A new Digital Methods Summer School was successfully launched by the Faculty of Media & Communication (FMC) in July, providing PhD researchers with one week of intensive teaching in digital methods.
FMC designed sessions for anyone planning or currently undertaking a PhD across humanities and social science. Postgraduate researchers from universities across the country including Leeds, Roehampton, East Anglia, and Strathclyde, joined BU students from a range of research backgrounds.
Professor Scott Wright, who ran the course, said: “The Summer School gathered PhD researchers from across the UK, working alongside our own, for an intensive week that has opened up new opportunities for research and collaboration.”
The summer school arose from a specific need for advanced digital methods training for PhD researchers. Sessions covered research ethics, building industrial collaborations and the collection of website and social media data. This is beneficial for students as it provides them with the theoretical knowledge and background understanding of data research which will support their future learning e.g., in the development of their PhD proposals.
Anna Marsh, a midwife currently undertaking a pre-doctoral clinical academic fellowship, commented: "This course is incredibly accessible to people who aren't from a media or communications background, so I really would recommend this to anyone interested in using methods within their research!"
BU has a focus on ethical reporting and digital responsibility, challenging misinformation, disinformation, and marginalisation. Professor Scott Wright said: “Whether it be accusations of 'fake news’ or science disinformation about Covid-19, the ability to study and hold platforms to account is crucial to social and democratic life. However, with Elon Musk turning off the Twitter Application Programming Interface (API) and attempting to limit post reads per day to clamp down on data scraping (the practice of gathering data online), access to data is increasingly scarce and problematic. Our PhD Summer School in Digital Methods addressed these challenges head-on, training students in innovative methods to collect digital data and a variety of methods for analysing what is actually happening."
A highlight for the researchers who took part was the opportunity to meet other students with similar interests and to find out more about their research topics. Danilo Reuben-Matamoros, PhD researcher at the University of Leeds, said: “What I loved the most was being surrounded by people with similar interests and discussing our research because the PhD experience can be isolating. We need more workshops and courses like this to generate a more interpersonal research culture. The tools covered can be very useful depending on the subject matter. I loved it, and I would really like to come back next year.”
If you are interested in finding out more about the Digital Methods Summer School please email Professor Scott Wright.