The 7th ESRC Research Methods Festival

The 7th ESRC Research Methods Festival (RMF) is a great opportunity for everyone interested in understanding the numerous, tangled and ever-changing ways of looking at the world from social science perspectives. Every two years the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) organises this three-day event, full of seminars, activities and lively discussions about established and new methods used in social science research.

Each Festival attracts visitors from academia, government, charity and private sectors, hosts a wide range of speakers and covers interesting methodological themes relevant to both emerging and established researchers. This year the Festival moves from Oxford to another beautiful historical city. The 2016 RMF will be held at the University of Bath from 5th to 7th July 2016. The main themes are: international knowledge exchange, cohort and longitudinal methods, analysis of complex data sets, pedagogy of methods, careers and skills development.

The international knowledge exchange theme sees expert social researchers from Africa, South and North America, Australasia and across Europe joining us at the Festival to discuss cutting-edge methodological developments. World leading international speakers will participate in sessions addressing, amongst other topical subjects: researching comparative urbanism, studying elites in Africa and achieving rigour through face to face surveys.

The cohort and longitudinal methods theme tackles methodological issues in collecting and analysing quantitative and qualitative data from individuals and households over time. Issues covered include the methodological challenges in administrative data linkage and in comparing data across and within longitudinal studies, combining social science and molecular genetic research to examine inequality and the life course, and the age, period and cohort problem.

Sessions in the analysis of complex data sets theme address a range of methods for tackling complex forms of data with linked and time dependent structures and associated issues.   These include projects from the NCRM’s own research programme such as methods for the assessment of quality of data collection in sample surveys, working across qualitative longitudinal studies, accounting for informative item nonresponse in biomarkers, and the anatomy of disclosure risk in linked population data.

The pedagogy of methods theme includes sessions that provide insight into the teaching and learning of advanced social science research methods. Find out whether statistics anxiety is a convenient myth, and consider the pedagogical underpinnings of learning about social science research methods.

The career and skills development theme provides opportunities for doctoral, early career and more experienced researchers to find out about new methods, and develop their methods and communication skills.  The ever-popular ‘What is…?’ sessions will cover diary methods, action research, discrete choice experiments, policy evaluation, biosocial research, statistical eBook, mobile methods, big data, and mass observation.  Festival participants will also be able work on honing their skills in reading and writing critically, expanding their methodological comfort zone, disseminating their research, and developing effective research proposals, as well as to attend an interactive workshop on making the most of media.

The Festival will also welcome distinguished keynote speakers, setting the tone for the event. Professor Jane Elliott (Chief Executive of ESRC) will talk about bridging the qualitative—quantitative divide in our approaches to ‘big data’. Professor Andrew Gelman (Columbia University) will consider whether statistics can dig its way out of the paradoxical hole of creating a sense of certainty where none should exist. And Professor Emeritus Aaron Cicourel (University of California) will be in conversation with Professor Malcolm Williams (Cardiff) and other colleagues about the continuing challenges and relevance of arguments he first advanced in his influential book ‘Method and Measurement in Sociology’ (1964).

The ‘festival’ mood will be enhanced by a range of social activities such as PhD student poster exhibition, Festival reception, film screening and tours in the city of Bath.

Have a look at the full programme and book your tickets at www.ncrm.ac.uk/RMF2016.


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