The NCRM International Visitor Exchange Scheme (IVES) was set up as an important pillar of the NCRM’s international strategy. The NCRM team wanted to promote and foster formal links with overseas experts and centres of methodological excellence. We also wanted to give social science researchers a chance to work with international methods experts. So we launched the scheme in 2015 with two components: a) an incoming visiting scholar awards for noted overseas experts working at the forefront of key methodological areas to visit a UK centre of methodological excellence in the social sciences, and b) an outgoing visiting scholar awards for early researchers from the UK in the social sciences to visit a centre of methodological excellence outside the UK.
Early feedback from our stakeholders strongly suggested it was important to broaden out the category of early career researchers to include mid career researchers (up to 8 years from their PhD) which we did. We ran the scheme annually, with the last IVES competition held in 2018. The scheme has funded six inward and six outward scholars in total. For details and project descriptions, see the dedicated webpage available on the NCRM website1. We were delighted to fund a number of projects on topics that went far beyond the NCRM team’s expertise.
Helen Johnson (University of Brighton) visited the Cultures Lab at McGill University, and produced research on Poetic Autoethnographies and the methods of collaborative poetics. Her research explored approaches to fostering research collaborations that explored experiences of discrimination and privilege through live spoken word performances. Another project on methods of live audience participation was carried out by Michael Schober (from the New School for Social Research), which explored methods for tracking audience participation unobtrusively in live performances. He used new tools for combining and simultaneously visualizing multiple fine-grained data streams, e.g., facial expression, breathing and movement, from the perspective of any audience member or the performer.
Juan Grigera (UCL) visited the Department of Sociology, John Hopkins University to explore Natural Language Processing Methods that enables machines to read newspapers more efficiently. Michelle Fine (City University of New York) and Jill Bradbury (Witwatersrand University) ran a two day methodology colloquium and gave a short class that explored the methods of participatory action research and social science advocacy through varied narrative research approaches, such as visual, ethnographic, longitudinal, digital, and multi-modal methods. Mick Couper (University of Michigan) contributed to the use of new technologies for data collection, such as new mobile and digital technologies, in longitudinal surveys such as Understanding Society. Arkadiusz Wi?niowski (University of Manchester) visited the School of Demography at the Australian National University to explore how to incorporate uncertainty about future events into population projections. These uncertainties related not just to future events, but to imperfect data collection mechanisms, natural fluctuations in the data, and uncertainty about the method used to forecast future.
Robert Ackland (from the Centre for Social Research & Methods, Australian National University) gave a master class for social scientists on the use of cutting-edge computational methods on digital social science data. The objective of the class was to have social scientists join in the digital science and data revolution, so that social scientists researching with big data, in addition to researching about big data. Ben Domingue (Stanford University) also gave a masterclass to social scientists on the biosocial data revolution, with details on the methods of incorporating genetic data and analysis into social science research.
Jonathon Nagler (from New York University) explored how social media data, primarily Twitter and Facebook posts, can provide a new way of measuring public opinion, addressing one of the key challenges that arises from Twitter data with regard to bias and representation through incorporating geolocation data of the tweet. Alasdair Jones (London School of Economics) visited Professor Jennifer Curtin and Professor Peter Davis (COMPASS, University of Auckland) to develop methods for integrating qualitative research into policy evaluation research. Alexandru Cernat visited the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research to explore the possibility of Adaptive Survey Designs (data collection in multiple stages and applying different strategies for particular groups of respondent and stages) in order to address the challenges faced by all survey research organisations in terms of increasing costs and non-response of participants. Jenny Douglas (The Open University) visited the DC CFAR Social and Behavioral Sciences Core (George Washington University) to explore how intersectionality-informed methodological frameworks that can be used to investigate the intersections of race, class and gender into ethnicity in health research.
The NCRM team can genuinely say that we could not have planned this large array of methods topics and experts by ourselves. Poetry slams, participatory action methods, tracking breathing and movement, new forms of digital social and health data, combining methodological approaches to understand, evaluate and forecast, these are some of the new methods of interest in the social sciences. This level of international engagement with new social science methods and approaches was only made feasible by the open annual call for IVES. We hope that we will be able to continue this level of international engagement and support for early and mid career social scientists in the future.
Submitted by Tarani Chandola, NCRM, University of Manchester on Wednesday, 15th January 2020