Social Science Research Methods
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This short report offers a review of some of the literature on reflexive practice in qualitative research teams. In bringing together some of the learnings and resources around team-based reflexivity, this report may offer a useful overview for planning and enacting future team-based research endeavours.
In the UK, claims are often made that public support for animal research is stronger when such use is categorised as for medical purposes. Drawing on a qualitative analysis of writing from the Mass Observation Project, a national writing project documenting everyday life in Britain, this paper suggests that the necessity of using animals for medical research is not a given but understood relationally through interactions with inherent vulnerability. This paper stresses the ubiquity of ambivalence towards uses of animals for medical research, complicating what is meant by claims that such use is ‘acceptable’, and suggests that science-society dialogues on animal research should accommodate different modes of thinking about health. In demonstrating how understandings of health are bound up with ethical obligations to care for both human and non-human others, this paper reinforces the importance of interspecies relations in health and illness and in the socio-ethical dimensions of biomedicine.
Exploring everyday relations with animal research: a sociological analysis of writing from the Mass Observation Project. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
This thesis explores how the topic of laboratory animal research is related to in everyday life in the UK, providing a sociological analysis of practices of knowing, caring, and constructing necessary biomedical uses of animals. In doing so, it develops the few qualitative studies of societal understandings of animal research, aiming to expand analyses in this area beyond measurement of polarised and static notions of acceptance or opposition. Instead, this thesis approaches understandings of animal research as relational and positional, emerging within particular yet shared social worlds which give the issue meaning in the everyday.
Critiquing imaginaries of ‘the public’ in UK dialogue around animal research: Insights from the Mass Observation Project
With an established history of controversy in the UK, the use of animals in science continues to generate significant socio-ethical discussion. Here, the figure of ‘the public’ plays a key role. However, dominant imaginaries of ‘the public’ have significant methodological and ethical problems. Examining these, this paper critiques three ways in which ‘the public’ is currently constructed in relation to animal research; namely as un- or mis-informed; homogenous; and holding fixed and extractable views. In considering an alternative to such imaginaries, we turn to the Mass Observation Project (MOP), a national life-writing project in the UK.
This thesis, written by Tess Skidmore, explores the rehoming of laboratory animals. Drawing on qualitative interviews and a semi-structured questionnaire, the thesis investigates the sociocultural and political importance of the growing attention toward rehoming.
The social aspects of genome editing: publics as stakeholders, populations and participants in animal research
The application of genome editing to animal research connects to a wide variety of policy concerns and public conversations. In this paper, we explore three key roles that publics are playing in the development of genome editing techniques applied to animals in biomedical research: as publics, as populations, and as participants.
The Mass Observation Project is in the care of the University of Sussex and based at The Keep in Brighton. It represents a unique repository of rich textual accounts which span the breadth of ‘everyday life’. These accounts are produced by the MOP’s voluntary correspondents, who are referred to as ‘Mass Observers’, and whose writings are guided by ‘Directives’ which entail a set of questions or prompts on a particular topic.
In Summer 2016, the University of Nottingham commissioned the first Directive on animal research, and analysis has now begun. In June 2019 Renelle McGlacken and Pru Hobson-West co-organised a workshop to critically consider some of the larger conceptual and methodological themes raised by the use of Mass Observation as a research tool, particularly (but not exclusively) when researching animals and interspecies relations.
We are delighted to share our report of the workshop and would welcome any feedback. Please feel free to share the report with your colleagues and wider networks.
This report provides a record of the discussions at a workshop which brought together lay members from across the biomedical research sector to discuss the opportunities and challenges of shaping biomedical research.
In our experience so far, one aspect of working collaboratively is that tacit assumptions about academic working practices need to be made explicit. This report aims to highlight our working assumptions about the topic of publication ethics.
Attuning to laboratory animals and telling stories: Learning animal geography research skills from animal technologists
This paper draws on ethnographic work with laboratory animal technologists to offer insights into the skills required to study human–animal relations and the role played by storytelling in negotiating the contested moral economies of animal research.
Lately, the Nottingham team have been reflecting on reflecting.
Over three days in July 2022, colleagues from the UK and beyond gathered online to discuss the thorny question of veterinary expertise.
How do publics talk about or reflect on animal research? Can animal research be considered part of everyday life? How can researchers use archives to understand engagement with sensitive topics?
On 5th March 2019 I attended a fantastic workshop, organised by the Leverhulme Trust funded Interspecies Connectedness project at the Univers
Working within a multidisciplinary research environment provides every member of the AnNex team with unique opportunities to think outside the boundaries of their own discipline and benefit from exposure to the methods and perspectives of other hu
Our approach to research emphasises cross-project collaborations and transdisciplinary thinking. But what does this mean, in practical terms, for the work that we do and for our participants?