Network Analysis and Infographics (959N1)

Network Analysis and Infographics (959N1)

Introduction

This module trains students to become effective consumers of research and savvy producers and users of data, through an introductionto the basics of research design, data collection and analysis. It will therefore be of relevance to those interested in pursuing research careers, as well as those who want to know more generally how to identify weak claims that are dressed up as research (most management, policy, and information-intensive careers reward this skill highly).

Since becoming effective consumers of research requires some hands-on experience of producing research, the module will provide a systematic guide to planning and successfully executing a research project within the constraints of time available for writing a report or dissertation in fulfilment of MSc course requirements.

The learning outcomes (see below) reflect this objective. After completing this module, you should have clear ideas about the following elements of the research process, and be able to articulate them in your own words:

Learning Outcomes

  1. Design and implement a research project(Assessment: GPN)
  2. Frame answerable research questions(Assessment: GPN and REP)
  3. Select methods that are capable of providing robust and defensible answers to research questions(Assessment: GPN and REP)
  4. Produce a coherent analysis of the research, which will include identification of the strengths and weaknesses of the project management and assess the management process against good practices.(Assessment: REP)

Reading and Resources

  • Lectures and seminars’ essential readingsare listed below.
  • Sorenson, C (1994) This is not an article. Available at https://www1.in.tum.de/lehrstuhl_1/files/teaching/ws0607/GSE/notart.pdf Accessed 13th Jan 2017.
  • Davis, M. (1971) That’s interesting. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 1:4 p309.
  • Saunders, M et al. (2016) Research methods for business students. Pearson, Essex.
  • Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2003) Business research methods. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Booth, W. et al. (1995) The Craft of Research. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  • Dillman, D., Smyth,J. And Christenian, L. (2014) Surveys: The Tailor Design Method, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, UK. (chapters 4 )
  • Morris, P., Pinto, J. and Soderlund, S. (eds) (2012) The Oxford Handbook of Project Management, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. (Chapter 1)
  • Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2014) Research Methods for Business Students, Prentice-Hall, Harlow, UK. (Chapter 2 – pp 30-33)
  • Yin, R. (2014)Case Study Research, Sage Publications, London, UK. ((Chapter 2 – pp 29-37)

Module Delivery: AUser’s Guide

  1. Lectures and seminars are of two hours each, with a break of 10minutes.
  2. Lectures introduce students to the main concepts, perspectives and methodological approaches required for robust project research analysis.
  3. The (weeks 3,4,7,8 and 12) aim to assist students with framing of a primary research question for the case study on a selected project, developing the appropriate design, selecting and justifying the appropriate method or technique for data collection, and producing a well-structured, coherent and analytical report.Students will also learn how and why it is important to include in the report lessons learnt from the case study and how they may inform future project research.All these will be conducted through practical exercises.
  4. All required materials for lectures/seminars will be available on the module’s Study Direct website.
  5. Your grade for this module is based on:
    1. Group Project Presentation (GPN). This presentation is worth 40% of the overall mark. The presentation will be 20 minutes (which includes 5mins for questions at the end of the presentation), and it will be assessed on its accomplishment of Learning Outcomes #1, #2 and #3.
      1. Individual Report (REP): The report based on the group project presentation will contribute to 60% of the overall mark and will be assessed on the analysis, which will draw from the relevant lecture and seminar content. Assessment will also be based on the structure and coherence of the report.
    2. If you wish to see the any of the lecturers/tutorsplease visit during the office hour (details are given on the Study Direct website) or send an email to any of them to make an appointment.


Programme

An overview of lectures and seminars of the module along with the list of readings is provided below.

Week 1 Introduction

 

Lecture:Brexit, Trump, and research methods

This lecture will offer an overview of the module.It will explain why you shouldn’t only pay attention to the lectures and seminars that deal with the methods you think you might use.

 

This lecture is going to be so good, it’s going to be tremendous, believe me, everybody I’ve spoken to has told me that this is the best lecture ever, just the best, really. You’ll see my theories, and I have the most amazing theories, you know, I only use the best, make no mistake. I have the best words, you cannot really argue with it. All the others are liars and losers, they need to be fired and put in jail or punched in the face. Then we’ll do some talking, I don’t want to say too much about it, we’ll have some top-notch talking, the clearest ever, so impressive. At the end, we’ll make decisions, and I’ll make tons of money. Let’s make lectures great again. – D.T.

 

The lecture will seek to persuade you of the relevance of research methods well beyond the confines of academic study and research. It will then aim to help those who are at the early stages of planning a research project, focusing on formulating and clarifying a research topic and understanding how these are developed into answerable questions. We will be characterising ‘Research Questions’ as distinct from what Ed Steinmueller refers to as ‘God questions’.

 

The learning outcomes should enable you to:

·         Identify the attributes of a good research topic

·         Generate and refine research ideas to choose a suitable research topic

·         Turn your research idea into a research project that has a clear research question(s), aim and topic

·         Understand the relationship between a research question(s), a research aim and research objectives

·         Recognise the role of theory and frameworks in developing a research question(s), a research aim and research objectives

 

Seminar: Ethics approval, research topics, and research questions

This seminar introduces the purpose of the seminar series and how they will operate. Then the nature of ethical research will be explored. This is followed by the criteria and processes surrounding obtaining ethical approval for any research involved in your thesis.

 

The second half of the seminar will use a number of published papers to find the stated and un-stated research questions and how the authors arrive at these research questions from the topic and available information. We will be paying particular attention to the research topic and the design of the research question.

 

We will make a start on developing a collective a guidebook on “how to read a paper”, where we critique a paper’s methodological strengths and weaknesses, but log it as a feature to look for hen reading other papers. We will set up the assignment for Week 2 seminars. This is essential for being able to participate in next week’s seminars effectively.

 

Essential Reading

·         Yaqub, O. (2017) Variation in the dynamics and performance of industrial innovation: What can we learn from vaccines and HIV vaccines? Unpublished draft. See study direct.

 

Week 2   Lecture: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Searching literature, reading critically.

You’ve just had a great idea, thought about how it might be a good research topic, but are disappointed to see that someone else has already thought of it and published it. Fear not, for if you are able to read that work critically, you will be able to see how you can improve and build upon it!

 

The lecture will contrast “systematic reviews” and “critical reviews”, and discuss some of the differences.

 

The lecture will feature some practical advice on how to navigate the University of Sussex library, how to identify what peer reviewed literature is, and why we bother with what seems like arcane pedantic rituals of referencing our sources.

 

The learning outcomes should enable you to:

·         Understand the importance and purpose of the critical literature review to your research project

·         Adopt a critical perspective in your reading

·         Know what you need to include when writing your critical review

·         Identify search terms and to undertake online literature searches

·         Evaluate the relevance, value and sufficiency of the literature found

·         Reference the literature found accurately

·         Understand plagiarism

 

Essential readings;

·         Mowery, D. and Rosenberg, N. (1979) The influence of market demand upon innovation: a critical review of some recent empirical studies. Research Policy. 8(2):102.

·         Salter, A. and Martin, B, (2001) The economic benefits of publicly funded basic research: a critical review. Research Policy. 30(3):509.

·         Yaqub, O. et al. (2014) Attitudes to vaccination: a critical review. Social Science and Medicine.112:1.

 

Seminar: Google vs Peer Reviewed Literature

The aim of this exercise will be to explore differences between using Google and using peer-reviewed literature to answer specific questions.

 

As explained last week, before coming into this seminar, you will have written a one-page summary using only peer reviewed literature or using only Google. You didn’t reference any sources but you did put your name on it.

 

This week, you will mark a script written by one of your classmates. We’lldiscuss systematic differences that emerge in the marks and in the content, if any.

 

We also briefly discuss reference management software. Do you need one and, if so, which one?

 

Week 3   Lecture:Research Design and Research Strategy

You have a topic, you might even have a bunch of possible questions, and now you want to think about collecting some data. Not so fast! Too often, we see students skip a vital step: Research design and an awareness of the research philosophy underpinning it.

 

This lecture will cover why it’s important to reflect on your epistemological stance, or at the very least, be aware of your own ontological position. Then we will discuss why research needs a design or a structure before datacollection or analysis can commence. A research design is not just a workplan. A work plan details what has to be done to complete the project butthe work plan will flow from the project’s research design. The function ofa research design is to ensure that the evidence obtained enables us to answer theinitial question as unambiguously as possible.

 

The learning outcomes should enable you to:

·         Explain the relevance of philosophical positions for research design, and articulate your own positions therein.

·         Adopt a critical perspective in your reading

·         Explain the differences between exploratory, descriptive, explanatory and evaluative research

·         Identify the main strategies and choose

·         Evaluate the relevance, value and sufficiency of the literature found

·         Reference the literature found accurately

·         Understand plagiarism

 

Seminar: Research Question and Project Design

This seminar will provide a worksheet to highlight the research problem (the what’) and its importance (‘the why’), and assists with developing the primary research question for the case study. The worksheet attempts to establish the desirability of the research project. A second worksheet is provided to assist with designing (‘the how’) and identify appropriate resources required to undertake the case study.  Additionally a journal paper is used to discuss the challenges and concerns with regards to producing a research question and project design.. Students are required to read it beforehand. Importantly, this seminar is linked with the research question aspects of the research proposal.

 

Essential reading

Bell, G.A., Cooper, M.A., and Qureshi, S. (2002) “The Holon Framework and Software Process Improvement: A Radiotherapy Project Case Study”, International Journal of Software Process: Improvement and Practice. Vol. 7 (2), pp 57-70.

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2014) Research Methods for Business Students, Prentice-Hall, Harlow, UK. (Chapter 2 – pp 33-46)

 

Yin, R. (2014)Case Study Research, Sage Publications, London, UK. ((Chapter 2 – pp 29-37)

 

 

 

 

 

Week 4   Lecture: Sampling traps, spurious correlations, and other biases: What counts as a case (study) and how do I know if the answer to the research question is right (assuming I think there is “a right answer”).

When you want to know about the health of a population as a whole, but you only survey people in waiting in GP’s waiting room… (you need to get your research design health-checked).

 

When you see that chocolate consumption and Nobel prizes are correlated, and decide to give out free chocolate to all your researchers… (your researchers might be a bit happier but perhaps not why you had hoped).

 

When you see a study about finches, and disregard it because you think the data has been cherry-picked. (Yes, finches might actually pick cherries, but the point here is that Darwin built up some of the most generalised and well recognised theories known to mankind using ‘mere’ case study).

 

The learning outcomes should enable you to:

·         Appreciate why sampling issues are important and how they affect the reliability of your research.

·         Understand and use a range of probability and non-probability sampling techniques

·         Select appropriate sampling techniques for a variety of research scenarios

·         Evaluate the representativeness and generalisability of the sample/case

 

 

Seminar: Critical Skills

This seminar discusses the importance of a literature review and development of critical skills to produce a well-researched project report. A chapter on project management will be critically reviewed in the seminar. This seminar reflects the lecture on the importance of such skills required for the preparation of a research proposal.

 

Essential reading

Morris (2012) A Brief History of Project Management, In Morris, P., Pinto, J. and Soderlund, S. (eds) (The Oxford Handbook of Project Management, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.(Chapter 1)

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2014) Research Methods for Business Students, Prentice-Hall, Harlow, UK. (Chapter 3 pp 64-68)

 

Week 5   Lecture: Secondary data: Not just more stuff for your literature review

Secondary data is basically data collected by other people. A large and increasing proportion of MSc students use secondary data in their research projects. However, it is also common to see students failing to understanding the difference between using literature and data as sources for their literature review (or to build up theory/framework for analysis), and using literature and data as secondary sources to support your empirics (or even as the exclusive source of empirical material).

 

The learning outcomes should enable you to:

·         Identify the variety of secondary data that is available

·         Appreciate the ways in which secondary data can be deployed

·         Understand the advantages and disadvantages of using secondary data

·         Evaluate the suitability of secondary data for answering your research question

 

 

Seminar: Writing a Research Proposal

This seminar will examine the sorts of topics and questions previous years’ students worked on. We will look at some abstracts and some proposals. We’ll discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and see if you can identify which ones scored highly.

 

 

Week 6   Reading week
Week 7   Lecture: Primary data collection

This lecture will examine data collection though various methods, which can be grouped into the broad banners of observation, interviews and questionnaires. This covers what most students think data collection is.

 

But the lecture will also discuss a critical step before any of those issues arise: negotiating access to that data, and various strategies to gain access.

 

Even for professional researchers, data access can be make-or-break for their entire research program/careers. For example, the discovery of the virus that causes AIDS required access to the virus… A spat broke out between a French and a US group that took no less than the Presidents of their respective countries to sort out! (by the way, also interesting to see the methods involved to discern mere correlation with AIDS vs actual causality of AIDS).

 

The learning outcomes should enable you to:

·         Evaluate a range of strategies to help you gain access to organisations and to individual participants

·         Appreciate the role of observation as a data collection method and differentiate between participant observation and structured observation

·         Understand when and how to use semi-structured and in-depth interviews, the advantages and disadvantages of telephone interviews, and the associated logical and resource issues

·         Understand the advantages and disadvantages of questionnaires as a data collection method

·         Appreciate a range of questionnaire types, and issues with typical response rates

·         Identify data quality issues from each type of data collection and their mitigation strategies

 

Seminar:Structured Questionnaire Design

This seminar will explore key aspects of a structured questionnaire (attributes, opinion and behaviour) and connectivity with scale types (nominal, ordinal and interval) which influencesthe selection of descriptive statistics (for students who are particularly interested in collecting quantitative data).  The differences between open and closed questions are outlined. An example is discussed within the seminar in order to highlight the challenges involved in developing a professional questionnaire for a research project.

 

 

Essential reading

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2014) Research Methods for Business Students, Prentice-Hall, Harlow, UK. (Chapter 11 pp 361-387).

Dillman, D., Smyth,J. And Christenian, L. (2014) Surveys: The Tailor Design Method, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, UK. (chapter 4)

 

 

Week 8   Lecture: Data Analysis

This lecture will focus mainly on qualitative data analysis. It will touch on quantitative data analysis briefly, but this will be covered in more detail in Nick’s lecture next week.

 

Preparing, entering, and checking data for analysis can often be insanely boring ‘monkey’ work (it’s often good to line up a suitably encouraging music playlist for this task). But it’s offset by some of the joys of exploring your data and finding unexpected results from your analysis, or the satisfaction of seeing your expectations come through and survive robust analysis.

 

Few if any of these sensations come across when research is reported, but bearing in mind what it’s like to actually undertake data analysis will be helpful whenever you want to interrogate any research report for reliability and validity, beyond simply looking at the glossy report cover or journal title.

 

The learning outcomes should enable you to:

·         Understand the interactive nature data analysis with other parts of your research project (like data collection, theory, methods…)

·         Understand differences between the way quantitative data and qualitative data can be coded and analysed

·         Transcribe interviews in a range of ways, with an appreciation for their respective advantages and disadvantages

·         Appreciate just how hard it is to build explanations and test them (and be correspondingly suspicious of other people’s claims about causality).

·         Be aware of analytical aids, like mind-mapping and ‘laboratory’ notebooks.

·         Recognise when data analysis is visualised poorly

 

Seminar: Presentation of group project

This seminar will be used for the presentation of group projects, which will be assessed. The group project presentation contributes to 40% of the overall mark..

Week 9   Lecture:Quantitative data analysis (Guest lecture by Nick Jagger)

The lecture aims to introduce a range of quantitative analytical techniques that are available. The objective is that attendees will become better informed and critical readers of quantitative analyses in the future.

 

As such, this does not go into the level of detail that a statistics course provides. However, the sort of data that each technique is appropriate for is examined, the strengths and weaknesses of the technique is described and the main diagnostics that can be used to interpret the significance and strength of these techniques are examined.

 

·         Smith, K. (2004) Measuring Innovation. The Oxford handbook of innovation J. Fagerberg, D. C. Mowery and R. R. Nelson. (Eds.) Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 148-178.

 

Seminar:Hypotheses, p-Hacking and Fishing for statistical significance

The seminar will explore how quantitative hypotheses that can reliably tested with sufficient statistical significance. The emphasis is on selecting or obtaining appropriate data for the research question and if necessary transforming or pre-processing this data before undertaking the chosen statistical test.

 

We will also discuss the phenomenon of p-hacking and secondary analyses on stratified datasets, that where one goes fishing for statistical significance within a given dataset. As we get bigger and bigger datasets, this is becoming more and more of a problem, which you need to be alert to, irrespective of whether you ever intend to conduct analyses on Big Data.

 

Imagine that I am stood facing a barn, holding a machine gun, blindfolded, firing off shots swinging from side to side whilst laughing maniacally. I then walk up to the barn, find three bullet holes which happen to be very close together, draw a target around them, claiming I am an excellent shot. This returns us to issues sampling and theory when making claims (lecture 4), as quite distinct from analytical rigour (lectures 8 and 9).

 

A series of research questions, data sets and analyses will be critically examined.

 

Week 10   Lecture: Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Interpreting network analysis studies (Guest lecture by Daniele Rotolo)

***Students who’ve already opted for 959N1 Network Analysis and Infographics module need not attend***

Network analysis has become increasingly prevalent in STI policy and management research, not least because they have generated some of the most beautiful data visualisations in the history of the field. Try not to be lured. This lecture will help you interpret such studies, and identify their strengths and weaknesses.

 

The lecture introduces students to the concept of ‘network’ and to the main approaches to collect and visualise network data. Conventional network measures (e.g. density, centrality) are also introduced along with the type of information about the network those measures can provide.

 

·         Borgatti, S.P., Mehra, A., Brass, D.J. and Labianca, G. (2009) Network analysis in the social sciences. Science 323, 892-895.

 

Seminar: Understanding what network analysis software does

The seminar is focused on an exercise: students will be asked to manually draw a network on the basis of a given dataset and to analyse this network by using the measures introduced in the lecture (e.g. to identify critical nodes in the network).

 

 

Week 13   Lecture:Multi-criteria mapping: an example of theoretically informed mixed methods (Guest lecture by Andy Stirling)

This lecture will introduce you to a sophisticated decision making tool. Multi-criteria Mapping (MCM) is an interactive hybrid qualitative/quantitative appraisal method for exploring contrasting perspectives on complex strategic management and policy issues. It aims to help ‘open up’ technical assessment by ‘mapping’ practical implications of different options, knowledges, uncertainties contexts and values – as seen under contrasting points of view.

 

See www.multicriteriamapping.com for more information.

 

 

Seminar:Hands-on MCM (Guest tutor Josie Coburn)

This seminar will guide students through a particular example, using a freely-available web-based tool. It will be useful not only for students who intend to use MCM in their dissertation, but it will also be useful for other students to reinforce their understanding of what MCM is and how it compares to other methodologies.

 

Week 14 Revision Lecture: Writing up the research

How **not** to do it: Wait until 2 weeks before the deadline, open a word processor, start writing, and keep going till you hit the word count, then press submit. You may be surprised at how easy it is to spot such poor writing.

 

In the social sciences, perhaps more than the natural sciences, the act of writing itself is part of the research. Writing will force you to clarify your thoughts and, far from being the final stage of the research project, the writing phase will trigger you into revisiting other parts of the research process covered in this course. That is to say, you should experience interaction, iteration even, between the different elements: e.g. between the development of your theoretical framework, your data collection and analysis, your research question, and so on. Bottom line – start writing as early as you can, and keep revising it regularly.

 

The learning outcomes should enable you to:

·         Write a final project report that presents an authoritative account of your research

·         Adopt an appropriate structure and style for the final report

·         Differentiate between a dissertation and a consultancy report

·         Be familiar with SPRU’s assessment criteria

 

 

Seminar: Writing up the research

Students will examine what research project look like when written up as project reports by previous students?Students will be asked to critique (what was good, what could be better) and evaluate them (what mark would you award). We will work through reports that scored highly as well as ones that did not.

 

 

Writing Well and Avoiding Academic Misconduct

Plagiarism, collusion, and cheating in exams are all forms of academic misconduct which the University takes very seriously.

Every year, some students commit academic misconduct unintentionally because they did not know what was expected of them. The consequences for committing academic misconduct can be severe, so it is important that you familiarise yourself with what it is and how to avoid it.

The University’sSkills Hub guide to study skillsgives advice on writing well, including hints and tips on how to avoid making serious mistakes. You will also find helpful guides to referencing properly and improving your critical writing skills. Make use of the resources there.

If you are dealing with difficult circumstances, such as illness or bereavement, do not try to rush your work or hand in something which may be in breach of the rules. Instead you should seek confidential advice from the Student Life Centre. The full University rules on academic misconduct are set out in the Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook.

 

BMEc Seminar Change Policy

Once you have been allocated to your lecture and seminar/workshop classes you will not be permitted to change your class times. If you have exceptional circumstances which could impact on you being able to attend your classes, such as a disability, then you should contact the BMEc School who will direct you to the online change request form where you will be asked provide suitable written evidence to support your request. Otherwise, it is expected you will be available for and attend all classes for each module making up your degree which could be timetabled at any time during the week, Monday to Friday. If you attend an alternative seminar group without prior approval you will be marked on the register as ‘absent’ which will show on your official record. It is therefore important that you attend your allocated seminar groups.

 

Student Charter

Students agree to take responsibility for their own learning and actively engage with all their modules. This will help to ensure that students not only focus on the content of modules but also the skills elements that are integrated into all classes. What this means is set out below.

Faculty will endeavour to provide a supportive learning environment to help students engage with their modules.

If a student is unable to fulfil one of their responsibilities, they must inform their teacher. If the student fails to do this, the teacher will initially try and work with the student to resolve the lack of engagement. However, if a student continues not to meet their responsibilities then a teacher can ask the student to leave a particular session, where the lack of engagement is assessed as affecting the learning environment.

Student responsibilities:

  1. Students are expected to undertake independent study for all modules; (remembering that a 15 credit module is equivalent to 150 hours of study, of which a maximum of 33 hours happens in the classroom)
  2. Students should not talk (unless discussion is requested) during lectures
  3. Students should only use computers or mobile phones during teaching sessions for work-related purposes
  4. Students should come to class prepared to listen, take notes and ask and answer questions
  5. When students attend a seminar or workshop they must have done any pre-reading that is assigned
  6. Students should arrive for class on time
  7. If students have to miss a session, they should email their teacher to explain their absence either in advance or within 24 hours of the session
  8. Students must make an appointment with their academic advisor at least once a year – otherwise s/he will not write a reference other than to confirm grades
  9. Students should complete all individual assessments themselves or note any help that they have received (including proof-reading)
  10. Freeriding in groups is not fair. Students should prioritize any group project work that they have, to ensure that they contribute their fair share – otherwise their peer group is entitled to identify the lack of effort of individual members
  11. Students have a responsibility to check (and respond as necessary) to their University email at least once a day during term time; not reading an email is not an excuse for missing a deadline.
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