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Essex expertise at the ESRC Research Methods Festival 2018

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Experts on innovations in research methods from Essex’s leading institutes, ISER (Institute for Social and Economic Research) and IADS (the Institute for Analytics and Data Science) will be presenting pioneering work at the 8th ESRC Research Methods Festival at the University of Bath on 3-5 July 2018.

The biennial ESRC Research Methods Festival brings together over 800 social science researchers at various stages of their careers, from across a range of disciplines and sectors. This year’s keynote speakers include Professor Danny Dorling (Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford), Professor Donna Mertens (Professor Emeritus at Gallaudet University, Washington D.C.) and Professor Nancy Cartwright (Professor of Philosophy at the University of Durham and the University of California).

ISER’s session, Innovations in measuring household finances: questionnaires and mobile apps will be chaired by Professor Mike Brewer, Director of the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change, with Professor Annette Jäckle, Associate Director of Innovations for Understanding Society.The session looks at how developing feasible and efficient methods for collecting accurate information about household finances poses many challenges.

Presentations in this session include ISER’s Dr Paul Fisher on experiments with ways of improving the reporting of income in a survey questionnaire, by asking respondents to review and edit summaries of all income they reported in the survey, Professor Mike Brewer on experiments with ways of collecting data about the whole household budget constraint (income, spending and changes in assets and debts) in a single interview, and Carli Lessof from the University of Southampton on a mobile app study, where respondents recorded purchases by taking pictures of shopping receipts.

IADS’s session will be led by Professor Maria Fasli will focus on computational social science,

This session will bring together computer and social scientists from the University of Essex to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing researchers applying methods from the fast-developing fields of natural language processing (NLP), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to social science problems.

The promise of “big data”, along with the affordances of new technology and advances in computational methods have transformed fields such as biology and astronomy, but take up within the social sciences has been slower.

The session will introduce examples of computational methods that have been applied in social science problems and discuss challenges and opportunities. Speakers will include Professor Slava Mikhaylov, Dr James Allen-Robertson, and Professor Nick Allum, Department of Sociology at the University of Essex.