Masterclasses, Annual Conference 2019

1. Using creative methods in qualitative data collection

An opportunity to explore a range of creative activities, that help to make visible and expressible what is otherwise difficult to see or put in words. For example, thought processes and decision-making can be observed; and for research into participants' experiences, creative methods yield rich qualitative data as participants reflect more deeply and focus on their emotions and feelings.

The activities in this workshop include ‘diamond 9’, ‘pick a card’ and/or LEGO model building activities. We will evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of various creative activities, consider the practicalities and consequences of implementing them, and explore what constitutes data, what data is generated and how that can be recorded. Finally we will reflect on attendees’ own projects and what these methods could bring to your research.  

Led by Nicole Browne , Lecturer in Education and Academic Head of Learning and Teaching in UCL's department of Culture, Communication and Media.

3. What are complex systems evaluations?

There is an upsurge of interest in complex systems approaches amongst decision-makers and evaluators. Advocates say these approaches offer new ways to ensure that evidence to inform decision-making takes better account of the complexities of the real world. Yet there remains uncertainty about what we actually mean by a ‘complex systems approach’. What do evaluations that take this perspective look like? What kinds of findings do they produce? When is it appropriate to do one?

You'll have opportunity to think about how and why to incorporate complex systems thinking into your work. It will be an interactive session. Matt works on evaluations affecting wider determinants of health, particularly local level interventions and strategies, and some of the examples used will be drawn from that subject area – but relevant to a wider audience.

Led by Dr Matt Egan, Associate Professor at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

2. A taster in narrative inquiry: exploring the power of stories in social research

This interactive masterclass explores storytelling and narratives as a qualitative method of inquiry. This method allows us to capture rich data in story form and provides us with insight into feelings, beliefs, images and time. It also takes account of the relationship between individual experience and the wider social and cultural contexts.

Through stories we can convey people’s lived experiences to a range of audiences and the public. In this masterclass we consider how stories can form a component of your research and via a practical activity we explore effective ways through which to harness the power of storytelling in social research.

Led by Dr Karen Lumsden is a sociologist and criminologist with expertise in qualitative research methods, and applied research with a range of audiences including the police, victim organisations, and the College of Policing. She is currently in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham.

4. Escaping the echo chamber

Social research is a noble profession in which smart, well-meaning people employ rigorous, robust methodologies to explore issues impacting society. At worst, it can also be a closed and cossetted environment with echo chambers of experts and close-knit networks of subject specialists. The time for change is here.

This workshop is for those who are willing to lay preconceptions to one side and step outside of their bubble. Working with other delegates and a common brief, you will be challenged to question your assumptions, to expand your research toolbox, to open your networks and to reflect on the paths open to you. Prepare to get stuck in.

Led by Dan Clay a policy, strategy and communications advisor with expertise in using research to guide policy, organisational and communications strategy, and Caitlin Connors the founder of Bright Harbour, a research, design and social innovation consultancy.