Sgoil Cheumnaichean Saidheans Sòisealta na h-Alba

Spring into Methods 2020

The Scottish Graduate School of Social Science, in partnership with the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities, announces that workshop proposals are now being accepted for Spring into Methods 2020.

The Spring into Methods programme brings together arts, humanities and social science doctoral researchers from across Scotland and offers an interdisciplinary and in-depth approach to learning a specific research method over 2½ consecutive days.

SGSAH and SGSSS invite proposals from members of staff in any of the affiliated HEIs to provide this training. Please read these guidance notes before submitting your application to ensure that the proposal meets all of the requirements.

Planning the event
  • The event must take place between Monday 6th April and Thursday 7th May 2020 (inclusive, but avoiding the Easter weekend of Friday 10th to Monday 13th Note that the early May holiday next year is on Friday 8th May 2020, not Monday 4th May 2020).
  • The event will last 2½ days.
  • At least one early career researcher should be included in the development and delivery of materials. This can be a doctoral student or an early career researcher on a fixed-term research contract.
  • A doctoral student is not eligible to be the event organiser (Funds will be advertised separately for doctoral researcher-led training events).
  • SGSAH and SGSSS will coordinate the application process for each event, including advertising it, selecting successful participants and notifying them.

We welcome proposals for events on the following topics where we have identified particular demand. However, we also welcome proposals in an open category of other topics of innovative methods training if you can convince us that there is likely to be demand from doctoral researchers across the arts, humanities and social sciences.

For 2020, these topics are:

  • Co-research and ‘doing’ research inclusively
  • Creating and archiving open research data
  • Feminist research methods
  • Mining administrative data
  • Participant observation
  • Posthumanist or more-than-human research
  • Survey design and analysis
  • Theory and practice of oral history
  • + open category

You should budget on the basis of a maximum of 25 attendees. The budget for the development, design and delivery of each training event is £2500.

This includes:

  • up to £1750 for materials, the fees for the early career researcher(s) and administration costs
  • up to £750 for catering costs, which should include lunch on at least two days and refreshments for breaks during the event.

It does not include:

  • room hire, as we expect the host HEI to waive these costs
  • fees for tenured staff who are involved in development and delivery of the event, as we cannot make an additional payment to their salary.

In addition to this budget of £2500, the SGSAH and SGSSS will cover the costs of travel and accommodation incurred by doctoral students attending the event if their home institution is more than 30 miles from the location of the training and costs are in line with their policies on expenses (for further information please refer to the SGSAH and SGSSS expenses guides).


Proposals must be submitted by 4pm on Monday 20th January 2020.

Applications will be reviewed by a panel drawn from across the SGSAH and SGSSS directorates or their nominees. You will be notified whether your application to run a Spring into Methods  event has been successful by Monday 3rd February 2020.

For a fuller timeline please see below or review our guidance notes. 

Enquiries can be directed at either and/or

Location: Glasgow

Dates: 8-10 May

Summary: This ‘advanced’ oral history workshop will provide Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences doctoral students with an opportunity to focus in more depth on some of the key theoretical issues in oral interviewing and develop their interviewing practice through discussion of specific problem issues and scenarios. The workshop is designed for those PG students using oral interviewing techniques who have already accrued some practice in interviewing, having undertaken a minimum of 5 interviews as a prerequisite. They should also have undertaken prior oral history training, although there will be an ‘Introduction to Oral History’ over the first half day to bring student up to speed on the practicalities of undertaking an oral history project.  

Additionally, students will be given opportunities to vet their research designs, conceptual frameworks and discuss key theoretical, ethical, and methodological concerns with experienced oral historians who work in a range of communities within and beyond the United Kingdom, and who have expertise on such areas of study as working class lives, gender history, war and genocide studies, Scottish and British history, and African oral traditions.

Participants will be required to send in a project overview and a 5 to 10-minute excerpt of an interview, which contains a particular issue they would like to discuss and are happy to share and learn from.  This must be submitted at least 2 weeks in advance of the day. 

The last session in the day will focus on problematic project scenarios as requested beforehand from participants.  Scenarios should reflect participants own challenges and difficulties in undertaking oral history: for example, developing rapport, transference of trauma, gate keeping, insider/outsider positionality, ethical issues, third party copyright issues (including the challenges of GDPR 2018), or recruitment.  The scenarios will be discussed in small groups ending in a plenary feedback session providing proposed solutions and / or advice.

Its intended learning outcomes include providing students with deeper knowledge of oral history theory; a more critical awareness of the theoretical challenges that oral historians navigate in their research; an appreciation of the legal and ethical obligations they have surrounding oral historical research; an appreciation of oral narrative methods and different approaches for analysing and disseminating interviews and related data; and opportunities to discuss their research plans, problems and issues arising with seasoned experts and each other.

Location: Edinburgh

Dates: 8-10 May

Summary: This workshop offers a novel opportunity for arts, humanities and social science researchers to learn how to create an open archive of research materials from your PhD project. While ‘data management’, ‘open research’ (including open datasets) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), are coming to dominate discussions of research, for many researchers, these changes in practice can seem distant and irrelevant, intended for ‘other’ researchers engaged with ‘big’ data, computational datasets, or medical or scientific research. This workshop is intended to address some of these contemporary transformations in research governance through developing a tailored approach for arts, humanities and social science researchers working with different forms of research materials (eg text, images, sound, art and other material objects), as well as small scale, in-depth qualitative data. We will begin by outlining histories and genealogies of archiving data and using archives that come from within these disciplines, and use these initial discussions as a springboard for how your own projects might benefit from being archived, understood here as a practice oriented towards present and future (re)use of research artefacts, including your own (re)use of your research materials during and ‘after’ the end of the PhD.

While we will cover a range of different ways of archiving materials, we will focus on how to create your own digital DIY academic archive, using the open source content management system Omeka ( We will address why you might want to create a digital research archive and the potential benefits of this for your own research practice, as well as for your academic career. The workshop will cover a range of topics, including how planning archiving into your research from the beginning can help with:

  • managing research materials and research data throughout the lifecycle of your project
  • creating themes, patterns, codes or stories from your materials and analysing your data
  • curating online exhibitions using your archive
  • using your archive to create open educational resources, for your own teaching, and for others to use
  • archiving as a form of publishing
  • archiving as knowledge exchange
  • archiving and research impact
  • creating a digital presence.

We will also address what is an archive; what are Dublin Core Standards and why do they matter. We will also address ethics – in fact understanding archiving as a crucial practice of caring for our research – as well as covering recent changes to research governance including GDPR, and moves to open research.

No prior knowledge of archiving, open data, or digital platforms such as Omeka, is required.

The workshop will involve a mix of mini-lectures, seminar discussion, hands-on activities, including an introduction to digital archiving, creating open educational resources, and curating online exhibits. We will also involve local guests from the library and information services, as well as some skype guests, to provide a range of examples of different ways in which academics are creating archives from their research. The workshop will include time to work on your own data with support of the teaching team, or opportunity to work a demonstrator site.


Location: Edinburgh

Dates: 8-10 April

Summary: If you are planning to conduct field work in a conflict zone and interested in key skills and knowledge to keep yourself and research participants physically and emotionally safe, this training is for you. A conflict zone isn’t necessarily a traditional overseas hostile environment. This can also be field work that you conduct in a local prison, exposure to violent content online, or any other challenging or potentially traumatic environment in which you conduct research.

Lectures on operating in complex hostile environments in an ethical and safe manner will be combined with practical exercises, in which you will learn to proactively assess risk, plan to mitigate risk, handle unexpected critical incidents, and engage in healthy debriefing practices, during and after your return from fieldwork.

The tutors have extensive expertise in working in hostile environments that pose a risk to physical and mental wellbeing. They are experienced in safe working practices for fieldwork with vulnerable participants and will introduce you to a wide range of techniques for keeping participants and yourself safe.

Topics covered also include ethical considerations related to operating across cultures, awareness of diversity, the use of digital encryption to keep sources safe, neuroscience and an understanding of the impact of traumatic events on witnesses or people involved, critical incident debriefing techniques and more. A series of informational and interactive lectures will be combined with hands-on exercises in techniques for keeping your fieldwork and participants physically and mentally safe.

Researchers who participate in this training will be given the opportunity to discuss planned individual fieldwork, and will receive feedback on how to best assess ethical and safety implications of prospective individual research.

This 2.5-day workshop will cover the following topics:

  • Experiences and ethical challenges encountered by researchers when conducting field work in conflict zones and hostile environments
  • Impact on the investigator: The neuroscience of exposure to traumatic situations
  • Impact on research participants: Ethical considerations for keeping participants living or working in hostile environments physically and emotionally safe
  • Ethically safe research practices that take into account diversity and cross-cultural issues
  • Digital encryption as a technique to keep sources in hostile environments safe
  • Conducting a thorough risk assessment in preparation for fieldwork that aims to keep researcher and participants physically, mentally and ethically safe
  • Putting in place measures to mitigate risk and practical pre-trip planning
  • Best practice for handling unexpected critical incidents, if and when they occur

Critical incident debriefing: best practice after return from field work

Location: Glasgow

Dates: 17-18 April

Summary: Attending the Feminist Research Methods workshops during the first year of my PhD has been transformative for my PhD and has fundamentally shaped how I approached my research design.” (participant feedback, 2018)

Feminist Methods in Action explores the epistemological and methodological questions and dilemmas in common to feminist research across arts & humanities and social science disciplines, as well as providing practical tools. Drawing upon the experience of academics and practitioners from different career stages, and a range of disciplines and interdisciplinary fields, the seminar based workshop will offer:

  • Introductions to key methodological approaches exploring the key themes underpinning feminist research. These include: power; ethics; intersectionality; positionality; the ‘use’ of feminist research; the value of experience.
  • Reflections on research projects within and outside of academia, as well as projects which span academic and professional/activist contexts.
  • Reflections on modes of presenting research, including through performance and creative practice.

The event is a partnership between the University of Strathclyde Feminist Research Network, the University of Edinburgh genderED, and Glasgow Women’s Library.

Location: Edinburgh

Dates: 6-8 May

Summary: Does the thought of observing people and asking them questions make you feel squeamish? You’re not alone! While more and more scholars are turning to ethnography as a means of finding out what life is like “on the ground,” many researchers lack the skills to generate the kind of “thick description” that makes ethnography such a powerful way of knowing the world.  The secret to these rich accounts is participant-observation, a method that is easy to understand but very difficult to execute. Learning how to watch people without feeling creepy, how to join in without being deceptive, and how to take notes that will still make sense later are skills that most researchers need to practice before they can implement them effectively in the field. This course gives you a chance to do just that.

Our hands-on training in participant-observation will provide practical guidance to help you develop your abilities in this deceptively simple methodology. Working in teams across the beautiful city of Edinburgh, this course gets you out of the classroom and into the thick of social life. Over two and a half days you will hone your skills in observation and participation, before finally combining them in participant-observation. Under the direction of a team researchers with a broad range of field experience, you will learn how to attend to and remember what is going on, how to build rapport, and how to ask effective questions during fieldwork. Gaining this experience in a supportive intellectual environment will give you the confidence you need to do participant-observation wherever your research takes you.

By the end of this course you will know:

  • How to do participant-observation in an ethical, respectful manner
  • How to balance participating and observation in various social contexts
  • How go “get in” as a participant in different events
  • How to make notes on the go
  • How to ask questions during and after an event
  • How to translate observations into meaningful data

Using the skills you learn in this course, you will be able enter more fully into the worlds of people you are studying. Effective participant-observation will bring ethnographic depth to your research, providing a crucial view of life as it happens. By opening yourself up to serendipitous interactions as a participant-observer, you will capture little details that will set your research apart.

Location: Glasgow

Dates: 15-17 April

Summary: Coding is not just for scientists and is a skill that can be picked up by people from all backgrounds, for any kind of data. Everyone can be a data scientist! Coding skills provide tools to enhance communicating your data and ideas to a wide range of audiences and disciplines. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make your own website or to visualise your data in a way that is engaging and rigorous, coding is for you. In addition, showcasing your findings in new ways may help you look at your data from a different perspective and lead to a deeper understanding of data.

With the open science movement, more and more qualitative and quantitative data will become freely accessible – learning data science and visualization skills will empower you to take advantage of that! Coding can be playful, fun and beautiful – did you know that there is even the possibility to play games like Minesweeper or create little artworks and animations in R? Once you have tried coding yourself, you might never want to go back to dreary Excel graphs!

Learn these skills in a supportive environment from peers, who have had the same reservations as you when it came to taking their first steps in R. We are here to help you, guide you along to your first colourful graph  and celebrate the success of mastering data literacy together. In addition to empower you to visualise your data, we want to show you some ‘hacks’ of overcoming the first fear of engaging with coding, where to look for answers beyond the workshop and create a community-based support system. You’ll even get to record and develop a podcast over the workshop, and share your new-found enthusiasm for everything R!

Your data is beautiful – let’s learn how to use modern coding skills together to show it off!

Location: Glasgow

Dates: 24-26 April

Summary: Researchers in the social sciences and arts and humanities are increasingly developing new digital dimensions to their inquiries. This 2.5 day-long workshop will build new skills and research abilities by bringing together spatial/location related research techniques with narrative practice. It offers a broad and carefully tailored package that will allow you to learn about geospatial concepts and techniques, to unpack further the spatial dimensions of your research data, and to experiment with innovative methods of analysis and communication.

You will be learning from a team of academic staff who combine extensive technical geospatial experience with a deep understanding of qualitative research methods.

The event is intended for PGRs students with an enthusiasm for exploring how spatial/location technologies can bring an added dimension to their research. Students should have comfortable familiarity with basic computer operation, but no previous GIS experience is needed. Students with basic familiarity with QGIS may choose to omit the first afternoon.

During the workshop you will:

  • Get an overview of the wide variety of techniques, tools and practices available when including geo-location in research.
  • Gain basic, practical, hands-on experience of data collection, introductory GIS skills, and GIS-based story mapping and software using the freely available QGIS software package.
  • Learn to set-up and collect location linked data using mobile devices, e.g. smartphone with FieldDataCollector for iOS and Mapit for Android.
  • Gain an understanding of the appropriate use of coordinate systems and coordinate types (including WGS84 and the British National Grid).
  • Come to understand some of the complications of administrative boundaries from different dates (e.g census, postcode).
  • Create a story map.
  • Learn where to find relevant further online tutorials and help forums.

Discuss your own research in a group including experienced geospatial and geohumanities staff, and develop a plan for your future research practice that builds on techniques learned.

ocation: Paisley

Dates: 30 April-2 May

Summary: The training event will build on UWS’s successful delivery of a Participatory Action Research (PAR) in the Field course for Spring into Methods in 2018. Staying within the participatory domain, with a particular emphasis on affective, sensory and embodied methods and their use for researchers, the course will be of relevance within both the arts and humanities and social sciences.

The training programme will combine a mix of classroom-based sessions and student-led discussions, working through scenarios, and networking and field trips, with a focus on embodied and affective ‘experience’ in action, to ensure the training is co-produced, focused on praxis as well as creative input and is enjoyable for all. A range of participatory methods employed by practice-based researchers on cultural heritage-related projects will be examined, with a particular focus on exploring challenges of researching with marginalized groups. There will be also an interactive workshop discussing the importance of research ethics when undertaking participatory research.

The field trips will include

  1. a walking tour of Paisley, discussing projects using mobile, sensory and affective  methods undertaken as part of Paisley’s UK Capital of Culture bid,


  1. a psycho-geographic walk around Govan and its waterfront, visiting sites undergoing regeneration, including the historic Water Row (with links to Viking invasions), the A listed Graving Docks and the remaining Travelling Showmen’s yards. The training will be complemented with course materials, made available to participants for an adapted website.

The event has been conceived, designed and will be delivered by an interdisciplinary team drawn from Arts &Humanities as well as Social Sciences in the School of Media, Culture and Society at University of the West of Scotland. 


Call for Workshop Proposals


Deadline for Workshop Proposals

20 January 2020

Proposals are reviewed by the Graduate Schools

21 - 31 January 2020

Applicants are informed of the Graduate Schools’ decision

3 February 2020

Events are promoted to students

7 February 2020

Deadline for students to apply to attend

28 February 2020

Students are notified of their success

6 March 2020