Tracks and sessions

Track: Applications of social science methods

Comparative Opportunities of Corruption Research Methodology

The key aim of the section is to promote a dialogue between researchers interested in comparative opportunities of corruption research methodology. The session aims to foster theoretic and methodological discussions between the different research standards and to explore possibilities for new approach for regional/country-level research of corruption measurement and to promote recommendations on anti-corruption policy. Overview of principal methodologies for measuring corruption, country-level, cross-regional and cross-cultural research and comparative analysis, actualise lack of a uniform methodology and universal indicators. The papers may apply to: analysis of international comparative and national models for corruption measurement; discussions about the principal methodological problems of corruption studies; discussions about corruption indicators; problems with measuring actual corruption practices and the competence level of the public officials and other target groups; engagement of policy-makers into the discussion on the effective anti-corruption efforts; analysis of most frequent mistakes in corruption study; discussions about corruption level measuring strategy: perception and/or victimization; methodology for studying and measuring corruption as a traditional behaviour, indicators of “traditional corruption”; analysis of the various methodological and research approaches to studying corruption both on the national and international levels. Corruption studies at the national level are just as numerous, although varying in methodology, sampling techniques, wording of questions, target groups surveyed, the understanding of corruption, and the researchers’ purposes. Despite the large number of studies conducted, only a small fraction of them can be described as “country-level analyses,” aimed at identifying national specifics of corruption perceptions and studying the corruption experience of a country. Very often studies done within the country are observational in character, ignoring the determinant problems, factors, and reasons underlying the phenomenon. Alternatively, studies are done for subsequent comparison of the level and incidence of corruption, focusing on the subjective perceptions of corruption by the public and neglecting the experience of corruption practices and contextual factors, such as the sociocultural and political specifics of the country studied. Furthermore, in studies of corruption at the national level the methodologies used are often not adjusted for the sociocultural context of the society, which may result in tainted data; such research is not a reliable source of information for shaping recommendations and further government policies. Since the mid-1990s, a lot of projects for assessing corruption on both the general and micro-levels have been launched in Ukraine. From 1997 to 2009, a total of 60 projects focused on corruption issues were carried out, as well as 64 separate studies. In most cases these were comparative studies of subjective perception of corruption incidence. There are quite a large number of international corruption studies whose methodology may be considered when researching corruption and may help for constructing a national system of measuring and monitoring corruption in the country, using different methods and target groups but a uniform methodology.

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Track: Content analysis

Quantitative Text Analysis

Session Convenor: Roel Popping, University of Groningen

Quantitative text analysis (content analysis) is developing in two directions. In one approach all kinds of computer techniques for data collection, preprocessing, extraction, and analysis are used to find an answer to the research question. Mathematical models are very important here. Human coding should be avoided, but sometimes it is needed to create a starting point. This approach is most of all focusing on the manifest meaning of texts. In the other approach the focus is on what is really said in the texts, also between the lines, so the latent meaning is incorporated. Here human coding is a requirement, a lot of qualitative decisions are to be made and the computer serves only as a management tool. In this approach a lot of attention is given to the transparency of the decision making process. In this session recent methodological developments in both approaches are considered as well as ways to combine the best of both developments.

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Track: Cross-cultural research

How Can We Achieve Cross-cultural Equivalence in Basic Assumptions?

Session Convenor: Wolfgang Aschauer, University of Salzburg
Session Convenor: Martin Weichbold, Salzburg University

International survey programs as well as research on cross-cultural comparability have made considerable progress during the last decades but there are still unexplored areas of research. The starting point of cross-cultural methodology can be interpreted as context of discovery, where theoretical approaches, which claim to be cross-culturally valid or even universal, are invented. If we look at the entire process of research, starting from this very beginning, functional equivalence in basic theoretical assumptions seems to be a neglected area. Our aim of the proposed session is to explore this first stage of theory-driven empirical research and to extend the existing framework of the concept of equivalence which is mostly restricted to operationalization (construct equivalence), the sampling of respondents and cultural differences in respondent behavior. Abstract proposals should deal with fundamental questions, how we are able to control our own cultural imprint (universalism vs. ethnocentrism), how we address general issues of comparability (similarity vs. incommensurability) and what levels, dimensions and units should be used for comparisons (congruence vs. incongruence). In general, the session is aimed at researchers who are interested in the cross-cultural equivalence of theories, different concepts of humankind and the variability of linguistic usage and thought patters across cultures.

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Track: Cross-national surveys

Assessing Equivalence of Survey Questions

Session Convenor: Dominique Joye, University of Lausanne

In comparative research, but also in multilingual countries, translation is a crucial point in order to ensure comparability.The procedures used in the ESS or the ISSP are important in this respect but other tools must be used in order to know more precisely the effect of wording and translation choices. The aim of the session is to evaluate quantitative and qualitative procedures to assess equivalence and quality of measures.

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Constructing Comparative Macro Data for Cross-national Survey Research

Session Convenor: Christof Wolf, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

The main purpose of cross-national surveys is to enable comparisons of attitudes and behaviors of people living in different countries. In addition to the interview data collected by the surveys such an analysis usually will draw on country level data like GDP per capital, population density or life expectancy. Unfortunately, there is no standard database for these macro variables. This session invites presentations discussing specific problems one is faced with when constructing databases with comparative macro data, e.g. finding data, credibility of sources, comparability of measures, design of database, use of lagged variables etc. Equally welcome are presentations introducing relevant data collections.

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Cross-Cultural Survey Development and Pretesting

Population-based surveys are increasingly multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-national. Survey methodologists have come to realize that harmonizing questionnaires and forms across different languages, cultures, and countries can be a daunting task, and that the differences in estimates that are obtained are sometimes artifacts of the measurement process, as opposed to valid and reliable differences between groups. As a result, attention has turned to the development of best practices for translation and evaluation of cross-cultural survey questionnaires. In particular, practitioners have made use of qualitative methods such as cognitive interviewing, and behavior (interaction) coding, to determine the manner in which survey questions are interpreted, and answered, across a range of groups. The proposed session invites methodologists to describe innovative uses of these pretesting methods, and to convey the lessons they have learned, in applying them flexibly across languages and cultures. The RC33 conference will provide an ideal venue for sharing of relevant information by a diverse range of international researchers.

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Evaluating Attitude Measures Across Countries and Survey Programs

Session Convenor: Dominique Joye, University of Lausanne

Cross-national attitude surveys are expanding both in terms of the number of countries covered and the emergence of new programs. These programs have enhanced comparative research substantially, typically by comparing countries using data from a single survey program. The aim of the proposed session is to provide a forum for the presentation of research on quality across survey programs and countries. A variety of research reports may fit the session such as papers that examine similar attitude constructs measured in different survey programs, the extent to which substantive analysis is sensitive to the particular items used in different surveys for similar constructs, or the estimation of similar models using data derived from different survey programs and across countries. It should be of interest to both researchers developing and implementing the survey programs and the community of users.

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Measuring Demographic and Socioeconomic Variables in Cross-national Perspective

Session Convenor: Ann Evans, Australian National University, Canberra

Measuring demographic and socioeconomic variables within a cross-national perspective is one of the most challenging aspects of comparative survey research. This session will examine some of the measurement problems, and propose some possible solutions. The session will use examples and case studies drawn from the major comparative surveys.

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Measuring Educational Attainment in Cross-national Surveys

Educational attainment is of key interest for both academic research and education and social policy at the national and international levels. Educational Attainment is thus one of the most used, but also most difficult to harmonise socio-economic variables in survey research. Compared to labour market statistics and occupational classifications, education has received much less attention in sociological research and official statistics. Consequently, there is no consensus yet on how to best conceptualise and measure educational attainment: Different surveys, even within countries, implement different concepts of educational attainment as well as different measurement and coding procedures. They however also try to improve their methodologies: For example, in round 5 of the European Social Survey, a new measurement procedure was implemented (data will be released in October 2011). The RC33 conference is thus a good opportunity to review this change in measurement procedure in the ESS, and to review past and ongoing efforts in other survey programmes in order to work towards a cross-national standard across surveys. This session thus intends to bring together researchers and practitioners working with different surveys to allow comparisons across survey programmes.

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Methods and Tools to Harmonize Data in Cross-national Surveys

 In this session, we will focus on the methods and tools currently being used to harmonize data in cross-national surveys. Attention will not only be paid to how to harmonize constructs such as socio-demographic variables (occupation, education, ethnicity, e.g.), but also on the translation issues inherent to cross-national surveys. Work flow control and an accessible administration (during the design and fielding of the survey) and an elaborate documentation in the form of (technical) reports after the survey are of great importance. We invite papers that describe good practices from cross-national surveys.

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Sampling for Cross-national Surveys

Session Convenor: Matthias Ganninger, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

Cross-national surveys, like the European Social Survey (ESS), are being more and more frequently used by data users for substantial analyses. To assure that the quality of the estimates obtained in these analyses is as high as possible, careful definition of sample designs in participating countries is important. An essential aspect in this planning step lies in the comparative nature of most multi-national surveys. Achieving samples which yield estimates of comparable precision and low bias at low costs and minimum is in most cases a challenging task. In this session, recent advances in the field of survey sampling for cross-national surveys and their application in real-world social surveys like the ESS, SHARE, PIAAC and others will be presented and discussed. The session aims to cover both, methods of sampling and estimation techniques.

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Survey Non-response in Comparative Perspective

Session Convenor: Tom Smith, National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago

Building on the International Workshop on Using Multi-level Data from Sample Frames, Auxiliary Databases, Paradata and Related Sources to Detect and Adjust for Nonresponse Bias in Surveys that will be held in Chicago in 2011, this session examines ways of measuring and adjusting for unit non-response bias in surveys across nations. Special focus will be on using both case-level and aggregate-level data from sample frames, auxiliary sources, and paradata. This session will be relevant to survey researchers and those using survey data.

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The Role of Structured Metadata in Cross-national Surveys

Session Convenor: Joachim Wackerow, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

This session invites presentations dealing with structured metadata in a standardized form for cross-national surveys: models, systems and tools for i.e. instrument design, data entry, data processing, maintaining data documentation, and capturing and storing the metadata within a repository for later reuse. The emphasis is on metadata which supports comparison and harmonization of studies/waves over space and time, and across studies, especially metadata on the level of theoretical concepts, questions, and variables. A wide range of different products and services for different users can be generated on the basis of computer-processable metadata like web-based information systems, traditional codebooks, command setups for statistical packages, question banks, and searching and locating of data. These generated products on the basis of structured metadata help users in the use or interpretation of the data. Papers are invited on, but not limited to, the following topics: reuse of metadata across space, time, and studies, metadata banks such as for questions and classifications, metadata-driven processes, and metadata-driven information systems, possibly using the major specification for social science metadata, DDI Lifecycle (DDI 3 branch of the Data Documentation Initiative). The session is aimed at survey designers, data and metadata managers, information system managers of cross-national surveys, metadata experts, and others.

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Track: Data analysis techniques

Aggregate Data for Multivariate Modeling

Session Convenor: Peter Graeff, Goethe University

The session aims at stimulating the missing debate about criteria of assessing aggregate data in multivariate modeling. Sometimes, economists, sociologists and political scientists use “macro”-indicators or -indices in their empirical studies without knowledge about their (latent) measurement qualities (e.g. in mixed models). Since the opportunities to analyze data by computer programs are increasing and the availability of macro-indicators is improving as well, one may be enticed to incorporate even qualitatively inferior indicators for the sake of statistically significant results. The pitfalls of applying biased indicators or using instruments with unknown methodological characteristics are biased estimates, false statistical inferences and, as a consequence, misleading policy recommendations. The session welcomes paper submissions which address and identify criteria that will enable the comparability of different indices, that address new forms of parameter estimation (e.g. Bayesian approach) or new procedures for assessing the measurement quality (for instance structural equation models evaluating the validity and reliability of data) for multivariate models. Papers that show the applicability of these criteria in research fields dealing with aggregate-data (democracy, governance, conflicts or values) are also appreciated.

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Cluster Analysis

Session Convenor: Guy Cucumel, School of Management, Université du Québec à Montréal

Cluster analysis methods are widely used in the social sciences. This session seeks submissions based on supervised and unsurpervised classification methods. Two main types of papers are expected. First, authors are encouraged to submit applications of classification techniques to substantive problems in the social sciences. Second, authors are encouraged to submit methods papers that advance knowledge of the underlying techniques and address some of the well known problems shown by these methods as detecting the “good” number of clusters and the validation of the clusters. Papers presenting new developments of visualisation techniques of cluster or presentation of clustering results are welcome too. Of course, these types are not mutually exclusive.

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Correspondence Analysis and Related Methods (CARME)

Session Convenor: Jörg Blasius, The University of Bonn

In recent years a new technique has become more and more attractive in social science statistics: Correspondence analysis. The objective of this session is to spotlight the very latest research in correspondence analysis and related techniques, and discuss future developments. Themes of the sessions include all forms of correspondence analysis and related fields, including visualization of categorical data: Simple correspondence analysis, Multiple correspondence analysis, Joint correspondence analysis, Multiway correspondence analysis, Canonical correspondence analysis, Nonsymmetrical correspondence analysis, Dual scaling, Optimal scaling, Homogeneity analysis, Multidimensional scaling of categorical data, Biplots of categorical data, Visualization of compositional data, Principal component analysis, Geometric data analysis, and empirical investigations into the “social space”.

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Meta-analysis in Survey Methodology

Session Convenor: Katja Lozar Manfreda, University of Ljubljana

Use of meta-analysis to accumulate knowledge in survey research is not new. There exist several famous and often cited meta-analysis which cover issues such as the problem of survey (non)response, validity/reliability of scales, survey measurement of specific concepts etc. Nevertheless, in the field of survey methodology the meta-analysis as a research method is still used less frequently than primary experimental studies. Since a good meta-analytical review is the intellectual equivalent of original research, we seek papers on meta-analysis (analysis of analyses) in survey research. We refer to meta-analysis as statistical analysis of large collection of analysis results from individual studies for the purpose of integrating the findings. We are looking for papers going beyond casual, narrative discussions of research studies, and using statistical methods of meta-analysis to make sense of the rapidly expanding research literature in the field of survey methodology. We are interested in two types of papers: 1) papers that address specific challenges of meta-analysis in survey methodology, regarding all stages of the research synthesis (problem formulation, literature/primarily studies search, data evaluation and analysis, interpretation of results, public presentation); 2) papers that - with the use of meta-analysis - bring important and interesting new knowledge regarding the methodology of survey research, giving professionals new suggestions for implementation of survey projects resulting in high quality survey data.

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Sequence Analysis for Social Science Data

Session Convenor: Tim Liao, University of Illinois

Sequence analysis in the social sciences has been a relatively recent phenomenon, with its roots long established in the biological sciences. Social science data have certain features that distinguish themselves from those in biology, such as genetic sequences. Typical social science sequences include employment histories and life courses, which have much shorter sequence lengths (than, say, genetic sequences) but follow a time alignment. While the proposed session should keep an open door to any interesting papers related to sequence analysis methodology in the social sciences, a few key areas deserving development include criteria and algorithms of optimal matching, sequence comparison, statistical tests of sequence differences, timing of state transitions in sequences, and visualization of sequences. The proposed session should draw broad interest from social science researchers in Europe and North America and should have some potential appeal to researchers in the rest of the world.

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Track: Data archiving

Managing Research Data

Session Convenor: Steven McEachern, Australian Data Archive

The conduct of large scale research projects increasingly involves complex institutional requirements, multiple partners and often long-term timelines. These demands increasingly require sophisticated data management tools and skills, both throughout the project itself and in the preservation of data for future (secondary) use. This session invites papers that contribute to the understanding of the issues associated with the management of research data, from project design through to publication and archiving for reuse. Topics that might come under this theme include:
- Ethics and the preservation of research data
- Managing research data through the research lifecycle
- Data dissemination requirements and data collection
- Data management for longitudinal projects
- Methods, techniques and tools for research data management

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Track: Data linkage

Data Integration and Analysis

Session Convenor: Emilio Di Meglio, Eurostat

There is a growing societal and political demand for new indicators and statistical surveillance tools cutting across several domains (e.g. going beyond GDP, quality of life, etc…) and that go beyond aggregated figures. The focus is on the development of good indicators and quality measures to address global societal challenges of the 21st century such as poverty, health and quality of life. Often these phenomena are measured through different surveys and integration techniques such as data linking and matching seem to be the possible solution for having joint information on these issues. Moreover the challenge of data integration has to be seen not only across different domains but also across different geographical dimensions (regions, countries) as in a global context these phenomena cannot be analyzed in a national perspective. We would like to see in this session applied methodological papers dealing with data analysis and data integration from cross-country and cross-domain surveys. Target audience: people from National Statistical Offices dealing with different surveys.

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Data Linking Methodology

Session Convenor: Phillip Gould, Australian Bureau of Statistics

Social researchers greedily consume administrative and survey data to test theories and advance knowledge. But isolated datasets may lack analytical power. Data linking is a technique used to match common records from different datasets, thus expanding the set of possible analyses. This enhanced potential could be due to a broader set of cross-sectional variables or by linking over time to create longitudinal data. The data linking session should cover a number of broad themes: • Data quality checking • Linking and blocking strategy methodology (including string comparison algorithms) • Estimation of key data linking parameters (m/u probabilities) • The role of clerical review in data linking • Analysis of linked data, including applications • Analysis of data linking software The intended audience for this conference session are practitioners and researchers involved in performing data linking exercises and also end-users, who wish to better understand the limitations and strengths of their linked datasets. Data linking is used widely by national statistical agencies, the medical fraternity and education groups to name but a few. Demand for linked data continues to grow and come from ever more diverse areas of social science.

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Data Quality in Survey-administrative Linked Data

Session Convenor: Joerg Heining, Institute for Employment Research

Most quantitative longitudinal research in social sciences is done with survey data. Surveys suffer from non-response in many ways, for example, coverage errors, unit and item-non-response or attrition. In particular answers to retrospective questions often imply gaps or incomplete details of remembered episodes. In order to correct for these errors administrative data can be linked to survey data. However, adminis-trative data have specific problems of their own which result sometimes from inaccurate or incomplete records. Furthermore, changes in legal or administrative conditions might cause systematic variation in administrative data which can be difficult to detect. Examples are periods of welfare state reforms like enlarged or restricted unemployment coverage in times of mass unemployment. Deviation of survey information from administrative data might in other cases nevertheless be justified by different meas-urement concepts (survey question vs. administrative procedure and/or logic). By linking the data, researchers hope to improve data quality by creating datasets that balance the disadvantages of the administrative and survey data using the advantages of these two different types of data. However, bringing together linked survey-admin data throws up complex and interesting methodological issues. The session is open for papers which address questions of data quality of linked survey/administrative data and/or inconsistencies between administrative and survey informa-tion. Co-Organiser: Stefan Bender (Institute for Employment Research, IAB), Germany

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Track: Improving survey quality

Benchmarks, Standards and Guidelines: Current Best Practice

Session Convenor: Beth-Ellen Pennell, University of Michigan

This session will provide an overview of the implications for best practice in survey research by the recent development of several international initiatives and newly published standards. Examples will include but not necessarily be limited to: the newly issued international standard, ISO 20252 – Market, Opinion, and Social Research, which requires, among other provisions, comprehensive documentation and full disclosure of research procedures and methods throughout all phases of the survey research lifecycle; the American Association of Public Opinion Research’s transparency and related initiatives, which aim to promote documentation and disclosure of research and methods as well as education and outreach to data consumers; the Cross-cultural Survey Guidelines, a comprehensive set of guidelines for best practices in the conduct of cross-cultural and cross-national surveys; and recent efforts by large cross-national surveys towards new standards of best practice. These latter will include the European Social Survey, the Study of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, the International Social Survey Programme, the World Mental Health Survey Initiative, among others. The session will end with a summary of implications for best practice in survey research that these and other initiatives imply.

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Evaluating Methods for Testing Survey Questions

Session Convenor: Timo Lenzner, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

It is universally acknowledged that testing survey questions prior to administering them to respondents is a vital part of a survey. However, comparably little is known about the relative effectiveness of different pretesting methods in identifying problematic questions. To date, only few studies have attempted to evaluate how well different pretesting methods perform in comparison to each other (e.g., Presser & Blair, 1994; Willis & Schechter, 1999). This session invites papers that examine the advantages and disadvantages of different questionnaire pretesting methods such as cognitive interviews, behavior coding, expert reviews with/without appraisal systems, interviewer/respondent debriefings, focus groups, vignette analyses, field tests, response latencies, eye-tracking, etc. Papers should highlight the relative effectiveness of particular pretesting methods in comparison to other methods, for example, with regard to the number or types of problems identified and the time and costs required by the methods. Studies demonstrating how different methods can be combined to overcome the shortcomings of the individual methods are particularly welcomed as are studies that examine whether the pretesting methods indeed lead to improved questions.

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Measuring Survey Quality in Cross-National Surveys

Session Convenor: Christof Wolf, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

This session will provide a series of original investigations on data quality in both national and international contexts. The starting premise is that all survey data contain a mixture of substantive and methodologically-induced variation. Most current work focuses primarily on random measurement error, which is usually treated as normally distributed. However, there are a large number of different kinds of systematic measurement errors, or more precisely, there are many different sources of methodologically-induced variation and all of them may have a strong influence on the “substantive” solutions. To the sources of methodologically-induced variation belong various forms of response styles, misunderstandings of questions, translation and coding errors, uneven standards between the research institutes involved in the data collection (especially in cross-national research), item- and unit non-response, as well as faked interviews. We will consider data as of high quality in case the methodologically-induced variation is low, i.e. the differences in responses can be interpreted based on theoretical assumptions in the given area of research. The aim of the session is to discuss different sources of methodologically-induced variation in survey research, how to detect them and the effects they have on the substantive findings.

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Survey Nonresponse - Problems and Circumventions, Dodges, and Novel Attempts

Session Convenor: Karsten Boye Rasmussen, University of Southern Denmark

The survey questionnaire is a popular and effective methodological technique for gaining new information. However, especially the organizational survey is often jeopardized by low response rates. The survey nonresponse fundamentally challenges the issue of generalization and nonresponse can seriously invalidate the results obtained in a survey. Investigation of the bias from questionnaire survey nonresponse can seem as a futile expedition as the nonresponse entails that information is not available. Without data available there obviously cannot be any investigation. However, investigation into nonresponse becomes possible by including data obtained by other sources than the method rejected by the nonrespondents. The person oriented data collection can be substituted by other collection methods. Furthermore, even if other sources cannot sufficiently substitute the needed information the other sources can be uses to qualify the validity of the survey. Differences between the groups of respondents and nonrespondents can be measured and transformed to estimates for the survey quality. The survey nonresponse session welcomes all papers demonstrating the problem of survey nonresponse, challenging the comparison of response group, showing practices of remediation as well as papers with novel (Internet, web 2.0, ..) attempts for damage estimation, substitution of information or alternatives to the survey questionnaire.

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Understanding Measurement Error in Longitudinal Data (Recall Error, Seam Effects, Spurious Change and Conditioning)

Session Convenor: Peter Lugtig, Utrecht University

Longitudinal data are useful for studying change or stability in various phenomenon. Some degree of measurement error occurs in all surveys, yet the nature and causes of measurement error in longitudinal data may result from processes wholly unique to the methods used to collect it. Longitudinal information can be obtained through panel surveys or retrospective histories. Panels collect data about different points in time by interviewing sample members at regular intervals while retrospective histories can be collected in a cross-sectional survey or at each wave of a panel. Error with recall and the memory process can affect the reliability of retrospective history data. Panel surveys reduce such recall problems, by asking respondents about time periods close to the interview yet such instruments can nonetheless be affected by serious measurement error as responses given in different interviews are not necessarily consistent. This session proposes to examine the nature and causes of measurement error in longitudinal data. Examples of contributions sought for this session include but are not limited to:

- Assessment of the nature and magnitude of measurement error

- Identification of the conditions that foster measurement error

- Examination of the sources of measurement error

- Evaluation of data collection methods to reduce measurement error

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Track: Interviewing

Conversational and Cognitive Issues in Flexible Interviewing Procedures

Session Convenor: Marieke Haan, University of Groningen
Session Convenor: Wander van der Vaart, University of Humanistic Studies

Despite the rise of conversational interviewing and calendar interviewing in the survey practice, little attention has been paid to the social and cognitive foundations of these more flexible interviewing methods. This shortage is especially noteworthy given the great variety of flexible interviewing methods and their different levels of standardization that exist today. In order to evaluate these interviewing methods, attention needs to be paid not only to specific features like question wording but also to more general procedures, such as the style of interviewing and the integration of (aided recall) tools in the interview. Presentations in this session may cover social and cognitive aspects of interviewing regarding:

• Conversational features, verbal interaction, framing, non-verbal behavior;

• Memory, life histories, narratives, timeframes, aided recall, probing;

• The interaction of these issues with a) characteristics of the study population, b) the type of research design, c) the mode of data collection, and d) the visual or verbal characteristics of the data collection tools.

We welcome researchers from several fields e.g. linguistics, sociology and psychology. The aim of this session is to discuss how conversational and cognitive insights can be used to enhance the data quality as produced by flexible interviewing methods.

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Track: Issues in measurement

Measuring Concepts for Social Bookkeeping Data

Session Convenor: Nina Baur, Technical University Berlin

When using research-elicited data, researchers can control and plan the research process in advance. In recent years, there has been much progress on optimizing and harmonizing measurement concepts for survey data and on developing procedures for minimizing TSE. For example, “Advances in Cross-National Comparison” (Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik & Wolf, eds., 2003) provides concrete guidelines for measuring various variables such as gender, age, ethnicity and education. In contrast, using social bookkeeping data (also public administrational data, quantitative/standardized process-produced/process-generated data, mass data or mass files) have been typically collected long before and for other purposes than social science analysis. How data are measured is usually defined by administrational procedures, and both these procedures and the mode of data collection may and do change over time. Moreover, the definitions are not necessarily the ones a researcher would use. Continuing the discussion started in Historical Social Research HSR 34 (3) in 2009, the session aims at exploring how specific variables can be appropriately measured under these circumstances and how this affects equivalence. The variables discussed can be either socio-demographic variables (e.g. gender, age, ethnicity, education, occupational and employment status), latent constructs (e.g. social class) or values. Papers can either illustrate this using a specific data set or comparing different data sets.

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The Measurement of University Education Effectiveness

Session Convenor: Luigi Fabbris, University of Padua

Several universities all over the world adopt information and statistical systems to evaluate their own performances. Several countries evaluate their universities for resource allotment. Wealth of statistical methods and indicators has been proposed in the literature to assess the internal and external effectiveness of university functions.This session will focus on  the need for comparative analysis of the effectiveness of methodologies and indicators in measuring the effectiveness of university teaching and student services that could favour both the internal comparability of statistics in the long run and possibly the international comparability.

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Track: Longitudinal surveys

Issues Arising in the Collection and Analysis of Incomplete Longitudinal Data

Session Convenor: Roger Penn, Department of Socioly/Mathematics and Statistics Lancaster University

The collection of longitudinal data has grown rapidly over the last twenty years. They respresent a powerful resource for sociologists in understanding the contours and processes of social change [see Berridge, Penn & Ganjali 2009; Shahtahmasebi & Berridge 2010]. However all longitudianl surveys suffer from serious difficulties associated with dropout/attrition [see Penn & Berridge 2010]. This can take two forms:

  • Monotonic dropout, whereby respondents disappear from the study completely;
  • Intermittent dropout, whereby respondents flow in and out of the study over a period of years.

The problems associated with both forms of dropout are by no means trivial, and require explicit attention. The proposed stream will provide a forum for substantive social scientists as well as social statisticians and methodologists to discuss recent developments in the field.

The session build upon the success of our recent organised session at the Fourth Annual ESRA conference in Lausanne in July 2011.

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The Longitudinal Study of American Youth: the Evolution of Methods and Objectives

The Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY) is a 23-year longitudinal study of a national probability sample of public school students in 1987. Over the last two decades, the LSAY has evolved from an in-school study using printed questionnaires to a national annual survey using a combination of online and printed questionnaires. The objectives of the study originally focused on student interest in science and mathematics in a school setting, and have evolved into broader interests -- ranging from career paths to political involvement to family science learning to planning for retirement. The proposed panel will discuss how investigators should think about original purposes and longer-term possibilities. The proposed session will include speakers to describe (1) the founding process and the continuing funding activities, (2) the value of the longitudinal record for educational research, (3) the value of the data for understanding the pathways into an engineering career, (4) linkages to other longitudinal studies, and (5) future prospects for the LSAY as a vehicle for understanding young adult planning for retirement.

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Track: Mixed methods

Combining Content Analysis and Survey Data: Issues, Implications and Perspectives in Individual-level Media Effects Research

Session Convenor: Thomas Roessing, University of Mainz

Decades ago, media effects researchers have begun to employ multi-method studies to explore the effects of media content. Combining data from content analyses and polls on individual-data level is therefore fairly common, but not standardized: There are hardly any authors who point out in detail how they combined both data sources. There are no publications devoted to the corresponding practical and theoretical problems. This session will tackle these issues. It will address the different choices researchers are confronted with concerning data combination and the methodological and theoretical implications. Papers should focus on the following questions: How can the media input of individuals efficiently be calculated, what data structure is required, and how are common pitfalls to be avoided?  What level of precision for various measures of media use (e. g. surveys or media diaries) is required to accurately estimate effects of media content?  Which variables represent an individuals’ media input best? What are the theoretical implications and empirical consequences?  How are individual-level and aggregate-level data related? How can effects be interpreted? This panel addresses researchers in all fields of media effects and reception studies.

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Comparative Analysis of Qualitative and Quantitative Data

Session Convenor: Sigitas Vaitkevicius, Kaunas University of Technology

This session is oriented to mixed-methods research. The main idea of this session is the combinations of qualitative and quantitative data analysis, data interpretation risks and of course experience in combining mixed-methods in social research. This session is also relevant to researchers working in the fields of computational linguistics, artificial intelligence, mathematics, logic, philosophy, cognitive science, cognitive psychology, psycholinguistics, anthropology, neuroscience etc.

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Integrating Content Analysis with Survey Data: Opportunities and Issues in Political Communication Data Analysis

Session Convenor: Holli Semetko, Emory University

Research on the uses an influence of information in campaigns and other contexts often draws on content analysis and survey or panel data. The presentations in this session will discuss the methodological issues with linking content analysis data to public opinion survey data, and provide examples of how these were addressed with a variety of data sets.

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Track: Modeling and simulation

Handling Complex Societal Systems: a Methodological Challenge

Session Convenor: Cor Dijkum, Utrecht University

Social Scientists realized that many phenomena in the social world can be viewed as a complex social system. Through systems theory and complexity science one recognizes that events in the social world are interrelated, interact with each other and make up complex systems. In terms of modeling these complex systems, supported by computers, pioneering social scientists succeeded in making models of phenomena in the social world that could not be modeled adequately before. These models —which include, for example, dynamic systems theory, case-based modeling, agent-based modeling, and network modeling— make it possible to improve the understanding of a variety of real life problems. The challenge is to demonstrate that scientific understanding, knowledge, expertise and skills harnessed through these models society help to handle complex societal systems better. For that, one needs to engage in a dialogue about the process of modeling itself. Engaging in such a dialogue is, in essence, the focus of this session posing questions about the validity, testability and usability of advanced scientific, computer-based modeling tools. Invited are colleagues from different fields (social sciences, natural sciences, life sciences, system dynamics and operational research) that are involved in research of complex societal systems and interested in methodological questions.

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New Normative Metrics in the Empirical Behavioral Sciences

Modeling observed behavior as if it arises as the solution to a constrained optimization problem requires axiomatic norms of rationality, which are shared by neoclassical economics, behavioral economics, and researchers in various related disciplines. These axiomatic norms of rationality (e.g., transitivity, completeness, time consistency, Bayes Rule) make no reference to specific contexts or decision environments. They are based solely on internal consistency and are assumed to hold universally across all decision problems. In vociferous debates between behavioral economists (arguing that observed behavior is pathological because it violates axiomatic norms) and neoclassical economists (arguing for the assumption that behavior conforms to axiomatic norms), there is almost no discussion or evidence presented linking norm violation to losses in wellbeing (e.g., reduced wealth, happiness, health, or lifespan). This session is aimed at those undertaking normative analysis in the social and cognitive behavioral sciences. The session seeks empirical evidence regarding regularities of behavior associated with high levels of wellbeing. Given numerous studies documenting violations of axiomatic norms, evidence is needed to address whether human behavior is therefore pathological (as behavioral economists inspired by Khaneman argue) or whether axiomatic norms based on internal consistency are simply uninformative about more meaningful measures of wellbeing. Session seeks empirical evidence with normative measures that go beyond axioms of internal consistency.

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Social Simulation and Modelling for Public Policy

Session Convenor: Peter Davis, COMPASS Research Centre, The University of Auckland

The purpose of the session is to bring together those with an interest in the application of social simulation techniques to modelling for policy purposes. We would be looking for colleagues advancing new or existing techniques and applications to any area of public policy. The session would be open methodological, conceptual and theoretical submissions as well as case studies. The session is aimed at social scientists with an interest in computer modelling, but also those in statistics and cocmputer science who have entered the area of e-social science research.

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Social Simulation Methods

Session Convenor: Lyndon Walker, Swinburne University of Technology

Social simulation is the use of computer simulation methods to examine social science research problems. In particular it is used to examine complex social phenomena, patterns and behaviour that can not be easily analysed through quantitative analysis. This session aims to showcase research from a variety of disciplines that use social simulation, ranging from abstract artificial societies, to empirically informed policy models. Topics may include: social networks, emergence, agent-based and microsimulation, decision making heuristics, simulation methodologies, and policy analysis.

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Track: Qualitative research

New Ethnographies of Crime and Justice

Session Convenor: Max Travers, University of Tasmania

Criminology was once a discipline that valued the sympathetic observation of the underside of social life, and also the realistic portrayal of social control agencies, through using ethnographic methods. Today, this tradition barely exists on the margins, owing to changing intellectual fashions that privilege quantitative measurement when addressing policy questions, and an institutional climate that makes it difficult to write critically about professional practice. There is often the presumption, among undergraduate students, as well as regulators, that ethnography as a scientific method of inquiry is unethical. This session offers an opportunity to review these issues, as they are relevant to different countries, but also to present new ethnographic research about crime and criminal justice. We are interested in all theoretical approaches, including the critical and interactionist traditions, ethnomethodology and postmodernism, and in how ethnographic methods are used by different disciplines internationally. We also hope to arrange a side event at which a larger number of presenters will present ethnographic papers and reflections on professional practice.

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Qualitative Longitudinal Research

Session Convenor: Joseph Hermanowicz, University of Georgia

Qualitative longitudinal research (QLR) represents an innovative area of approaches to empirical studies on the frontier of social science scholarship. The preponderance of longitudinal research draws upon quantitative traditions directed at measurement of panel data. Within especially the past decade, studies have emerged that employ qualitative techniques in the collection and analysis of data from subjects followed over time. The techniques enable the identification and meaning of temporal change across lives and groups, and exploration of how people interpret and respond to such change. Applications are found in studies of persistence and desistence from crime; child socialization, parenting, and family relationships; education organizations and schooling outcomes; and occupational careers, among other settings, often bearing policy relevance. Owing to the novelty and newness of a nascent line of work, a coherent methodology underlying QLR remains to be fully articulated. The proposed session will showcase exemplary studies of QLR, including interview, case study, and ethnographic-based work, and aim to further codify principles that guide this methodological innovation. The anticipated audience is scholarly: in light of the connectedness that the work embodies, the session will speak to multiple traditions, quantitative and qualitative, as well as research lines that intersect with public policy.

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Qualitative Research and Online Media

Session Convenor: Gareth Morrell, National Centre for Social Research

Have instantaneous communication and virtual communities in which individuals develop and express online identities fundamentally changed the nature of our social and psychological worlds? A body of innovative social science is emerging that may begin to address this question, but equally important is the impact on the practice of social science and research methods. This session explores whether new technology merely provides new cost-effective data collection techniques or creates a different social context which has to be uncovered and explored. Themes will include: Data collection: Social media platforms provide a mine of naturally occurring data but epistemological questions remain over the value and ethics of using it for research purposes? Analysis: How  do we analyse a different form of qualitative data being generated on a quantitative scale, audio visual data or data generated via animations and avataars? While CAQDAS software aims to keep pace our analytical approaches may need revisiting to ensure analysis of new data types is robust and effective. Co-creation: researchers are increasingly engaging with participants on online platforms, blurring the distinction between researcher and participant. Co-creation presents methodological challenges but also provides opportunities for researchers and citizens to better understand the changing social world.

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The Practicalities of a Qualitative Research Project

Session Convenor: Ann Dadich, School of Business, Western Sydney University

Although potentially very useful, qualitative research can be difficult to conduct. Novices and experienced researchers alike often struggle with the theoretical and practical considerations that surround qualitative research. For instance, what constitutes a qualitative methodology; how can the meticulous analysis of research material be assured, particularly when there are rigid timeframes; what questions can be asked of the data; how can findings be validated and deemed acceptable by others, particularly those with a penchant for quantitative research; and how is it possible to present the findings in a manner that is acceptable to journal publishers, and still do justice to the qualitative research process? It is important that pragmatism in qualitative research be explored by contemporary researchers, lest they become dissuaded from qualitative research efforts and ask only those questions that can be answered quantitatively. Examples

• Managing difficult circumstances, e.g.,
o Negotiating the interests of different stakeholders
o Managing paradigmatic differences

• Tricks of the trade, e.g., o Completing qualitative projects within time and within budget
o Engaging disenfranchised populations
o Maintaining relationships and research integrity in longitudinal projects
o Presenting qualitative research to different disciplines


• Academic researchers and policymakers

• Doctoral candidates

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Track: Research technologies

Information-Communication Technology and Optimization of the Survey Process

Assuring quality of survey data is becoming more and more difficult due to declining willingness of respondents to participate and increasing survey costs. Modern information communication technology (ICT) has a critical potential to cope with these problems. Among other things, it can be used for the support in the optimization of questionnaire preparation and corresponding responding process, as well as in the comprehensive management of the whole survey process. The session seeks papers which explore potentials and impact of ICT for optimizing the survey process. We are especially interested in merging of computerized survey questionnaires and their paradata with artificial intelligence methods, data mining and machine learning. The papers may include (bur are not limited to) studies on potentials of these ICTs for:

- advances in the process of questionnaire preparation such as automated assessment of survey question characteristics and advance analysis of their impact on various aspects of response quality;

- development of advanced dynamic questionnaires that automatically adapt the content of questionnaires not only to simple conditions, but using complex response quality controls;

- optimization of answers control and data preparation during questionnaire responding in order to take appropriate measures in real-time response process (e.g. reminder or adjustment of the questionnaire flow);

- dynamic adjustment of the questionnaire interface and level of interactivity with respondent,

- management of the whole survey process, including recruitment, motivating, measurement, editing etc.).

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Methodological Challenges in Web-based Data Collection

Session Convenor: Katja Lozar Manfreda, University of Ljubljana

With advances in online technology, new forms of web-based data collection methods have evolved quickly, providing fast, cheap and flexible ways to reach respondents across national borders. Web-based data collection has become a popular tool not only for the commercial survey industry but also for many social science fields. Besides web surveys that nowadays replace or complement traditional surveys, long-established research traditions related to web-based experimenting, testing and non-reactive data collection, have developed innovative web-based tools and techniques. Furthermore, the academic community is now expanding to social networks, mobile research, text mining, crowd sourcing, and blogs. Web surveying can benefit from these innovations. However, a coherent scientific methodology for this purpose is still missing. Improvements in web survey methodology mainly rely on traditional survey methodologies rather than using other web-based data collection methods. The session explores potentials and constraints of up-coming methodological challenges of web-based data collection and, particularly, how innovative web-based data collection methods can improve web-survey methodology. Papers should address and critically discuss methodological foundations, applications and challenges of the various forms of web-based data collection and their interrelation. The session will be of particular interest to researchers and users of web-based data collection methods.

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New Methods in Youth Research

One of the most important problems of the information society is how the generation growing up now, who were born into the digital age, will transform society as we know it and how it will transform them. They are the first to have been able to master the use of the new ICT. The acquisition of this competence not only puts less of a strain on the net generation but it happens spontaneously and naturally. Furthermore, the members of this generation not only master the ICT tools and contents but also tailor it to their needs. To a great extent this everyday use transforms their information acquisition, information consumption, communication and media consumption habits, setting them on a different path to the habits of older generations. Young people are on the Internet and researchers can theoretically more easily enter the same community with them than at any time before. This new environment – the world of virtual communities – needs new research methodology. Our session deals with the methods, tools and techniques which are able to reflect this challenge.

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Recent Advances in Highly Parallel Statistical Computing

Session Convenor: Matthias Ganninger, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

In recent years, the emergence of the CUDA and similar interfaces to graphical processing units (GPUs) has provided the field of computational statistics with powerful mechanisms to deal with otherwise time-consuming computations through massive parallelization. Among others, mainly R has proven to be a powerful language and interface to GPU programming for computational statistics. This session gives an overview of what could be achieved so far in this new field of research, inform the community about expected challenges and bring together the demand and the supply side of application and research.

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Research Methodology for New Digital Communication Technologies

Session Convenor: Elizabeth Dean, RTI International
Session Convenor: Joe Murphy, RTI International

Social media. Virtual worlds. Gamification. Tweets. Circles. These terms, largely unheard of a decade ago, now describe routine methods of communication. To some social scientists, these platforms represent a revolution in quantifying individuals’ thoughts and preferences. They have begun using them to collect data, contact research subjects, and even as a substitute for surveys by passively monitoring data streams (via Twitter, Facebook and blogs). Yet, there are vast disparities between those on and off “the grid” and that the error properties of these new frames are largely unknown. There are significant philosophical and methodological questions regarding new media and data capture. Do social media constitute a new survey mode? What is the implication of a mode that prioritizes broadcast communication rather than conversations between individuals? How can we evaluate the reliability and validity of Web 2.0 data? This session seeks papers evaluating new technologies for social research, such as, but not limited to: quantifying measurement error when collecting data via Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps; assessing the impact of virtual incentives, like game rewards or virtual currency; evaluating social support and interactivity as incentives to participation; and capturing statistically valid survey data using a game interface.

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The R System as a Platform for Analysis and Development of Analysis Methodology

Session Convenor: John Maindonald, Australian National University

The open source R system, which can be freely downloaded from the internet, is now a preferred platform for the development and dissemination of new statistical methodology. It is widely used in commerce as well as science. Witness its use by Google and others for mining web data. A major benefit is that it is readily and seamlessly extensible. Its abilities can be the basis for computations that are tailored to the demands of pretty much any area of science or commerce. The aim of this session will be to give an indication of the wide range of R abilities, of current major directions of development, and to highlight some specific social science applications. The target audience will be social science researchers, and particular younger researchers who want analysis tools that will place them on the leading edge of methodological innovation. Examples of presentation topics might be: Overview of the R system and packages Use of R in Political Science Research (ditto, other application areas) Spatial Analysis in R Open Source Software for Open and Reproducible Science

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Wearable Computing for Social Research

Session Convenor: Georgios Papastefanou, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

The session topic is on social research using wearable computing devices, which automatically capture data like sensor bands, RIFD readers, accelerometriy devices, and subjective response markers. As these instruments develop towards low-cost, mass product, they will get a more prominent tool for social research studies, which are interested in measurements of habitual and implicit behaviors and responses. In Ambulatory Assessment there is a growing community of researchers and studies, which utilize these type of apparatus based instrument, but still mainly focused on clinical and preclinical issues. Nevertheless issues like reactivity bias, acceptance and compliance are partly researched. So, the session is targeted towards gathering key presentations to provide an overview of the technological state of the art as well as to the specific isssues of real-time measurement in everyday life.

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Track: SHARE

Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe

Session Convenor: Martina Brandt, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy

This session will focus on innovations in in cross-national research and will include presentations of European SHARE partners and sister studies on survey methodology issues. These include: tood for exante harmonisation in cross-national surveys; data base management in cross-national surveys; linkage of administrative and survey data; and, incentive experiments. The session is aimed a survey methodologists and researchers interested in cross-national comparisons alike.

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Track: Social network analysis

Models and Methods in Social Network Analysis

Session Convenor: Malcolm Alexander, Griffith University

Social network analysis involves specialised form of data collection, data analysis and statistical modelling and recent developments in exponential random graph modelling (ergm) have opened the way for significant new applications of social network concepts and theory. This session will feature papers about social network based research projects or developments in methodology for SNA. We will consider papers relating to egonet as well as ‘whole network’ SNA and papers dealing with the history of SNA and/or its relations to other disciplines and specializations.

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Social Media Network Analysis

Session Convenor: Robert Ackland, Australian National University

This session is focused on innovative approaches for collecting and analysing social media network data in the context of social science research. Relevant data sources include digital trace data from newsgroups, WWW hyperlink networks, virtual worlds, social network sites (e.g. Facebook), blogs and micro-blogs (e.g. Twitter). While all papers focused on innovative research methods for born-digital social data are welcome, preference will be given to those involving statistical social network analysis techniques. We are also interested in papers focusing on computational social science and the challenges (and opportunities) for social scientists in an era of abundance of large-scale social media data sets.

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Social Network Analysis - General

Session Convenor: Peter Carrington, University of Waterloo
Session Convenor: Anuska Ferligoj, University of Ljubljana

Social network analysis is the application to social research of the concept of the network — a set of entities, or nodes, connected by relationships, or ties. Conceptualisation of social structures as social networks has been fruitful in many areas of the social sciences, and has, indeed, facilitated recognition of substantive patterns and analytic problems common to the social and other sciences. One of the most lively areas of social network analysis has been the development of suitable methods for applying the network concept in social research. These methods address the three main issues: sampling, measurement, and data analysis. In each of these areas, the problems faced by network researchers are considerably, though not entirely, different from those encountered by conventional attribute-based research. This session will provide a forum for presentation of new developments in research methods for social network analysis. These papers may be theoretical, concerning epistemological problems in the use of the concept of the social network; methodological, concerning technical developments in sampling, measurement, or data analysis; or empirical, demonstrating novel applications of social network analytic methods in actual research.

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Applied Social Network Analysis

Session Convenor: Malcolm Alexander, Griffith University

Social network data collection in sample population surveys require specific techniques based on name generator questions and egonet methodologies. Follow-up (‘name interpreter’) questions elicit information about the named alters or the specified ego-alter relation. Some surveys also collect information from ego about selected alter-alter relations. The techniques required for social network data collection are unusual and difficult to implement in a survey environment. The interpretation of this data is also difficult given the variety of information being sought and the uncertain abilities of respondents to report accurately on third party interactions. This session invites papers around the issues associated with utilising network sensitive questions in survey formats. Topics may cover topics such as: History of egonet methods and or network surveys and classic survey studies Social network modules in GSS and other major surveys Social capital theory and survey data on networks Validity and reliability of name generators The use and analysis of multiple name generators The potential of ERGM models to model from population samples to populations Experimental strategies of social network data collection (e.g. reverse small world studies) and their implementations for survey implementations The methodologies of chain referral and diffusion studies and their implications for survey implementations

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Track: Spatial and visual research

Developing Rigorous and Ethical Visual Research Methodologies

Session Convenor: Sarah Drew, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne
Session Convenor: Marilys Guillemin, University of Melbourne

There is increased acceptance in the use of visual research methodologies. Visual methodologies use different kinds of images, including photographs, video, and drawings. In participant-generated visual methodologies, the participant provides both the image and its interpretation (often through interviews or written explanations) to the researcher, or provides the image alone, leaving the researcher to interpret the image. In researcher-generated visual methodologies the researcher provides an existing image and asks participants for their interpretation of the image; or, as commonly used in visual sociology or anthropology, the researcher generates images to illustrate particular kinds of interpretation without contribution from participants. This session will examine the methodological, epistemological and ethical challenges in this range of visual methodologies. It will explore the use of different images and their associated research methods. Different analytical approaches used in visual methodologies will be canvassed. Visual methodologies bring with them particular ethical issues and these will be a key theme. This session will be of interest to both novices in the use of visual research methodologies, as well as those who are more experienced and want to further develop these methodologies and move beyond the use of visual images as a quirky add-on in research.

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Spatial Methods

Session Convenor: Nina Baur, Technical University Berlin
Session Convenor: Cornelia Thierbach, Technical University of Berlin

The session aims at exploring which research methods are appropriate for approaching space in the social sciences, seeing space either as dependent or independent variable: Researchers can ask how people think about space and construct space or they can see space as a relevant frame for social action that influences social life. Papers should address one of the questions below either at a more general methodological level or using a concrete example in a specific research project: Which qualitative and/or quantitative methods are best suited for which kind of theoretical problems? What methodological innovations concerning the spatial can be observed? (How) can traditional sociological or geographical methods be adjusted to address spatial problems within sociology? Which sampling strategies are appropriate for spatial problems? What are the specific data requirements for spatial analysis, and how can these data be collected? Which strategies of data analysis are appropriate for spatial analysis?

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Tracing the City. Methods of Analysing Urban Structures and Transformations

Session Convenor: Anna Laura Quermann, Technical University Darmstadt

The city is a special kind of space where people meet (to live, work, go shopping etc.). As part of the industrial revolution cities became centres of innovation and progress but also for social and spatial inequality as well as places where ethical and racial differences clash. The specific density of heterogeneous inhabitants and spaces make the urban structure an interesting field of research for social scientists. Over time many sociologists (e.g. Henri Lefebvre or fellows of the Chicago School) worked on exploring the structures of cities by using a wide range of data such as historical documents, interviews, maps, statistical data and observations. The session aims to discuss the empirical methods to research cities. Potential topics should therefore address one or more of the following questions: - Which are appropriate methods to analyse cities? - Which data are suitable for which kind of research questions and how can they be collected? How valid are results drawn from the different kind of data? - When and why is it useful to use a mixed-method or multi-method approach? And which data collection and analysing methods fit best? What are the challenges which researcher are faced with then? Papers debating general methodological questions and papers discussing specific problems using a concrete data type in a specific research project are both equally welcome.

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Track: Special populations

Gathering Statistical Data About the Homeless: Recent Perspectives and Innovations

Since the 1980s, various strategies have been implemented to gather statistical data about the homeless, and among them about the unsheltered homeless (or rough sleepers):

- point-in-time enumerations (in places not meant for habitation for the unsheltered homeless, in accommodation services for the others);

- surveys of the homeless users of services, such as accommodation services, soup kitchens etc.

These surveys are cases of Time-Location surveys, and the data should be weighted to take into account the differences in the sampling probability according to the intensity of service use (for example with Lavallée’s weight sharing method); - use of homeless services data. Some old challenges are still of importance: definitions, coverage of the unsheltered homeless, contact with the NGOs, the homeless, the service providers. Some are new or of increasing significance: ways to survey homeless migrants who do not speak the language of their country of arrival, ethical issues and issues of anonymity in using providers’ files, etc. The session will focus on new ways to meet these challenges, among which the use of qualitative investigations to improve the quality of statistical data gathering. The session is aimed at all people in charge of gathering statistical data about the homeless.

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Indigenous Research Methodologies in the Modern Age

Session Convenor: Donna Mertens, Gallaudet University

The main themes of the session include: Recovering, valuing and internationalizing of postcolonial indigenous epistemologies, methodologies, and methods. Exploration and critique of the dominant paradigms, using arguments based on the philosophies of the researched, as well as their ways of knowing and their experiences with colonization, imperialism, and globalization. Presentation of postcolonial indigenous research paradigms as frameworks to explore the philosophical assumptions that undergird the use of postcolonial indigenous methodologies. Theorizing postcolonial indigenous ways of doing research, exploring the application of these methodologies through examples of such research. Examining the implications of interconnectedness and relational epistemologies as frameworks within which to discuss postcolonial indigenous methodologies from across the globe. Critically examing power dynamics within the context of research in postcolonial and indigenous communities. Audience: Transnational and international researchers who work in indigenous communities, either as outsiders or insiders to the community. Also researchers who work in communities that are marginalized on the basis of other dimensions of diversity, such as those in poverty, the disabled community, and women. Faculty, students, and researchers in postcolonial studies and cultural studies programs, indigenous education programs, community-based research, and international development will be invited as well.

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Track: Stakeholder issues

Exploring Collaboration and Partnerships in Social Research

Session Convenor: Carole Truman, University of Bolton

Social Research often involves the need for academic researchers to work in collaboration with other partners. These collaborations are often central to the success of the research and yet, it is an area which we know very little about. The types of research collaboration can take various forms and might include: a) working with gatekeepers b) working with academics from other discipline areas c) working with non-academics d) working in research teams e) working across different institutions (including international collaboration) e) etc. The purpose of this session is to invite social researchers to provide accounts and insights of their experiences of collaborating with others to do research. Papers on any aspect of collaboration are welcome, but potential contributors might wish to consider any of the following issues: a) What types of collaboration might take place in research and why has collaboration occurred (e.g. is it a requirement set down by funders fo research)? b) What are the ingredients for successful collaborations? c) How are collaborative arrangements put into place and managed (both formal and informal arrangements)? d) What happens when things do wrong? e) etc.

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Institutional Demands, Public Expectations and the Research Process

Session Convenor: Steven McEachern, Australian Data Archive

In the social social sciences, researchers need to manage the expectations of a wide range of stakeholders. University requirements for the administrative aspects of research procedures and performance monitoring take up time while, externally, expectations about the outcomes of publicly-funded research are increasingly complex. This has important implications for research methodology. The session invites papers that examine changes in research practice, both desirable and undesirable, in response to institutional demands and public expectations.

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Participatory Action Research in Applied Commercial Partnerships in Inter-cultural and Multi-lingual Research Settings

The session will examine methodological reframing of Participatory Action Research in applied commercial partnerships in inter-cultural and multi-lingual research settings. Significant ethical, ontological and methodological questions arise from social science research undertaken with and for variety of stakeholders living in remote or socially isolated situations. Tensions exist between the needs of stakeholders living and working in these communities and the requirements of the commissioning client. Addressing the tensions is central to the development of methodology that reflects ethical human research and meets specific protocols reflecting the ownership, management and use of individual and community knowledge in commercial research. The ensuing methodological weaves may not be fully appreciated or maximised through the client / researcher relationship. Significant ethical, ontological and methodological questions arise from social science research undertaken within a community context: How is the ‘community’ represented in the application of research and how are they empowered through the research process and results? Whose ontology does the research assume? How can designing methodology in a participatory setting maximise the application of information created by insider researchers?

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Track: Studying choice

Studying Food Choices

Session Convenor: Robyn Polisano, Food Standards Agency
Session Convenor: Trevor Webb, Food Standards Australia New Zealand

The social sciences play a fundamental role underpinning the development of public policy and regulatory decisions in areas of food safety, food labelling, food technology and nutrition. The Studying Food Choices session will provide an opportunity for social scientists from across the disciplines to come together and discuss issues central to the methodological approaches and techniques used to understand human responses to food. The potential topics are wide and varied and could include: • Research for regulation making • Qualitative issues in studying food choices • Assessing the quality of social research about diet/food choices • Collecting data about food behaviours • Measuring the actual use of food labels • Integrating social sciences information and economic information • Economic approach to studying food choices • Studying complex systems e.g. obesity • Measuring commitment to diet change, sustained eating patterns The session would be of interest to applied researchers and policy-makers in fields of food safety, food labelling and nutrition, and more generally those who seek to apply social science methodologies to issues of public policy.

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Track: Survey sampling

New Techniques in Survey Sampling

Session Convenor: Siegfried Gabler, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences
Session Convenor: Seppo Laaksonen, University of Helsinki

Quantitative survey research requires micro data. There exists a fairly general acceptance that sampling should be probability based. The available sampling frame may be inadequate and nonresponse may be high and selective. These nuisances are becoming more common for many reasons. An important reason is the survey mode that is more often telephone or web since these are cheaper and more comfortable. However, the frames for such surveys are more restricted than in the case of face-to-face interviewing. Moreover, mixed modes have been tried increasingly, and a question is how the sampling should be arranged in a best way? On the other hand, nonresponse has been generally increasing over recent decades. Moreover, multinational surveys have been becoming more common, and the success in sampling and data collection will have a crucial role in order to get comparable estimates. Also, longitudinal approaches are often desired to follow individuals over time. Exciting challenges can also be met in sampling and analysing hard-to-reach populations. The session invites researchers who share these challenges and who have new experiences in these areas. Both multinational and national sampling issues are welcome.

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Track: Teaching research methods

Best Practices in Teaching Qualitative Research

Session Convenor: Barbara Kawulich, University of West Georgia
Session Convenor: Claire Wagner, University of Pretoria

Over the last fifty years, qualitative research methodologies have expanded across social science disciplines to include a variety of approaches and methods. This session includes papers that address best practices, focusing on teaching and doing qualitative research, both face-to-face and online. Papers will centre on the teaching of qualitative research methods (QRM), illustrating best practices of this developing pedagogical culture, including the role that technology plays in teaching QRM. The session is suitable for both veteran and novice qualitative researchers and aims to bring together those who teach the craft to extend the dialog on the state of the art of teaching qualitative research methods.

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The Use of Secondary Data for Teaching Research Methods

Session Convenor: Peter Davis, COMPASS Research Centre, The University of Auckland

There is growing concern in a number of countries that social science graduates lack basic data analytic skills and experience, particularly in the area of survey or count data. One approach has been to give students a more realistic experience by giving them real data that they can analyse, under supervision. The purpose of this session would be to encourage practitioners to share experiences in the use of secondary data to help students learn basic data analytic skills, particularly in "quantitative" social science (particularly sociology). This session would be aimed mainly at those with an interest in the teaching of research methods using hands-on experiences in analysing secondary data.

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Track: Telephone surveys

Coverage and Nonresponse Issues in Dual Frame RDD Telephone Surveys

Session Convenor: Paul Lavrakas, Independent

Telephone survey methods have changed greatly since 2000, due to the rapid adoption of mobile phones in many countries. Thus, sociologists and other researchers have been conducting studies to determine how best to sample and to combine respondents from both the RDD landline and mobile telephone frames in their respective countries. The proposed session will contain papers addressing: (a) sampling of respondents who are in both telephone frames, (b) weighting and combining data gathered from both frames to best represent the population of interest, (c) challenges associated with sampling one eligible respondent within each household reached, (d) how to counter the nonresponse associated with respondents in each frame, and (e) how to weight each frame to adjust for nonresponse. Similarities and differences between the Australian and the American experiences will be discussed in the session.This paper session will interest survey researchers, including methodologists and statisticians.

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Using Mobile Phones in Survey Data Collection

Mobile phone coverage rates have tremendously increased over the course of the past ten years in most developed countries. At the same time, landline coverage rates have decreased since many citizens have abandoned their landline telephone. In addition, many landline subscribers no longer use their landline telephone for voice communication. Accordingly, traditional landline telephone surveys have considerably suffered in terms of coverage and non-response. Recently, cell phone surveys – either as part of a dual frame survey or as a stand-alone survey – have been developed in order to overcome data quality losses in telephone surveys. The methodological implications of conducting surveys using mobile phones have received considerable attention in survey methodology. However, the existing literature is far from conclusive with respect to many facets of data quality. Accordingly, the proposed session aims at bringing together scholars from around the globe who focus on coverage and sampling issues as well as papers that assess non-response and measurement error in mobile phone surveys. Based on the expected international contributions to this session, we aim at a comprehensive view on data quality in cell phone surveys in various social and cultural settings. The presentation will be attended by survey methodologists and survey practitioners.

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Track: Time Use

Developments in Time Diary Collection, Archiving and Analysis

Session Convenor: Kimberly Fisher, Centre for Time Use Research, University of Oxford

This session will explore developments int he collection, processing, harmonisation, archiving and analysis of time-use diaries and other techniques for measuring patterns of daily activities. Time is the one resource most equally distributed across populations. Modelling behaviour choices reveal the levels of healthy/unhealthy lifestyles, the balance of paid and unpaid work by gender and social stratification, the total size of economies (including non-market sectors, exposure risks, and other policy relevant applications. The narrative quality of diary accounts make this data particularly flexible and suited to a wide range of applications. This session covers methodological developments in the field, including adaptations of diary instruments to sample special populations, use of new technologies in data collection, collection analysis of context fields not presently widely used in diary research, innovations in the storage and reuse of data, and advances in diary analysis.

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Track: ORG

Studying Organizations

Session Convenor: Nicola McNeil, La Trobe University, Melbourne
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Track: Survqual

Improving Survey Quality: General

Session Convenor: Luigi Fabbris, University of Padua
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Track: datanal

Data Analysis Issues

Session Convenor: John Maindonald, Australian National University
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Track: newtech

New technology and social research

Session Convenor: Betsy Blunsdon, Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research Inc.
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RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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