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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Engaging with Digitial Research (PGSP11401)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe course will enable students to understand new emerging models of professional practice in business and policy making developing and deploying digital research methods and results. This will include collecting, curating, exchanging and analyzing of digitally-derived data, the use of research from digital environments, and the way this is leveraged turning this data into tools for active use and behaviour change. This module will equip students with a sufficient understanding appropriate to work in areas of professional practice where increasing use is being made of digital research tools, and where domain experts are expected to work with technical research experts. It will explore the methodological, ethical, legal, and practical issues of digital research, and the roles and interests of the actors shaping the practice and institutions.
This course will address the development of transferable insights in managing cross-institutional and citizen collaboration in digital data collection and analysis. This course is meant to provide students with basic skills and knowledge to (i) work in interdisciplinary digital research teams including different information professionals; (ii) organize open data projects using that both analyse and produce tools ; iii) understand emerging use of digital resources to engage stakeholders in research, and move beyond conventional ¿expert¿ analysis to interactive use of data by stakeholders- (iv) address barriers and enablers to adoption of digital and open models of research, and (v) organize the procurement of services to match the need of their organization.
Course description Week 1 ¿ Digital research as an innovation process
This week introduces students to conceptual tools that can be used to map and understand the evolving ¿digital research¿ field. Digital research practices and tools are emerging in multi-dimensional innovation process involving many different actors. How can we conceptalise the relationship between actors proposing new types of digital research, and those who may use it? The week continues by looking at a case of how data generated in the scientific research has been used to build services that shape the practices and funding of science.
Week 2 ¿ Science metrics and altmetrics
This week builds on the previous week, and uses the example of citation and metrics in research as an example of how a heterogeneous industry such as ¿science¿ attempts to exploit the possibilities of ¿web2.0¿, focusing on case studies of the academic publishers and innovators building ¿altmetrics¿. It illustrates how the emergence of new forms of metric based on online media data struggle to establish themselves in the face of the attitudes and practices of researchers and research funders.

This week looks at the phenomena of ¿open data¿. Making data available for free and open use, instead of being kept proprietary and private. The aim of the week is to understand the rational behind the promotion ¿Open Data¿, identify how Open Knowledge is being promoted in government and industry, and learn how to start an open data project.
Week 4 ¿ Big Data and ¿Data Science¿
Another key buzzword in digital research is Big Data, capturing the explosion in scale and diversity of data available in digital forms, that can be used for both research and operations. This week we will explore what is meant by big data, who is championing it, and where and how it is being used, and look at the role of the ¿data scientist¿ and how they can be integrated into a multi-disciplinary team.
Week 5 ¿ Models, modelling, simulation and serious games
Modelling is as a long history in social science and economics, but with the development of computing power, modelling and simulation are finding their way into mainstream decision making in government and firms, and into to communication with publics around complex issues such as climate change.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment 1 (20%) Multiple response quiz By 9th March
Assessment 2 (30%) Group assessment By 27th March
Assessment 3 (50%) 1.500 words essay By 13th April
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
Knowledge and Understanding:
¿ The students will gain a critical and broad knowledge of how the digital age has created opportunities and challenges for social research that has been conducted in the past and is being developed today.
¿ Students will learn concepts in innovation studies, in particular the qualities and dynamics of ICTs and information systems, and of digital research is embedded in, and is shaped by broad socio-economic forces.
¿ understand the different types and dimensions of ¿digital¿ research, and how they are being shaped by the requirements of users, society and the embedding of ICTs in social and economic life.
¿ understand the conceptual ideas and approach behind ¿open data¿, ¿big data¿ and critically engage with the claims of those promoting and developing these approaches.
¿ Understand key elements of the use of models, simulations and games, both in policy modelling and in stakeholder engagement, including basic epistemological issues.

Applied Knowledge:
¿ Students will understand how to choose relevant research approaches to tackle different research questions, and understand different challenges.
¿ Students will gain knowledge of the state of the art and practice in the digital research, and the limitations and challenges that face those conducting and commissioning digital research.
¿ The students will learn to plan a research project using digital research techniques, focusing on crowdsourcing.
¿ Students will learn to evaluate services offered by research organisations.
¿ Students will know how to initiate a game and simulation based research consultation.

¿ Students will extend their critical skills and thinking through engagement with research texts
¿ Students will develop ability to communicate with their peers through the group assignments and discussions
¿ Students will gain skills in critical evaluation of research methods used to generate digital research.
¿ Students will gain practical Skills to access Digital Research

Autonomy and Working with Others
¿ Students will develop skills in autonomously finding information, and critically engaging with both academic research and with sources from practice.
¿ Students will develop skills of online group work, and, especially how to bring together evidence and examples to develop common frameworks and understanding.
Reading List
Adler, N. J., & Harzing, A.-W. (2009). When Knowledge Wins: Transcending the Sense and Nonsense of Academic Rankings. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 8(1), 72¿95. doi:10.5465/AMLE.2009.37012181

Darby (2014) Make It Local Scotland , 3.04.14 NESTA

Hannay, T. (2009). From Web 2.0 to the Global Database. In Hey, T. Tansley, S. and Tolle, K. (Eds.) The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Research. Microsoft Research, Washington, USA.

Fenner, M. (2013). What can article-level metrics do for you? PLoS Biology, 11(10), e1001687. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001687

Fiore-Silfvast, B & Neff, G (Forthcoming) Communication, Mediation, and the Expectations of Data: Data Valences across Health and Wellness Communities.

Harzing, A.W.; Wal, R. van der (2009) A Google Scholar h-index for journals: An alternative metric to measure journal impact in Economics & Business?, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, vol. 60, no. 1, pp 41-46.

Hargreaves et al (2014) Standardisation in the area of innovation and technological development, notably in the field of Text and Data Mining ¿ Report from the Expert Group, European Commission DG Research and Innovation

Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D., & Graepel, T. (2013). Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1218772110¿. doi:10.1073/pnas.1218772110

Lyall, C., Williams, R., & Meagher, L. (2009). ¿A Short Guide to Developing Interdisciplinary Strategies for Research Groups¿, ISSTI Briefing Note (Number 7) October 2009 (available online at

Morardet, S.¿; Milhau, F.¿; Murgue, C.¿; Ferrand, N.¿; Abrami, G.¿; Popova, A. (2012). Wet-WAG , a role-playing game to support stakeholder dialogue on wetland management. Retrieved from

Neff, G. (2013). Why Big Data Won¿t Cure Us. Big Data, 1(3), 117¿123. doi:10.1089/big.2013.0029

Open Knowledge Foundation (2012) Open Data Handbook Documentation, Open Knowledge Foundation

Priem, J and Hemminger, B M (2010) Scientometrics 2.0: Toward new metrics of scholarly impact on the social Web, First Monday, Volume 15, Number 7, 5

Stewart, J., & Hyysalo, S. (2008). Intermediaries, Users and Social Learning in Technological Innovation. International Journal of Innovation Management, 12(03), 295. doi:10.1142/S1363919608002035

Stewart, James, Rob Procter, Robin Williams and Meik Poschen (2012) ¿The role of academic publishers in shaping the development of Web 2.0 services for scholarly communication¿, New Media and Society, DOI: 10.1177/1461444812465141.

Thelwall, M., Haustein, S., Larivière, V., & Sugimoto, C. R. (2013). Do altmetrics work? Twitter and ten other social web services. PloS One, 8(5), e64841. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064841

MILLER, S. (2014). COLLABORATIVE APPROACHES NEEDED TO CLOSE THE BIG DATA SKILLS GAP. Journal of Organization Design, 3(1), 26¿30. Retrieved from 10.7146/jod.3.1.9823

Morardet, S; Milhau, F; Murgue, C.¿; Ferrand, N.; Abrami, G.¿; Popova, A. (2012). Wet-WAG , a role-playing game to support stakeholder dialogue on wetland management. IRSTEA.

Johannes Breuer, Gary Bente (2010) Why so serious? On the Relation of Serious Games and Learning, Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture. 2010; 4 (1), p. 7-24

Open Knowledge Foundation

Alex Howard ¿Beware openwashing. Question secrecy. Acknowledge ideology.¿

Crooked Timber Open Data Seminar 2012

Recommended Reading in Serious Games and Simulations, Igor Mayer (accessed Spring 2014)

Climate simulations:

Data and Society

International Journal of Communication

Journal of Policy Modeling:

Centre for Policy Modelling

Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr James Stewart
Tel: (0131 6)50 6392
Course secretaryMiss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
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