SPA Workshop 2013

16th December 2013, Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics

In recent years, the use of mixed methods and methodologies in Social Policy research has become increasingly popular. Effective integration of quantitative and qualitative methods offers new opportunities for the potential and impact of Social Policy research. At a time when a growing number of Social Policy researchers are using mixed methods, it is important to reflect upon experiences and lessons from a period of particular methodological innovation. At the same time, the increasing use of blogs and social media has re-established the ‘public nature’ of Social Policy research and the importance and potential of communicating research outside academia. The impact agenda challenges Social Policy researchers to communicate research findings in an accessible and effective way without compromising their often inherent complexity. Given their active use of blogs and social media, Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers are particularly well-equipped to contribute to these developments and to collaborate with each other in fostering Social Policy research impact.

This workshop will explore questions surrounding mixed methods and methodologies of Social Policy research and the purpose and potential of Impact within such a context. The workshop will be organised in such a way as to facilitate a critical but encouraging environment for information sharing and learning amongst Social Policy Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers. A particular aim of the event is to look forward in considering how we might best maximise the utility of mixed methods social sciences research and Social Policy research more generally.

Based on feedback from the Social Policy Postgraduate community, this session has been developed to cover issues specific to Social Policy Postgraduate research experiences, research methodologies and impact. This Workshop will therefore cover:

  1. Mixed Methods and Methodologies of Social Policy Research: Professor David Byrne will give a paper on ‘Mixed methods, methodology and the impacts of Social Policy Research: a challenge to simplistic explanations for a complex world’. Professor Byrne will focus on fundamental methodological issues to do with the nature of social causation and how these relate to the way in which Social Policy research can and should have an impact. Following this, there will be a series of presentations and a short panel discussion.
  2. Impact – whose agenda and what for? This panel session will consider our current definition and interpretation of impact in Social Policy research. Mark Carrigan, editor of the Sociological Imagination Blog and academic technologist, will explore what ‘impact’ can be taken to mean within the present context and discuss how social media tools provide unparalleled opportunities for researchers. Mark will show why problems with the ‘impact agenda’ should not discourage us from exploring how we can make a social and cultural impact using digital tools. Jane Tinkler and Sierra Williams, from the LSE Public Policy Group and members of the LSE Impact of Social Sciences Blog team, will look at research from the forthcoming ‘LSE Impact Book’ and present their experiences with impact and blogging. They will reflect on the relationship between impact and policy research and discuss the opportunities for Early Career Researchers. Following this, there will be presentations and a short discussion on the following questions:
    • Should or can we have a broader notion of impact in Social Policy research?
    • Given the recent changes in media communication, what is the role of traditional media and new social media in facilitating the impact of Social Policy research?

Places are limited so please register here as soon as possible.

We look forward to seeing you in December!

Daniel Edmiston and Lorenza Antonucci