Tuesday, September 28, 2010

SSHRC Resources

As promised in class yesterday, here is a list of resources to help you tackle Assignment 2 (and/or apply for a SSHRC). First thing's first, the SSHRC application and website:

Next are the sources on tips, structure, what to include, etc.
  • The most complete information I've found so far is made available on the UBC Office of Graduate Programs and Research website. If you only read through one document, it should be their SSHRC Session Info Package. It even contains samples, a couple of which I've distributed to you in class and on Blackboard, as well as some amazing summaries of OTHER documents, a list of the top 14 common mistakes and a bunch of other things I referred to yesterday.
  • Adriana Rossi has posted a number of resources to the iSchool website aimed at helping you prepare your applications. For example this copy of a SSHRC Award Presentation given a couple of weeks ago by the SGS.
  • Heather Brown, an  M.Ed. graduate from the University of Western Ontario, wrote the document about How to Structure an OGS or SSHRC that I showed you examples from in class (the paragraph to paragraph breakdown).
  • Klassen and Saleh's  (2009) OGS/SSHRC Workshop: Program of Study Hints

I've now posted a number of samples on Blackboard (those distributed in class, as well as some new ones), along with copies of some of the documents linked above. They're in a folder that you access by clicking "SSHRC Samples" in the lefthand menu (and then click again on the link). If you have any problems accessing these materials, please let me know immediately.

And don't forget that you can use the blogs this week to deconstruct the samples, discuss them, draw out their structures into new templates, etc. etc.

Really Applying to SSHRC?
For those of you who are opting to write a real (as opposed to a "mock") proposal, here are some additional resources you may need:

Wondering about "keywords"and that Awards Search Engine I showed you? Be sure to go back a few years for a full sampling of the types of projects that have won, the keywords they've used, etc.

Also, although Lynne Howarth's workshop was earlier today, you may still be able to squeeze into one of the School of Graduate Studies' SSHRC proposal writing workshops. Here's the info:
Section 3:
Date: Tuesdays, Sepetember 28, October 5, 12
Time: 3:00pm - 5:00pm

This course focuses on strategies for writing a successful SSHRC proposal. The course will provide students with the opportunity to examine specific features of good and bad proposals, to see sections of winning SSHRC proposals, and to submit their own draft proposals for feedback. Feedback will be available to course participants through written comments on students' draft proposals and through individual consultations. Only students who are eligible to apply for SSHRC Scholarships (i.e. Canadian citizens and permanent residents) are eligible to take this course.
The SGS also has a bunch of info on other awards and funding opportunities, which you will likely want to peruse. A couple of the internal awards also require proposal (though usually 1-page as opposed to 2), which could provide an alternative or even additional place to send you Assignment 2 proposal once complete. In particular, you may want to check out their list of external funding opps.

The University of Alberta Graduate Studies and Research website has posted official information from last year's competition, including timelines, copies of the Instructions, how to apply, etc. You'll find it all here.

The McGill University site also has a couple of useful documents, including a Presentation on SSHRC Master's Awards and an overview of Application Criteria.


More General Tips on Grant Writing
US-based Social Science Research Council has just put out a guide to writing research proposals, called The Art of Writing Proposals. It's not specific to graduate awards, but does contain some general tips that are relevant to anyone writing a proposal and trying to get funding.

Some researchers at the University of Alberta have conducted a study of successful SSHRC grants (at the faculty level). Another study has been conducted at the University of Waterloo by Dr. , and you can read the report of here.

For a brief presentation on "argumentative moves" in grant writing, check out this presentation by Graves and Graves at the University of Alberta.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Notable Names/Quotes from Last Week's Lecture

A student in INF1240 has asked me to make available a more comprehensive list of the names, concepts and quotes that I used in last week's lecture. Not that you are in any way expected to write these down or memorize them in any way - the additional info I give in lectures is always supplementary, aimed at helping to contextualize the readings and inspire new trajectories in your own, individual readings and research proposal development...That said, if you were especially inspired or interested by some of the topics discussed last week, which weren't included in the slides, you can use these as bread crumbs to get you started down the right path:
  • Paradigms: I used Todd Gitlin’s (1978) definition of paradigm as “a tendency of thought” that identifies certain areas of social and cultural exploration as important, prescribes a certain methodology as appropriate or even most effective, and thereby frames results of studies conducted using this methodology as holding legitimate explanatory power. (from "Media sociology: the dominant paradigm" Theory and Society journal).
  • Another definition that you might want to use instead is Thomas Kuhn's (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolution - which talks specifically about paradigm shifts.
  • Around the time that Durkheim was advancing his ideas about using positivism to study social phenomena, various other theorists and Schools were arguing for positivist/empirical approaches to investigations of the social, including the Vienna Circle Philosophers and Wittgenstein.
  •  Alfred Binet - often credited as having produced the first widely-used standardized intelligence (IQ) test.
  • I used J.B. Watson's behaviourist psychology as an example of extreme positivism in social research. If you want to find out more about him, there's an interesting critique of Watson written by Professor Christopher D. Green (York U), which you can read here. The Watson quote that I read to you was that measurements of human behaviour should be restricted to "objective facts consisting of movements of a person’s body or any part of it..." - but I'm not sure if this is a direct quote or paraphrased, I wrote it down so long ago (eep!)
  •  The source for Anthony Giddens' overview of the key philosophical ideas out of which positivism (in social sciences) emerged is Giddens, A. (1978). Positivism and its critics. In T.B. Bottomore and R.A. Nisbet (eds.) A History of Sociological Analysis [pp.237-86]. London: Basic Books.
  • The source I described as embodying many of the thoughts and theories of The Chicago School is Robert E. Park’s (1915) essay "The City." He re-wrote (and revised) this essay in 1925, in collaboration with some of his colleagues (Burgess and McKenzie, with Wirth), published by The University of Chicago Press.
  • In terms of important names in media/audience research (not addressed by Luker in her history of social research), people to look up include Gallup (of Gallup poll fame) and Nielsen, Paul Lazarsfeld (various publications), Elihu Katz, George Gerbner. 
  • The Frankfurt School is another key player here that Luker doesn't mention. If you need an introduction to the Frankfurt School, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer's (1944) Dialectic of Enlightenment is the place to start. You can read most of a chapter here.
  • I talked about one of the founders of ethnography, Bronislaw Malinowski, whose aim was to “grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world,” a direct quote from page 25 of his 1922 book Argonauts of the Western Pacific. London: Routledge.
  • Some key concepts within this discussion were: "ontological and epistemological realism" and "interpretativism."
  • Interpretativism meets the Chicago School in the works of John Dewey (and George Herbert Mead (for example). In Mead's 1934 Mind, Self and Society he begins to develop a concept of social psychology that was later named "symbolic interactionism" by Chicago School member Herbert Blumer (1937) - this is the idea of self as constituted in continuous communicative action, for instance in anticipation of the response of the Other, etc. 
  • Erving Goffman is a key theorist within this "ethnographic turn" paradigm  - I talked a little about theories he develops in (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday.


  • I highlighted the emergence of cultural studies - particularly in the UK - as inspired by the ethnographic turn, but also as an eventual point of contention within this particular "paradigm" (post-Foucauldian influence  focus on constructivism, power, etc.). Notable ethnographic researchers belonging to the "cultural studies" movement (which otherwise includes notables such as Stuart Hall, Richard Hoggart, etc.) include Paul Willis, Angela McRobbie, Dick Hebdige (though I don't think I mentioned them in class).
  • A key example of the concurrent shift within anthropology, i.e. growing questioning of the validity of "ontological and epistemological realism" (that idea that it is ever possible for a scholar to reach a truthful understanding of a culture based on description and interpretation), and the elaboration and deepening of the idea of ethnography as "interpretation of interpretation" is Clifford Geertz. He argued that “anthropological writings are themselves interpretations, and second and third order ones to boot” (p.15 in 1973 The Interpretation of Cultures). The chapter that I highly recommended in class was: Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight
I think that's it. If there was something else that I mentioned that you'd like to know more about (or just get a source for) just let me know!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stephen Jay Gould

© Columbia Magazine, Stephen Jay Gould

Unfortunately, we weren't able to track down that Youtube video of Stephen Jay Gould that Gabby mentioned in lecture yesterday (it's been taken down). But I did find a small archive of clips, interviews and some video of a number of Gould's talks and interviews. You can find it on the Unofficial Stephen Jay Gould Archive.

Also, for those of you who missed the title of the book I recommended, it's The Mismeasure of Man. Gabby also tells me that Ever Since Darwin is also excellent, and serves as a great supplement to Mismeasure.

Methodology in Practice - Upcoming Event On Campus

Can't get enough methods theory? Interested in health research? Check out this upcoming event, which will delve into some of the dilemmas faced by qualitative health researchers, and their struggle to balance methodological rules, standards and expectations with the need to produce knowledge that is applicable and beneficial to both patients and health workers.

Upcoming CQ Seminar
Sep 27, 12 - 1:30 pm
The Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research is pleased to announce its first seminar of the fall 2010 term. 
Title: Methodological Conventions in Transition - Shifting the Balance Between Theorizing and Application 
Speaker: Dr. Sally Thorne, Professor and Director, School of Nursing, University of British Columbia and Associate Editor, Qualitative Health Research 

Description: Although the methodological techniques first generated to serve the intellectual projects of the social sciences have served qualitative health researchers well in certain respects, there are increasing calls to disentangle method from the rule structures and conventions that may be compromising the utility of the enterprise. In an evidence-informed health policy and planning world, it is increasingly urgent that qualitative research is applied to the generation of transferrable knowledge that will solve problems rather than simply theorizing about them. In this seminar, we will consider the way in which this evidence-driven health care decision-making context challenges us to reflect on issues such as the manner in which we justify what deserves qualitative attention, the way we theoretically scaffold our studies, the way we think about what constitutes data, and the kinds of interpretations we allow ourselves to make on the basis of what we believe we have found. 
Event Details: On Campus Address
St. George
Health Sciences Building155 College Street
HS208
Website: www.ccqhr.utoronto.ca/course...
Contact Information: Dana Howse: 416-978-7545 ext.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Analyzing Demographic Data on Dating Sites

©2010 OKCupid/Humor Rainbow, Inc.

I read an interesting article last week in Bust Magazine Online, written by Katie Zanin, that looks at a recent data analysis conducted by an online dating service called OKCupid. Like many (most) sites, OKCupid does research on its users, analyzing the various forms of data that users contribute willingly, as well as inadvertently (through Cookies, etc.). The site is somewhat unique, however, in its openness about at least some of its data collection practices, publishing a blog called OKTrends where they talk about their research on user interactions, profile data, etc.

Zanin's article explores a recent post on the OKTrends site, entitled "The REAL ‘Stuff White People Like’" (written by Christian Rudder, in reference to the Lander blog/book), which examines trends within the likes that users have posted to their profiles, which the site has categorized in terms of race and gender. What I find particularly interesting about Zanin's article is her discussion of the ethics & politics of categorizing taste based on these types of demographic classifications. It's interesting, because gender and race are both very common and very contentious types of data gathered in social research (as discussed in Chapter 3). A good example of how issues discussed in a methods class - or during a research design process - can also appear within everyday cultural discourse. We're not the only ones thinking about operationalization and generalization!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wikipedia's Lamest Edit Wars

One of my favourite research-related sites is called Information is Beautiful. It is a fantastic source for researchers, not only in terms of providing a way to keep track of new data, but also as a source of inspiration for exploring new, creative and interesting ways of displaying (and understanding) data. It makes stats more accessible, and more palatable. I highly recommend that students of INF1240 visit this site, especially if you're unfamiliar with stats and quantitative data, or if you're looking for new and interesting ways of thinking about data.

Here's a small excerpt of one of the site's more recent visualizations, "Wikipedia's Lamest Edit Wars"...a particularly timely and relevant piece of information to people in our field: