CAHSS Digital Scholarship's Digital Day of Ideas 2018

Event Information



Business School

The University of Edinburgh

29 Buccleuch Place



United Kingdom

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Event description


The University of Edinburgh CAHSS's Digital Scholarship team aims to support access to digital research methodologies. Our annual symposium on the interaction between digital technologies and the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is an interdisciplinary thinking space for staff and students to consider and explore digital methods and research outcomes.

In the morning, keynote lectures from Professor Susan Halford (Director of Web Science Institute, University of Southampton), and Dr Tod Van Gunten (Lecturer in Economic Sociology, University of Edinburgh), will explore the use of Big Data in Social Science, and its values and limitations.

After lunch there will be the opportunity to explore digital methods in one of eight practical workshops in text and sentiment analysis, interactive data exploration and analysis, relational databses, Wikipedia editing, working with Facebook data and digital manufacture. The final session of the day will be a Round Table discussion on the future of IT in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

To make your booking, click the "Register" button at the top of the page and choose the workshop session you wish to attend. Workshop descriptors are given below. Each ticket will give you entry to the keynotes in the morning as well as your choice of workshop. Alternatively, you can select a morning only ticket. *Please only select one ticket as you may only attend one workshop.*

Keynote speakers:

Susan Halford, Professor of Sociology & Director of Web Science Institute, University of Southampton

Susan is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton. She has long standing research interests in the sociology of everyday work and organizational change and – more recently – she has developed a stream of research on the politics of digital data and artefacts. Her most recent research focuses on semantic linked data, digital methods for social media research and ethical practice with new forms of digital data. In 2014 her article on the semantic web (with Catherine Pope and Mark Weal) was awarded the British Sociological Association/SAGE prize for innovation and excellence in the journal Sociology. Susan is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has recently become President of the British Sociological Association.

Tod van Gunten, Lecturer in Economic Sociology, University of Edinburgh

Tod is a comparative economic and political sociologist with interests in social networks, development, organizations, globalization, the sociology of knowledge and professions, and sociological theory. His empirical research centers on elite political networks and the economic sociology of financial institutions, particularly in Latin America.


9.00 Registration and coffee

9.30 Welcome & Introduction

Melissa Terras, Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage, University of Edinburgh

9.50 Symphonic Social Science and the Future of Big Data Analytics

Susan J Halford, Professor of Sociology & Director of Web Science Institute,University of Southampton

Recent years have seen ongoing battles between proponents of big data analytics, using new forms of digital data to make computational and statistical claims about the social world, and many social scientists who remain sceptical about the value of big data, its associated methods and claims to knowledge. This talk suggest that we must move beyond this, and offers some possible ways forward. The first part of the talk takes inspiration from a mode of argumentation identified as ‘symphonic social science’ which, it is suggested, offers a potential way forward. The second part of talk considers how we might put this into practice, with a particular emphasis on visualisation and the role that this could play in overcoming disciplinary hierarchies and enabling in-depth interdisciplinary collaboration.

10.50 Coffee break

11.10 The Economics Agora Online: Open surveys and the Politics of Expertise

Tod van Gunten, Lecturer in Economic Sociology, University of Edinburgh

In recent years, research centres in both the United States and United Kingdom have conducted open online surveys of professional economists in order to inform the public about expert opinion. Media attention to a US-based survey has centred on early research claiming to show a broad policy consensus among professional economists. However, my own research shows that there is a clear alignment of political ideology in this survey. My talk will discuss the value and limitations of these online surveys as tools for informing the public about expert opinion.

12.10 Lunch

1.00 Workshops: Parallel workshop sessions.

Please see descriptors below and book into workshops by registering and selecting the relevant ticket.

3.00 Coffee break

3.30 Round Table Discussion

  • Melissa Terras, Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage
  • Kirsty Lingstadt, Head of Digital Library and Depute Director of Library and University Collections
  • Ewan McAndrew, Wikimedian in Residence
  • Tim Squirell, PhD Student, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies

4.15 Reception

5.00 Close


Text Analysis for the Tech Beginner - Suzanne Black (LLC, UoE)

Computational methods of text analysis can allow researchers to survey a larger number of texts and spot patterns from a distance but often require a steep learning curve and bespoke software. In this workshop we will look at how to apply some corpus linguistics methods to literary texts using familiar softwares and free softwares that are easy to navigate. Using a digital literary text, each participant will work through counting the frequency of its words, determining which words are statistically significant and creating visualisations of the text. These methods can be used to augment analyses and intuitions gleaned from the close reading of texts. Bring your own laptop to take part in this beginner level workshop.

An Introduction to Digital Manufacture - Mike Boyd (uCreate Studio Manager, UoE)

This session will provide a hands on introduction to various digital manufacture technologies that can be used within the University of Edinburgh’s makerspace: uCreate Studio. Over the session we’ll provide some information, advice and hands on experience with laser scanning, 3D printing, CNC milling, and virtual reality sculpting.

‘I have the best words’: Twitter, Trump and Text Analysis - Dave Elsmore (EDINA)

This workshop will introduce some simple Python programming methods to create a dataset of Donald Trump’s tweets and perform some basic text analysis. Participants will learn how to extract the most common terms and word pairs, and perform a sentiment analysis of the tweet text. Using some freely available tools participants will discover how to produce effective visualizations of the results. These techniques will be useable beyond the immediate subject and will be applicable to a wider range of texts and data. Beginner level workshop.

Wikipedia and Wikidata: the sum of all knowledge - Ewan McAndrew (Wikimedian in Residence, UoE)

Wikipedia is the 5th most visited website in the world and the largest reference work on the internet.
This practical session will help provide a more informed approach to navigating how to use, contribute to, and evaluate, the free and open encyclopaedia.
Wikidata, the database that anyone can edit, serves as the semantic backbone for structured data in Wikipedia and its sister projects.
This session will include a look at how data can be added to Wikidata and how it can be consumed, queried and visualised; whether it’s Voltaire’s works, the collections of the National Library of Wales, the Atlas of Hillforts project, an analysis of MPs’ occupations or the 3 million linked citations visualised using the new Scholia tool.

An Introduction to Databases, with Maria DB & Navicat - Bridget Moynihan (LLC, UoE)

Relational databases are used for managing, and structuring data so as to maximise analytical possibilities. This workshop will demonstrate how to use MariaDB, a free, open-source database server, and Navicat, a graphical user interface through which MariaDB can be administered. (Navicat is not open-source, but participants can make use of its free trial period in order to complete the workshop.)

Introduction to Data Visualisation in Processing - Jules Rawlinson (ESALA, ECA, UoE)

This workshop will introduce some basic programming concepts regarding object-oriented data visualisation in processing. While tools like Gephi can create compelling and rich visualisations, Processing can be used to create full screen visualisations as part of a larger set of interactions suitable for installations and exhibitions. The scope of the workshop focuses on reading and displaying structured CSV data. This is a beginner level workshop.

Jupyter Notebooks and The University of Edinburgh Noteable service - Overview and Introduction - James Reid (EDINA)

Jupyter Notebooks provide a language agnostic means to execute live code and intermingle this with rich annotations and multimedia content. They are ideal for interactive data exploration and analysis. This session will provide an overview of Notebooks and introduce attendees to the University’s supported Notebooks service. This is intended as an introductory overview and assumes no prior programming knowledge although some experience in either Python or R languages would be helpful. This workshop is beginner / intermediate level.

Obtaining and working with Facebook Data - Simon Yuill (Goldsmiths)

The workshop will provide an introduction to the different kinds of data available on Facebook and how to access them. Participants will gain an understanding of how to define and approach researching the Facebook platform through a comparison of 3 approaches: using Facebook's own developer tools, using an off-the-shelf research tool, and using a developer library to program your own.This workshop is beginner / intermediate level.

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Business School

The University of Edinburgh

29 Buccleuch Place



United Kingdom

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