Graduate Student Research Symposium

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This coming Monday select SIS graduate students will be presenting their research at the Spring Research Symposium. This is a great opportunity to listen to original research conducted by other graduate students at AU. If you are a first year graduate student contemplating topics for your thesis or SRP, this might be an excellent opportunity to hear what others have done. Presenters will have ten minutes to share their research followed by five minutes for questions from the audience.

Come to learn about research. Come to support your friends.
Come to learn more about a particular topic.
Sponsored by the Graduate Student Council and the Journal of International Service
Founders Room, SIS

11:30  Crystal Corman
Leadership Spaces and Potential for Women within Islam in Malaysia:Professional Women’s Experiences and Perceptions
11:45  Linh Nguyen
Does urbanization increase access to improved sanitation for all? An analysis of the role of urban poor in explaining variation in access to improved sanitation
12:00  Mohsin Ali
Troubled Frequencies: Pakistan’s Media War Against Militant Ideologies
12:15  Sarah Chu
A Cautious Pendulum: The Momentum of Taliban Negotiations
12:30    Lunch
1:30  Sarah Howell
Research Award Presentation: South Africa for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP17)
1:45  Rebecca Novick 
The Private Sector as a Strategic Partner for Peace: How Business Can Overcome Violence in Colombia and Ciudad Juárez
2:00  Nadia Bulkin
Regionalism in the Mind of Sukarno: Regional Communities in Post-Colonial Context
2:15  Inu Barbee
Regulatory Convergence and North American Integration: Lessons from the European Single Market
2:30  Johannes Langer
A Specter is Haunting Kenya: The Construction of Identity and Electoral Violence
2:45  Anna Fox
Women’s Political Participation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Producing Policy that is Important to Women and Gender Parity?


The Push to Publish

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When I began grad school at AU I never imagined I’d be drawn to publishing my research. I was more interested in gaining knowledge and new practical skills for a second career. But after so many semesters and an intense thesis experience, I’ve learned to enjoy research! And now I want all that effort to contribute to existing knowledge, maybe spark some new research and more! I’ve learned that one way to do this is to publish. That, after all is the way this scholarly system works.

Recently there have been many emails through the SIS listserv about additional research opportunities pertaining to publishing. They aren’t offered in neat sequential order, I’m afraid. But I still think they’ll be valuable for other developing academics (or practioner-scholars).

  • Call for submissions to the Journal of International Service, the School of International Service’s premier academic journal. The deadline for the Fall 2012 journal is Feb. 12!! Submissions of 4500-8000 words emailed to editor AT
  • Spring Research Symposium showcasing original research by graduate students at SIS.  The symposium will be held during the day on Monday, March 26, and will feature presentations of original research by students, as well as panel discussions with area professionals. Interested students should submit an abstract to SISGradResearch AT by Wednesday, February 14.
  • “Write to get Published in Scholarly Journals” workshop presented by the Writing Center. Held Feb. 22, 5:30-7:00pm. Please RSVP to gradstudies AT by Feb. 19th.

So now I am not only writing my thesis, I am imagining ways to edit it for publication. May you also find a few of these resources helpful.

By: Crystal

Spring 2012 Drop-in Tutorial Schedule

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Get ready to mark your calendars! The Spring 2012 semester drop in tutorial schedule is now up! Find our schedule on the bulletin board outside of the lab (It will likely be the most colorful thing tacked on there) or right here.

Why should you care about the lab’s drop-in tutorial schedule, you might ponder. Well, dear reader, if you need help learning a specific quantitative or qualitative software that the lab supports, you can use the schedule to find out the day and time the tutorial is offered (..for this semester. The schedule will change every semester.)

There are several great advantages to these tutorials:

  • They are generally one-on-one, so if you have a burning question that you didn’t want to ask in class, you can ask one of our consultants without the pressure of your classmates surrounding you
  • You get your individual questions answered, and we’ll work at your pace so that you can understand the software better
  • Most exciting part: they are ABSOLUTELY FREE and appointments are not required!

We have experts not only on the popular SPSS, STATA, and SAS – you can get help on Mathematica, R, Dreamweaver, Matlab, Python, Google Earth, EViews, NVivo and ArcGIS. Come in if you need a refresher on any of these programs, have a specific question, or just need a quick tutorial on how to get started. We will work with you no matter the level of your experience with these programs.

Although making an appointment is not required for any of the tutorials, you may call or email us to confirm your arrival if you’d like.  Also remember that the schedule reflects guaranteed times an expert on that software will be available. If you have a software question but can’t make the tutorial, you can still drop by one of the labs anytime and a consultant on duty will assist you.

Respecting Human Dignity – the IRB

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So you’ve written a research proposal and have the nod of approval from an advising professor. But if your research includes interacting with humans, you have one very important step that must happen before entering the field. Approval from AU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). They need to know your plans for respecting the dignity of selected human subjects.

Not all research projects will require IRB. If you plan to pour over documents for a case study or stare at spreadsheets of quantitative data someone else gathered, you can skip this step. But if you hope to interview people, host a focus group or immerse yourself in a culture for ethnography, you will most definitely be interacting – and even intervening – in the lives of others.

So why this red tape?

Unfortunately in the past, as some researchers pursued truth and knowledge at the cost of human dignity, humans as mere “subjects” were harmed physically or psychologically. Learning from mistakes, universities (and their graduates) uphold a strict code of ethical conduct. As a researcher, you will need to account for the effects of your actions on your subjects. Your behavior should preserve the rights and integrity of the humans involved in your research project.

To begin

Go to the AU IRB web site where you can find all sorts of resources! And forms. If you’re curious about what projects NEED the IRB process, you can read more. But if you’re pretty sure you need it, follow the link for the REQUIRED human subjects training. It will take you approximately 30 minutes and will set the stage for the necessity of this process.

Once you’re certified, begin with the Determination Form, just to test if you really need IRB review and approval. Notice the form is especially concerned with privacy and confidentiality. There are also special categories of subjects that are defined as particularly vulnerable: children, prisoners, cognitively impaired, senior citizens, etc. Does your project include especially vulnerable persons? If so, you will need to take extra care (and paperwork). Once you submit this form, you’ll receive an email with instructions likely requesting your full IRB application or request for exemption. Read through the titles of supplemental forms, just in case your project needs one.

As you imagine going out in the field, how do you expect to be received? Will you stick out like a sore thumb, an obvious outsider? If so, people will ask and word will spread that you are there to do research. It is ethical to ask research participants for consent before directly interacting and collecting data. Use the IRB consent checklist and template to cover all your bases. The process of customizing the template into your own consent form will help you think through all possible risks.

The IRB process should not be dreaded – nor underestimated – but it does take time and foresight. I found the process helpful as it forced me to articulate all possible risks to my future subjects, plan for confidentiality and solidify my data collection, storage and analysis process months in advance. I found the office timely and my contact person responsive, yet I would advise you to give at least 4-6 weeks for the entire process. On the other side of this process, you’ll feel more confident and prepared to interact with people in the field.

Statistics Video Tutorials (and more!) with The Khan Academy

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Misplaced all of your statistics knowledge? Forgot which mental filing cabinet you stored everything you learned last year in the statistics class you aced (because you got help from the SSRL?). Or maybe all of your statistics books and notes “accidentally” fell down the garbage chute last semester…and you need your notes again?  Well, good luck getting those back.

Aside from what we can offer you (Even during the summertime!), check out this website that can help you brush up on your statistics or even help you learn something new:

The Kahn Academy is a non-profit organization that provides video tutorials on almost any academic subject out there – including Statistics!  Their videos are generally about 10 minutes or less, and the “instructor” (a casual, informative, and often humorous voice narrating the lesson) will guide you through the lesson using colorful visuals. There are no tests, just lectures. At the moment the Academy is striving to cover all the essentials of a first year statistics course. You can see on their webpage that they have already covered most of the basics:

These video tutorials can help you understand the fundamentals of statistics, but they won’t show you how to actually use statistics programs such as SPSS or STATA. For help on how to use these programs and more, feel free to visit us in the lab and we will show you how it’s done.

Use Dreamweaver to Showcase Your Research (or Yourself)

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Adobe DreamweaverStatistics is the name of our game…and so is data visualization. One of the ways we can help get your long hours of research known to the world is to get it online. And what better way to do that than create a website?

Adobe Dreamweaver is available on each of the computers in our lab. With Dreamweaver, you will be able to create a website without the knowledge of HMTL. The design view will allow you to create your website the way it will appear on a browser.

What’s another great reason to get started on creating a website? As a student of American University, you get access to free webhosting provided by the university so that you can launch your web site free of charge. This space is located in a folder in your G:/ drive called “www” (if you are a staff or faculty member, you will need to speak with your department to get access to this).  Take advantage of the free space that AU offers you!

Even if you don’t have a project to show off, you can create a personal website that highlights you and your personal achievements. These days it’s a great idea to have a website that showcases your work portfolio for job opportunities. If you need help getting started, a consultant in the lab is ready to assist.

*New* Spring Break 2011 Hours

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Spring Screen

Our labs are open during Spring Break

Don’t have plans to leave campus for spring break? Get excited, because the SSRL lab will be open during spring break…but for shorter hours.

Get your pre-summer tan while basking in the rays of our computer monitors. The hours of operation of the Hurst lab will be:

Saturday-Sunday, March 5-6: CLOSED
Monday-Friday, March 7-11: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Saturday-Sunday, March 12-13: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

The SPA lab (Ward ST01) will close on Friday, March 4 and reopen on March 14 at 9:30 am. (So, basically closed for all of Spring Break)

After the break, the labs will resume normal operating hours.

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