Good Work Does Go Noticed

Congratulations to Sarah Read, assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse, for the award she recently received for a paper she delivered at a professional technical communication conference at the University of Texas in Austin. The James M. Lufkin Award for Best International Professional Communication Conference Paper is given annually by the IEEE Professional Communication Society in recognition of work that supports their mission to promote effective communication within scientific, engineering and technical environments.

In the paper, Sarah and her co-author and fellow award-winner Michael E. Papka propose a more comreadaward_0001prehensive model of the document cycling process to capture significant activities not normally found in conventional project management plans. The paper emerged from an ethnographic study she conducted as a guest faculty researcher at Argonne National Laboratory where she analyzed the technical documentation and reporting processes that went into creating the facility’s 2014 annual report.

Operated by The University of Chicago Argonne LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy, the research lab and its high-powered supercomputer are used by scientists from academia and industry. Each year it produces a lengthy, polished report for the funder, “an extended statement about how the facility has met or exceeded the performance metrics set by the funder based on the previous review process,” as explained in the paper.

Sarah’s interviews with staff and her observations of the lab’s operations revealed hidden activities involved in gathering and generating data that indirectly fed into the annual report. This data-gathering had become incorporated into regular operational activities and fell outside the designated time frames for generating reportable information. These submerged activities not only informed the report but constituted a creative endeavor in their own right. (See a previous SSRC blog about Sarah’s project in which she vividly described the efforts demanded of staff in learning how to “write down the machine.”)

They did not arise sui generis. Papka, a senior scientist at Argonne, is the director of the Leadership Computing Center and an associate professor of computer science at Northern Illinois University. In 2012 he revised the annual report document creation process “from an annual last-minute all-out effort to a well-managed, well-paced drafting and revision process,” according to the paper. Reporting became on-going, rotating and cut across multiple divisions of the facility. Crucially, it entailed the development of processes “to more efficiently and accurately generate” reportable performance data.

The success of those efforts leads the paper’s authors to raise some provocative questions, including whether the staff time and effort required to write an annual report—a full-color, printed and designed document totaling 126 pages in 2014—is warranted when reportable information becomes readily accessible and available. “It is interesting to reflect upon how the imperative to develop a more accurate and efficient annual operational assessment reporting process ended up building processes at the facility…that could make the annually produced report unnecessary,” they point out. And they ask teachers and students of professional and technical writing to recognize and understand that the means of producing reportable information for the periodic reports so common to large organizations “have as much if not more value for the organization than the finished reporting document.”

The SSRC likes to think that our own support of Sarah’s research contributed to this project, from her use of ATLAS.ti, the qualitative data analysis application available in our computer lab, to analyze her data, to her ongoing participation in the SSRC’s Accountability Group in which tenure-track LAS faculty meet twice a month to set and discuss self-imposed professional and research goals. She worked on the paper during spring break at the off-campus faculty research retreat in Wisconsin that the SSRC organized to offer faculty designated writing time away from usual distractions. Sarah plans to develop the epistemic dimensions of the model in another paper.

SSRC at the CCHE Health Disparities and Social Justice Conference 2016

Last week DePaul’s MPH Program and the Center for Community Health Equity co-hosted the Health Disparities and Social Justice Conference at the Loop Campus in conjunction with DePaul’s MPH program.  The day was full of fantastic events regarding health disparities and social justice issues in Chicago and beyond.  The opening keynote was delivered by Patricia O’Campo of the Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital in Ontario, Toronto.

Friends of the center Noam Ostrander and Fernando de Maio participated in a panel discussion of the Chicago Health Equity Reader, a year long project whose ultimate aim is to produce a reader of the essential readings on Chicago Health.

safeshape

SSRC Director and Sociology Faculty member Greg Scott was on hand with the Safe Shape exhibit as well as two collaborative film projects (Everywhere but Safe and Making a Place Called Safe) he has produced with  VOCAL-NY and the San Francisco Drug Users Union.  Noam Ostrander presented his collaborative project with SSRC Senior Research Methodologist Jessica Bishop-Royse on seasonal patterns in homicide mortality in the US.

The event brought together a wide variety of public health professionals, students, researchers, public officials, and community stakeholders, who were afforded the opportunity to engage with presenters and provide feedback and comments.

Field Learning

Newly graduated Master of Public Health (MPH) students Adenike Sosina and Joselyn Williams recently talked about the extra-curricular skills they acquired as research assistants at the Center for Community Health Equity (CCHE). Their analysis of one project will be displayed at the 9th annual Health Disparities & Social Justice Conference that CCHE and MPH will host at the DePaul Center on August 12.

In a conference poster, they will summarize the focus group discussions that CCHE helped Rush conduct in conjunction with Rush Medical Center’s comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment. The focus groups were made up of residents and stakeholders from the 8 Chicago West Side community areas (West Town, Austin, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, Near West Side, North Lawndale, South Lawndale, and Lower West Side) and 3 near west suburbs (Forest Park, Oak Park, and River Forest) that Rush serves. They were formed to discover what Adenike described as “the impact of the communities’ perceptions, their needs, things they believed to be beneficial.” That should help Rush understand what makes a good community and what relationships community members value, Joselyn added.

The two researchers began working at CCHE and with CCHE Co-Director and Associate Professor of Sociology Fernando De Maio in 2015—Adenike as CCHE Program Assistant and Joselyn as CCHE Graduate Assistant. Founded jointly in 2015 and based at DePaul, CCHE is a partnership between DPU and Rush designed to link social scientists, students, community groups, and health care professionals in a search for data-based solutions to community health problems.

Last fall and winter Adenike and Joselyn collaborated with CCHE on the assessment report Rush prepares every three years to evaluate the overall state of health in its service areas and to develop internal implementation strategies and community collaAdenikeborations. Using NVivo software, they later analyzed 11 “massive” focus group transcripts—also prepared by a number of DePaul and Rush students—to identify recurring themes such as resources, education, socialization, social division, health care, safety, responsibility, and ownership, Adenike said.

“The software itself served as a resource,” said Joselyn, a self-describJoselyned ‘data nerd’. “[It’s] kind of intuitive. There’s not a lot of bulky things you have to have previous help with.” The researchers also utilized SSRC technical and consulting resources, for transcribing the focus group discussions and for training in GIS and mapping fundamentals. The poster will illustrate the findings of their analysis.

“There was an array of other concerns, besides health, in which they wanted their voices to be heard,” said Adenike. She was impressed by the range of what focus group participants wanted to convey. Across communities, focus groups cited the lack of resources, including insufficient recreational outlets for youth, job opportunities, access to retail and good food, and inadequacies in the city’s educational system.

“…It’s like we’re almost a forgotten community…,” a member of the North Lawndale focus group complained. “And if we could just get a lot of these young guys some work and young women and young men to work, it will be a big change in the community,” a West Garfield Park participant offered.

In conversations about what they liked about their communities, participants voiced “probably a lot more positive thoughts around social cohesion,” Joselyn observed. “Most identified with their community,” she said. “I didn’t feel like anyone said ‘this is per se a bad community.’ They recognized the good and the bad. They wanted the community to be better.” Discussions about how Rush might partner with the community produced suggestions for collaborating with schools, operating mobile clinics to provide services such as back-to-school vaccinations, or pairing medical school students with community teens around health issues and mentoring, Adenike noted.

Both MPH graduates agreed that their work at CCHE leaves them feeling better prepared as they start their own careers. Joselyn, who made some GIS maps for the assessment to show where Rush ranked in child opportunity and hardship indices, appreciated the opportunity to work alongside hospital administrators and to observe how a big organization undertakes a report of this scope. She was struck by the length of the assessment process.

This fall Joselyn will begin teaching English to elementary students in the Gyeongbuk province in South Korea. From there she hopes to explore opportunities for a career abroad in global health. Adenike wants to work in community health practice after her position at CCHE ends in late summer. She’s especially interested in childhood obesity interventions.

At CCHE, graduate and undergraduate student researchers will continue to gain project-based experience working on analyses of the new Healthy Chicago Survey, the creation of an “Index of Concentration at the Extremes” for Chicago census tracts, and comparative analyses of health inequities in Chicago and other cities. DePaul faculty and students will continue collaborating with the Chicago Department of Public Health and other groups across the city as they build on CCHE’s contribution to “Healthy Chicago 2.0”, the city’s four-year initiative to assess and improve health and well-being and reduce inequities among Chicago communities.

Visit CCHE’s website to see the Rush Community Health Needs Assessment report and to learn more about the upcoming Health Disparities & Social Justice Conference at DePaul. Faculty or students doing research on faculty projects who want to access NVivo are invited to contact the SSRC where the program is available in our Lincoln Park computer lab or through remote connection.

How many more men than women suffered vehicular fatalities in the U.S in 2012?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, more males died in vehicular accidents than females in every single state in 2012 (the latest year data is available). The graph below shows the rate of deaths of occupants involved in motor vehicle crashes by gender per 100,000 population in alphabetical order by state.

North Dakota ranked highest in male deaths at 29.3 and Missouri had the most female fatalities in the country, 14.2. In Illinois, the male death rate of 6.3 was nearly double that of females, 3.2.

Top 5 states for male vehicular death rates
State                       Death Rate (per 100K)
North Dakota                    29.3
Mississippi                        22.3
Wyoming                           21.9
Montana                             21.9
Oklahoma                          19.2

Top 5 states for female vehicular death rates
State                       Death Rate (per 100K)
Wyoming                           12.9
Montana                            10.9
North Dakota                    10.5
Arkansas                           10.4
Kentucky                           10.1

 

Click through to see the enlarged image.

DeathRate

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.

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.

VehicleTheft_StatSig_2015

 

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

AlanAbel

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.