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Spring into Methods 2020

The Scottish Graduate School of Social Science, in partnership with the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities, announces that applications are open for Spring into Methods 2020.

Spring into Methods is a programme of 2½-day research methods training events for doctoral researchers across Scotland from the Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences.

These interdisciplinary workshops are open to all doctoral researchers aligned with the SGSAH or the SGSSS at member HEIs. Travel expenses will be reimbursed by the graduate school responsible for your subject area in line with their policy (SGSSS / SGSAH). The cost of accommodation may be met if it is not feasible to commute for the 2½-day workshop: requests for this financial support should be made when you apply for a place. 

Seven workshops will be running as part of Spring into Methods between Monday 6th April and Thursday 7th May 2020. You can find more information on each course below by clicking on the title.

Deadline for applications: Friday 28th February 2020 at 13.00 via the SGSSS GradHub platform.

Please note that an application does not guarantee you a place. You may apply for up to two events. Applicants will be notified of the decision by Monday 6th March 2020.

Enquiries can be directed to 

Location: Scottish Oral History Centre , University of Strathclyde

Organiser: Professor Arthur McIvor

Dates: 5-7 May


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 2020 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: University of West of Scotland, Paisley Campus

Organiser: Dr Beth Cross

Dates: 5-7 May


The course will be held between 5-7 May 2020 at UWS as part of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences and Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities interdisciplinary doctoral student training programme.

This opportunity to explore the dimensions of co-design research will build on UWS’s successful delivery of a Participatory Methods and the Affective Domain course in 2019.  Co design is the practice of supporting the active involvement and participation of ‘users’ (people/stakeholders/those impacted by the design) in the design of research and all aspects of research that flow from designing together. The course will be of relevance within both the arts and humanities and social sciences. The training event will explore the implications for co-design through exposure to creative work and visits to co-design partners in the community. The training is also an opportunity to explore how critical materialist and posthumanist perspectives can widen the scope of research impact, its resonance and sustainability.  

The training programme will combine a mix of classroom-based sessions and student-led discussions, working through examples, scenarios tailored to participants’ own research interests and field trip visits to community partners.  The focus will be on developing co-produced research briefs and methods, blending praxis with creative input to make research accessible and enjoyable. A range of co-production strategies, from community safety, health and wellbeing to cultural heritage-related projects will be examined, to explore challenges of researching with marginalized groups. Our discussion will culminate with an interactive workshop examining the importance of research ethics when undertaking co-produced research.

The field trips will be facilitated by experienced members of the training team to engage with partners on how to develop a topic of concern that would be of mutual benefit to academic and community partner. The training will be complemented with course materials, adapting web-based materials from the range of partners contributing to the project. The event has been conceived, designed and will be delivered by an interdisciplinary team drawn from Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at University of the West of Scotland.

Location: University of Edinburgh

Organiser: Dr Niamh Moore

Dates: 27 – 29 April


This workshop offers a novel opportunity for arts, humanities and social science researchers to learn how to create open research data from your PhD project and to curate your own digital archive. While we will cover a range of different ways of archiving your data, 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 do this and the potential benefits of this for your own research practice, as well as your academic career. We take archiving as a practice that can be designed into projects from the beginning and that is oriented to the present and future use of research materials and data, both your own use and others.

The workshop will cover a range of topics, including how planning archiving into your research from the beginning can help with

  • data management
  • data analysis, through creating themes, patterns, codes or stories from your data
  • research impact
  • creating a digital presence
  • creating online exhibits 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.

We will also address what is an archive; what are Dublin Core Standards and why do they matter. We will reflect on the importance of considering ethical issues – in fact understanding archiving data 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 include time to work on your own data with support of the teaching team, or opportunity to work a demonstrator site.

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.

Location:University of Strathclyde and Glasgow Women’s Library

Organiser: Professor Yvette Taylor

Dates: 30 April – 1 May


Feminist Methods in Action – Back again in 2020!

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)

For me, the Feminist Research Methods course was a fantastic opportunity to connect with others and gain a sense of the current feminist research projects in Scotland. Given the diversity of speakers/workshops, I was pleased that many of the sessions aligned with my own research interests, and was able to develop a broader understanding of other potential methods. (participant feedback, 2019)

Feminist Methods in Action explores the epistemological and methodological questions and dilemmas in common 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

Organiser: Dr Koreen Reece

Dates: 28 – 30 April


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 to 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: University of Edinburgh

Organiser: Dr Orla Meadhbh Murray

Dates: 7 – 9 April


An introduction to institutional ethnography, a feminist approach to text analysis and mapping organisational processes. For MRes and PhD students interested in feminist methodologies, text and discourse analysis, and institutional or organisational ethnographies. No prior training or knowledge is required.

This event provides expert training in a complex methodology which is not widely taught in Europe as most institutional ethnographers are based in the US and Canada. The organisers are experienced institutional ethnographers based in sociology and geography, but the approach is an interdisciplinary feminist approach which is used across the arts, humanities and social sciences as well as by many educational and healthcare practitioners. It is relevant to any MRes or PhD student interested in qualitative feminist research, text and discourse analysis focused on how institutions or organisations function. The workshop will be introductory and accessible to all research backgrounds.

Co-organisers Dr. Órla Meadhbh Murray (Sociology, University of Edinburgh) and Adriana Suarez-Delucchi (Geography, University of Bristol) will explain how to do the approach using their respective PhD projects into UK university audit processes and Chilean rural water management, before attendees get to try out the techniques in their own research. Attendees will have extensive time to conduct mini institutional ethnographies, finishing the workshop by collectively producing a ‘zine’ (DIY magazine) summarising their understanding of institutional ethnography and advice for other first-time users of the approach.

N.B. For those who attended the previous SGSSS/University of Edinburgh institutional ethnography workshop in October 2019, this training will cover some of the same material in the first morning (which can be skipped or attended for a refresher), but then will go into more depth on how to actually do text analysis within this approach, and facilitate participants conducting mini institutional ethnography projects over the course of the workshop.

Location: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow

Organiser: Professor Deborah Dixon

Dates: 29 April – 1 May


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 and free mobile apps.
  • 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.

At the end of the workshop you will be part of a network of peers who are interested in spatial aspects of research, ensuring that post-workshop a community can continue to consult and share ideas, practices and support.


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

12 February 2020

Deadline for students to apply to attend

28 February 2020

Students are notified of their success

6 March 2020