Finding your way in the foggy road of data collection…

This week Coralie Acheson, a 2nd year PhD Researcher in the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, shares her experience of collecting data for her research…

Iron Bridge Blog

My research is on how tourists encounter and negotiate the values of Ironbridge Gorge, a World Heritage Site in Shropshire; part of a collaborative AHRC-funded project looking at the communication of value to different communities of interest at the site. This was my first serious foray into the academic world of cultural heritage following years of studying and working commercially in archaeology. When I started, I knew I had a steep climb in terms of raising my knowledge base in terms of thinking about tourism theory but I hadn’t realised how much I also needed to learn about the actual practicalities of carrying out the research.

I am using a mixed-methods approach – my research involves trying to pin down something both intangible and ephemeral, the ‘communication of value’ to a difficult to define, constantly changing and incredibly varied group of people – so I needed to form a sort of research ‘pincer’! I am using:

  • Interviews – semi-structured, with both those working with tourists, and the tourists themselves;
  • Observation – both remote and participant;
  • Qualitative media analysis of materials produced for and by tourists – think Instagram, guidebooks, signage etc;
  • Visual field notes – a developing collection of imagery which tells a story about my site.

I am currently right in the middle of collecting all of this data and feeling rather swamped. It is like a juggling act trying to process already collected data into initial analysis of some form, carry out more research and preparing for things happening over the next few months. A complex and colour coded diary has become essential! I have found that writing things down has helped me get my head around where I am with my research – not so much for the output but the process of doing it helps me organise my thoughts and get control of the stress!

I have massively benefitted from research training from lots of different sources including an ‘interview for researchers’ course (AHRC), free online courses in social media analytics, one-to-one skill sharing with other PhDs as well as courses available through the university on Endnote and data management. This was all absolutely essential, particularly as I am effectively a social science researcher with an arts background and who is based in the College of Arts and Law. Ultimately, though, the best way to figure out how to do things is just to try them out – go to conferences and present, try different analysis methods you’ve only read about in books – just go for it (within the remit of your ethical approval!) and it will get easier!

Do you want to share your PhD experiences with other postgraduate researchers on this blog? Get in touch with Dr. Eren Bilgen to become one of our guest bloggers.

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*NEW* Web of Science Citation Connection

This week Vicky Wallace, our Library Subject Advisor for the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, introduces us to the new ‘Web of Science Citation Connection’

University of Birmingham researchers now have access to ‘Web of Science Citation Connection’.  This package includes a wealth of databases, allowing you to retrieve a great deal more than journal articles; namely information on:
Books:  offering book and book chapter literature searching, and the option to browse within a book to its book chapters, to see where the chapters have been cited.

Data: Search for datasets used by others and gain credit/citations for your own.  The Data Citation Index links the data behind the research to the literature.

Patents: Read accessible summaries of patents written by experts, linked to the original patent.  You can see citations to the patents to help you identify potential competitors/collaborators.

In addition, the package also includes Specialist Subject Databases including BIOSIS Citation Index, Current Chemical Reactions, Index Chemicus, and Zoological Records.

The new package gives us access to these databases for 2010 onwards.

Making the most of Citation Connection

Not sure how useful these resources will be to you?  Use FindIt@Bham to select ‘Web of Science’ (All Databases), undertake a search on your topic, and then use the “document types” filter to see the range of resource types returned alongside the usual journal articles.  Refine and explore the results.

Search Core Collection (Web of Science Citation Indexes) to check citation metrics – calculations will be based on citations in journals and books.   More information about metrics is available on our Bibliometrics website.

Discover the data behind the literature by using Data Citation Index.  Data from stable, up-to-date, peer-reviewed and high quality repositories are indexed; the repositories can be searched or browsed.

Explore patents literature on Derwent Innovations Index.  Consisting of 3 sections (Chemical, Electrical and Electronic, Engineering), patents are harvested from patent offices worldwide, and Derwent’s specialists produce summaries, deciphering the technology to make it more understandable and more accessible.  As well as topic searching, you can search by institution, derwent classification codes and a range of other identifiers.  Explore the links between patents to see patents that share the same technology.  Check citations to the patents, and identify competitors/collaborators.

For further advice and guidance on making the most of these resources, contact your Subject Advisor in Library Services http://Intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/library/subject

 

Put Your Detective Hat On: Search Techniques

Polly Harper, Subject Advisor for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences in Library Services, introduces some techniques to help you find the information you need to support your research.

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Image credit: Laura Mossteller via Text100

As a researcher, you will of course need to find the right kinds of information to support and inform your research. This may, however, seem like a somewhat daunting and time-intensive activity.

Do not fear, however! Planning a strategy for this process whilst using techniques to help refine your searching could make your life much easier. Here are some techniques which you might like to try. Continue reading “Put Your Detective Hat On: Search Techniques”

Big data, small data, no data

This week, a guest post from Patricia Herterich, Research Repository Advisor in Library Services, on managing your research data.

There are many aspects to a successful PhD project and challenges to master on your way to graduation. You most certainly are aware that you should acquire e.g. writing and referencing skills, but how much time have you spent thinking about the research data management activities you might need to undertake as part of your research?  None yet? Time to get started with our introduction to research data management! Continue reading “Big data, small data, no data”

Bibliometrics for researchers

An introduction to bibliometrics for researchers by Vicky Wallace, Subject Advisor, Library Services

Have you ever heard the term bibliometrics?  Bibliometrics can be described as a means of measuring the impact of a given publication by looking at the number of times subsequent authors have cited that publication.

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How to find an author’s h-index.

Bibliometrics can be applied at various levels, including:

  • Author level (e.g. the h-index)
  • Article level (e.g. altmetrics)
  • Journal level (e.g. impact factor)

There are philosophical questions about the merits of using a citation as a measure of impact.  Ask yourself the question of why you cite papers in your work, is it for positive or negative reasons, are you building on a researchers work, criticising it, or acknowledging their contribution to a field?  Also, citation patterns vary across disciplines, with some areas having numerous co-authors and citing prolifically, and other areas citing fewer papers and having more sole authors.  Nevertheless, bibliometrics are often used as a quantitative measure to determine the impact of researchers, research groups, departments and institutions, although this is often tempered by using peer review alongside them to bring in a qualitative element. Continue reading “Bibliometrics for researchers”

New beginnings…

A warm welcome to new PGRs at the University of Birmingham.

So, the new academic year is about to start and this week we are welcoming new students at all levels across the University of Birmingham.  New postgraduate researchers are arriving, finding accommodation, meeting with their supervisors and wondering what they’ve let themselves in for.

welcome-sign-760358_640No-one is born as the perfect researcher, so new researchers have a lot of knowledge, skills, and behaviours to develop over the next few years (as, indeed, have all researchers as they move through their careers!).  This blog, and other support available across the University, will hopefully support that process.  Of course, this blog is also quite new, so we’ll be learning and developing together. Continue reading “New beginnings…”

Jack and the annual review process

Are you following jobs.ac.uk‘s PhD Vloggers?  The most recent installment catches up with Jack Donaghy, just reaching the end of his 1st year as a PhD student in Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow.

Continue reading “Jack and the annual review process”