2017 Year End Research Round Table

The SSRC is wrapping up the academic year with a year end research round table that looks inside the projects and strategies that drove the scholarly investigations four DePaul faculty served by the Social Science Research Center. Assistant professor Ben Epstein (Political Science) will discuss his R&R process in finishing a manuscript for a book on political communication.  Assistant professor Sarah Read (Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse) will talk about how she balances two unrelated research agendas.  Assistant Professor Shailja Sharma (International Studies and Refugee and Forced Migration Studies graduate program director) will discuss how to lay out a step by step research plan.  Finally, CDM Professor Robin Burke (School of Computing) will talk about the new data, tools, and research questions that have come from his current project Reading Chicago Reading.  10388748355_9dfd61280b_o.jpg

The event will take place on Thursday June 1, from 4:30-6:00pm at Arts and Letters #404.  Light refreshments will be served.  Please contact the SSRC at ssrc[AT]depaul.edu for more information.


Map Customizer

This summer I discovered a sweet mapping tool.  For a lot of researchers and writers, it can be tricky to get places plotted on a map.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore Google Maps, but it gets fairly tedious manually adding cities to the map.  Screenshot 2016-08-04 12.00.34

Map Customizer allows you to enter a list of locations manually (by typing) or copying and pasting a list from a text editor or spreadsheet.  It uses Google Maps for mapping.

Screenshot 2016-08-04 12.01.54

Once you’ve created your survey, you can save it and point back to your map’s address.

Screenshot 2016-08-04 12.16.39

I think it is super helpful if you have a lot of addresses, cities, or locations to enter and would really just like to do so with a copy and pasted list.

Write on Site Fridays at Noon

The SSRC is hosting weekly “Write on Site” events during May, June, and July for DePaul Faculty, Students, and Staff.  These writing sessions will take place on Friday afternoons (from 12-2 pm) in the conference room in Suite 3100 of 990 W. Fullerton.  Bring your lunch, bring your computer, and write away from all the distractions of your office.

What does it mean to “write-on-site”? The term originated by Kerry Ann Rockquemore (Sociology and African-American studies at UIC) and pertains to writers congregating to work on their specific projects for two hours at least once a week. Although working on their own projects, writing together provides the accountability of showing up, and cultivates the sense that writers are part of a community.

The first session will take place on Friday May 6, at noon.  For information or details contact Jessi Bishop-Royse at jbishopr AT depaul.edu.

Vehicle Theft in Chicago

Even though vehicle thefts accounted for only 3.9% (10,099) of all crimes in Chicago last year, 62% of the stolen vehicles were recovered with severe damage says the Chicago Police department. Most often the vehicles are stolen by organized rings to be sold on black-markets or shipped overseas, and stripped for parts and resold to various body-shops, or are even resold to unsuspecting customers. In Chicago, 78.9% of the vehicles are stolen from streets, alleys and alongside sidewalks, 8.6% from buildings other than residences, 6.7% from parking lots, 5.5% from residences, and 0.3% from the airports.

The map below shows a hot-spot analysis of the communities that are most and least affected by vehicle theft. The visualization shows statistically significant (statistically significant is the likelihood that a theft is caused by something other than mere random chance) hot-spots in red where a high number of thefts occur and statistically significant cold-spots in blue where few or no thefts occur.

Communities most-prone to vehicle theft (not safe): Uptown (3) in the north, or Austin (25), Avondale (21), Logan Square (22), Hermosa (20), Humboldt Park (23), West Town (24), East/West Garfield Parks (26, 27), Near West Side (28), North Lawndale (29) in the west , or any south central parts of Chicago, namely Chicago Lawn (66), East/West Englewoods (67, 68), Greater Grand Crossing (69), South Shore (43), Auburn Gresham (71) are prone to vehicle thefts.

Communities least-prone to vehicle theft (safe): Edison Park (9), Norwood Park (10), Jefferson Park (11), Forest Glen (12), North Park (13), Dunning (17), Portage Park (15), Lincoln Square (4), North Center (5), Lincoln Park (7) in the north and Bridgeport (60), New City (61), Garfield Ridge (56), Clearing (64), Ashburn (70), West Pullman (53), Morgan Park (75), Beverly (72), Washington Heights (73), East Side (52) and Calumet Heights (48) in the south are least prone to vehicle thefts.
Click through to see the enlarged image.



Techniques Used
The above visualization includes 2 major types of spatial analysis techniques. The vehicle theft locations were geocoded using the addresses and then, Getis-Ord Gi* statistic was used to generate a hot-spot analysis to identify statistically significant clusters.

Implementing visualization techniques in faculty research
The image of the map reflects the different visualization techniques that might be used to effectively convey data or research conclusions to different types of audiences in various disciplines or industries. Visualizations can help identify existing or emerging trends, spot irregularities or obscure patterns, and even address or solve issues.

Ask us how to visualize your research
For help visualizing your own research findings or seeing if your research lends itself to similar techniques including data acquisition and pre-processing of both quantitative and qualitative data, contact Nandhini Gulasingam at mgulasin@depaul.edu.

Master Hoaxing at DePaul


Long before punk’d became a verb with a hip spelling, self-styled professional prankster and provocateur Alan Abel was pulling the legs of the unsuspecting. There was his fictitious Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, a years-long campaign to put animals in pants; golf-course dance lessons to corporate executives in the fine points of ballet positions promised to ratchet up their golf scores; or his school for beggars, a front for spotlighting the conditions of the homeless.

The incorrigible satirist, writer, comedian, lecturer, actor, musician and public interest champion has been tweaking the media and pointing the way to his provocative punch lines for almost 60 years. This week he’s bringing his hoaxing moxie to DePaul for a series of special events sponsored by the SSRC and the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Dean’s Office.

Meet the man at Abel Raises Cain, a documentary by his daughter that recounts the history of his elaborate and thought-provoking exploits and their too-often unquestioned acceptance. The film will screen at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, in McGowan South, Room 108, 1110 W. Belden Ave., and will be followed by a Q&A with Abel in person.

On Thursday, March 3, Abel will lead a workshop in which participants will devise some mischief of their own, which will be tested on the city’s streets the next day. The workshop begins at 6:30 p.m. at the DePaul Art Museum, 2nd floor events room, 935 W. Fullerton Ave.

All events are free and open to the public.  The only requirement is no requirements.

The Case for Using a Master Do File

One of the trickiest parts of data analysis in the beginning of a project is file management.  I have spoken before about how to get it right.  Today I discuss the benefits of utilizing a MASTER do file when working with Stata.  These principles apply generally to doing data analysis in other packages, assuming that you are utilizing files with command lines.

J. Scott Long illustrates in The Workflow of Data Analysis Using Stata, what is happening conceptually between what you need for analysis and what you need for creating datasets when starting a data analysis project.  You start with a do file that sets up the data that gets saved as your first file (data01.do).  This might be bringing your data into Stata from an Excel or ASCII file.  You might then have a do file (data02.do) that creates items for analysis.  Because these items are integral to your analysis, you might save that data as dataset data02.dta.  From there, you might start some exploratory statistical analysis, producing do files stat01a.do, stat01b.do, and stat01c.do.

But then you might make more changes to your dataset, and eventually end up with data03.dta.  The wheels can come off pretty quickly if you create variables in analysis files, because analysis files are used for different purposes than data files.  For example, let’s say that you got the idea that you wanted to create a new educational variable, based on a current variable.  Doing so in an analysis file will mean that sometime in the future, when you decide to use the dataset for another project, you will be forced to 1) remember that you created that awesome new educational variable in an analysis file, 2) find that analysis file (was it stat01a or stat02a?) and 3) execute the commands that created that variable (which are nestled snugly in with other lines of code that created analyses).  In all an absolute nightmare.  So don’t do that.  Create variables in do files where you are doing data management and item creation.


It might also be useful to alphabetize your file names, so that they can be run in order.  The best way to do this is with names like 01_datamerge, 02_dataclean, 03_itemcreation.  This way, they sit in your project folder and can be run in order that they were meant, so you can recreate datasets and analyses.

You could also utilize a master do file, which will run the do files in order that you specify.  Like so:

do data01.do
do data02.do
do data03.do

With all these commands in a do file, you are deliberately imposing structure and order on your research process in a way that allows you to replicate datasets and results.  The worst is when you are trying to deal with file names where you have included the date, like data01_02012016.do, but which you accidentally saved over on Feb 03, 2016.  Good for you, you saved your file, but -10 points because the structure you originally imposed (which was to have each day’s work represented and kept up to date with a do file dated that day) is now somewhat less informative.

Michael McIntyre at Jan. Mess Hall


Michael McIntyre, chair and associate professor in the Department of International Studies, previewed a conference paper he is preparing at an SSRC Mess Hall presentation on Jan. 25. After briefly summarizing key touchstones and names in the development of the field of international relations (IR), Michael challenged the common perception of E. H. Carr as IR’s “first realist.” In fact, what’s called the “first great debate” flowing from Carr’s indictment of utopian explanations of international politics in his 1939 classic, The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919-1939, never really occurred, Michael contends. In Michael’s revised reading, Carr’s post-World War I appeasement toward Germany; his dedication of The Twenty Years’ Crisis to Marxist-inspired Karl Mannheim, founder of the sociology of knowledge; and Carr’s later abandonment of the IR arena to work on his masterwork, a 14-volume, sympathetic history of Soviet Russia to 1929, all argue against the depiction of Carr as proto IR realist. To the contrary, argues Michael, Carr was doing just what realist theorists warn against.