Archive for the 'research' category

Initial playing around with Sci2

Jun 01 2011 Published by under bibliometrics, research

I’ve been seeing a lot about Sci2, a tool for scientometrics, social network analysis, science of science… all sorts of stuff from Indiana University. After watching some videos and reading through the very detailed instructions, I figured I would give it a try. So in a little while this afternoon, I got it going on my computer and worked through some of the workflows.

Pretty cool and pretty straight forward. Probably not as easy as, say, NetDraw for working with the graph. A lot more powerful. It also can do huge data sets and do things like co-word that the other programs don’t do out of the box (you need to get a helper program or write your own).  It also takes the output directly from both Scopus and Web of Science without any messing around.

After using some of their sample data, I tried some of my own. That did cause a little bit of frustration. My data are in RefWorks – this is the research output from a particular department at MPOW. It made sense to try BibTeX. Turned out that it wasn’t able to import because there were lots of extra @ , < , >, and continuation lines didn’t work. I made a custom export format to get rid of the notes, abstract, and affiliation fields. Then it turned out that there were <sup> in the titles and @ in the page number fields (dunno why for the latter). After i got it all cleaned up it imported and I was able to clean it up and “preprocess” the data. Then it turned out that I needed to have allocated more memory for the file size so I arbitrarily cut off half the data and tried again. It was calculating the bursts of keywords over time when I noticed it was getting really late so I left it going and headed home. I’ll post a pretty picture when I have one.

This is definitely worth a try. I’m all about lots of handholding and their wiki is very useful that way.

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Random observation: true grounded theory vs. foreshadowed problems

Apr 02 2011 Published by under research

I’ve been to a couple dissertation defenses in which the candidate calls the analysis the grounded theory approach (a la Strauss and Corbin) and a committee member disputes it because strictly speaking, grounded theory method doesn’t start with codes found in the literature or developed in the conceptual framework – all codes are developed strictly from the text. Of course in my school, it’s pretty much heresy to not have a deep coverage of the literature and to jump off from there. Yet there’s always this pressure to name the analysis grounded theory.

Likewise there’s an idea that you go into the field naive or you have a closed mind. I was reading Stake (2000) this morning, and in note 10 on page 449 he quotes this long bit from Malinowsky (1922/1984, p.9) on foreshadowed problems

Good training in theory, and acquaintance with its latest results, is not identical with being burdened with ‘preconceived ideas.’ If a man set out on an expedition, determined to prove certain hypotheses, if he is incapable of changing his views constantly and casting them off ungrudgingly under the pressure of evidence, needless to say his work will be worthless. But the more problems he brings with him into the field, the more he is in the habit of moulding his theories according to fact, and of seeing facts in their bearing upon theory, the better he is equipped for the work. Preconceived ideas are pernicious in any scientific work, but foreshadowed problems are the main endowment of a scientific thinker, and these problems are first revealed to the observer by his theoretical studies.

Elsewhere I’ve railed against naming my epistemological approach. A member of my committee wanted me to say I was doing ethnography, but that’s not strictly the case. The pragmatic approach of Patton is really the thing. Also, I will certainly not be using a strict grounded theory approach to coding my data. What will I say in my actual dissertation? meh.

Not even touching on the whole discussion about how our field has no theory – or very little theory.


Corbin, J. M., & Strauss, A. L. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Stake, R. E. (2000). The handbook of qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 435-454). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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Random pointer to a helpful thing: ESRC National Centre for Research Methods

Oct 31 2010 Published by under research

In the comments on the Sage site about SRMO, there were some pointers to this site. I hadn't heard of it but it's actually quite cool. As you'll see from the URL this "Realities" part is run out of the University of Manchester in the UK. What's particularly helpful are the toolkits. They are brief discussions of research methods - not at the broad level of qualitative research but at the very specific level like typing up transcripts or interviewing people on the phone.

The general url is

You might just skip to the toolkits at:

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