Students enrolled in SISRM attended a daily lunch workshop to hear from faculty, researchers, librarians, and other experts on a range of topics related to social science research.

Monday, June 24 
Chalk Talk with Paul Staniland, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, and Benjamin Lessing, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Tuesday, June 25 
Starting Your Research: Best Practices for Finding and Using Library Resources
Presented by Julia Piacentine, Political Science, Public Policy, and e-Learning Librarian, Regenstein Library, and Stacie Williams, Center for Digital Scholarship, Regenstein Library

Wednesday, June 26
The Language of Value, Part 1: The role of problems and solutions in perceiving value 
Presented by Kathy Cochran, Deputy Director University of Chicago Writing Program

Thursday, June 27
Human Subjects Research: Introduction 
Presented by Cheri Pettey, Social and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board

Friday, June 28: Data Visualization with R
Parmanand Sinha, Research Computing Center
Parmanand Sinha, Computational Scientist at the Research Computing Center, (above) leads a workshop on Data Visualization with R, a programming language used frequently for conducting data analysis and developing software.

In this session, SISRM students familiarized themselves with R through an interactive tutorial, creating visual graphics that display complex data in a more digestible manner, covering topics including design theory, the “grammar of graphics,” the basics of ‘aesthetics’ and ‘geoms,’ ways to customize the visualization layout, and visualizing spatial data. The workshop aimed to help students develop skills that transfer to their research assistantships, inform future student-led course presentations, and continue into their future pursuits.

Monday, July 1
Chalk Talk with Faith Hillis, Associate Professor, Department of History

Tuesday, July 2
Starting Your Research: Using Social Media, Licensed Datasets, Open-Access Data 
Presented by Elizabeth Foster, Social Science Data Librarian

Wednesday, July 3
“The Language of Value, Part 2: Types of research, types of readers, types of problems, types of solutions”

Kathy Cochran, Deputy Director University of Chicago Writing Program

Collecting data is only the first part of a career in research; the second is to convince others of how the data comes to life. According to Kathy Cochran, Deputy Director of the Writing Program at the University of Chicago, (above) sometimes the most difficult part of presenting research is to “change the minds of people who are perfectly happy with existing knowledge.”

In this workshop, Cochran taught students how to overcome obstacles frequently encountered in academic writing. While students write frequently for course assignments, the ability to justify the value of research comes with its own set of challenges. In the session, students learned to create a Language of Consequence, allowing them to connect to readers and convince them that the problems addressed in their writing are of direct significance to them. Students also discussed the importance of language cues and creating a cohesive argument. As Cochran said, “a reader may agree with raw data, but the writer paints the interpretation.” Through these techniques and many more, students will better communicate the importance of their research while creating a professional, open-invitation to academic discourse.

Monday, July 8: Chalk Talk
Kate Cagney, Professor, Department of Sociology

Kate Cagney, Deputy Dean and Professor, (above) shares her ongoing research projects and answers questions about life in academia.

Cagney traces her interest in Array of Things, an urban measurement project, to a bike ride through an industrial neighborhood that sparked thinking around how one could make dramatic change in a community that was resource poor. Over 200 nodes, which track the daily activity of cars, weather, and people throughout Chicagoland, capture detailed data on micro-environments in the city. Cagney encouraged students to explore the open-sourced data provided by the project and prompts them to come up with new ways to apply the data, whether it be for environmental concerns, urban innovation, or observing social interactions. When asked how she balances her daily tasks, research endeavors, and drafting book ideas all at once, Cagney stressed the importance of creating structured time frames to focus on oneself, saying once that is accomplished, scouting new and exciting initiatives comes easy. “One gift of a job like this is that you always have new and exciting opportunities,” says Cagney, “and there’s always something more to learn.”

Tuesday, July 9
Data Management 101 
Presented by Elizabeth Foster, Social Science Data Librarian

Wednesday, July 10
The Language of Value, Part 3: Ramping It Up: Writing Techniques for Adding Value
Presented by Larry McEnerney, Director, University of Chicago Writing Program

Thursday, July 11: Project Management Fundamentals
Nora Mattern, Scholarly Communications Librarian, Regenstein Library

Nora Mattern, a Scholarly Communications Librarian, (above) holds an open discussion with students on the best ways to organize and stay on top of big projects.

As part of SISRM, many of the enrolled UChicago students hold a research assistantship for the remainder of the summer. This workshop introduced students to new techniques and technologies that can transfer to their individual projects, touching on developing personalized systems, keeping track of project materials, and writing clear proposals. “Experimenting, seeing what works, and creating new habits are what’s most important,” says Mattern. Students also explored online managers such as Asana, Trello, and Slack that could be easily incorporated into their daily work routines to encourage collaborative project management, an essential skill when working alongside an advisor. In closing, students reflected on how their work as an intern contributes to the overarching goal of their projects.

Monday, July 15: Chalk Talks
Kimberly Kay Hoang, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Kathryn Takabviwra, Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow 2018-2020; Assistant Professor 2020-, Department of Anthropology

In these Chalk Talks, Kimberly Kay Hoang, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, (above right) and Kathryn Takabviwra, Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow, (above left) introduce their ongoing research while discussing the value of ethnographic work.

Takabviwra’s current work focuses on policing and roadblocks in Zimbabwe, an issue she became aware of having grown up there herself. Despite her familiarity, in her presentation, Takabviwra recalled the issues she faced when beginning her research. She stresses the importance of preliminary research of a field site and the usefulness of the ability to change one’s goals when actually on-site.

Hoang elaborated on her work on Vietnam’s sex industry, which evolved into a deep dive of South Asia’s formal and informal market economies. Hoang pointed out that ethnographers have different personalities, and who they are shapes the access they have, the kind of people they can talk to, and the information they can get. Addressing a student’s question on the validity of ethnographic research, Hoang said, “the truth of the matter is you can’t replicate it; you should have different people going to the same site in order to examine general behavior patterns and see how the data changes over time.”

While a reader is perhaps presumed to have faith in the findings, Takabviwra added that disclosing the context of interviews, along with interviewing many people to gain different perspectives, creates a better understanding of the puzzle at hand.

Tuesday, July 16: Scholarly Communication: Sharing Your Work with Broad Audiences
Nora Mattern, Scholarly Communications Librarian, Regenstein Library

Sharing research findings with peers and with a broader audience is a key marker of success. Mattern (above) introduces students to some resources for sharing scholarly work, including Knowledge@UChicago, the University’s open access repository.

In this workshop, students learned about the process of academic publishing, including costs barriers, copyright laws, and the different types of peer review. A discussion on how an academic’s impact is measured and the changing nature of the matter followed. While citation counts have long been the main indicator of impact, students reviewed the importance of social media presence, press cycles, and the use of work in policy making. 

Thursday, July 18
An Introduction to Copyright and Fair Use 
Presented by Nora Mattern, Scholarly Communications Librarian, Regenstein Library

Friday, July 19
Developing Data Visualization for the Social Sciences 
Presented by Teodora Szasz and Kazutaka Takahashi, Research Computing Center

Monday, July 22
Chalk Talk with James Evans, Professor, Department of Sociology

Tuesday, July 23
License to Drive (Your Data) 
Presented by Susan Martin, Head of Acquisitions, Regenstein Library

Wednesday, July 24
Human Subjects Research: Application Considerations, Special Populations, and Data Protections
Presented by Cheri Pettey, Social and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board

Thursday, July 25: Managing Your Scholarly Presence Online
Stacie Williams, Center for Digital Scholarship, Regenstein Library

While the rise of digital platforms gives researchers the opportunity to share their work to a wider audience than ever before, so much content online may make it difficult to stand out. Stacie Williams, Director of the Center for Digital Scholarship, gives students advice on how to curate an online presence that garners attention.

In this session, students discussed how to make personal websites that are accessible, up to date, and eye-catching. Students reviewed faculty website examples to evaluate how well each individual curates their online persona in preparation for creating websites that highlights their own work and achievements.