Category Archives: Research methods

Research

Oxford Internet Institute: developing a methodology for costing the impact of digital exclusion.

Recent work by OII has shown that technological forms of exclusion are a reality for significant segments of the population, that different groups experience different types of exclusion, and that for some people they reinforce and deepen existing disadvantages, such as social and economic exclusion.
We were asked by the National Audit Office to develop a methodology for working out the benefits foregone to citizens, government and the economy through digital exclusion – and the costs of overcoming them. This methodology is presented here.

Online consultation

How to Classify a Million Galaxies in Three Weeks

Among the most ambitious and successful online “citizen science” projects to date, Galaxy Zoo asks its participants to help classify galaxies by studying images of them online and answering a standard set of questions about their features. For instance: Is the galaxy smooth or bulging? Is it elliptical or spiral? If it’s spiral, how many arms does it have, and are they tightly wound or thrown open wide?

Time magazine

Network Theory conference
Latour, Benkler, Castells, Hall, @karineb, @noshir, monge
International Seminar On Network Theory: Network Multidimensionality In The Digital Age
Nigel Shadbolt presentation: Pragmatic Semantic Web
@USCAnnenberg videos and papers

Sustainable Economics for a Digital Planet: Ensuring access to digital information
http://brtf.sdsc.edu/


Research

Oxford Internet Institute: developing a methodology for costing the impact of digital exclusion.

Recent work by OII has shown that technological forms of exclusion are a reality for significant segments of the population, that different groups experience different types of exclusion, and that for some people they reinforce and deepen existing disadvantages, such as social and economic exclusion.
We were asked by the National Audit Office to develop a methodology for working out the benefits foregone to citizens, government and the economy through digital exclusion – and the costs of overcoming them. This methodology is presented here.

Online consultation

How to Classify a Million Galaxies in Three Weeks

Among the most ambitious and successful online “citizen science” projects to date, Galaxy Zoo asks its participants to help classify galaxies by studying images of them online and answering a standard set of questions about their features. For instance: Is the galaxy smooth or bulging? Is it elliptical or spiral? If it’s spiral, how many arms does it have, and are they tightly wound or thrown open wide?

Time magazine

Network Theory conference
Latour, Benkler, Castells, Hall, @karineb, @noshir, monge
International Seminar On Network Theory: Network Multidimensionality In The Digital Age
Nigel Shadbolt presentation: Pragmatic Semantic Web
@USCAnnenberg videos and papers

Sustainable Economics for a Digital Planet: Ensuring access to digital information
http://brtf.sdsc.edu/


Facebook, cancer, miracle cure

Update on the social-networking-causes-health-risks story. Previous post here

Ben Goldacre and Dr Aric Sigman on BBC Newsnight discuss Sigman’s paper with Jeremy Paxman. Also featured, the views of Professor Susan Greenfield, source of The Daily Mail story:

Social websites harm children’s brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist

‘Social networking websites are causing alarming changes in the brains of young users, an eminent scientist has warned.’

Lots of fun. Best bit is when Goldacre, having pointed out that Sigman has ignored all research evidence which contradicts his theory, says ‘there are several research papers which contradict your theory and I’m going to post them on Badscience.net’.

Which he did. He also has a link to Sigman’s full paper.

At Badscience.net you can now watch the extract from Newsnight, look up the references and read the comments thread.

Which allows you to be better informed than people who rely only on newspapers and TV.

www.badscience.net

Dore on R4, transcripts available

Face the Facts: The Dore Programme: controversial treatment for
dyslexia has gone bust.’ Broadcast on Friday 15th August.

In which we learned that:

Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology at Oxford University has a colleague who uses the Dore Balsall Common study as a training exercise for undergraduate students. This was also the primary purpose of looking at the Dore research for the course I teach. Then it became a news story.

Kenny Logan, who has frequently endorsed the Dore programme as helping with his dyslexia, is a director of Dore’s parent company – Camden Holdings Limited.

Transcript of the John Waite’s investigation now available from this link. BBC Radio 4

Transcript of You and Yours 19.05.2008 interview with Kenny Logan.

From the archive

“On Friday 23.05.2008 the Dore company, based in Kenilworth Warwickshire, closed it’s UK operation with the loss of 50 jobs and placed the company in the hands of advisors.”

OFCOM report

2008 survey of trends in the UK communication market. All media: online, mobile  and broadcast.

“We are increasingly listening to the radio online. The number of people listening to radio via the internet has increased to 14.5 million by May 2008, up 21 per cent from 12.0 million in November 2007.”

Summary and links to full report

“The Ofcom report shows that online advertising hit £2.8bn last year, up 40%, and eclipsing spending on the traditional terrestrial channels ITV1, Channel 4, S4C and Five for the first time.”

Guardian coverage

People use media 7 hours a day

Ofcom’s director of market research James Thicket discusses the watchdog’s latest report.

Guardian audio interview

Dore on R4

‘Fri 15th August You and Yours, 12.00-1.00pm
12.30: Face the Facts: The Dore Programme: controversial treatment for
dyslexia has gone bust.’

On BBC Radio 4

and listen again for 7 days

via

Brainduck

Given  their previous reporting on Dore, which was just embarrassing for an investigative consumer affairs programme, it’s to be hoped You and Yours ‘fess up, Face the Facts and decently credit the Dore bloggers for reporting this story.

Previous Dore coverage and links on this site grouped under Categories

Making sense of numbers

BBC News Magazine is running a series by Michael Blastland on making sense of numbers: interpreting data, research, media coverage.

Surveys & media coverage

Myth of counting: the economy, growth, recession

Michael Blastland is the author, with Andrew Dilnot, of The Tiger That Isn’t: Seeing Through a World of Numbers Continue reading

Mapping, GIS, disease

“A system of electronic mapping which allows many different types of data to be layered onto a single image is being used to improve healthcare across Rwanda.

The digital maps, called Geographic Information Systems (GIS), are designed to compile information from numerous databases and use it to both track and predict outbreaks of disease.

This can then be used to help developing countries best utilise their limited resources. For example, GIS is used to organise data on clusters of disease and the availability of drinking water.”

BBC technology

See also, data mapping, point maps, John Snow, cholera, London 1854

Wikipedia link

Motivation and reward in learning

Motivation and reward in learning: Yale 1948

Uses white rats to picture trial-and-error problem solving and to demonstrate the importance of motivation and reward in the learning process.
http://www.archive.org/details/Motivati1948

Video, stream or download. Creative Commons licence. Runtime 13:39

Motivati1948_00000016.jpg

Don’t tell me they were cruel to rats, ask why they carried out these experiments.
What theory or belief motivated researchers to subject rats to electric shocks? What did they think they had proved? What conclusions, if any, can be drawn from this experiment concerning:
a. learning in rats
b. learning in humans
c. motivation and reward in psychological research.
Do some searches on BF Skinner and behaviourism. Look out for Chomsky’s critique. Note that most behaviourist practice is concerned with positive reinforcement.

behaviorism |biˈhāvyəˌrizəm| ( Brit. behaviourism)
noun Psychology
the theory that human and animal behavior can be explained in terms of conditioning, without appeal to thoughts or feelings, and that psychological disorders are best treated by altering behavior patterns.
• such study and treatment in practice.

New Oxford American Dictionary

Meta science reporting

Ben Goldacre has a piece on media coverage of health and medical research.

1. Mostly, press coverage is pretty poor.

He cites a US study
“After almost two years and 500 stories, the project has found that journalists usually fail to discuss costs, the quality of the evidence, the existence of alternative options, and the absolute magnitude of potential benefits and harms.” (Schwitzer, 2008 )

2. It affects people’s behaviour. (Kylie Minogue public health effect)

3. It affects scientists. “if a study was covered by The New York Times it was significantly more likely to be cited by other academic papers.”

Read the Bad Science column in The Guardian edition. No links,  no comments  *: the print version to read on screen.

Now, read the same column in Ben’s Bad Science blog. Referenced and linked. Easy to look up the Schwitzer article and other sources he cites. There is also a debate in the comments to his post which manages to remain largely on topic for more than 20 entries and includes some useful sources.

Comments remain largely on topic for more than 20 entries. How often does that happen? In itself, a blogosphere phenomenon worthy of study.

[ * Correction: about 200 comments. My mistake. But lots of them are completely off topic.]

How Do US Journalists Cover Treatments, Tests, Products, and Procedures? An Evaluation of 500 Stories
PLoS Med Gary Schwitzer article

Public Library of Science
PLoS Med