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Conference Clarity from the PhD complexity? – Methods North West Annual Methods X Conference

September 19, 2018 @ 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

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The ESRC’s North West Doctoral Training Programme and its MethodsNW teams are joining forces to provide the region’s students with an opportunity to explore their research and underpinning methodology in a supportive and interdisciplinary environment. The conference aims to stimulate the sharing of ideas and to help students build up methods-related networks with researchers working in complimentary areas.

If you are interested in getting involved, or simply submitting a paper (abstract up to 500 words by 5pm, 3 September 2018), please email the contact in the relevant stream. To register please follow website link at bottom of page (under ‘Details’).

New Forms of Data (Emerging forms & codification)
Contact: Michael Mair (michael.mair@liverpool.ac.uk)

Archives & Collections (On all things secondary)
Contact: humanities-training@manchester.ac.uk

Fieldwork [On all things observable]
Contact: Geoff Pearson (geoff.pearson@manchester.ac.uk)

Quantitative Methods [On all things countable]
Contact: humanities-training@manchester.ac.uk

Organised and managed by students with support from experienced staff, we are calling for participants to help our existing teams with the running of the conference and, of course, to present papers. For example:

  • You may wish to join forces with your supervisor to present an exciting new technique
  • You may feel passionate about the problems of particular methods and wish to debate with others using those techniques
  • You might like to run your initial methodology and/or findings past a mutually supportive audience
  • You may wish to invite scholars whose work you have long admired and wish to engage in dialogue with.

Participating in the conference provides you with the possibility of helping to manage or even organising your own conference stream with like-minded researchers. Let us have your ideas, become involved and help design and run a conference to meet your needs. You are limited only by your own imagination!

If you are interested in getting involved, or simply submitting a paper (abstract up to 500 words by 5pm, 3 September 2018), please email the contact in the relevant stream.  Enquiries regarding funding should be sent to A.Hesketh@lancaster.ac.uk.

Details of each stream

New forms of data/digital methods

We live in increasingly digital worlds and that has major implications for the social sciences. Indeed, social science is itself increasingly going digital too. Whether you are developing methods and methodologies for coming to terms with these new digital worlds or harnessing new tools, technologies and forms of data to study familiar subjects from distinctive angles or engaging with new forms of data of whatever kind, this stream will be an opportunity to explore the possibilities in both studies with digital (data, methods, devices) as well as studies of digital (societies, cultures, economies, etc.). If you are involved in either or both, submit an abstract to join the discussion in this exciting area of contemporary research.

Archives and collections

This strand focuses on the practical challenges facing students when using archives and collections, but will also reflect on some theoretical aspects. Themes to expand upon include (but are not limited to): Personal experiences of working with archives/collections, for “good” or “bad”; How best to prepare ahead of engaging with archives/collections – the things to know; Do you have a collection to bring along and discuss? – How did you/others use it, etc; Having to create your own archive/collection in the course of your studies – pros/cons; Can the provenance of archives/collections shape the way we use them? Should it?; Does digitisation affect engagement? How will digital information shape future sources?


This stream is a home for all papers considering the practice, methods, ethics, and politics of using fieldwork to gather research data. Covering fieldwork that is quantitative and based on external observations or in-field structured interviews, through to long-term immersive ethnographic methods such as participant observation, this stream will enable you to debate different fieldwork approaches, dynamics, and dilemmas arising from many different disciplines. Fieldwork can be mentally or physically challenging and exhilarating in equal measure, as well as throwing up dilemmas that even the best methods textbooks cannot predict or provide solutions to. So join us for what promises to be a stimulating and illuminating afternoon!

Quantitative methods

Quantitative Methodologies represent a powerful method in Social Science that can contribute to both generalised theory testing and to exploratory analysis. However, they can also be highly technical and jargon heavy and can appear intimidating, impenetrable and insular to those who lack familiarity or experience in data analysis. This theme draws together doctoral students and researchers from across many disciplines who are using quantitative methodologies. It addresses the benefits and limitations of these methods, and provides a support network for those grappling with quantitative research methods to discuss common challenges and issues.

Open Stream

Still struggling to nail your methodological position? Why not tackle this issue head on? Submit your abstract and use the conference to work through your methodological challenges. You could start by drafting a 500 words abstract covering the following: your research questions and why you think they are important; what other research has contributed to date and how your research builds on and develops previous work; the methods and underpinning methodology you are using/considering using; what attracts you/makes you uneasy about such approaches; how you hope to analyse your data and build theory from your empirical work. Or anything else currently on your mind …

We will publish a timetable for the conference sessions closer to the 19 September. We are very much looking forward to seeing you in Lancaster!


Methods North West
0161 275 0796


Lancaster University
Lancaster, LA1 4YW United Kingdom + Google Map

For full information on all institutional methods activities, see each institution’s events pages:

Lancaster: Courses from methods@lancaster
Liverpool: Events and activities from engage@liverpool
Manchester: Events from methods@manchester
Keele: Events from Links@Keele

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