Notebook

Utilising and Developing the Skills of Early Career Researchers: The Reviewer College

By Roxanne Connelly and Siobhan Dytham, University of Warwick

Peer review is at the heart of the journal publication process. Yet our experience is that the process through which we initiate research students and early career researchers into the peer review system is often haphazard. Early career researchers are under increasing pressure to publish in highly ranked journals, yet opportunities to develop an understanding of the peer review process are rare.

The Reviewer College

Recently the International Journal of Social Research Methodology introduced a novel initiative, the Reviewer College. The Reviewer College is a board of reviewers comprised of early career researchers. For most college members this is their first experience of being involved with a journal, and they are provided with supportive guidance on the review process, and how to produce their first peer reviews. When places become available, members of the reviewer college can ‘graduate’ to become members of the main editorial board.

Benefits to Early Career Researchers

The Reviewer College has produced benefits for both the journal and the reviewers. The early career researchers are developing their reviewing skills, and deepening their understanding of the research and publication process. We have found reviewing articles for the journal has improved our own research by better understanding the shortcomings of rejected papers, and appreciating what makes accepted papers stand out. Whilst college reviewers are usually allocated articles within their immediate field, reviewers also benefit from reading a range of papers which they may not usually pick out. The exposure to these papers makes us better rounded researchers, more aware of the wider field, and has also sparked our interests in methodological issues which we have not previously considered.

Benefits to the Journal

The journal has found that reviewers from the college members are of very high quality. The extra support required to aide early career researchers is outweighed by the careful reviews which have been received. The reviewer college also provides the opportunity for the journal to foster the upcoming community of researchers in the field who will be future authors and expert reviewers for the journal in years to come.

The Reviewer College has been mutually beneficial. Reviewers have gained valuable career experience, but equally we have been able to call on a poll of new and fresh thinking methodological talent. The standard of reviews has been excellent, such that several members of the College have been promoted to the Editorial Board. These scholars have become valued Board members, because they are already familiar both with the kind of papers we receive and the day to day workings of the journal.

Roxanne Connelly is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at the University of Warwick. She a member of the Editorial Board, and a former member of the IJSRM Reviewer College.

Siobhan Dytham is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Education Studies at the University of Warwick. She joined the IJSRM Reviewer College during the final year of her PhD, and became a member of the Editorial Board in 2016.

Announcements

‘Democratising Big Data’ workshop

‘Democratising Big Data’ workshop

28th-29th June 2018, Digital Humanities Lab, University of Sussex

Participants are invited to register for a free two-day workshop at the University of Sussex’s Digital Humanities Lab, funded by the International Journal of Social Research Methodology’s seminar competition 2017/18 and hosted by the Sussex Humanities Lab.

Registration: https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/_L62CmZ2EotjWz3r1cLhoTn?domain=eventbrite.co.uk

More information: http://democratisingbigdata.wordpress.com

The rise of ‘big data’ has posed new challenges for research practices across the social sciences, with researchers divided over its methodological value and contribution (Halford & Savage 2017). Recent studies have drawn attention to the unethical and undemocratic ends that big data, and associated methods of data mining and scraping, can be directed towards (Eubanks 2018; Zimmer & Kinder-Kurlander 2017). Nonetheless, a recent wave of citizen data science and participatory action research has begun to explore the potential ways that big data can be used in studies orientated to societal and community-based challenges (for example the Public Science Project at CUNY). These studies use big data tools as resources to support individuals and communities in researching the social, political, environmental and structural circumstances of their lives – seeking to provide opportunities for collective reflection and social action through collaborative research.

This two-day workshop aims to explore the potential of big data in transforming participatory and action research approaches in the social sciences, examining the tensions, opportunities and challenges it presents for participatory, democratic and community-based models of research. This workshop is open to participants from across the social sciences, social care, education, computing and humanities interested in exploring participatory and action research approaches to big data. Places are limited and catering will be provided on both days.

Invited speakers include:

  • Graham Lally (Director of the OCSI).
  • Dr Helen Pritchard (Goldsmiths, University of London) from the Citizen Sense project.
  • Dr Jennifer Pybus (Kings College London) from the Our Data Ourselves project.
  • Dr Jonathan Gray (Kings College London) from the Public Data Lab.
  • Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes (University of Cambridge).
  • Prof David Weir and Jack Pay (University of Sussex) from the TAG Laboratory and Sussex Humanities Lab.

The first day of the workshop will explore the inherent challenges and tensions of ‘democratising’ big data in research, drawing on perspectives from inside and outside of the social sciences, and from inside and outside of the academy. The second day will involve creative group activities aimed at mapping tensions and opportunities for participatory and action research, and exploring potential interdisciplinary projects.

Early Career/PhD Funding: We have capacity to fund one doctoral or early career researcher’s travel and accommodation from within the UK. To be considered for this, please send a short email to Dr Liam Berriman (l.j.berriman@sussex.ac.uk) by the 1st June 2018 outlining how the workshop’s themes connect with your research.

For more information visit https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/odzWCn5Yzpc7mv2YluKbcnf?domain=democratisingbigdata.wordpress.com or contact the organiser Dr Liam Berriman (l.j.berriman@sussex.ac.uk).

Calls

Call for Reviewer College Members

The International Journal of Social Research Methodology set up its Reviewer College in 2014. The journal is committed to supporting social researchers and methodologists who have recently entered the profession and indeed values the new ideas and approaches they bring.  

The College has been seen as a positive career experience by its members and several College members have become full board members. Membership of the College is open to social scientists in the early years of their career. They may be currently PhD students, recently graduated PhD students or early career researchers/ academics. Members may work in academic institutions, the private, public or third sector. They may be resident in any country. IJSRM publishes articles that cover the entire breadth of quantitative and qualitative approaches. We are always interested in those with expertise in areas where there are skills shortages, and at present we particularly welcome members who have experience in the following areas: experimental methods and complex interventions, sampling, evaluation methods, data visualisation, indigenous methods, co-production and participatory methods.

College Members receive a discount voucher for Taylor and Francis products for each review they undertake.  They will be expected to review up to three papers per year.

If you would like to apply please send a CV and supporting email to Malcolm Williams WilliamsMD4@cardiff.ac.uk

Announcements

The International Journal of Social Research Methodology is sponsoring a key lecture at the ESRC Research Methods Festival again this year

We are delighted that Professor Nancy Cartwright (Durham, and California San Diego) has agreed to give the Journal lecture this year.  She will discuss causal inference and evidence for the single case. Her talk will cover a catalogue of types of evidence that can argue for/against causation in the single case, irrespective of counterfactuals, and offer a systematic account of causal modelling that shows why these are legitimate sources of evidence.

The Festival is organised by the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods and is a unique biennial celebration of cutting edge development in research methods.  You can book to attend the Festival at: https://www.ncrm.ac.uk/RMF2018/home.php

At previous Festivals, the Journal has sponsored talks by Professor Andrew Abbott and an ‘in conversation’ with Professor Emeritus Aaron Cicourel.  Videos of these events can be accessed at the NCRM YouTube channel.

Announcements

CfP: Using Creative & Visual Methods in Comparative Research

A one-day seminar funded by the International Journal for Social Research Methodology

Friday, 15th June, University of Surrey

CALL FOR PAPERS

Keynote speakers: Agata Lisiak (Bard College, Berlin) and Rita Chawla-Duggan (University of Bath

Increasing use is made of both creative and visual methods in social research. Nevertheless, to date there has been very little discussion of the extent to which such methods can be used in comparative research. This seminar will explore some of the challenges of using these methods cross-nationally, examining the different cultural associations that may be brought to bear in different national contexts, and how these are accounted for in research design, data collection and analysis. It will also draw on the experiences of researchers working in this area, to explore how such challenges can most effectively be addressed. We welcome papers that address any aspect of using creative and/or visual methods in comparative research, or across spaces of difference more broadly defined (e.g. with groups from different ethnic or social class backgrounds).

Abstract Submission: Please send abstracts of up to 250 words by 14th April 2018 to Rachel Brooks at the University of Surrey: r.brooks@surrey.ac.uk. (There will be no charge for attending the seminar as all costs are kindly being covered by the International Journal for Social Research Methodology.)

Seminar Organisers: The seminar is organised by the Eurostudents research team at the University of Surrey (Rachel Brooks, Jessie Abrahams, Predrag Lazetic and Anu Lainio). Further details about the Eurostudents project can be found at: www.eurostudents.net.

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A message from the Journal Administrator

My name is Olivia Edwards and I’m the administrator for the International Journal of Social Research Methodology.  I’m your first point of contact for article submissions.

My role involves processing submissions, sending articles out for review, record keeping and liaising with the Journal editors, reviewers, the publishing company and, of course, authors.

Here are a few tips for you to take into account, to help me with the smooth processing of your submission:

  • Please read the ‘instructions for authors’ section on the journal webpage carefully – this will help to ensure that there are no delays in processing your submission.
  • If there are any changes to contact details, references, author involvement etc, please let me know as soon as possible on tsrm-editor@tandf.co.uk
  • I’m a person rather than an automated system, and I work part-time. The Journal receives a high number of article submissions, so don’t worry if you haven’t had an immediate response – I will answer your email as soon as I can.

I’m happy to help with any queries where I can, so just email me with any questions.