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All Social Sciences Research Methods Programme courses

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This course will provide a detailed critique of the methods and philosophy of the Null Hypothesis Significance Testing (NHST) approach to statistics which is currently dominant in social and biomedical science. We will briefly contrast NHST with alternatives, especially with Bayesian methods. We will use some computer code (Matlab and R) to demonstrate some issues. However, we will focus on the big picture rather on the implementation of specific procedures.

With such a large variety of qualitative research methods to choose from, creating a research design can be confusing and difficult without a sufficiently informed overview. This module aims to provide an overview by introducing qualitative data collection and analysis methods commonly used in social science research. The module provides a foundation for other SSRMP qualitative methods modules such as ethnography, discourse analysis, interviews, or diary research. Knowing what is ‘out there’ will help a researcher purposefully select further modules to study on, provide readings to deepen knowledge on specific methods, and will facilitate a more informed research design that contributes to successful empirical research.

Atlas.ti new Wed 5 Feb 2020   14:00 [Places]

These two sessions will provide a basic introduction to the management and analysis of qualitative data using Atlas.ti. The sessions will introduce participants to the following:

  • consideration of the advantages and limitations of using qualitative analysis software
  • setting-up a research project in Atlas.ti
  • the use of Atlas.ti's menus and tool bars
  • importing and organising data
  • starting data analysis using Atlas.ti’s coding tools
  • exploring data using query and visualization tools

Please note: Atlas.ti for Mac will not be covered.

Basic Quantitative Analysis (BQA Intensive) Wed 29 Jan 2020   09:00   [More dates...] Not bookable

This module follows on from Foundations in Applied statistics, and will teach you the basics of common bivariate techniques (that is, techniques that examine the associations between two variables). The module is divided between lectures, in which you'll learn the relevant theory, and hands-on practical sessions, in which you will learn how to apply these techniques to the analysis of real data.

Techniques to be covered include:

  • Cross-tabulations
  • Scatterplots
  • Covariance and correlation
  • Nonparametric methods
  • Two-sample t-tests
  • ANOVA
  • Ordinary Least Squares (OLS)

For best results, students should expect to do a few hours of private study and spend a little extra time in the computer labs, in addition to coming to class.

2 other events...

Date Availability
Wed 13 Nov 2019 10:00 Not bookable
Wed 13 Nov 2019 10:00 Not bookable
Causal Inference in the Social Sciences Wed 4 Mar 2020   14:00 [Places]

The challenge of causal inference is ubiquitous in social science. Nearly every research project fundamentally is about causes and effects.

This introductory session will:

  • 1. Introduce three main approaches to elucidate causal relationship: structural equation models, causal directed acyclic graphs, and the counterfactual/potential outcome framework;
  • 2. Explain the common challenges in empirical research;
  • 3. Talk through some principles and intuition of several research designs that can help researchers make stronger claims for causality.

The emphasis is on setting out applications of each approach, along with pros and cons, so that participants understand when a particular design may be more or less suitable to a research problem.

Comparative Historical Methods Tue 15 Oct 2019   16:00 Finished

These four sessions will introduce students to comparative historical research methods, emphasizing their qualitative dimensions. In the first session, we will analyze some contemporary classics within this genre. In the second and third sessions, we will review and distinguish among a variety of intellectual justifications for this genre as a methodology. In the final session, we will focus on a "state of the art" defence of qualitative and comparative-historical research, both in theory and practice.

Conversation and Discourse Analysis Tue 21 Jan 2020   16:00 [Places]

The module will introduce students to the study of language use as a distinctive type of social practice. Attention will be focused primarily on the methodological and analytic principles of conversation analysis. (CA). However, it will explore the debates between CA and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), as a means of addressing the relationship between the study of language use and the study of other aspects of social life. It will also consider the roots of conversation analysis in the research initiatives of ethnomethodology, and the analysis of ordinary and institutional talk. It will finally consider the interface between CA and CDA.

Topics:

  • Session 1: The Roots of Conversation Analysis
  • Session 2: Ordinary Talk
  • Session 3: Institutional Talk
  • Session 4: Conversation Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis
Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Wed 30 Oct 2019   13:30 Finished

The focus of these two sessions will be the linking of theory to method, paying particular attention to the relationship between language or other forms of representation or communication and the broader social milieu with special attention to power relations. The topic will be approached from a broadly Foucauldian angle: Foucault writes that discourse “consists of not—of no longer—treating discourses as groups of signs signifying elements referring to contents of representations, but as practices that systematically form the objects of which they speak.” The emphasis of these two lectures will be less upon what is known as ‘conversation analysis’ or ‘content analysis’ and more on methods based on post-positivist methods and critical theory which emphasize how language and other social practices create reality rather than reflect it, and thus methods of interpreting discourse are themselves not ideologically or politically neutral practices.

Session 1: The origins of critical discourse analysis (the Frankfurt school, Foucault, post-structuralism, feminism); how theoretical backgrounds shape research design
Session 2: 'Doing' discourse analysis: analysing methods and approaches

Diary Methodology Mon 28 Oct 2019   14:00 Finished

This four-part workshop series provides an introduction to using solicited diaries as a research tool. The main goal of the course is to add diary methodology to students’ research toolboxes. It is a flexible and versatile tool that has been used by researchers in many fields, including public health, nursing, psychology, media studies, education, and sociology. The workshop is suitable for anybody interested in learning more about the method and/or using diaries in their research.

The course covers the use of qualitative and quantitative types of diaries, both as a self-standing tool and as a part of mixed-method research designs. The lectures and workshops aim to provide theoretical and practical foundations, as well as first-hand experience with solicited diaries as a research tool. The course also provides unique insights into diary data analysis and its challenges.

The course is equally driven by lectures and student participation/practicums. The initial workshop (Week 1) provides a solid theoretical introduction to the diary methodology, including the history of the method, qualitative and quantitative variants, modes of delivery, and use of technology. The follow-up workshops sequentially advance this knowledge base through practical exercises and discussions (Weeks 2 & 4), as well as a specialist lecture (Week 3) on data management, participant communication, ethics and data analysis.

The internet is a great resource for humanities and social science data, but most information is apparently chaotic. In this course we will explore how to programmatically access information stored online, typically in html, to create neat, tabulated data ready for analysis. The uses of web scraping are diverse: previous versions of this course used the the programming language R to access data directly from newspapers, and by accessing live data streams using APIs (YouTube, Facebook, Google Maps, Wikipedia). The one-day course is structured as follows: in the morning, we will consider general principles of webscraping, illustrated through examples. This session is designed to create a toolkit needed to effectively collect different types of online data. Then in the afternoon the session will take a workshop format, where students may chose to begin applying web scraping to their their own research, or work through a structured set of exercises. If there are any particular data sources you are interested in accessing, do email me at dt444@cam.ac.uk, as I may be able to integrate an example directly relevant to your research into the session.

Different from past years, this course will be taught using Python, Jupyter Notebooks and the BeautifulSoup library. The course will not assume any prior knowledge of Python, but students are encouraged to learn a bit of the tools before the course. Any introductory MOOC course on Python (such as edx or Cursera) will provide an excellent introduction.

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