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LGS-SOAR Humanities and Social Science Research Methods

Summer Course 2020, Tatenda Mangurenje

Collecting Data

If have not already made significant progress on your literature review, STOP! Start searching the literature and reading as soon as possible. More than one student has neglected their literature review until after collecting data only to learn that they have made a mistake and it is too late to start over. Don't let this happen to you.

This is also a good time to think about how to organize and manage your data. The Research Data Management site offers a comprehensive guide to services and tools available at Emory.

Field Research During the Pandemic

Deborah Lupton and colleagues have compiled and extensive crowd-sourced document of resources and ideas on how to conduct anthropological fieldwork during social isolation, Doing Fieldwork in a Pandemic (Lupton, 2020). Much of the content is broadly relevant for the social sciences. This document covers methods topics such as:

  • Doing online interviews
  • Asynchronous (epistolary) interviews
  • Story completion method
  • Using Facebook groups
  • Netnography or virtual ethnography
  • Autoethnography
  • Ethics of moving from face-to-face fieldwork
  • and much, much more

Sections include examples of published research utilizing the methods, tutorials, and other information. Deborah Lupton also maintains a public Facebook group called Innovative Social Research Methods.

See the Emory Libraries COVID-19 page for updates on how to access library materials during the pandemic.

Ethics and Online Research

Ethical principles still apply when you are not face-to-face. See the Ethical use of qualitative data and findings (Mertens 2014) for an overview and The Ethics of Internet Research by Eynon et al (2008) for issues specific to online research. Also, take note as you read published studies related to your work. Authors will often discuss ethical issues in a more nuanced fashion, although they may not use the term ethics. 

Depending on your project, you may still need to seek IRB approval for your research.

IRB at Emory

If you are conducting research that involves "human subjects" then your project might need to go through the IRB process. The Emory IRB website has several resources to help you complete and submit applications, including tutorials, instructional videos, webinars, help clinics, and more. Here are a few helpful pages for general information about requirements and the review process:


Methods Resources for Social Distance

Sage Research Methods is a database of social sciences research methods that indexes full text content previously published by Sage. Explore the Methods Map to find relevant methodologies, guidance for implementing them, and examples of published research. You can also search for specific methods or browse by discipline and topic.

Books and Handbooks

Hjorth, L., Horst, H., Galloway, A., & Bell, G. (2017). The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography. Routledge.

Braun, V., Clarke, V., & Gray, D. (2017). Collecting qualitative data : A practical guide to textual, media and virtual techniques. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Leavy, P. (2009). Method meets art: Arts-based research practice. New York: Guilford Press.

Fielding, N., Lee, R., & Blank, G. (2008). The SAGE handbook of online research methods. Los Angeles; London: SAGE.

The Cambridge series Elements in Quantitative and Computational Methods for the Social Sciences (2018- )

  • This series features short introductions and hands-on tutorials to emerging methodologies. Volumes include agent-based modeling, modeling ethnocentrism and polarization, regression discontinuity designs, using Twitter as data, and a forthcoming volume on images as social sciences data.

Note: Many more resources are available. Search discoverE, a relevant database, or ask a librarian for help.

Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) offers a variety of workshops and expertise related to GIS and mapping, statistical, network and text analysis, multimedia production, and more. Keep an eye on their calendar as the semester approaches for upcoming workshops. Typical semester offerings include workshops on coding in R, ArcGIS, Network Visualization, and Data Cleaning.

Qualitative Methods

This Qualitative Research Guide highlights key methods texts and electronic resources on qualitative methods in general, as well as autoethnography, case study, content analysis, focus groups, interviewing, participant-observation, and mixed methods research. You will also find information on finding qualitative datasets, software and equipment resources.

Oxford Bibliographies Online includes a few articles on qualitative methods. Try these two as a place to start:

The Qualitative Data Repository (QDR) maintains a list of conferences workshops and training opportunities in data collection and analysis. Several of the opportunities take place at Emory and many others are online workshops. Some workshops require a fee.

Quantitative Methods

The Institute for Quantitative Theory and Methods (QTM) offers a variety of resources in support of quantitative methods across disciplines. See their webpage for course offerings, events, and other programming. The Resources page highlights quantitative tools, software, and a few tutorials.