Innovation in social research methods: an intern

We have been constructing a ‘map’ of the ‘hot spots’ of research methods around the world as part of a collaborative project supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM). This map had two aspects: first, to locate the innovations in method currently being developed within social science disciplines; and second, to locate the sites and institutional contexts of these innovations, that is, who and where they are being developed.

The overall focus on innovative methodologies is inspired by the growing interest in identifying who and what acts as the ‘impetus’ for innovation in Social Science Research Methods. For the purposes of the project, innovative research practices in the social sciences initially referred to research practices which haven’t yet filtered through to typical research methods courses or which impact on the research process in ways which are novel or different to existing ones. In the course of the project though, an emerging definition was formed as driven by the data. This defined methodological developments and innovations in three broad ways: driven by advances in technology; driven by interdisciplinarity; and owing to intra-disciplinary or intra-methodological developments and extensions. This emerging definition is in line with recent literature on emergent methods.

For the purposes of the project, the focus on innovative research practices included research design, data collection and analysis and covered disciplines such as (social) psychology, sociology, social work, socio-legal studies, political science (including public health and public policy) and international studies, (social) geography (area studies, demography, environmental and urban planning), (social) anthropology, (socio-)linguistics, education, communication studies, economic and social history, economics (management and business studies), science and technology studies, statistics, methods and computing. The presentation focuses on the methodology employed for the project, the innovative methodologies identified and conclusions in the form of reflections.

Tuesday, 26 May, 2009 - 12:30 to 14:00
Dr. Maria Xenitidou and Professor Nigel Gilbert (CRESS)