Category Archives: Research

Data Collection Aphorism

An anthropology colleague asked me to do a brief explanation of network analysis and theory for a field research class (Thanks Ned Searles!).

One part of teaching I love is when the process of vocalizing ideas leads me to say something I never heard but sounds good.

Today, in discussing the options for types of data, and thinking about survey versus participant observation, I said:

“Data that is easy to collect is not always the data most worth collecting.”

I was thinking about how much of the research grind, especially in an ever bigger and more status-conscious world of publishing we live in, is driven not by good questions, but by available data.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under pithy expressions, Research, social theory, sociology, words

Mixed Methods Social Networks Research Design And Applications | Research methods in sociology and criminology | Cambridge University Press

Mixed Methods Social Networks Research Design And Applications | Research methods in sociology and criminology | Cambridge University Press.

 

Looks like the book I wish I had when I was doing my dissertation!

Out in July.  Looking forward to getting my hands on it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Networks, Social Networks

Summer Reading 2014

It’s that time of year… trying to decide the ONE thick, dense academic book I should take on vacation. The one I feel like I should have read, but never did. Is it finish Harrison White’s Identity and Control? Collins’ Sociology of Philosophies? Castells’ Communication Power or the Networks of hope and Outrage? Luhmann’s book on Systems Theory?

Should I scan office for other contenders?

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, social theory, sociology

Network Data Collections

Thanks to a stocnet user, this list of useful network data repositories came along.

I added them to my Diigo list of sna and data.

http://moreno.ss.uci.edu/data.html
http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~snijders/siena/siena_datasets.htm
http://www.eelkeheemskerk.nl/networks/
http://konect.uni-koblenz.de/
http://snap.stanford.edu/data/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/25906481@N07/sets/72157604724106153/
http://www.pfeffer.at/data/cshiring
http://www.gdeltproject.org/
http://www.casos.cs.cmu.edu/tools/data.php

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Network Dynamics, Research, Social Networks

Bedside Reading…

image

Is this a problem?

Leave a comment

Filed under Books

Everyone is Obsessed with Atheists

Friend posted this link to a Chronicle of HE article about a study of atheists.

Author of blog post Tom Bartlett headlines his review with this headline:

“Do Atheists Really Believe in God?”

My response:
“Do Psychologists Really Believe in Skin Test?”

Meh. I think author’s question about whether any imagined external force, God, Squirrel, Bad Luck makes one “anxious’ is the right one. id they bother trying to figure out if one is an atheist, what they think the statement “I dare God to kill my children” means?

Like, right now, I am thinking about this, I am aetheist, and I am thinking “what a shitty thing to happen” and I am aware that there is some external mechanism or cause of the badness. I mean, if God does something bad, it is usually through an agent- a flood, a burning topiary, or a bearded guy. It is not like he shows up like Zeus and bangs some chick for no reason.

So, really, maybe the statement reminds us of how there are unknowns out there and it is frightening to think about them. So belief in God is really a fear of the unknown. And so the title could have been “Belief in God is fear of the unknown.”

So, interesting study. But like 99.9% of social science, what to make of it depends on interpretation.

5 Comments

Filed under psychology, Research, sociology

Use Google Scholar to do Cited Reference Search within Topics

Ok, so I was hunting for a journal target for a working paper.

I needed to find possible outlets beyond obvious A-levels.

Thought I would take a key reference and see who had cited it and then hunt THAT set of cites for possible journal outlets.

Web of Knowledge has some awesome cited reference search tools, but ONLY for articles.

So, back to google scholar.  Found the reference, a chapter from 2001 in Social Capital: Theory and Research (that’s a sexy title).

Clicked on the “cited 568” link.

Now, I have a list of those 568.  I don’t want social capital and health, for example, so next I nee to search WITHIN these for results.

First, check the “search within citations” check box at the top of page.

Then click down arrow in search box.

Next, you get all your choices.

Make sure you use OR in caps for multiple selections.  Also, you can use truncated terms like “manang*”.

Voila!  From 568 to 46.

Success.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Research, writing

Organizing Literature for Writing Reviews and Theory

I feel like I need one stop shopping for my institutional theory, fields, emergence, and logics chapter.

How do other people do this?

Traditionally, I suppose I would have taken reading notes or annotations on each item.  Then a draft would be written using quotations from those sources.

Now I have notes and annotations scattered across many sources.  There are

  • Reading notes by item
  • Synthetic notes where I assemble quotes and my thoughts from multiple sources around a common theme.
  • Digital annotations and underlining in pdfs of articles and books.
  • Hard copy annotations in books (and maybe a few articles that are older)
  • Lists of possible resources

I am feeling stymied by how best to proceed.  As this is a topic I will come back to, I am interested not just in finishing this draft, but also in having a tool or resource.  I can keep adding to for future writing.  A secondary benefit is using it for teaching or for collaborating.

Options:

  1. Just write, no resource.  Here I would continue to edit the draft as is and add literature as I need to based on the need in the draft and relying on memory or searching the PC for items.  I could also go through known good sources systematically and leave a few quotes around paper as needed.

Pros: Seems most direct.  No worries about other tools.

Cons: each search may lead me down rabbit holes.  Relying on memory or other ways to access lit may bias me in a direction.  Has been aggravating in the past.

2. Use Excel.  I would make a spreadsheet with all the resources.  They are ranked by essentiality.  I could add some rough summaries of some resources I have.  I can then add fields as necessary.  One issue is what to do with quotes.  If I put them in a field, or in new columns, each record could get really LONG (down the screen) or WIDE (across).  A variation is to add a hyperlink to a file of good quotes from each one.

Pros: Easy to add and manipulate records.

Cons:  Not easy to get material from spreadsheet into a paper.  If the spreadsheet is very big, cumbersome to find things.  If I use hyperlinks, I still have to hunt in that file for quotes.

3. Use Word.  Like Excel.  I would use Word and have it as a table.  Easier to edit text in Word.  Still not sure what to do with quotations.  If I try to go “wide” as in extra columns for quotations, then it can get very wide quickly.  Like Excel, not sure how to organize quotations anyway.

Pros: Better word editing than excel.

Cons: Table may have upper limit of rows and columns

4. Use Nvivo.  Nvivo can code in PDFs AND in word documents.  So, if one starts from scratch, one can build many possible searchable nodes into a library of documents.  This is very good for supporting multiple projects with same or similar literature.  It also has analytical features, like searching for words and using that as the basis for coding.  It can output what is collected.  It can also support theory building through queries.

Pros: Building multi-use, multi-project tool.  Searching PDFs AND documents.  Search and query functions for theory building. With reports, can extract the references with their quotes.

Cons: can not edit tables/databases in Nvivo.  Time intensive right now.

5. Use a wiki-like tool such as google sites.  I have already done this some in compiling some synthetic notes about Institutional theory or operating definitions for this project.

Pros: With hyperlinks, somewhat easier to get from one topic to another.

Cons: Would have to cut and paste all content.  No obvious way to include pdfs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Research, writing

How To Do Literature Review (Nvivo or not? Wiki-ly or not?)

In the process of tacklign a fun but gnarly research and theory question for a draft, i started to think about how to use past knowledge and tools to do better research.  One issue for me is that I at times internalize what I read, forget the source or notes I took, and then when I shift from drafting to revising and I want more literature on hand, I have to recreate what I did or start a frsustrating search through my files.

 

Here is the problem and solutions.

Research Thoughts…

Ok, here is a research and writing process question.

I am at the point in a draft when I need to tackle two big questions based on readings in literature.

1)    What have institutional theorists said about new fields?  Specifically, are they characterized by uncertainty, flux, or turbulence?

2)    What has been said about how institutional logics affect new fields.

I have a wide set of resources on this.

A)   Books or articles I have read and extracted quotes from.

B)   Articles in PDF format I have read and/or annotated but NOT pulled quotations from.

C)   Unread articles or books that I know from searches are directly relevant to these questions.

How should I proceed?

Three options:

1)    Quick fix.  Make a new word file.  Paste in all relevant quotes from existing notes.  Add nw notes from read or unread until satisfied with answer.

2)    Fix that involves creating new knowledge infrastructure I will use from here on.  I learned how to use Nvivo, a qual data analysis tool.  I realized that everything it does to store, sort, annotate, and index qual data is THE SAME process as one uses for theory.  Why not tackle this problem using that.  Then I would have a single source this and future research projects.  Downside: maybe some learning curve to implement.

3)    Fix that involves making the single document in #1, but using a web-based tool, like google docs, so that my collaborators can see and contribute.  Note, this can also be done AFTER #2 is done as Nvivo can produce reports of relevant material.

2 Comments

Filed under Research, social theory, writing

Getting Ready for “Ten Books that Influenced Me”

I had some money to spend.  A co-author mentioned Neil Fligstein’s new book, A Theory of Fields. So, I decided to get that book.  Then, I started looking at my wishlist and my recommendations.  I a few more items popped up.  Then, I wondered, “Well, what have been some influential books in social science or social theory recently?”

This led a google search, of course.  First stop, the ASA’s theory division.  They have a page of award winners.  Not very impressive.  While many great sociology or org theory blogs are out there, the official organs of professional associations (speaking of my experience with EGOS, AOM, ASA, and INSNA) have lagged, although EGOS and INSNA do better.  The ASA theory division award pages has many holes in it!  For example, it does not  the 2010 best article.  Was one not awarded?  The 2009 winner article is not hyperlinked.

But, there is good news!  Apparently, among blogging social scientists, there is a viral type of post: “My top 10 most influential books…”  I found several examples and I look forward to crafting my own.

Here is my list of others’ posts.

Ten Influential Books
http://asociologist.com/2010/03/21/ten-influential-books/

Ten Influential Books
http://crookedtimber.org/2010/03/20/ten-influential-books/

Books which have influenced me most
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/03/books-which-have-influenced-me-most.html

Ten most influential books
http://jacobtlevy.blogspot.com/2010/03/ten-most-influential-books-see-tyler.html

Influential (Actually Published, Actually Read Cover-to-Cover During College or Graduate School) Books

http://inmedias.blogspot.com/2010/03/influential-actually-published-actually.html

My Top 10 Most Influential Books:

Finally, in assembling this, I found a book I had not heard of, Required Reading: Sociology’s Most Important Books It is from 1998, so it will not have any great books of last ten years.    Still, I am curious to see what it says (and which I have read or not!)

I know my own initial list of books I have read and which  find my mind turning to again and again include:

  • The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism
  • Castells’ The Information Age Triology
  • Berger and Luckmann’s Social Construction of Reality
  • Geertz’ Interpretation of Culture
  • Watts’ Six Degrees

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, organization theory, social theory, sociology