Tuesday, 21 October 2014

It started with a tweet...


Kandy Woodfield is the Learning and Enterprise Director at NatCen Social Research, and the co-founder of the NSMNSS network. You can reach Kandy on Twitter @jess1ecat.

It started with a tweet, a blog post and a nervous laugh. Three months later I found  myself looking at a book of blogs. How did that happen?! Being involved in the NSMNSS network since its beginning has been an ongoing delight for me. It's full of researchers who aren't afraid to push the boundaries, question established thinking and break down a few silos. When I began my social research career, mobile phones were suitcase-sized and collecting your data meant lugging a tape recorder and tapes around with you. That world is gone, the smartphone most of us carry in our pockets now replaces most of the researcher's kitbag, and one single device is our street atlas, translator, digital recorder, video camera and so much more. Our research world today is a different place from 20 years ago, social media are common and we don't bat an eyelid at running a virtual focus group or online survey. We navigate and manage our social relationships using a plethora of tools, apps and platforms and the worlds we inhabit physically no longer limit our ability to make connections.

Social research as a craft, a profession, is all about making sense of the worlds and networks we and others live in, how strange would it be then if the methods and tools we use to navigate these new social worlds were not also changing and flexing.  Our network set out to give researchers a space to reflect on how social media and new forms of data were challenging conventional research practice and how we engage with research participants and audiences. If we had found little to discuss and little change it would have been worrying, I am relieved to report the opposite, researchers have been eager to share their experiences, dissect their success at using new methods and explore knotty questions about robustness, ethics and methods.

Our forthcoming  book of blogs is our members take on what that changing methodological world feels like to them, it's about where the boundaries are blurring between disciplines and methods, roles and realities. It is not a peer reviewed collection and it's not meant to be used as a text book, what we hope it offers is a series of challenging, interesting, topical perspectives on how social research is adapting, or not, in the face of huge technological and social change.

We are holding a launch event on Wednesday 29th October at NatCen Social Research if you would like more details please contact us.

I want to thank every single author from the established bloggers to the new writers who have shared their thoughts with us in this volume. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I have enjoyed curating it. Remember you can follow the network and join in the discussion @NSMNSS, #NSMNSS or at our http://nsmnss.blogspot.co.uk/


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