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.

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DePaul Professor Steve Harp’s Project “In Sleep’s Dark Kingdom”

There is a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in.

Anthem, Leonard Cohen 

In Sleep’s Dark Kingdom, by DePaul faculty member Steve Harp, is an artist’s book created in response to the SSRC’s call for proposals to celebrate the UNESCO designated International Year of Light.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My approach takes as its starting point the notion that conceptions of light are meaningless without framing notions of darkness. Light only enters the realm of perception out of a darkness.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In “The Hollow Men,” (1925) T. S. Eliot writes of “death’s dream kingdom,” a place of disguises, with “eyes I dare not meet.” It is a kind of limbo, a twilight kingdom – a place between. The dream kingdom is also, of course, the place of sleep – itself a liminal zone between the clear consciousness of the light of day and the obscure darkness of unconsciousness.  If light is a metaphor for clarity or understanding, sleep has its own light emerging from darkness: the cold, crystalline clarity Freud posits residing in the dream continually hidden by layers of resistances obscuring it in metaphor, symbol, displacement.   Yet centrally, what Freud suggests is that the light of the dream (the latent content) can only become visible emerging from a darkness (the manifest content – always only known through its telling or representation, never through direct access to the dream “itself” – a kind of double cloaking or darkness).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My project touches on or suggests four “realms” or kingdoms of darkness, terrestrial and extraterrestrial, conscious and unconscious, in which light’s emergence from darkness and obscurity is to be celebrated all the more for its rarity and brevity. What I have attempted to do in this project – itself obscurely explained thus far – is to suggest darkness as an opportunity for light, darkness as the necessary frame allowing glimmers of light – of clarity, of understanding, of meaning, of hope – to break through and become manifest themselves.

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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.

Are Chicago’s Safe Passage Routes Located in the Highest Risk Areas?

Safe passage routes to school provide not only a sense of safety for Chicago students from pre-K through high school, but they reduce crime involving students and help increase school attendance. Chicago’s Safe Passage program was introduced in 2009 after the beating death by gangs of 16-year-old Fenger High School honors student Derrion Albert, which was captured on cell phone video. His death and the circumstances received national attention along with a series of other incidents involving CPS students caught in gang violence. Since then, the program has expanded to include schools, parents, residents, law enforcement officials and even local businesses in efforts to provide students with a safe environment. The various types of safe passage programs among the 51 safe route programs currently available include: safe haven programs in which students who fear for their safety can find refuge at the local police station, fire house, library and even convenience stores, barbershops and restaurants; patrols along school routes by veterans, parents and local residents; and walking to school programs in which parents and local residents create a presence to help deter unlawful incidents.

The map below shows the number of all crimes committed in the city of Chicago during the current school year, and the locations of schools and safe routes among those communities that have safe routes. Currently, there are 517 Chicago public schools, of which, only 136 Chicago public schools (26.3% of all schools) fall within the 51 safe routes. Although the safe routes are located in 37 of the high crime communities in general (south, west and northeast sides of Chicago), they do not exist in the pockets of the highest crime incidents (1,500+ highlighted in burgundy) where children are the most vulnerable. Of the 47 schools that fall within the extreme crime areas (1,500+ incidents a year), only 6 have safe routes; the others offer no safe passage options. A list of the schools appears at the end of this blog.

Click through to see the enlarged image.


SafePassage_Routs

Schools located in extremely high-crime areas of Chicago (Schools highlighted in green have safe passage routes):
Bennett, Bowen HS, Bradwell, Camelot Safe – Garfield Park, Camelot Safe Academy, Clark HS, Coles, Community, Ericson, Frazier Charter, Frazier Prospective, Galapagos Charter, Great Lakes Charter, Gregory, Harlan HS, Hefferan, Heroes, Herzl, Hirsch HS, Hubbard HS, Learn Charter – Butler, Leland, Mann, Mireles, Noble Charter – Academy, Noble Charter – Baker College Prep, Noble Charter – DRW, Noble Charter – Muchin, Noble Charter – Rowe Clark, Oglesby, Plato, Polaris Charter, Powell, Schmid, Shabazz Charter – Shabazz, Smith, South Shore Intl HS, Webster, Westcott, Winnie Mandela HS, YCCS Charter – Association House, YCCS Charter – CCA Academy, YCCS Charter – Community Service, YCCS Charter – Innovations, YCCS Charter – Olive Harvey, YCCS Charter – Sullivan, YCCS Charter – Youth Development

 

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.

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.

CO2 Emission

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are both natural and man-made. Natural sources include oceans, soil, plants, animals and volcanoes while human-related CO2 is emitted through deforestation, burning of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gases and oil for transportation, and energy for commercial, industrial and residential use. Although human-related emissions account for only 5% of the total, they have increased enormously overtime. According to the U.S. EPA, since 1970, global CO2 emissions have increased 90%, the major contributors (78%) being fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes, followed by deforestation, land-use change and agriculture.

While there are many ways to reduce carbon emission, the most effective is to reduce the consumption of fossil fuel. I pride myself for being environmentally conscious – reducing wastes by using energy-efficient products (furnace, light bulbs, etc.), taking public transportation, recycling and reusing things. Yet, using the “carbon footprint,” a calculator provided by the U.S. EPA, my annual footprint for home energy, transportation and household waste totaled 18,131 lbs., compared to the U.S. average of 24,550 lbs. for a single householder. However, this doesn’t include the CO2 emissions related to producing and delivering my daily consumption of certain goods (food, beverages, clothing, etc.) and services (restaurants, local grocer, etc.) including the amount of energy I use both at work (technology equipment, etc.) and commuting there (based on my 12-15 hours spent outside my home each day). This tool also revealed that just switching my washing machine from warm to cold water would cut carbon emission 150 lbs. per year and save me about $12. If you’d like to see your carbon footprint and/or identify ways to reduce consumption and save money, click on the EPA’s calculator here.

The following infographic shows the extent and distribution of CO2 emissions in the world, the U.S. and Illinois, including the carbon footprints of certain products.

Click through to see the enlarged image.


CarbonEmission_Infograph

Techniques Used
The above visualization includes 3 types of techniques:

Quantitative Analysis: A bar and pie chart were used to visualize quantitative data to show carbon emissions by various sectors over time and in 2013.

Statistical Analysis (GIS): Spatial analysis included two major techniques. The choropleth maps and classification methods were used to show the distribution of the emission levels globally and for the U.S.

Graphics: Images were obtained from Google and modified using Photoshop graphic design software

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.