Category: research methods

Nothing lasts forever: questions to ask yourself when choosing a new tool or technology for research

Academia has become increasingly reliant on third-party tools and technologies to carry out many of the processes throughout the research lifecycle. But there are genuine concerns about the sustainability of some of these tools and what the implications would be for users in the event they were discontinued. Andy Tattersall suggests a series of straightforward questions researchers should ask themselves […]

Book Review: Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age by Matthew J. Salganik

In Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, Matthew J. Salganik explores the process of undertaking social research in the digital era, examining a wide range of concepts while also offering teaching activities and materials. In bringing together the expertise of social and data scientists to the benefit of both, this is a comprehensive overview of new approaches to social research […]

Contrary to common belief, randomised controlled trials inevitably produce biased results

Much of the social and medical sciences depend on randomised control trials. But while this may be considered the foundational experimental method, a certain degree of bias inevitably arises in any trial; whether this is sample bias, selection bias, or measurement bias. This is important as the level of validity of a trial’s causal claims can be a matter of […]

To save the research literature, let’s make literature reviews reproducible

Last week the Impact Blog featured a post from Richard P. Phelps, in which he proposed that journals get rid of their requirement for a literature review. Arnaud Vaganay agrees with much of what Phelps said, literature reviews are erratic and self-serving, but suggests doing away with them altogether is likely to make science less efficient and less credible. Instead, […]

How eyes in the sky can cut survey costs and enable researchers to identify key but hard-to-reach populations

Collecting representative survey data on large populations of people can be a very time-consuming and expensive undertaking. But it doesn’t have to be; Marco J. Haenssgen and Ern Charoenboon explain how they have used freely available satellite images to survey hard-to-reach communities in Thailand and Laos. Countries all around the world are thinking about how to tackle the growing problem […]

Book Review: Cultivating Creativity in Methodology and Research: In Praise of Detours edited by Charlotte Wegener, Ninna Meier and Elina Maslo

The collection Cultivating Creativity in Methodology and Research: In Praise of Detours, edited by Charlotte Wegener, Ninna Meier and Elina Maslo, is comprised of short essays that offer imaginative detours from conventional academic wisdom to reflect on lived experiences of research. While the volume at times risks emphasising the unhappy aspects of academic life over and above the potential for creativity, […]

Materiality of Research: can imaginative projects complement (and not displace) more critical research?

Can projects of reimagining complement more critical research? Writing in response to comments on her recent work on reimagining the state, Davina Cooper addresses the challenge of developing transformative methods, the value of institutional play in academic research and the relationship these may have to more overtly “critical” accounts. This version of this post first appeared on LSE Review of Books and is […]

Software updates: the “unknown unknown” of the replication crisis

The replication crisis is largely concerned with known problems, such as the lack of replication standards, non-availability of data, or p-hacking. One hitherto unknown problem is the potential for software companies’ changes to the algorithms used for calculations to cause discrepancies between two sets of reported results. Anastasia Ershova and Gerald Schneider encountered this very problem in the course of […]

Diary of an app! Will using mobile devices in qualitative research become the norm?

Researchers have been asking participants to record their experiences and thoughts in traditional, paper-based diaries for many years. But the advent of digital technologies, especially apps for mobile devices, has encouraged some to ask whether these could become the new norm for capturing diary-based data for qualitative research. Laura Radcliffe and Leighann Spencer have pioneered the use of diary apps […]

What a fossil revolution reveals about the history of “big data”

Improved technologies have allowed faster and more powerful statistical analysis and changed how we “see” data. It’s now taken for granted that the best way to understand large, complex phenomena is by crunching the numbers via computers and projecting the results as visual summaries. To David Sepkoski, that’s not a bad thing, but it does pose some challenges. The complexity […]