Changing Climates: Crossing Boundaries

Last Friday (28th), CASS had the pleasure to host a cordial meeting in which researchers from CASS and the University of Bergen got together to discuss about their ongoing research on discourses surrounding climate change.

The Norwegian team runs the NTAP project (Networks of Texts and People) which aims to explore the flow of information across online social networks with a view to understanding how knowledge develops and how opinion is shaped. Among other topics, the project examines the dynamics of discussions in the blogosphere around the various issues related to climate change.

Dag Elgesem and Andrew Salway – the principal investigator and scientific co-ordinator of the NTAP project respectively – provided an overview of the main goals of the project, state of affairs, expectations and their next steps. The Technical consultant and programmer for the project, Knut Hofland, talked about the data and the process of collecting it, describing various issues and decisions made along this process. Lubos Steskal, the project’s post-doctoral fellow, presented an interesting graphical representation of bloggers’ interactions which offers the researcher a clear indication about how communities are formed as well as whether and how they interact with each other. Samia Touileb presented a sample of her ongoing PhD project which uses grammar induction techniques to capture typical expressions used in blogs that discuss climate change.

Tony McEnery and Carmen Dayrell represented the CASS centre. Tony McEnery first provided a general broad view of the centre’s activities and staff by briefly mentioning its various projects. He also talked about some techniques commonly used in corpus-based discourse analysis to extract and manipulate the data. As expected, more attention was paid to the Changing Climates project. Having the climate change sociologist John Urry as its principal investigator, the project aims to contrast how climate change is discussed in news printed media in Britain and Brazil. Carmen Dayrell presented the current stage of the project. Her talk revolved around the composition of the corpora used in this study and a preliminary analysis of the data.

This was an excellent opportunity for these researchers to exchange ideas and experiences, expand horizons and learn about other approaches, perspectives, and views. We hope this first meeting will encourage and foster fruitful enhanced collaboration between these research teams.

How to be a PhD student (by someone who just was), Part 1: Preparing for the programme

In December 2013, after three years and two months of work, I submitted my PhD thesis. Last month, I successfully defended it, and made the (typographical) corrections in two nights. I’m a Doctor! It’s still exciting to say.

pottsphdA PhD is certainly not easy — I’ve heard it compared to giving birth, starting and ending a relationship, riding a rollercoaster, making a lonely journey, and more. I relocated across the world from Australia to begin mine, and the start was marked by the sadness of a death in the family. It’s been a whirlwind ever since; throughout the course of my degree, I taught as much as possible, I researched and published outside the scope of my PhD, and in April 2013, I began full-time work in the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science.

The question that I get most often is a question that I found myself asking for years: how? How do you do a PhD? How do you choose a programme and keep from looking back? How do you keep close to the minimum submission date (or at least keep from going beyond the maximum submission date)? How do you balance work and study? I’d like to share a short series (in three installments) about my degree and my lessons learned. There are many resources out there for people doing PhDs, but I wasn’t able to find any that described my experience. I hope that this might help some others who are [metaphorical representation of your choice] a PhD. Before beginning, I’d just like to stress that these resonate with my personal experience (and with those of many of my friends), but won’t align with everyone’s circumstances.

The first installment is five pointers about what to do when applying to a programme.

Continue reading