ongoing scholarly conversations about decolonial knowledge generation and learning and its implications for social sciences research methods.

Registered 115 Attendees

27th October 2022

Using machine learning and natural language processing to enable text analysis at scale for better understanding harm to children who go missing in England – Nicola Fox (University of Manchester)

Analysing text data for quantitative analysis, such as content analysis, or qualitative analysis, such as thematic analysis, can be time-consuming, resulting in small and unrepresentative samples, which makes it harder for the research community to reach generalisable conclusions. Computational techniques such as natural language processing (NLP) combined with machine learning (ML) could enable the automation of this analysis so that it can be done at scale. This talk with provide a beginners-level overview of NLP with ML and illustrate the potential application of these techniques in the analysis of a large volume of documents to better understand the extent to which published cases of serious harm to children involve missing person incidents.

Registered 49 Attendees

10th November 2022

Data-Powered Positive Deviance – Basma Albanna (University of Manchester)

In any community, there are those who achieve significantly better outcomes than their peers. Despite having the same resources and limitations, they find more effective solutions to complex challenges. The positive deviance approach seeks to identify these outperformers and understand the strategies behind their success so they can be replicated. Data powered positive deviance (DPPD) builds on this approach, giving practitioners a method to use digital datasets, such as earth observation and mobility data, to identify positive deviants. Their local solutions can then be uncovered and used to inform community and policy interventions.

Registered 22 Attendees

17th November 2022

The power of the pen: Prisoners’ letters to explore extreme imprisonment – Marion Vannier

Abstract Pending

Registered 24 Attendees

1st December 2022

What is Lived Experience? Towards a Biography of a Concept – Paul Jones (University of Liverpool)

Lived experience has got a central place in social science, but at the same time is a somewhat fuzzy concept. On the one hand, social research inextricably deals with the experiences and perspectives of others; on the other, academic analysis usually – arguably even should – means more than giving voice to participants’ perceptions. Reporting on some early-stage theoretical study of these tensions, this session offers some lines of inquiry with respect to the status of lived experience in academic study.

Registered 50 Attendees

8th December 2022

Doing Interpretive Research: Learning to Relate to the World Abductively – Koen Bartels (University of Birmingham)

To many social scientists, interpretivism has an intuitive appeal but at the same time it seems intimidating. They often do not know how to find their way in the, sometimes bewildering, interpretivist landscape or they lack the right training and guidance for developing the requisite knowledge, experience and confidence for learning how to actually do it. This interactive session offers an experiential learning approach to doing interpretive research. It focuses in particular on how we can learn to relate to the world abductively. We observe that many (aspiring) interpretive researchers tend to develop abstract research topics and questions that offer a shaky foundation for their project. Interpretive research advocates an abductive logic, which remains elusive and challenging. We explain abduction as a process of working through emotions to create new ways of relating to the world. We offer a range of heuristics for anchoring the research that strengthens the way interpretive researchers conduct their research and position themselves in the field.

Registered 50 Attendees

15th December 2022

Using Instagram as a tool for social research – Adele Moore (University of Liverpool)

Evolving vastly from a simple photo sharing app launched in 2010, Instagram is the 4th most popular social media platform, with 1.21 billion users worldwide, facilitating interaction between users today via the sharing of photos, reels, IG TV and stories. This session will describe how I used Meta’s Instagram to explore the ways in which contraceptive knowledge is developed and shared on social media. Drawing on my own data collection methods, I will outline the various ethical and methodological considerations which can emerge when utilising Instagram as a method of social research.

Registered 49 Attendees

2nd February 2023

Unpacking contentious markets/Social realities using the Cartography of Controversies – Olfa Mejri (Lancaster University)

Organizational researchers are increasingly interested in studying social networks and their outcomes on how organizations (and the social) are shaped. However, traditional social network research approaches still appear quite limited in their ability to capture the dynamic processes of the studied networks, and are also predominately focused on quantitative data (Williams and Shepherd, 2017). Besides, social researchers are less equipped to study and describe social networks in contentious settings that present intricate and multiple debated realities (Venturini, 2010). This presentation aims at discussing the relevance of a promising practical toolbox inspired from the Actor Network Theory, the Cartography of Controversies (CC), for the analysis of market and social networks in controversial settings, using exclusively documentary data. This pragmatic method provides researchers with numerous conceptual and methodological advantages. It offers a set of progressive lenses guiding the course of data collection and data analysis, capturing the formation and evolution of competing networks. Beyond mapping networks’ structure, the CC is a tool for mapping webs of relations and meaning, highlighting agencies involved in tying/untying and mutually transforming the observed networks. The CC also deals with some of the most common challenges associated with the use of qualitative documentary data, namely the question of ‘unit of analysis’, ‘theoretical/data saturation’ and effectively organising and exploiting overwhelming amounts of data, enhancing the ‘objectivity’ and validity of qualitative research outcomes.

Registered 50 Attendees

9th February 2023

The Body Is Electric: Using Bodily Responses to Explore Behavioural Sciences – Siobhan Caughey (University of Manchester)

Physiological measurements allow for precise information about an individual’s bodily functions, thereby allowing researchers to study the relationship between processes and behaviour. While EEGs (electroencephalograms) are often used within research to record brain activity, other physiological measurements are often overlooked. Heart rate (ECG, electrocardiogram), skin conductance (EDA, electrodermal activity), and eye tracking all have a place within research and can be used to explore bodily responses. Alone, each of the measurements can indicate arousal and changes within the body. Together, different physiological responses can be used to gain a clearer understanding of how the body is reacting in the process under investigation. With examples from psychology, criminology, and business, this talk introduces the use of more advance methodologies within behavioural research.

Registered 43 Attendees

2nd March 2023

Using Teams/Zoom Captions or Word Transcription: Three Approaches to Enhancement of Immersion, Focus or Scale of Qualitative Research – Steve Wright (Lancaster University)

This seminar will show you how to get, use, synchronise, correct and analyse accurate multi-lingual transcripts, using software available to PhD students for free. CONTEXT: The recent development and availability of accurate, automated text-to-speech recognition and creation of automated subtitles and transcripts has the potential to transform what can be achieved with qualitative analysis of spoken language. However, the adoption of automated transcription continues to be dogged by concerns about the potential loss of immersion. The focus of this seminar is the development of a teaching dataset to address these concerns by explaining and demonstrating how to harness these recent developments in software services through integration with Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) packages such as NVivo and ATLAS.ti. METHODS APPROACHES: Three options for working with automatically created transcripts will be explored. The first enhances immersion through close listening and sequential correction of transcripts along with making reflective notes. Having immediate and ongoing access to synchronised audio creates the potential for a deeper level of analytic engagement drawing on the nuances available from the tone, tenor and tempo of speech and the meanings these carry. The second approach is selected focus based on listening to audio while reading the transcript and marking analytically interesting segments for closer attention and detailed transcription (up to Jeffersonian levels of detail). The third approach is to substantially expand the scale of research. Depth of engagement is intentionally traded for a substantial increase in the breadth and scope of working with larger corpora of automated transcripts enabling text mining, with synchronised audio providing added detail and checks for accuracy. The dataset and approaches will be demonstrated in a practically focussed session.

Registered 38 Attendees

9th March 2023

Activism as method – Jess Adams (University of Manchester)

What relationships do our research methods have to emancipatory or progressive political work? What sorts of benefits and repercussions are there for those who pursue these more engaged approaches to research? In this workshop, we’ll hear about how scholar activists (or militant researchers) use methods directly to benefit progressive political causes, and we’ll explore how these ideas relate to your own research. Attendees are invited to read and come ready to discuss this short reflection on scholar activism by Frances Fox Piven in advance

Registered 21 Attendees

16th March 2023

Using data analytics in equality, diversity and inclusion in higher education – Sami Karamalla Gaiballa (University of Manchester)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is a key value of higher education institutions. The University of Manchester, like many other universities must take active steps to provide an inclusive environment for students, staff and visitors irrespective of their age, race, religion or belief (non-belief), sex and sexual orientation, disability and other characteristics. Data analysis plays a vital role in understanding existing patterns and making recommendations to improve EDI. In this talk, Sami Kramalla-Gaiballa will discuss his role as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Data Analyst at the University of Manchester, and demonstrate how he uses data in his everyday role.

Registered 49 Attendees


7th October 2021, 2-3pm

Exploring issues of positionality in qualitative research – Rosie Harrison (Lancaster University – Management School )

Qualitative method texts often discuss the importance of understanding positionality as a researcher during research design, yet its importance for participants during data collection is often neglected. Using my experiences of conducting ethnographic fieldwork with paid carers, this seminar will explore how notions of positionality matter for participants and will provide a space for you to reflect on the potential implications for your own research.

Registered 67 Attendees

21st October 2021, 2-3pm

Using Graphic Elicitation Data Gathering Methods with Ex-Offenders – Lee Wainwright (University of Liverpool – Management School)

In this talk I’ll draw on my own research into how entrepreneuring in prison helps to change the lived experience under conditions of extreme restriciton, to discuss what graphic elicitation methods are, how to use them and how to analyse the qualitative data.

Registered 12 Attendees

11th November 2021, 2-3pm

Flexible Re-design of Cognitive Psychology Research in Response to COVID-19 Challenges – Tamer Said (University of Cambridge)

My research topic examines the intersection between cognitive psychology and school learning. My research was originally planned to be in schools. However, given the COVID restrictions, schools were closed. In this talk, I will highlight how my research methodology has been modified to adapt to the fully online school day and how my methods were tweaked.

Registered 17 Attendees

18th November 2021, 2-3pm

Using archives and historical research in government research: pitfalls and prospects – Michael Lambert (Lancaster University)

This seminar draws on personal experience of engaging with government inquiries using archival sources and historical research as well as undertaking commissioned investigations. It offers a consideration of the form, function and purpose of inquiries and their processes, the nature of different types of archives, records and sources – as well as tracing linkages across them; and some of the opportunities and challenges presented in such research.

Registered 7 Attendees

25th November 2021, 2-3pm

Research using social media: Facebook, mumsnet and blogs – Nadia von Benzon (Lancaster University)

Social media provides a vast and incredibly accessible repository of qualitative data. Its potential for supporting efficient and incisive research across all levels of academia is huge. However, social media-based research is also replete with ethical and methodological challenges. In this talk I will explore some of the opportunities and the concerns of using social media as both a primary and secondary data source, focusing on my own recent research across Facebook, Mumsnet and ‘Mummy’ blogs.

Registered 37 Attendees

9th December 2021, 2-3pm

Process Tracing Techniques: Innovations to systemetise qualitative research methods – Chelsea Johnson (University of Liverpool)

Process tracing is often invoked in small-n case studies as a way of systematising qualitative research, but there is little agreement about best practices for using the method. In this talk, I discuss my work applying a recent innovation in process tracing techniques to a large-N sample of cases.

Registered 30 Attendees

16th December 2021, 2-3pm

Using the Freedom of Information Act to Gather Data – Lessons from Socio-legal research – Siobhan Weare and Tom Webb (Lancaster University Law School)

In this talk, Siobhan Weare and Tom Webb (Lancaster University Law School) will discuss the approach of using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to gather data based on practical application in Socio-legal research.

Registered 16 Attendees

3rd February 2022, 2-3pm

An Introduction to Time Series Analysis and Forecasting – Nadia Kennar (University of Manchester)

This seminar will examine methods for uncovering and developing better worlds, and thinking about more hopeful ontologies as developed by scholars associated with the work of J.K. Gibson-Graham. How can we uncover and develop better stories, visions practices about how we and others can live well in the Anthropocene, What methods are used by diverse economies scholars to build better worlds?

Registered 50 Attendees

24th February 2022, 2-3pm

Using Agent-based Models to explore social phenomenon – J. Kasmire (University of Manchester)

Social science seeks to understand and predict patterns involving human behaviour, many of which are large-scale and complex. However, social science explanations or predictions can be difficult to test and refine because of the serious ethical and practical barriers to running experiments on the real world! For example, there are many possible explanations for the complex patterns of urban mobility, but when traffic calming measures fail to produce the desired results it can be difficult to identify why or how the situation can be improved.

One possible solution is to run social science experiments ‘in silico’ via an agent-based model (ABM) in which simulated actors have features, behaviours and actions informed by real world data. Such ABM experiments allow social scientists to test and refine their understanding of problems and possible solutions and to explore how emergent patterns might change under alternative conditions.

This free webinar, organised by the UK Data Service, is the first in a training series on how to use agent-based models combined with real world data to address social science questions. Specifically, this webinar:

  • introduces important concepts like emergence, bottom-up processes, and more
  • presents several agent-based model examples
  • discusses the pros and cons of agent-based models
  • presents software options

Registered 49 Attendees

3rd March 2022, 2-3pm

Psychoanalysis as Methodology – Moran Mandelbaum (Keele University)

This talk will offer an overview of psychoanalysis as methodology. I’ll draw on Lacanian-Zizekian readings as I unpack several ‘logics’ – e.g., fantasy, jouissance, desire, disavowal – whilst applying them to contemporary local and global politics – e.g., national-populism, security discourses, capitalism and consumerism.

Registered 39 Attendees

10th March 2022, 2-3pm

Researching recreational drug taking in the home using visual and object interview methods – Lisa Williams (University of Manchester)

The practice of recreational drug taking in private spaces is a relatively hidden activity. Moreover, no social science research has collected visual data in recreational drug takers homes. The present study aims to explore, using photography and object interview methods, the strategies drug takers use when storing drugs in the home to avoid detection from authorities and other people, and the nature and purpose of recreational drug taking in the home. The presentation will outline the research design, associated ethical dilemmas and practical issues encountered in the field.

Registered 25 Attendees

17th March 2022, 2-3pm

Synthesizing qualitative research – Julius Sim (School of Medicine, Keele University)

Different approaches to the synthesis of qualitative research will be explored, examining some of the methodological challenges involved.

Registered 49 Attendees

24th March 2022, 2-3pm

Stakeholder engagement in data science research – Ellen Schwaller, Elisa Jones & James Watson (University of Liverpool)

Join us for a roundtable discussion of the intersections between data science and engagement (end user, stakeholder, participant, patient, contributor, citizen engagement)! We are interested in exploring how PGRs and ECRs can use engagement activities to co-design ideas, interpret findings and develop valuable solutions for people with diverse levels of confidence in using data and data science methods. After three short presentations, we will shift to a roundtable format to discuss:

  • motivations of engagement
  • barriers of engagement; and
  • how we may engage effectively.

Whether you are just getting started, have veteran experience, or are simply contemplating if you may want to incorporate engagement into your next project, this is a great opportunity to start and continue these conversations. The facilitators/presenters all have practice (public sector) experience and will bring a social science and health care perspective. Certainly, all disciplines are welcome!

Registered 37 Attendees

7th April 2022, 2-3pm

Conceptual Analysis – Sorin Baiasu (Keele University)

Most research would involve the use of words and a written piece. Some of the words we use in our research are more important than others, for instance, they are central for the topic or occur more often in our written work. It becomes particularly important for a successful research, therefore, that these terms be defined sufficiently precisely, in order to avoid confusions, ambiguities and vagueness. This session explains these pitfalls and presents conceptual analysis as a method which helps us address them.

Registered 50 Attendees

14th April 2022, 2-3pm

Data discovery for secondary analysis projects – finding and accessing data from the UK Data Service and beyond – Alle Bloom (UK Data Service)

Data discovery is an important part of any secondary analysis project, and knowing where and how to find and access data is a key skill for any researcher. This interactive workshop will introduce data discovery as a key step in the research process, outline how to find and access data from the UK Data Service and beyond (including international archives) and allow participants to practice some data discovery of their own.

Level: Introductory

Registered 32 Attendees

21st April 2022, 2-3pm

Digital fieldwork: Ethnography and exploration in digital spaces – Carwyn Moris (University of Manchester)

In this talk, to explore the methodological and analytical challenges of conducting research in digital messaging spaces, I build on two experiences using ethnographic and playful analysis of microblogs, instant messaging groups and chatlogs in Mainland China. I first introduce the spatial perspective which underpins my methodological practices within digital spaces before looking at two key examples (i) the playful exploration of an erased hashtag and (ii) the temporal and spatial challenges of conducting fieldwork in digital messaging spaces. In this process I also discuss how erasure effects research in digital messaging spaces, erasures stemming from deletion or censorship and analytical erasures that emerge from temporal disjuncture.

Finally, I examine how different temporal frames make messaging spaces both real-time field sites and chat log archives. I then contrast the messiness of real-time ethnography with retroactive analysis of chat logs months, noting how the dominance of one temporal frame can lead to analytical erasures of context and data. Methodological reflexivity can help to avoid these and other erasures, and throughout the paper I stress the necessity for methodological reflexivity and fluidity when researching in and on digital messaging spaces; methodological boundaries easily blur, and unintended erasures may be more likely when research becomes stuck in one spatiotemporal moment.

Registered 50 Attendees

28th April 2022, 2-3pm

An integrative approach – A narrative orientated literature review, incorporating systematic practices – Sihui Wang (Keele University)

The literature review is an ongoing and messy task throughout the PhD journey. Have you ever been concerned about missing some important literature? Have you ever felt lost in the overwhelming volume of literature? Or have you ever wondered where you should start from and how to organise your literature review? Based on the presenter’s own PhD experience and exploration of methodological literature, this talk introduces an integrative approach to conduct a narrative-orientated literature review, while incorporating systematic practices.

Registered 50 Attendees

5th May 2022, 2-3pm

Mixed Methods Approaches: Exploring the Impact of Work Placements on the Student Experience – Kerry Traynor, Kate Evans, Chris Barlow, Amy Gerrard (University of Liverpool)

The positive impacts of work placements on academic achievement and graduate outcomes are well documented across a range of disciplines, but less is known about who gains access to placements and the extent to which benefits are realised across different student groups. This talk will set out a mixed methods framework for exploring placement access and experiences amongst students from a diverse range of backgrounds using surveys, interviews and institutional datasets, highlighting ethical considerations and some of the practical challenges arising through fieldwork.

Registered 13 Attendees

12th May 2022, 2-3pm

Hour ahead stock price forecasting: A comparative analysis of machine learning and deep learning models for high frequency financial time-series data – Robina Iqbal (Keele University)

Tabular neural networks handle categorical and continuous columns differently as compared to other algorithms such as Random Forest. This study set out to investigate the efficacy of Tabular Learner (TL) and evaluated their performance with LSTM, GRU and Random Forest models in making one hour ahead prediction of stock prices. fastsai’s TL was used for training while a strategic validation approach for time-series analysis was implemented.

Registered 33 Attendees

26th May 2022, 2-3pm

Metaphors of menopause and how to analyse them – Pernille Bogø-Jørgensen (Lancaster University)

Metaphor is a slippery linguistic phenomenon and much discussion has gone into developing rules for how to identify it. A current practice is the well-tested Metaphor Identification Procedure, MIP, (Pragglejaz, 2007) and its further development MIPVU (Steen et al, 2010), which is replicable across several languages (see Nacey et al. 2019).

Replicability comes at the cost of restrictiveness as does any procedure that seeks to make qualitative data countable. However, in my research it functions as a starting point for a discussion about what metaphor is. This talk will address how I have applied MIP to my data as well as made it complement the metaphor scenarios theory proposed by Musolff (2006). Metaphor scenarios are ‘mini-narratives’ that set out possibilities, expectations and evaluations for actors and their actions.

In my data, this relates to menopause as it is construed in Danish and US American medical websites and women’s magazines. My aim is to contribute to a broader discussion about triangulation of methods to analyse metaphor in natural language.

Registered 38 Attendees

9th June 2022, 2-3pm

Discovery-led approaches in the digital archive; finding resonances with literature; and researching at a distance during the pandemic – Roslyn Irving (University of Liverpool)

Archives are filled with voices of the past, waiting to be uncovered, and a discovery-based approach offers the flexibility to engage with these texts and allow them to take the lead. During my master’s research, I visited special collections. I could physically touch the materials and turn delicate pages. In essence, materials from the early twentieth-century were tangible to me. My PhD research, which began in the midst of the pandemic, has been a very different experience. As physical archives became inaccessible, the digital archive became my doorway into the eighteenth-century. This session addresses the complexities of undertaking archival research and what I have learned using digitised texts. It will also consider how to filter and select sources and find resonances between historical documents and literature.

Registered 15 Attendees

16th June 2022, 2-3pm

Post-structuralist approaches to critical discourse analysis: A hybrid approach – Camila Montiel McCann (University of Liverpool)

This talk will offer insight into how to incorporate marginalised voices into your research and how to decentralise the perspective of the researcher as the omniscient authority on a topic. Using my own research into the representation of women in the news media, I will explain how I supplement a more straightforward critical discourse analytical approach with a poststructuralist analysis in order to provide self-reflexivity in my research and re-centre the voices of those who I study. Though based on feminist approaches to language and gender, this talk is relevant to those doing qualitative research who want to take steps towards a more intersectional, decolonised methodology and inclusive, collaborative research.

Registered 50 Attendees

30th June 2022, 2-3pm

Studying Violence: Concepts, Approaches and Challenges – Deana Heath (University of Liverpool)

What do we mean by the term ‘violence’ – does it include, for example, famine, social suffering, or the intergenerational effects of postcolonial trauma – and how do we theorise it? What are some of the ways, moreover, that we can go about studying it, and what sorts of challenges might we encounter when we do? This workshop will focus on some of the challenges of carrying out research on violence and suggest some potential ways to address these.

Registered 50 Attendees


Thursday 23rd July 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 2020, 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 ( 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 the pandemic – 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

27th May 2021, 2-3pm

Making autoethnography – Clare Holdsworth (Keele University)

Many researchers have turned to autoethnography as a result of covid-19 lockdowns. Faced with impossibility of face-to-face research, autoethnography provides one solution to carrying on with research off line. Autoethnography is not just a method for lockdowns, it is an accepted methodology in the social science repertoire, though one that can be treated with suspicion.

I have adapted autoethnography to write about my sewing practice, including how this has changed during lockdown. The potential of researcher as maker has been developed in a number of autoethnographic studies. My use of autoethnography incorporates this commitment to understand the process of making but, at the same time, I also use making as a method for interpretating relationships with others. My approach to an autoethnography of making is therefore to try to capture the diversity of practices and emotions that are experienced through the seemingly mundane task of sewing.

In this session I introduce the different methods I have used to observe myself and how these have developed a relational interpretation of materiality and making. I also discuss the ethics of autoethnography and issues that potential researchers need to think about when adopting this method.

Registered 43 Attendees

3rd June 2021, 2-3pm

Discourse Analysis: how and why should I do it? – Alexandra Krendel (Lancaster University)

In this session, I showcase several methods currently used to analyse discourse. Discourse is defined as language above the level of the sentence. A discourse analysis approach is a qualitative one, which takes into account both the specific linguistic features of interest in a given text, as well as the context in which texts are created. I also discuss discourse analysis which is undertaken from a ‘critical’ perspective, and thus focuses on how ideology and power relations are expressed through language. I then demonstrate that discourse analysis methods can be applied in a wide range of contexts which may be of interest to social science scholars. These include conversations, political discourse, the language of the news, healthcare, business, as well as online contexts.

Registered 45 Attendees

10th June 2021, 2-3pm

Introducing Corpus Approaches to Social Science – Luke Collins (Lancaster University)

This session will introduce the basic principles of corpus linguistics: a set of computational approaches to studying language in large datasets. Corpus linguistics supports researchers in uncovering patterns in language on the basis of quantitative measures and is informed by linguistic theory. This helps us to gather evidence on how language is used according to various contexts and in pursuit of different communicative goals, making it a highly flexible tool for research across the social sciences. This seminar will cover the fundamental concepts and introduce the tools used in corpus linguistics, demonstrating how attendees can benefit from existing resources as well as how they might go about using corpus linguistics to analyse their own data.

Registered 28 Attendees

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