Dr Grant Blank
Grant Blank's work focuses on the social and cultural implications of the Internet and new media, quantitative and qualitative methods, and cultural sociology. He teaches on the OII social statistics courses.
Digital Social Research: Methods Core is one of the six elements that make up Digital Social Research.
This course is a reflexive and praxis oriented advanced methodology course for social scientists. The core ideas are mostly based on sociology and social anthropology, but also reflect on research design in the emerging fields where social problems are addressed with data (network science, data science, computational social science, statistical physics). We focus on the way in which social theories are brought into relation with evidence (whatever the source and particular method of data collection and analysis).
There are four core ideas that the course is based on:
The core concept of the course is pattern of practice: instead of learning blueprints of proper research, we learn patterns of practice that flexible and discovery-centered expertise can be built on.
Students taking this course should be able to formulate their own research project (in the form of a research proposal), starting by identifying and clearly exposing a research question, offering a theoretical argument, and deducing observable implications.
The course prepares students to approach social research in a pragmatic way, reshaping the research question and the argument in iterations of repeatedly engaging in empirical data collection.
The course should also sensitise students to the social relevance of their research, and connections to possible interventions and activism.
Ultimately, the outcome is that students build their own toolkit of cognitive patterns in social methodology – tools that help them organise and manage the complexities and contingencies of a research project.