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What’s so special about the social sciences?. Peter Burnhill Director, EDINA national academic data centre, University of Edinburgh, Scotland UK Bloomsbury Conference on e-publishing and e-publications University College London, 24/25 June 2010. short answer: Some things but not everything.

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What’s so special about the social sciences?


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    1. What’s so special about the social sciences? Peter Burnhill Director, EDINA national academic data centre, University of Edinburgh, Scotland UK Bloomsbury Conference on e-publishing and e-publications University College London, 24/25 June 2010

    2. short answer: Some things but not everything Overview for a longer answer • Autobiographic Apologia • Yesterday and Yesteryears • Research publication and data for research in the social sciences • some evidence (some old and re-used) • all that is digital are not data • Societal Big Challenges • a sense of place • Our shared task • ease and continuity of access • citation and linking • Linked Data: Semantic Web anyone? • Socio-Informatics & the Internet • Will not take the full two hours ….

    3. EDINA Management Board met yesterday to review its 3-year Strategy and its Budget from JISC for the coming year

    4. Reading & Reference Room: supporting scholarly communication No longer host specialist Abstract & Index databases … SUNCAT UK serials union catalogue: what’s held where • EDINA Strategy in this area just reviewed following: • RLUK/JISC Resource Discovery Task Force • SCONUL Shared Services Business Case • EDINA Focus Groups on • ‘ease and continuity of access’ • Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences • new technologies the Depot international Open Accessfacility to support self deposit of peer-reviewed papers

    5. Geo-spatial resources: Map & Data Place

    6. Multimedia resources: Sound & Pictures Show • platform for search and download of film, video and audio • wide range of subject coverage, including documentary film • Llicensed for use in learning, teaching and research • Being re-worked as the Digital Media Hub, combining • Film & Sound Online • initial 600 hours of film, digitised for downloading • NewsFilm Online • 3000 hours of material from ITN & Reuters • Over 4TBs of clips to download • Release of product from JISC Digitisation programmes • Plus Education Image Gallery of still photography • Visual and Sound Materials Portal project • Discovering all sorts of audio-visual material • Special interest for social science as record on non-print record of 20th Century: the first A-V century • With new forms of research material to use and to master

    7. National Data Centres research, learning & teaching in UK universities & colleges acting as platform for network-level services &helping to build the JISC Integrated Information Environment JISC Sub-Committees JISC Collections UK funding councils Research Councils UK

    8. autobiography as commentary • Social Science Research Council [now ESRC], 1974 – 1977 • ‘Scientific Officer’ for Economic & Social History and Statistics (left to do MSc Statistics at London School of Economics) • Scottish Education Data Archive, late 1970s – mid ‘80s • Survey statistician: school leavers, YTS, 16-19 cohort surveys; demand for HE • Graduate School, Faculty of Social Science, 1987 – 1997 • Senior Lecturer, teaching quantitative/survey methods • Edinburgh University Data Library, mid- 1980s & on • Manager: set-up and development • President of IASSIST, 1997 – 2001: social science data professionals • ESRC Regional Research Laboratory for Scotland 1986/90 • Co-director: early days of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) • EDINA national data centre, mid-1990s to present: my day job • Director: set-up and continuous development • Digital Curation Centre, 2004/05 as Interim Director • set-up & definition of ‘data curation + digital preservation’

    9. Defining the Social Sciences a collection of disciplines that variously apply theorising and systematic method to the study of human society from family to politics, from law/religion to economy: of what it is to be human and our interaction among ourselves and with our environment, whether on land, sea or the Internet Teaching draws upon schooling: social arithmetic of Qualified Empirical Statements • We make provisional statements about the world • in the language of our theory and the context of time & place • on basis of evidence derived from the [real] world • conditioned by our theory and choice of systematic method • seeking to qualify our statements • with imperative to express our measures of uncertainty

    10. Pattern of research publication in the social sciences ‘The Four Literatures of Social Science’ (Diana Hicks, 2004) Handbook of Quantitative Science and Technology Studies, Henk Moed (Ed) • All more trans-disciplinary than comparable scientific literatures • international journal articles the SSCI indexed currency of evaluation • books can have a high citation/impact • national knowledge developed in context embedded in their society; influenced by national trends & policy concerns • non-scholarly publications knowledge into application enlightenment or knowledge transfer to the non-scholarly public Hicks states Burnhill and Tubby-Hille (1994) “investigated this issue in some depth [with] publications database from [ESRC] grant reports [and] survey .. .. Assigning non peer reviewed journals to .. enlightenment .. suggests that psychologists, statisticians and geographers do not publish much in non-scholarly literature. Other fields do. Even economics, normally quite scientific in its publication patterns, exhibits a healthy percentage of articles in non-scholarly venues. Linguistics, education and sociology lead in share of non-scholarly publications.” ‘On measuring the relation between social science research activity and research publication’ Research Evaluation 4 (3) December 1994

    11. Pattern of research publication in the social sciences ‘The Four Literatures of Social Science’ (Diana Hicks, 2004)Handbook of Quantitative Science and Technology Studies, Henk Moed (Ed) • international journal articles • books • national embedded in their society • non-scholarly publications enlightenment or knowledge transfer to the non-scholarly public Hicks states Burnhill and Tubby-Hille (1994) “investigated this issue in some depth [with] publications database from [ESRC] grant reports [and] survey .. .. Assigning non peer reviewed journals to .. enlightenment .. suggests that psychologists, statisticians and geographers do not publish much in non-scholarly literature. Other fields do. Even economics, normally quite scientific in its publication patterns, exhibits a healthy percentage of articles in non-scholarly venues. Linguistics, education and sociology lead in share of non-scholarly publications.” ‘On measuring the relation between social science research activity and research publication’ Research Evaluation 4 (3) December 1994

    12. Pattern of research publication in the social sciences Table from Burnhill and Tubby-Hille (1994) reproduced in Vasilakos et al (2007) ‘Evaluating the Performance of UK Research in Economics’, [sponsored by the Royal Economic Society] Keele Economics Research Papers, ISSN1740-231x www.keele.ac.uk/depts/ec/kerp

    13. Pattern of research publication in the social sciences from Burnhill and Tubby-Hille (1994), not yet reproduced by anyone

    14. Pattern of research publication in the social sciences Following the trace to Keele Economics Research Papers, ISSN1740-231x www.keele.ac.uk/depts/ec/kerp led me to:

    15. What’s special about social sciences: policy & action “philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is to change it” Karl Marx (1845), Thesis 11 published in 1924 in German & Russian translation; in English in 1938 appeared in Engels’ edited version in 1888, as ‘Theses on Feurbach’ Not the moment to debate origins of social science: of Hume, Ferguson, Smith, Hegal, Marx, Kant, Jung, Parsons, Durkheim, Popper etc – even Jeremy Bentham (UCL), nor of modern theorists, but along with development and shifts in theory … what is key is that … the practice of social science, and the modality of peer communication and publication in the discipline, has much to do its connection to the urgency of interaction with agencies of civil society

    16. UK: ESRC Strategic Plan & Societal Big Challenges Six Strategic Challenges: • Global Economic Performance, Policy & Management • Health & Well-being • Environment, Energy & Resilience • Security, Conflict & Justice • Social Diversity & Population Dynamics • New Technology, Innovation & Skills

    17. UK: ESRC Strategic Plan & Societal Big Challenges Six Strategic Challenges: • Global Economic Performance, Policy & Management • Health & Well-being • Environment, Energy & Resilience • Security, Conflict & Justice • Social Diversity & Population Dynamics • New Technology, Innovation & Skills 7. Public Debt & the ConDem Government

    18. Data as scholarship: a cultural shift? “You are not finished until you have done the research, published the results, and published the data, receiving formal credit for everything.” Preserve or Perish Mark A. Parsons (2006) International Polar Year “A scholar’s positive contribution is measured by the sum of the original data that he contributes. Hypotheses come and go but data remain.” in Advice to a Young Investigator (1897) Santiago Ramón y Cajal (Nobel Prize winner, 1906)

    19. What’s special about social sciences: third party data • Demand for data to carry out secondary data analysis • Social sciences do not generate all the data they need to address their research questions • Do not command the resources (funding/expertise) • few research groups and Government could get funding to manufacture original data • ESRC-led National Data Strategy, 14 Actions: • potential research value of new types of data (transactions data and tracking records) • new data infrastructures via EU and Euro Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures • improved access to Census of Population data • a geo-spatial resources advisory service (JISC/ESRC) • collaborative agreements with agencies within and outside UK • sharing of data resources across ‘North/South’ global networks • Explains why data libraries and archives have been around so long • IASSISTInternational Association for Social Science Information Service & Technology • annual conference since 1974; www.iassistdata.org • DISC-UK a group of data libraries in UK universities (including EUDL) • Providing ease of access to data held elsewhere (including UKDA) • Datashare project to support institutional responsibilities for data • alongside Institutional Repositories

    20. Note: Not all that is digital are data (& vice versa) • Data derive importance from their evidential value • the empirical base for (scholarly) statement & decision-making • Provenance (how data are derived) is very important • Differences in ways that disciplines in Humanities & Social Sciences assess scholarship and evidence • in what they regard as data, as value for their subject • mix of approach to epistemology, inc document tradition • Data represented (encoded) as numbers or words - often derived from observation (with issues of phenomenology!) • or as pictures or sounds (not encoded - pre-data?) • access to (now digitally/digitised) record of experience • or algorithmic models (as with physical & life sciences • modelling is widespread in economics, psychology, social statistics, geography etc

    21. Our shared task: To ensure ease & continuing access to record of scholarship • research publications and research data Consider at least three types of (research) data: • Supplementary data • multimedia files: part of the published article that presents research argument and conclusions • more than linear text, limited tabular and graphical display • enhances user experience with various multimedia objects • Research dataset(s) upon which conclusions based • check analysis of those data to support statements made • Database(s) from which datasets were assembled • for reproducibility (exposure to refutation) and new work via alternative analysis and updates to the database(s)

    22. Citation and linking • Citation of the datasets used (Type B data) • verification of analysis, that the figures and conclusions accurately reflect those data • Citation of database(s) (Type C data) • for reproducibility (exposure to refutation) • to prompt new work via alternative analysis and updates to the database(s) • to credit those who curate the data needed for scholarship Plus hyperlinkto the dataset from the published article … and back again from the dataset to the published article Links to presentations, blogs, websites, funders etc related to the same research activity and same researcher(s)(Type D data?)

    23. Obtaining the citation at source • CIESIN “Most of our datasets and products contain a suggested citation on the Web site as to where the data was obtained” “Whenever possible, we urge you to cite the use of data and web resources in the reference section” • http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/citations/ • How to Cite Statistics Canada Products: “This guide has been developed for authors, editors, researchers, academics, students, librarians and data librarians. “It describes, in three steps, how to build your reference when citing Statistics Canada products” • http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/12-591-x/12-591-x2006001-eng.htm Get it from those who make the data available: the data publishers cf Cataloguing in Publication!

    24. Link remains the key verb But need to shift attention from • Linking resolver(unidirectional) • From metadata reference to full text of article • SICI-Citation | Z39.50 • DOI | OpenURL | http to • Linked Data (relational, bi-directional) • Between resources in the weave of the Web • Using URIs as names for things • Not just URLs (the addresses on the web) but the URIs • Using RDF/XML to define the relationships between the resources • RDF triples: subject / relationship / object

    25. Resource Description Framework (RDF) • Resource Description Framework (RDF), and URIs • framework for representing information in Web; identifiers • http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-concepts/ • http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-primer/

    26. RDF graph: Article & Supplementary Data http://www.emeraldinsight.com/fig/0350570303002.png • Build and publish as metadata in XML format to be found on the web • Publishing text and data/multimedia content in XML will delight researchers • Researchers want to access ‘article as data’, via computational algorithm

    27. uses Linked Data

    28. uses Linked Data

    29. Enriching resources with contextual metadata • Overcoming sparse metadata problem that inhibits discoverability • using ancillary information in the metadata • evoking ‘has Event’ relation • Initial focus on (digitised) 20th Century newsfilm footage Sparse Metadata • The only data we have: • 1st October 1995 • Cyprus • Disturbance (street disturbance) • British soldiers • Broadcast on TV News

    30. finding related text for mining and so auto-creating metadata to improve discoverability and provide/enhance context

    31. Digital Library as applied Information Science Michael Buckland, Presidential Address, American Society for Information Science, JASIS’s 50th (1998) 2 traditions/mentalities co-exist in Information Science • Document tradition: signifying record-ness • Computational tradition: various uses of formal techniques • non-convergent mentalities working to build the ‘digital library’ • modernisation of library services • infrastructure to access complex databases emphasis was on getting (access) not putting (issue & publication) Aside: first met Clifford Lynch when visiting Professor Buckland in UC Berkley on occasion of IASSIST Conference in 1994

    32. Time for me to stop … Hoping that I have left some space/place for questions • Thank you Acknowledgements p.burnhill@ed.ac.uk http://edina.ac.uk Tel.: +44 (0)131 650 3302 Fax: +44 (0)131 650 3308

    33. Pattern of research publication in the social sciences from Burnhill and Tubby-Hille (1994), not yet reproduced by anyone