a journal of personal fieldwork experiences and impressions
This summer, in between fieldwork and thesis structuring (crying), I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Digital Media Research Centre’s summer school, at the Queensland University of Technology’s Kelvin Grove campus. The summer school is pitched at PhD and early career researchers interested in studying digital media, or using digital media to study other things, and is an intensive week-long series of lecture-discussion-collaborative workshops, networking and social events, and amazing tutorials that crash course you through a range of established and new digital media research methods. It is friendly and accessible to people grounded in humanities and social sciences who want to better understand and incorporate computer sciences into their work, and vice versa – a really lovely realisation of interdisciplinarity.
Attending the DMRCSS18 was such an incredibly valuable experience, from a professional development standpoint, and also just really enjoyable. It was such a positive, supportive environment and group of people (both the DMRC and my fellow summer school attendees). I feel so thankful to my peers and QUT’s DMRC for the opportunity, and to my home institution as well (University of Adelaide) for providing me with funding assistance with the attendance fees.
Now that I’ve returned to Adelaide and had time to crash, eat my own body weight in potatoes, and reflect, I thought it might be nice to share what, from this week, I as a researcher, PhD student, and plain old person got from this week. And I think it really comes down to two big things for me:
There was such a strong focus at DMRCSS18 on building concrete skills and capabilities, and if you’re in a humss field and interested/looking to get into digital methods or computer science more generally, you know how rare and valuable this is! We got to see examples of new digital research problems and methods, shared by peers and teachers who are experts in their fields. Then, we got to actually talk and work through them hands-on, practicing using the new methods and tools – this included guided tutorials from installation of new software through to sample data collection and analysis, as well as personalised assistance and feedback on the applications of these tools and methods to our own devices, research interests, questions, and fields. I came out of this week much more informed about what is actually out there in terms of available digital media research tools and methods, where the field is kind of currently at in terms of standards and interests, and with many new research tools, methods, programs to apply to my research and – here’s the best part – I actually know how to do it, practically speaking.
2. The people
For someone who studies networks, I don’t much care for networking, but the people at DMRCSS18 were so welcoming and lovely, inclusive, and incredibly generous in sharing their own experiences and knowledge, both in the official scheduled sessions as well as in their personal time. I felt connected to a body of likeminded academic peers, at similar stages to me in their research, for maybe the first time in my (admittedly very early) career. This is a wonderful thing. I feel very thankful for this. I found, and I think we all did, some honest friendships, a network of people to tweet at, email, crash with and visit in their home cities all around the world, and some genuine and generative research connections.
So, if you’re in a similar boat (PhD student or early career researcher interested in studying what people are doing online with new, social, digital media, or how you can use those media and tools based in them to study other things) and thinking about attending next year (early February in Brisbane – Queensland, Australia), I highly recommend applying!
Official DMRC site here including details about the Centre and its work, as well as the summer school program, what was on offer this year, watch this space for how to apply, etc.
DMRC Twitter: @qutdmrc
One thing I really took away from this experience is a reaffirmed commitment to the value of organising, pooling, sharing, and discussing resources – helpful blogs, tutorials, organisations, networks, mailing lists, tools, software, programs, applications, research methods, etc. I want to keep learning more about what’s out there, and compile a good list of my own, for my own reference going forward, and also for anyone else who might find it useful. This is not complete by any means, but here is a little collection, which I might build on and give it’s own section on the site. If you have suggestions to add to the list tweet at me or send them to me in the comments or contact form! These are mostly free and/or open source (though not all, but some of the paid software offers scaled-down free versions, free trials, or free or reduced licenses to students and/or academics):
Research tools to download (for things like web and social media scraping, analysing and visualising data, etc.):
Courses and tutorials (coding, how to use some of the above software, how to do simple social media and network analysis, etc.):
Resource lists that are awesome from other expert organisations and groups in the field:
Personal/professional networks and research experience and ethical reflections/resources (connect with other people doing similar research, learn about their experiences and issues, find some ethical research practice guidelines and discussions, etc.):
Personal and professional/fieldwork security and privacy: