Stream 1A

Chris Waugh - Between Politics and Practicalities: Doing Activist-Relevant Research at Doctoral Level

Chris Waugh - Between Politics and Practicalities: Doing Activist-Relevant Research at Doctoral Level

This presentation argues that many of the established methods of activist-relevant research are difficult for a doctoral researcher. The desire to avoid reification of movements, and the increasing prevalence of “activist-scholars”, has led to an emphasis on doing “activist-relevant”, participatory research. Scholars have utilised numerous methods into their research in response to this approach, such as involving activists in the research planning, and making research findings available outside the academy. Doctoral level “activist-scholars” must engage in the uneasy balancing act between producing participatory research and satisfying the academic criteria of a PhD. This presentation explores some of the established research methods, and reflects on my own experience of navigating the complexities of activist-relevant research and early doctoral research. I contend that activists often engage in their own creative knowledge making process, utilising alternative media, zines, and the creation of safe spaces. These activist-knowledge methods are often overlooked by academics, or are seen as lesser than established social scientific methods. I argue for the utilisation of research methods drawn from the field of “militant ethnography” and anarchist studies, such as participatory (as opposed to participant) research, advocate drawing on creative methods of learning from activists, led by activists, and try to propose a framework for activist-relevant research at doctoral level.

Charlotte Blake - Creating and Conducting collaborative Methodologies with Young People

Creating and Conducting collaborative Methodologies with Young People: Experience form “Young People’s Experience of Digital Education Study”

I would like to come to your event

To talk about the time I have spent

In the classroom with a group of 28

Year 7s, who I think are really great

They worked with me over eight fun hours

To discuss the digital and all its powers

To talk about their wants and needs

For comfy seating and WIFI speeds

We worked together on film and art

Collaborating from the start

On multimodal methodologies

Conducted indoors and out amongst the trees

Experiences had so unique and so rare

It really would be a shame not to share!

-              Charlotte Blake (Oliver)

Fungisai Muchenje - Co-analysing data with participants

Co-analysing data with participants: a creative development and application of thematic analysis

Thematic analysis is one of the most frequently used methods for understanding and synthesising qualitative data from interviews and focus groups. The process involves the researcher immersing themselves in the data and subsequently developing named codes; later grouped into themes which  represent and describe the synthesized data. This is a time and labour intensive process.                    

Many studies using thematic analysis are interested in the views, perceptions and experiences of their participants. The themes produced in this method therefore represent the researcher’s interpretation of participants’ interpretation of the experience discussed.

Advocates of participatory research have commented   that researchers cannot truly be neutral or objective, and that they introduce both professional and personal bias the processes and outputs of their research.

In the proposed talk I discuss a participatory adaptation for thematic analysis based on the work of Braun and Clarke (2006, 2019) which I have employed in my doctoral research project. In this adaptation participants co-analyse data, identify themes and the researcher holds the role of facilitator in the process. 


Stream 2A

Melanie Beckett - Through the Kaleidoscope: Patterns of Habitus in Student Transitions

Through the Kaleidoscope: Patterns of Habitus in Student Transitions

This paper will discuss the findings of a three-year, longitudinal study of twelve ‘A’ level students in the sixth form of an Further Education (FE) college and how they made sense of going to university. These students were interviewed by telephone during each semester of their first undergraduate year.

Each time we talked, it was as if they had invited me to look at the pattern and colours in their personal kaleidescopes, created by their latest experiences, interactions and relationships with others. Combined with decisions taken, life’s vicissitudes or serendipitous occurrences, these factors informed their ontological reality. Throughout every discussion the pattern changed, destabilized and reformed, as they sought to make sense of ‘being a student’.

The kaleidescope metaphor is a fresh way of considering student transitions; a tool for grasping the complexity, ambiguity and fluidity of individual’s experiences throughout their transition from FE to HE. The wonder of the kaleidoscope lies in the ever evolving patters it creates, which mirror how each individual’s experiences shift and change, dissolve and reform. Interpreting the data through this lens afforded creative ways of understanding how better to support student transition.

Sergio Silverio, Catherine Wilkinson & Samantha Wilkinson - Further uses for Grounded Theory

Further uses for Grounded Theory: A methodology for psychological studies of the performing arts, literature, and visual media

Grounded Theory remains a popular qualitative methodology even after half-a-century of existence.  Recent years have seen a renaissance in the use of the methodology, and it is increasingly being utilised in innovative ways.  These have included the application of Grounded Theory to ‘non-traditional’ data such as those derived from the performing arts, literature, and visual media.  Most published Grounded Theory analyses using these data appear experimental and/or tentative when drawing their conclusions, and little guidance is published on how to conduct Grounded Theory on visual and textual media.  With this article, we go some way towards redressing this issue and further explore the adaptability and utility of Grounded Theory as a qualitative methodology.  Further, we offer a ‘nine phase, seventeen stage’ methodological approach derived from the ‘Classical’ school, to be used by Psychologists and other Social Science Researchers who wish to explore psychological phenomena in the context of the performing arts, literature, and visual media.  This paper will enable researchers in Psychology and other social sciences, both novice and experienced, to see this methodology as a further use of Grounded Theory; this time for data derived from the performing arts, literature, and visual media.

Tunde Varga-Atkins - Crafting poems for data analysis?

Crafting poems for data analysis?

Bazeley (2013) suggests that playing with different formats of communication can enhance the process of sense-making, whether it be through a poem, a diagram, or a concept map. In this paper, I discuss how I used poems to make sense of interview data in my doctoral study on staff and students’ use of digital capabilities in two disciplines, engineering and management. I had previously utilised images and metaphors to make sense of my research data (Powell & Varga-Atkins, 2013; Tunde Varga-Atkins & O’Brien, 2009). Cahnmann (2003) emphasises that poems, while enhancing different forms of expression, can also play a role in stimulating ideas and concepts in qualitative researchers’ repertoires. Based on my experience of this process, I will illustrate the advantage of poem-writing over other creative arts-based forms for the purpose of data analysis and synthesis.



Stream 3A

Nafhesa Ali and Richard Phillips - Meaningful research through creative writing: storying sexual relationships

Nafhesa Ali and Richard Phillips - Meaningful research through creative writing: storying sexual relationships

Through creative writing, it is possible to explore questions and themes that more direct and formal methodologies tend to miss. This is particularly the case when research involves participants who, for personal, cultural and religious reasons, may not be comfortable with direct questions about certain subjects. This presentation describes the methods employed in a project investigating sexual relationship attitudes and practices among young British Muslims. For many Muslims, sex and relationships are difficult subjects to talk about, whether in everyday life or in interviews. This study worked around the challenges of getting people to talk about this taboo subject by employing creative research methods, which circumvented these difficulties. Specifically, the project involved creative writing workshops, in which young Muslims worked across a range of media - animated film, short fiction, blogging and playwriting - and in this way explored and presented their experiences, hopes, fears and dreams, in each case on the subject of sexual relationships. This presentation includes a spoken element, in which we explain our project, and a series of short films, which present some of the fruits of this work. In these films, young Muslims read from their creative writing.

Thomas Y.T. Tang - Understanding Emotions in Protests: Eliciting Emotional Narratives in Walking Interviews

Understanding Emotions in Protests: Eliciting Emotional Narratives in Walking Interviews

Recent social scientific research has shown increasing interest in emotions and this urges researchers to apply innovative methods to discern emotions. This presentation discusses the use of walking interviews in deciphering emotional experiences in social movements. In the extant literature, walking interviews have been a useful method in exploring people’s relationship with space. Using five walking interviews drawn from a larger data set as examples, this presentation further demonstrates how walking interviews can be deployed in unpacking activists’ emotions in protest spaces. Four major ways of eliciting data about emotions are identified. First, walking interviews allow the spatial environment to become a cue for interviewees to evoke and recall emotional events. Second, interviewees can draw on the physical environment as a prop to articulate their emotional experiences. Third, the physical environment offers a way to interpret the socio-spatial context of emotional experiences. Fourth, walking interview is a way for interviewees not just to talk about emotions in space but talk emotionally in space. This presentation concludes by discussing some practical issues about conducting a walking interview, including photo and video takings, voice recording, time management, and the use of Google Map after the interview.


Sophie Woodward –Object interviews: getting participants to encounter and/or connect with things

Object interviews: getting participants to encounter and/or connect with things

This talk outlines object interviews as a way of carrying out research into things as well as with things (as a 'material method', Woodward (2019)), as material culture is a route into exploring multiple aspects of people’s material and social lives and relationships.  I outline the possibilities of object interviews in two ways; firstly as a space of encounter (where interviewees are sea-consciously and reflexively engaging with an object and their relationship to it) and secondly as a point of connection (where interviewees have a habitual, routinised relationships to the objects). The talk will then engage with ways of getting people to talk about things, as well as the possibilities and limitations of the words that people say to explore relationships that are often not verbalised.

Stream 1B

Jaime Garcia-Iglesias - Using Twitter to research stigmatized communities: experiences from the field

Using Twitter to research stigmatized communities: experiences from the field

The popularity of social networking sites such as Tumblr and Twitter has provided unique venues for kink communities to co-create narratives and cultural products. While this has allowed researchers access to these communities, it also poses unique challenges such as accessing communities ethically, preserving participant privacy in the face of pervasive data breaches and archiving the materials. In the particular case of kink communities, some inroads have been made regarding hook-up apps, mediating infrastructures and their relationship to the offline world (Race 2015, Mowlabocus 2010). However, little work has taken a reflexive approach when considering the ethics of accessing these sites.

This paper reflects on my research on bugchasing communities on Twitter where bugchasing, the fetish of seeking HIV infection, has found an environment to thrive. I created a Twitter profile for my research to which I uploaded anonymized quotes, questions, etc. I also used the profile to engage in conversations with bugchasers and obtain interview participants. The creation of a Twitter profile allowed me to gain unprecedented participant-observer access to bugchasing groups online, but also presented challenges: was Twitter mediating who I engage to? Was the data of those interactions anonymous? Was I legitimizing troubling practices? Was my profile misinterpreted? In this presentation, I address these concerns by presenting excerpts from my research journal alongside interview material where I ask participants about their reaction to my profile. I argue that online networks may present obstacles for sampling and participant expectation but also that they provide effective accountability to the communities under study.

Silje Anderdal Bakken - Meeting the interviewees at their digital “home-turf”

Meeting the interviewees at their digital “home-turf”: encrypted interviewing in networks of online drug sellers

The first rule of any ethnography would be to be where the action is. Such a perspective becomes problematic when your field of study is both hidden and digital in its nature. This paper develops how to make use of the digital networks formed by the participants and the technology they use to recruit and interview for a qualitative study of online drug dealing. One hundred participants were recruited and interviewed through Wickr, an encrypted messaging application.

Using Wickr to recruit and interview drug dealers and buyers proved to be of great value. Especially the fact that the participants already new the application and trusted it, and that Wickr-IDs were shared within the networks. It also provided both participant anonymity and researcher protection, and left the interviewees with a sense of control. However, we did meet obstacles that challenged the interview flow and the study’s reliability. The high flexibility concerning time and space was both a positive and negative factor, such as with time management, researcher flexibility, and interview context. Some other challenges were the use of emoji, multiple participation, and sincerity of their answers.

Stream 2B

Arianna Tozzi - Visualizing ‘Groundwaterscapes’

Visualizing ‘Groundwaterscapes’ - Making Creative Critical Counter-Cartographies of an Invisible Common Resource

Groundwater provides 98% of freshwater available on Earth (UNESCO, 2015). It sustains the livelihood of rural communities in semi-arid regions, providing a flexible buffer during scarcity. To quench the thirst of cities, agri-businesses and industries, this invisible resource is increasingly overexploited, endangering the resilience of the socio-natural environment.

I will develop a methodology to visualize ‘groundwaterscapes’, using creative critical counter-cartographies in a community in India. The image will emerge from a patchwork of maps collected throughout my research, each representing a ‘worlding’ (Goldman, Turner and Daly, 2018); a way of being, understanding and knowing the world, built from the positions actors and actants occupy.

This messy patchwork combines maps-as-usual (GIS images, water quality measurements, etc.) with creative ways of mapping-back. Firstly, I will conduct ethnographic mapping with community members, tracing the history of groundwater as a dynamic and emotionally entangled resource within the socio-natural landscape. Secondly, I will use positional cartographies to document my own subjectivity as fluid and evolving. This will facilitate a critical reflection of my positionality within my field-of-work and academic practice, paying attention to ethics while representing others.

This methodology is a commitment to take seriously multiple ontologies and epistemologies, thus encouraging a politics of solidarity based on affinities across ‘imagined communities’ (Mohanty, 1988). To create a world that admits plural and equitable resiliences (Anderson, 2015), we should imagine the “possible-but-not-yet, or that which is not-yet-but-still-open” (Haraway, 2019).

Claire Forbes - Visual Assets-Mapping with Young People

Visual Assets-Mapping with Young People

This hands-on session will model the salient features of a visual and participatory assets-mapping approach developed within a PhD study as a means of surfacing deep understandings of young people’s educational trajectories and lived experiences within a high poverty context. In doing so, the approach presented synthesizes elements of the ABCD approach (See Kretzmann & McKnight 1993) with the capability approach (See Sen 2001) to enable the development of a methodological process that bends a traditional focus on tangible, place-based services and structures, with a more original focus on capturing and exploring intangible social relationships and networks.

To begin, attendees will be invited to actively participate in three assets-mapping activities designed to surface rich, contextualised stories around the following key question:

What assets do you value and use within the community?

Following this, attendees will reposition themselves as researchers as they are guided through a thematic analysis of the maps and artefacts created, while pondering the complexities inherent in doing so.  The session will close with a brief reflection upon the utility of assets-mapping approaches as a means of engaging traditionally marginalised groups, as both participants and researchers themselves.

Stream 3B

Steve Pool - But what if you think yourself an Artist? Residency as Method

But what if you think yourself an Artist? Residency as Method

What does it feel like to be a journeyman- artist (paid-by-the-day) stepping into the academic world? Is it possible to wear two hats at once? Which one do you take off when you go to bed?  I never used to mind having an adjective attached to my title Artist; I would choose ‘visual or multi-platform’ or ironically ‘conceptual’. I would be given, ‘social, community or education’ or sometimes ‘useless’ by the people I work with.  Since entering the academy, Artist with a capitol A feels like enough, mainly because I don’t want to be encountered as anything else.

In this presentation I will discuss stepping away from the edges of research where I could tunnel within the logos of a personal practice; Where I could be part of building a space for something different to emerge. I will explain through an example of an AHRC Connected Communities project how I worked as an artist in residence.  I will go on to explain how I am exploring the notion of the artists residency as a method of enquiry within my PhD study and why this is not Practice-as-Research.

C. Dodds, F. Espinoza & A. Young - Inclusive survey design to meet translanguaging &multi-modality challenges

Inclusive survey design to meet translanguaging and multi-modality challenges: the READY Study

Populations who comprise multiple language users and individuals who translanguage between different language capabilities in everyday life present significant challenges for online data collection. Inclusive and representative samples in complex linguistic populations require online methods that can accommodate not just different language options but the potential to move between languages to scaffold understanding. In addition, modality is a consideration for those respondents whose language competencies are not written, such as people with spoken language comprehension but low literacy or people who are sign language users. 

In this presentation we will discuss our innovative and creative use of REDcap to accommodate deaf participants who can engage with an online survey in written English/Welsh, British Sign Language, Sign Supported Spoken English or Sign Supported Spoken Welsh separately or simultaneously. We discuss build issues, including how to ensure single data outputs regardless of language use whilst being able to track language engagement within the survey; the difficulties of video embedding and coding within REDcap and lessons from pilot testing across visual, written and auditory modalities. The context is the READY study of deaf youth [https://sites.manchester.ac.uk/thereadystudy/] but the implications are significant for other multilingual, multimodal online quantitative data collections.