Research at the Year End, 2017

On June 1, the SSRC held its first Research Round Up, to commemorate the end of the academic year.  DePaul faculty members who have worked with SSRC staff or resources over the course of the year were invited to present on their work.

The event was held in Arts and Letters and was well-attended by members of the DePaul community.  After SSRC Director Greg Scott introduced each of the presenters, CDM Faculty member Robin Burke gave an update of the Reading Chicago Reading project- an interdisciplinary venture he has been working on during the last year with DePaul English faculty member John Shanahan.   Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Burke and Shanahan started with a well-defined question and problem: Is it possible to predict popularity of One Book, One Chicago selections using library and demographic data?  As the project has advanced, their connections and relationships to other scholars in the DePaul community have allowed them to broaden their interests and start pushing the boundaries of what is possible.  Currently, they are working on text analysis of One Book books, but also text analysis of reviews of those books.

Shailja Sharma from International Studies talked about her experience breathing life into a new research area and project.  She talked about the lengths that she went to, cobbling together small grants, and relying on Skype interviews to move her recent book project, Postcolonial Minorities in Britain and France: In the Hyphen of the Nation-State forward, little by little.

Next, Writing, Reading and Discourse faculty member Sarah Read discussed strategies for keeping two separate research agendas going.  In her presentation, she showed a table that included a work plan and how she moved each project along, little by little.  For Sarah, wanting to maintain two separate research agendas meant that she had work on them simultaneously- not one at a time.  In her talk, she discussed the importance of making sure that all of her scholarly activity fit squarely within those agendas.   She also discussed the importance of having a group at DePaul that kept her accountable and productive.  She said that this kept her research on her desk every week, so that when there were breaks in teaching, she was able to spend less time reorienting herself with her research and materials, and more time writing.

Finally, Political Science Assistant Professor Ben Epstein reported on his experiences turning his PhD into a book proposal and how he survived the revision and re-submission process before signing the book contract.  One of the biggest issues he grappled with during the revision process was staying true to the spirit of the original work, and not letting suggestions from others change the book.  For him, revising came down to three things: 1.  Make it better, not different.  2.  Agree with a suggestion or defend why you can’t.  3.  Don’t underestimate the energy and time it takes to write the response to the editors and reviewers.  He stressed the importance of finding tools that work.  For some people, they work better in an analogue environment, writing their to-do list down others do better with an app that helps them manage their process.  He also strongly recommends the book, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser.

The event closed with a Q&A with the presenters.  In all, it was a great event, with many agreeing that there should be another event in 2018.

Author: Jessica Bishop-Royse

JBR is into scholarship, research, statistics, methods, and doing fun stuff outside of work.

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