If you are interested in how we can best investigate and understand the world through social research, then the 8th ESRC Research Methods Festival provides a great opportunity for you to explore new and innovative methods, as well as get to grips with key developments in more established ways of collecting and analysing data. Every two years the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) organises this three-day event, full of seminars, activities and lively discussions about established and emerging methods used in social science research. The 2018 Festival returns to the University of Bath, located in a beautiful historic city, from 3rd to 5th July.
Participants from academia, government, charitable and private sectors are attracted to the Festival. Established and early career researchers have the opportunity to hear from speakers addressing a wide range of interesting methodological themes. Key themes for this year are: methodological innovation; crossing methodological boundaries; analysis of complex data sets; pedagogy of methods; and careers and skills development.
Sessions in the analysis of complex data sets theme address a range of methods for tackling complex forms of data with linked and time dependent structures and associated issues. These include projects from the NCRM’s own research programme such as methods for the assessment of quality of data collection in sample surveys, working across qualitative longitudinal studies, accounting for informative item nonresponse in biomarkers, and the anatomy of disclosure risk in linked population data.
The pedagogy of methods theme includes sessions that provide insight into the teaching and learning of advanced social science research methods. Find out about innovations in statistics teaching, and consider the pedagogical underpinnings of methodological learning. The career and skills development theme provides opportunities for doctoral, early career and more experienced researchers to find out about new methods, and develop their methods and communication skills. Amongst the topics covered by the ever-popular ‘What is…?’ sessions are data linkage, citizen’s juries, worldmapper, and methodological plualism. Festival participants will also be able work on honing their skills in reading and writing critically, expanding their methodological comfort zone, disseminating their research, and developing effective research proposals, as well as writing creatively and writing academic blogs.
The Festival will also welcome distinguished keynote speakers, setting the tone for the event. Professor Nancy Cartwright (Professor of Philosophy at the University of Durham, UK, and at the University of California, San Diego) will give the International Journal of Social Research Methodology sponsored talk about causal inference and evidence for the single case. Professor Donna Mertens (professor emerita at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC) will consider mixed methods’ contribution to social, economic and environmental justice. And Professor Danny Dorling (University of Oxford) will give the NCRM Annual Lecture, addressing natural geographical experiments in economic inequality.
The ‘festival’ mood will be enhanced by a range of social activities such as PhD student poster exhibition, Festival reception, and tours in the city of Bath. And this year we look forward to the innovation of our cartoonist in residence, James Lappin. James will be attending sessions and representing them graphically. You can see some of his work at thinkingrecords.co.uk.
Submitted by Rosalind Edwards, NCRM, University of Southampton on Friday, 6th April 2018