Big Data, Research Methods and Memes: Top Sunday Book Reviews in 2013


Teaming up with our sister blog, LSE’s Review of Books, we were able to feature reviews of some fascinating books published this year. From big data to qualitative data, the classroom to the funding application, here are the top five of your favourite book reviews from the past year.

nic_tempiniBig Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think

In Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think, two of the world’s most-respected data experts reveal the reality of a big data world and outline clear and actionable steps that will equip the reader with the tools needed for this next phase of human evolution. Niccolo Tempini finds that rather than showing how the impact of data-driven innovations will advance the march of humankind, the authors merely present a thin collection of happy-ending business stories.

 A Tale of Two Cultures: Qualitative and Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences

In A Tale of Two Cultures, Gary Goertz and James Mahoney argue that qualitative and quantitative methods constitute different cultures, each internally coherent yet marked by contrasting norms, practices, and toolkits. The authors seek to promote toleration, exchange, and learning by aiming to enable scholars to think beyond their own culture and see an alternative scientific worldview. Those instructing research methods will find the book a particularly helpful teaching tool, writes Maria Kuecken, with clear examples and case studies throughout.

Meme Wars: The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics

Over the last twenty years, Adbusters magazine has aimed to challenge consumerism, champion the environment, and provide a platform for some of our greatest thinkers. In 2011, they instigated Occupy Wall Street, sparking a huge international movement. In Meme Wars, editor and founder of Adbusters Kalle Lasn aims to provide the building blocks, in texts and visuals, for a new way of looking at and changing our world. Illustrated in the distinctive style of the magazine and drawing on a wide cast of contributors Meme Wars places fresh emphasis on the environmental and human factors that are often left out in discussions of economics and examining alternative economies, finds Tom McDermott.

The Research Funding Toolkit  

Writing high quality grant applications is easier when you know how research funding agencies work and how your proposal is treated in the decision-making process. The Research Funding Toolkit aims to provide this knowledge and teach readers the necessary skills to write high quality grant applications. A must-have for every researcher, whether junior or senior, and should be required reading for every member of a department, writes Simone Belli.


 Ethics in Qualitative Research: Controversies and Contexts

All social researchers need to think about ethical issues. But what are ethical issues? And how should they be approached? Ethics in Qualitative Research explores conflicting philosophical assumptions, the diverse social contexts in which ethical problems arise, and the complexities of handling them in practice. Jen Tarr finds the book straddles a difficult line between an introductory research text and a position paper on ethical regulation, at times failing to fill either role fully.