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Innovations in Social Research - Research Theme

The School is committed to methodological innovation and enhancing research practice. We have a range of methodological expertise within the School, and a strong track record of contributing to methodological debate, research capacity building and the development of research methods. The School is engaged in training and capacity building activities at local, national and international levels, and has a commitment to engaging policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders in research development, practice and communication.

Innovative methodological work within the School includes: pioneering work in ethnographic approaches and practices; the development of participatory and deliberative forms of inquiry; longitudinal qualitative research; integrating multimodal data and analyses, the design and analysis of randomised controlled trials; policy evaluation of complex interventions; comparative case studies; health impact studies; the development of visual methods; complex qualitative data archiving; digital and hypermedia applications for qualitative research; and  the development of mixed methods.

The School has attracted substantial funding for methodological and research capacity building work. Sources have included the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Welsh Assembly Government, UK government departments and charitable organisations.

The establishment of the Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD), consolidates the School’s commitment to methodological development and research capacity building. Funded by ESRC and HEFCW, as a partnership across 5 schools in Cardiff, and across five HEIs in Wales, WISERD is engaged in quantitative, qualitative and mixed method development, and also has an extensive research capacity building remit for the social sciences in Wales. It is also a partner of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods.

WISERD builds upon the work of Qualitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences: Innovation, Integration and Impact (QUALITI), which was  part of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods 2005-8, and continues to reflect Cardiff’s strengths in the area of qualitative research methods and methodologies. , Qualiti conducted methodologically-driven projects that explore issues such as multi-modality (building on previous ESRC-funded projects on hyper-media, digital technologies and data archiving), participatory methods and the role of qualitative methods in policy formation. The School also hs a lead role in International collaboration in this area, administering EUROQUAL, the Qualitative Research in Social Sciences in Europe programme. Funded by the European Science Foundation, this is a network of 14 member states devoted to promoting innovations and new technologies in qualitative research across Europe.T

The School also has considerable expertise in quantitative research design and analysis, particularly in the design and conduct of randomised controlled trials for the evaluation of interventions and policy innovations. In 2006, the Cardiff School of Social Sciences led an ESRC-funded scoping study into the ways in which quantitative methods are employed in economic and social research in Wales. The study identified key areas for future training, and provided the basis for the ESRC’s strategy for capacity building of quantitative research skills in Wales. This strategy is taken forward under the auspices of WISERD, which has a commitment to strengthening the use of and capacity for quantitative and mixed methods research

The School plays a significant role in the provision of high quality and innovative methodological training and research-capacity building. Alongside WISERD  the School hosts a number of other externally-funded initiatives established to enhance the research capacity of a range of social science communities of practice. The Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) is one of five new UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence.  The overall aim of DECIPHer is to conduct research that will lead to measurable improvements in the health of individuals and the public, with a particular emphasis on children and young people. The School hosts the Welsh Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (funded by the Welsh Assembly Government). The School has also been successful in securing funding from the ESRC Researcher Development Initiative. The School is designated as one of ten ESRC Regional Training Centres, providing modern ICT and research training facilities. These Training Centres are located across the UK and have been established to provide UK-wide coverage of ESRC training and development activities. The School also hosted the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme’s Research Capacity Building Network (RCBN) between 2001 and 2005, aimed at enhancing the research expertise of the UK education research community.

The experience and expertise accrued through sustained methodological investment has placed the Cardiff School of Social Sciences at the forefront of developments in the organisation, approaches and delivery of research-capacity building for new and practicing social science researchers in the higher education sector. This work is enhanced and underpinned by international research expertise within the School of Social Sciences.  

Members of staff working in the area of Innovations in Social Research:

Postgraduate researchers working in the area Innovations in Social Research