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.


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] for more information.

SSRC Solicits Applications for the Second Annual Academic Research Retreat

One of the missions of the Social Science Research Center is to facilitate and support faculty research.  To this end, the SSRC is hosting a faculty research retreat in Kenosha, WI during Spring Break March 20-23, 2017.  During this time, selected faculty will participate in two and a half days of intensive research time.

The retreat will take place in a rental property large enough to accommodate 3-5 researchers for three nights.  The retreat events will be organized by a facilitator, who will organize the retreat and conduct accountability sessions.  Attendees will be responsible for their own meals and for securing transportation for themselves to the retreat location.

Applications are due by 5pm Monday February 27, 2017 and should be emailed to Jessi Bishop-Royse at  In 2-3 pages, potential applicants should indicate the name of their project, its current status, and what they intend to complete during the retreat.  The competitive review process will favor established research projects over those that need more development.

Last year, participants from Sociology,  Public Health, The School for New Learning, and Writing, Reading, and Discourse attended the retreat.  Generally, participants appreciated the opportunity to network with faculty from other departments.  On average, participants completed about 90% of planned research tasks.  Two of the four participants submitted manuscripts for publication within one month of the retreat.  Additionally, the manuscript that participant Sarah Read completed during the retreat was recognized for the James M. Lufkin Award for Best International Professional Communication Conference Paper.

Tentative Schedule

Monday 3/20

6pm-8pm Check in and Welcome Chat, Dinner +Evening Accountability Meeting

8-10pm Writing Session

Tuesday 3/21

8am-9am: Morning Accountability Meeting/Breakfast

9-Noon: Morning Writing Session

Noon-1pm: Afternoon Break

1pm-4pm: Afternoon Writing Session

4pm-7pm: Evening break.

7pm-9pm: Evening Writing Session

Wednesday 3/22

8am-9am: Morning Accountability Meeting/Breakfast

9-Noon: Morning Writing Session

Noon-1pm: Afternoon Break

1pm-4pm: Afternoon Writing Session

4pm-7pm: Evening break.

7pm-9pm: Evening Writing Session

Thursday 3/23

8am-9am: Morning Accountability Meeting/Breakfast

9-11: Morning Writing Session

11-12: Evaulation +Check Out

Questions should be directed to Jessica Bishop-Royse by email (

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.


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.

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.


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

Three Blogs that Academics Should be Following

Not all of our reading is necessarily productive reading.  In fact, some of it is downright garbage.  For example, despite having no interest in their media empire, and even less belief that they contribute anything of value to the universe, I, somehow, have quite an extensive file of Kardashian knowledge in my brain.  This is actually quite a feat, if you ask me, given that I have never watched any KUWTK television (or any of its BS iterations).  See what happens is, that I click on something that promises to be mildly funny/entertaining/thought-provoking/etc on The Facebook or The BuzzFeed.  And next thing you know, a click or two later and now I know all about the controversy about Kylie Jenner’s (she is part of the Kardashian tribe) new lip kit (spoiler alert: word on the street is that the thing that she is charging $29 for on her website is some $6 drug store brand.)  THE SHOCK.  THE HORROR.  And I am like, “Well, maybe she didn’t know that her lip kit…”

This cannot continue.  It cannot- because in reality there is nothing that any Kardashian/Jenner will do that will matter.  At all.  Ever.


In an effort to reclaim some of that intellectual bandwidth, I have been seeking out more sustaining content.  Here I share with you the product of these efforts.

ProfHacker: Housed at the Chronicle of Higher Education, ProfHacker covers a wide range of topics, including teaching, tech, and productivity.  There are the usual posts that you would expect in such a blog (like Tools for a Productive Workflow), but also some other great kinds of posts.  These include explorations with “specifications” grading, NearPod for classroom polling, and creating new habits with apps.

Patter: Curated by Pat Thomson, a professor at the University of Nottingham, Patter is a wonderful resource on research and writing.  Some great recent posts include, the reading and writing that no one sees, giving feedback on a paper, and writing a publishable review paper.

Explorations of Style: Written by Rachel Cayley, a professor at the University of Toronto.  Her “For New Visitors” landing page is a masterful list of the topics that most academic writers encounter on their journey, and is an absolute gem.  There is something for everyone here, from the experienced academic writer, to the haggard advisor slugging through paper after paper of underwhelming and undeveloped writing.  She has sections on productivity, mechanics, revising, audience, identity, etc.  Put this in your feedly!!!

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