Innovation Incubator

Day 2: Wednesday, 14 September


The emergence of SMART methods -- non-expert platforms for social science and health research

Session convener: Brian Castellani, Durham University

Smart platforms constitute an entirely new field of methods that are still in the emergent stage, requiring critical engagement and also the real potential to develop a new methodological toolkit for social and health inquiry. Smart platforms are comprised of bespoke tools that facilitate user-driven learning by building expertise into the platform to create an intuitive, supportive, and open-ended environment for complex social and health inquiry. Unlike statistical platforms, AM-Smart platforms focus on a single technique or small network of interrelated (mostly computational) methods, which help users engage new methods. Smart platforms provide method-specific operational scaffolding, rapid and formative feedback, and which requires modest technical skill while being rigorous and reliable. Smart platforms are designed for applied, interdisciplinary and public sector analysis and researchers new to a method. Examples include R-shiny programmes, statistical and geospatial web apps, online computational modelling and data visualisation tools, and smart phone data apps. This session will introduce this newly emerging field, provide some examples, and then explore with attendees how to critically engage and develop new smart methods for social science and health research.