The Art of Guerrilla Research


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A workshop I ran on the idea of Guerrilla research - that is no (low) cost research that relies on free tools, open data, etc and doesn't require permission

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  • I did a blog post on a half-thought through idea and then got asked to run a workshop on it. So let this stand as a warning to the perils of blogging
  • The term has been used in interface design to refer to a quick, good enough way of getting feedback
  • It is one of those areas that is made possible by the intersection of digital, networked and open, so falls under my digital scholarship interest
  • We are accustomed to thinking about research as it is on the left, but the digital, networked open approach also offers the possibility of theprocess on the right
  • Key to this is a DIY kind of mentality – you can do all these things yourself now, from your own bedroom/study/office
    That’s quite a fundamental shift and I’m not sure we’ve really taken it on board as researchers yet
  • The key element is permission I think, and this goes back to the architecture of the internet. This is Lessig’s review of the film The Social Network, and the point he stresses is that it was the removal of the barrier of permission that allowed facebook (and all those other start-ups) to flourish
  • It’s not really a manifesto, but let’s pretend
    Some principles that characterise guerrilla research
  • As academic researchers we’ve been enculturated into a particular mindset as to what constitutes research. We think of it as being a certain size r shape. Often those were the results of logistical constraints eg the journal article is determined largely by the economics of print
    We can now rethink the size and shape of research
  • Not in competition with trad research, bigger toolkit
  • We don’t see the waste in the current system because it’s accepted
    But a guerrilla approach may be more efficient, produce more shareable stuff
    Most of these rejected bids are lost
    Going to look at examples now
  • Example around data – travel blogs have generated a lot of research, here identity, marketing, methodology all covered
  • The Art of Guerrilla Research

    1. 1. The art of guerrilla research Martin Weller 5981013497/
    2. 2. Overview • What is guerrilla research • Relationship with traditional research • Inefficiency in current practice • Four examples • Issues
    3. 3. What is guerrilla research? Guerrilla research methods are faster, lower- cost methods that provide sufficient enough insights to make informed strategic decisions (Ross Unger and Todd Warfel)
    4. 4. Afforded by digital, network & open
    5. 5. The research process • Have an idea • Write a proposal • Submit proposal • {wait} • Get funding • Do research • Write paper • {wait} • Publish • Have an idea • Do research • Blog it
    6. 6. DIY • Create a journal • Interrogate data • Disseminate findings • Create a community • Collaborate
    7. 7. “what’s important here is that Zuckerberg’s genius could be embraced by half-a-billion people within six years of its first being launched, without (and here is the critical bit) asking permission of anyone. The real story is not the invention. It is the platform that makes the invention sing.” (Larry Lessig)
    8. 8. The manifesto 1. It can be done by one or two researchers and does not require a team 2. It relies on existing open data, information and tools 3. It is fairly quick to realise 4. It is disseminated via blogs and social media 5. It doesn’t require permission
    9. 9. Relationship with ‘traditional’ research • We think of research as having a certain shape and size • This extends that
    10. 10. Complementary • Demonstrate potential of further work • Altmetrics as indicator of interest • Get ideas/collaborators for bigger project • Increase personal profile
    11. 11. More efficient? 12 days for a conventional proposal was the average (RCUK 2006) ESRC - only 17% of bids were successful in 2009-10 RCUK = 2006 £196 million on applications to the 8 UK research councils 2800 bids submitted to ESRC in 2009-10, an increase in 33% from 2005-6 ESRC - 2000 failed bids x 12 days per bid = 65 years of effort
    12. 12. Example1: The rich world of travel blogsGuided by a Bourdieusian lens, this article examines the negotiation of authenticity, distinction and identity in the websites and blogs of companies and tourists during the 2010 spring Mt Everest climbing season. (Kane 2012) This paper provides a discussion of the strengths, weaknesses and implications of using content analysis and narrative analysis on travel blogs The research reviewed the published literature and real-life examples of destination marketing organizations and tourism enterprises using blogs as part of their business strategy One important form is traveling, in which self- described “travelers” aim to dissociate themselves from tourism altogether. As travelers, rather than tourists, these people present themselves as engaged in a morally superior alternative that does not create the same problems as tourism.
    13. 13. • No permission • Rich source of data • Would have required interviews, recruitment, budget • Different methodology
    14. 14. Example 2: The meta-journal
    15. 15. • No permission (OA licensed articles) • Quick set up • No business case required • Allows for interdisciplinarity
    16. 16. Example 3: MOOC research Katy Jordan doing MOOC, blogs final assignment Picked up by Phil Hill at eliterate Becomes defacto piece on completion rates Invited to submit proposal for funding Conference & journal articles follow
    17. 17. • Used free tools • Openly available data (reports, papers, data) • Relies on open scholarship identity • Led to proper funding and publication • Being used for further bids
    18. 18. Example 4: Facebook app
    19. 19. • No special access to data • No permission required • Spare time • Adopted by OU as official app
    20. 20. Issues • Will someone steal my idea? • Can I account for it in my workplan? • Will it get me promoted? • Do I need technical skills?