Co-hosted with Durham’s Advanced Research Computing and Research Data Management Teams, join our virtual interdisciplinary conversations on practical and fundamental research methods topics. Check out the range of topics being discussed. Opinion pieces based on many of our Cafe Conversations are published on our Durham Research Methods Conversations Blog.
The series is open to tutors at all Higher Education Institutions, including post-graduate students and staff. Please register here to access the virtual conversations and we’ll send you the Teams links.
Durham colleagues can access the Teams Conversations channel directly here.
This term's conversations are all about Teaching Research Methods and are being led by Adrian Millican.
13th October - Teaching Week 2 - 1200-1300
An Introduction: Method in the Madness - This session will introduce the aims and objectives of the Teaching Methods Conversation Series. Increasingly across disciplines, methodological rigour is becoming a greater part of the student learning experience. Whereas a tertiary understanding of methods might have sufficed in previous years, the growing plethora of methods and increasingly vast data resources require students to have significant methodological skills and understandings. This introductory session will start off with a brief discussion of what we hope to achieve through these sessions and will be followed by an open discussion of how methods teaching has changed within different disciplines and more importantly where we think methods teaching is going.
27th October - Teaching Week 4 - 1200-1300
The Problem with Method - In this second session, we want to explore the primary issues that you face when teaching methods; whether qualitative or quantitative. What are the main challenges? Is student engagement as strong as you’d like? Are students afraid of methods, or do they not make clear links to why methods matter? This session will provide an opportunity to discuss the challenges of methods teaching, learn about similarities and differences in experiences. The information gathered will be used to structure Epiphany term sessions that target the problems we as teachers of methods face.
10th November - Teaching Week 6 - 1200-1300
Sharing Approaches, Tips and Online Resources for Teaching Quantitative Research Methods - Within separate disciplines, techniques for training quantitative research methods are often passed between tutors and adapted over the years, yet many of the challenges to teaching research methods are shared across disciplines. This interdisciplinary forum will provide the opportunity for tutors to share effective teaching practice across disciplines, identifying approaches, tips and online resources that tutors can draw on for their own research methods teaching practice.
In a change to the original schedule, this will be the final session in this mini-series but not end of the conversation! We're planning a Teaching Research Methods workshop for later in the academic year and will be inviting expressions of interest for topics.
Easter Term 2021
Research Interview Techniques - A conversation across disciplines to share challenges and top tips for conducting research interviews in a variety of research contexts.
What do Research Software Engineers (RSEs) do, and how can they help me? - The term of Research Software Engineering is popping up more and more often in research discussions, on grant funding calls and on board meetings. The CovidSim scandal, when there was an outcry about the quality of the Covid Simulation software that informed UK Covid policies, even brought brief media-attention to the topic that is at the heart of research software engineering: That researchers are not and cannot be experts in software engineering for their research projects, but that they need professionals on their team to help with these aspects.
13th JanuaryResearch Data Management Practices - Comparing notes on current research data management practices across the university and what would an ideal research data management system at Durham look like.
20th JanuaryDecolonizing Artificial Intelligence - building on last term's interdisciplinary discussions of machine learning and data science, and our workshop on Decolonising Research Practice, we'll discuss how is AI biased? Does it reinforce colonial patterns and processes? What can be done about this?
27th JanuaryQuality control and Software Development Practices - How can you be sure your statistical analysis or software is doing what you expect? How can you make sure others will be able to use it and reproduce your results? We’ll discuss testing, version control, continuous integration, containerization, and other ways to improve your software.
3rd FebruarySharing Best Data and Project Management Practices for Organising Data and Avoiding Digital Clutter - How do you organise your data files so they can be easily found months/years in the future? By theme? By project? Another way? How do you organise files that are used in multiple projects or in multiple contexts? How do you manage versioning? How do you decide what is worth keeping?
10th FebruaryQuantitative and Qualitative Analysis to Evaluate Causal Relations in Complex Open Systems - building on last term's discuss on Causation, how can a broad range of methods be integrated to address causation in systems that exhibit properties that emerge from interactions between the system's components and are subject to external influence? Examples of such systems can be found across all four University Faculties, from the natural sciences to art and the humanities.
17th FebruaryMethod and Theory: an entangled mutualism? Methods and theory can coevolve as developments in one affect the other. How does this play out across different disciplines? How is theory shaped by methodological affordance? What kind of methods have been developed in response to theoretical motivation? What key research questions would you love to address but for methodological constraints?
24th FebruaryPedagogy and research methods training. An exchange of ideas across disciplines over effective teaching practice. What types of research method content are commonly perceived as steep learning curves? What are effective techniques to provoke enthusiasm for research methods? What approaches are effective to counteract imposter syndrome? What opportunities does online/blended teaching offer? What are effective approaches to encourage diverse engagement?
3rd MarchExperiences of working in an interdisciplinary group to fill the knowledge gap between social and media researchers and technology. A short talk and conversation with Javier Sanchez-Monedero, Cardiff University
With a background in computer science, when asked for auditing of a system, your first idea could be to interrogate the system though performance metrics or to question privacy issues. However there are many dimensions of analysis of sociotechnical systems beyond metrics which are often more interesting and revealing for social scientists and provide a richer understanding of the role of a tool in society.
10th MarchEthnography in Interdisciplinary Contexts. How effective is it to integrate ethnography in interdisciplinary research contexts such as thematic, grand challenges projects? What are the challenges? In what capacity are these projects truly interdisciplinary? What other methods of enquiry effectively complement ethnographic methods, and what approaches or project structures are best avoided?
14th OctoberThe replication crisis – discussing research practice that results in this phenomenon despite most scholars having honest intentions with the aim to produce rigorous work. We can also discuss replication analysis practices.
21st OctoberSoftware tools you’ve always needed but never knew about - discussing how software tools can help your research project and you don’t need to be a computer scientist to use them!
28th OctoberData science & social science theory – how best can these extremely powerful quantitative tools be deployed to develop and test social science theory?
4th NovemberWorking across disciplines - how and when to combine research methods across research fields and how to communicate research methods across fields.
11th NovemberCausation - how is causation tested across disciplines? How are research methods used to infer causation and what are common (mis)understandings of the relationship between method and causal inference?
18th NovemberCollaborative research/networking online – discussing ways of collaborating and networking in an online environment.
25th NovemberMachine Learning – discussing what machine learning can do for research outside the computer sciences and how best to get started.
2nd DecemberDo I need to go Bayesian? Many academics who use statistics were trained in the Frequentist approach but there has been much criticism of reliance on p-values and significance to publish findings. Is a Bayesian approach the solution, and how difficult is it to learn?
9th DecemberTrial studies and Covid - What are the implications of Covid for the execution of, say, educational trials? Are they even possible in such unpredictable environments? Can adherence to study design be ensured? Will institutions still be willing to collaborate?