Innovation Collection Launch: Investigative Methods in Contemporary Society and concepts, targets and techniques for inquiry


Bio: Michael is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Liverpool. He is the Director of engage@liverpool (www.liverpool.ac.uk/engage), an Executive Board Member of Methods North West (www.methodsnorthwest.ac.uk), and a Senior Fellow at the UK’s National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM, www.ncrm.ac.uk). Michael has expertise in the methodology, philosophy and social scientific study of research with his empirical work focusing on methodological practice in the social sciences, natural sciences and the arts and humanities and covering ethnographic studies of qualitative, quantitative, investigative and digital methods as well as experimentation, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Bio: "Robert Meckin is a presidential fellow in the School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester and works closely with the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM). He is interested in emerging technosciences, interdisciplinarity and research infrastructures. He has spent recent years collaborating with and working alongside scientists practicing a design-led approach to biotechnology, and exploring how publics anticipate the potential of new biotechnological capabilities by using the chemical menthol as a way into discussing everyday technological understandings. Publications include explorations of scientific practices in increasingly automated, digitalised laboratories, and the affordances of sensory methods in engaging publics. At NCRM he has been focused on interdisciplinary research methods and has been examining the nascent areas of investigative methods and computational social science methods with Mark Elliot (University of Manchester) and Michael Mair (University of Liverpool), and exploring changing research practices in Covid-19 with Melanie Nind and Andy Coverdale (both at the University of Southampton)."

Mark Elliot, University of Manchester

Investigative methods for social research; like those used by historians; journalists; legal scholars and others; are seeing a resurgence as practitioners adapt and use techniques in digital spaces. The session builds on an on-going programme of work in NCRM by bringing together a range of practitioners to share and explore methods by launching the first 'Innovation Collection' at this event. Investigative methods are forms of inquiry that use evidentiary clues; often from different sources; that can be joined together to reconstruct an event; action; or network of actors. They are being used to reveal; inter alia; 1) the structures of corporations and corporate activity 2) the activities of state forces and militaries 3) the biographies of historical persons and 4) the organisation of political messaging on social media. Investigative methods challenge accepted ways of understanding particular entities and offer insights into power; secrecy and social organisation alongside evolving capabilities in digitalised society.