Northwestern Workshop

February 10, 2023 at 3-4:30 (Central)

In-Person @ Northwestern 

Emma Brandt : "Emotion, Politics, and Critique: Media Literacy Training in Serbia"

Sino Esthappan : "Displacing discretion with data: Mediation and remediation in the penal use of criminal court risk metrics"

email Devin Wiggs or Noor Anwar Ali for details

February 17, 2023 at 12-2 (Central)

In-Person @ Northwestern 

Dissertation Ideas Lunch

email Devin Wiggs or Noor Anwar Ali for details

We hold an in-person workshop at Northwestern University focused on providing feedback for students at early stages of their project.

1) Projects should be early stage, and workshops should be brainstorming sessions. The idea is to think with the author to help them craft a developing piece of scholarship. The idea is not, as with most other presentation venues, to defend a piece of research that has already been completed.  If a research design is fatally flawed, it’s much better to be told that at the beginning of the project rather than at the end.

2) 10% Presentation, 90% Discussion. Presenters write only four single spaced pages.  We think concision forces clarity, and makes attendees more likely to read carefully. A great workshop looks like an open group discussion: where attendees do most of the talking and the presenter does most of the listening. 

To begin discussion, the presenter should introduce their project by answering these two questions: 

1) “What is the problem you are trying to solve?” 

2) “What is non-negotiable for you?”  

This latter question helps focus the conversation—if, for example, using an ethnographic method is non-negotiable for the presenter, attendees shouldn’t waste time hashing out all the problems with ethnographic methods. (Question courtesy of Erik Schneiderhan, one of the NSF facilitators).

Beyond that, we think the presenter should say as little as possible.  Attendees can consider the following points as they think through the project: 

The Problem: Does this project help solve the problem?  Are there ways it could be revised to better help solve the problem? Are there interesting initiatives for this problem, such as activist organizations, that the presenter should know about?  Are there recent articles in the media about the problem that seem relevant?

Sociological Theory: Does this seem publishable in peer-reviewed sociology journals?  Could it be revised in ways that would make it more likely to get published?  Is there scholarship the presenter needs to read or scholars the presenter could get in touch with?  How might the presenter reframe the problem as “a case” of something?

If you are the presenter and you don’t know what to write in your memo, here are some prompts (Courtesy of Josh Basseches):