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Department of Methodology

How to contact us

Department of Methodology
Columbia House
London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE


YouTube: MethodologyLSE

Twitter: MethodologyLSE


Graduate Admissions
The London School of Economics and Political Science,
PO Box 13420,
Houghton Street,
United Kingdom


Graduate Teaching Administrator
Esther Heyhoe
Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 6156
Email: e.heyhoe@lse.ac.uk


Department Manager
Gillian Urquhart

Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 7639

Email: g.urquhart@lse.ac.uk


Welcome to the Department of Methodology for postgraduate study in social research methods. The Department of Methodology has two key functions:

The Department also provides a walk-in “methods surgery” where staff and students can drop in for advice on methods-related problems they may have. This service is offered weekly during term time on Thursdays 10-12 in Col 8.13 on a first-come, first-served basis: no appointment necessary.


Read more about the Department ... 

Communicating Chronic Pain in the media

Jen Tarr spoke about the Communicating Chronic Pain project in the BBC Radio 4 programme The Problem of Pain - A Slow Motion Catastrophe. In the broadcast of 15 July 2015, she offers insight into the importance of community on pain management. Available to listen here.   

Policy-making in the Big Data Era Opportunities and Challenges

15-17 June 2015
University of Cambridge

Current decision-making processes are far from being optimal to represent the best interests of the public and stakeholders as contemporary policy domains are very complex, high-dimensional and include a large dose of uncertainty. The massive amounts of data captured in our physical world through sensors and electronic devices provide a huge potential to advance these processes. With the availability of new technologies, new formulations are needed on fundamental questions such as how to conduct a census, how to produce labour statistics, or how to incorporate data mined from social media and administrative operations. Efficient procedures to draw links between large-scale data-processing technologies and existing expert knowledge in major policy domains would potentially offer chances to make policy development processes more citizen-focused, taking into account public needs and preferences supported with actual experiences of public services. This however comes with serious privacy and security concerns as intersecting various data sources could reveal unprecedented private information.

The conference committee invites contributions from researchers, policy makers, practitioners in industry and all other stakeholders to explore the latest developments and potentials in policy-making processes. Topics that will be covered include but not limited to the following:

  • Information and evidence in digital age
  • Policy making mechanisms and modelling approaches
  • Existing methodologies, case studies, best practices for use of Big Data in policy
  • Data collection, storage, processing and access procedures
  • Cumulative learning in digital environments, potentials in policy context, challenges and limitations
  • Interaction of domain expertise with digital processing technologies; dealing with imperfect/uncertain data; psychology/behaviour of decision
  • Security and privacy issues; ethics and law
  • Proposals for individual presentations, research panels, fringe meetings, policy workshops and tutorials are all welcome.

    The conference is convened by Dr Zeynep Engin and Prof Jon Crowcroft in collaboration with an interdisciplinary committee that represent key UK-based institutions specialising in Big Data research.
    Confirmed Contributors:
  • Martin Donnelly, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS)
  • Glenn Watson, Director-General, Office for National Statistics (ONS)
  • Natasa Milic-Frayling, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research Cambridge (MSRC)
  • Jon Crowcroft, Marconi Professor of Communications Systems, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge
  • Kenneth Benoit, Professor of Political Science Research Methodology and Head of the Department of Methodology, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Book review: On South Bank: the production of public space

Alasdair Jones' book "On South Bank: the production of public space" was reviewed in the March 2015 edition of the Journal of Urbanism by Erica Pani of Queen Mary University of London. The review can be read in full here (PDF).


Scholarship Funding

ESRC/PIC Masters Studentship Scheme in Population Studies

The aim of the scheme is to aid the recruitment & initial development of talented students in demography by contributing to student fees and maintenance costs. The ESRC has entered into the scheme to build capacity in a priority area for the Council. The ambition within the co-funding agreement is to actively increase the research capacity within Demography in the UK.

New publication

Community mobilisation and HIV/AIDS: Revealing the limits of evidence-based policy?

The evidence-based policy paradigm asks for simple summaries of the evidence ‘for or against’ particular interventions. Is this always appropriate? Flora Cornish (LSE), Jacqueline-Priego Hernandez (LSE), Catherine Campbell (LSE), Gitau Mburu (International HIV/AIDS Alliance) and Susie McLean (International HIV/AIDS Alliance) have published a paper in the journal AIDS & Behavior, reporting on their systematic review of the evidence for community mobilisation as a component of HIV/AIDS interventions. While some tentative statements about ‘what works’ can be made, the very mixed and inconclusive nature of the findings lead the authors to question whether it makes sense to subject complex and context-sensitive interventions to systematic reviews.

New Publication

Textual Analysis: Four Volumes Sage Benchmarks in Social Research Methods. London: Sage

 Martin Bauer, Ahmet Suerdem and Aude Bicquelet, eds.

This four-volume book mines the extensive research of the past few decades into textual analysis. The editors have collated seminal papers which consider the key difference between content analysis and textual analysis, the conceptual starting point and the logic and the attitude of the research process, as well as the tension between reading a text and using a text, among other key issues. The carefully selected papers in this collection are put into context and analysed in a newly-written introductory chapter which charts the developments and looks at the future of the field.

To order visit the waterstones.

Communicating Chronic Pain Call for Workshop Participants
Do you have chronic pain and find it difficult to explain to others? Would you like to participate in a workshop in which you experiment with new ways of communicating about pain, through photography, sound, maps or movement? Researchers in the Department of Methodology at the London School of Economics are undertaking a research project about non-verbal methods of communicating chronic pain. Our first workshop, which is about body mapping, takes place on Saturday 23rd November at the LSE.
We’re urgently seeking people with chronic pain to participate in the workshop. For the purposes of our research, it doesn’t matter what has caused your pain or whether or not you have a diagnosis. We’re interested in a range of experiences with pain. If you would like more information or to sign up, please visit Communicating Chronic Pain

Department of Methodology research in the news

Can text mining help handle the data deluge in public policy analysis?

Governments are lagging behind when it comes to exploiting the advantages of text mining to handle and analyze the large quantities of text that result from large-scale e-consultations. In their paper “Coping with the Cornucopia: Can Text Mining Help Handle the Data Deluge in Public Policy Analysis?” Aude Bicquelet (LSE Methodology) and Albert Weale (UCL) analyze a public consultation on end-of-life medicines to evaluate the benefits of text mining for the analysis of online public consultations, weighing the benefits of increased automation against the potential risks.

Department of Methodology research in the news

Is diversity good or bad for community cohesion?

The effect of ethnic diversity on communities has become a hot topic. Many academics and policy makers believe that ethnically diverse communities are characterised by distrust and low levels of social cohesion, while numerous studies show an apparent negative link between the ethnic diversity of local communities and the extent to which residents express trust in, and a sense of cohesion with, one another. A new article 'Ethnic diversity, segregation and the social cohesion of neighbourhoods in London' by Patrick Sturgis (NCRM, Univ. Southampton), Ian Brunton-Smith (University of Surrey), Jouni Kuha (LSE) and Jonathan Jackson (LSE), published in Ethnic and Racial Studies journal, shows a different and more complex picture. 

New Department of Methodology publications

Laver, M. and Benoit, K. (forthcoming).  "The basic arithmetic of legislative decisions." American Journal of Political Science.  

Lauderdale, B. E. and Clark, T. S. (forthcoming). Scaling Politically Meaningful Dimensions Using Texts and Votes, American Journal of Political Science.

Cornish, F., Priego Hernandez, J., Campbell, C., Mburu, G. & McLean, S. (2014) Impact of community mobilisation on HIV prevention in middle and low income countries: a systematic review and critique. AIDS & Behaviour. Published online March 23, 2014. Open Access. 

Cornish, F., Montenegro, C.R., van Reisen, K., Zaka, F. & Sevitt, J. (2014). Trust in the process: Community health action after Occupy. Journal of Health Psychology, 19(1): 60-71.

Brunton-Smith, I., Jackson, J. and Sutherland, A. (2014). 'Bridging Structure and Perception: On the Neighbourhood Ecology of Beliefs and Worries about Violent Crime',  British Journal of Criminology, doi: 10.1093/bjc/azu020. Published online.

Bradford, B., Murphy, K. and Jackson, J. (2014). 'Officers as Mirrors: Policing, Procedural Justice and the (Re)production of Social Identity', British Journal of Criminology, doi: 10.1093/bjc/azu021. Published online.  


Other recent Department of Methodology publications

Joint Department of Methodology and Department of Sociology Public Lecture:

The End-Game: how structure and culture shape our final years

Speaker: Dr Corey Abramson (University of Arizona)

Respondent: Dr Sam Friedman (LSE)

Chair: Dr Alasdair Jones (LSE)

Wednesday 3 June 2015, 6.30-8pm

Thai Theatre, New Academic Building

Growing old presents physical problems for everyone. However, when these problems occur and how people confront them are mediated by inequalities that reflect persistent socioeconomic, racial, and gender divides. The End-Game (Harvard University Press 2015) shows how inequality structures social life in old age—and what examining old age can tell us about the mechanisms of inequality more generally.

Corey Abramson is Assistant Professor, School of Sociology, University of Arizona. His research uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to explain how social inequality is reproduced over time. The End Game: How Inequality Shapes Our Final Years, his book on this topic, is being published by Harvard University Press in 2015

The event is free and open to all, and copies of The End Game will be on sale at a discounted price at the event.

Email: sociology.events@lse.ac.uk  


Event poster [PDF]

A key function of the department is to provide training for PhD and MSc students across the LSE in the design of social research and in qualitative and quantitative analysis.

We run a number of courses for Masters and PhD students, including courses run as part of the LSE's Doctoral Training Centre. We also run a MSc Social Research Methods programme and a MPhil/PhD Social Research Methods programme.

The Department of Methodology YouTube channel. Now available: software training videos covering SPSS, STATA and Alceste on Methodology LSE YouTube channel.  

Departmental staff are involved in a variety of funded research projects in research methodology, political science, social psychology, sociology, criminology, statistics and anthropology.

Some recent Department of Methodology publications:

Mannell, J.C., Cornish, F., Russell, J. (2014).Evaluating social outcomes of HIV/AIDS interventions: A critical assessment of contemporary indicator frameworks. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 17:19073

Kaufman, M.R., Cornish, F., Zimmerman, R.S. & Johnson, B.T. (2014). Health Behavior Change Models for HIV Prevention and AIDS Care: Practical Recommendations for a Multi-Level Approach. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, 66:S250–S258

Laver, M. and Benoit, K. (forthcoming). “The basic arithmetic of legislative decisions.” American Journal of Political Science. Lauderdale, B. E. and Clark, T. S. (forthcoming). Scaling Politically Meaningful Dimensions Using Texts and Votes, American Journal of Political Science. Cornish, F., Priego Hernandez, J., Campbell, C., Mburu, G. & McLean, S. (2014) Impact of community mobilisation on HIV prevention in middle and low income countries: a systematic review and critique. AIDS & Behaviour. Published online March 23, 2014. Open Access. 

Brunton-Smith, I., Jackson, J. and Sutherland, A. (2014). ‘Bridging Structure and Perception: On the Neighbourhood Ecology of Beliefs and Worries about Violent Crime', British Journal of Criminology, doi: 10.1093/bjc/azu020.

Lauderdale, B. E. (2013). Does Inattention to Political Debate Explain the Polarization Gap Between the U.S. Congress and Public?  Public Opinion Quarterly, 77(S): 2-23.

Hangartner, D. and Hainmueller, J. (2013). Who gets a Swiss Passport?: A Natural Experiment in Immigrant Discrimination. American Political Science Review, 107 (1), 159-187  

 Kuha, J. and Jackson, J. (2013). The Item Count Method for Sensitive Survey Questions: Modelling Criminal Behaviour. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series C (Applied Statistics). doi: 10.1111/rssc.12018

Jones, A. (2013). A Tripartite Conceptualisation of Urban Public Space as a Site for Play: Evidence from South Bank, London. Urban Geography. doi: 10.1080/02723638.2013.784081.

Karen, K., Kidd, L. Lawrence, M., McPherson, K., Cayless, S. and Cornish, F. (2013). Systematic Review of Reviews of Behavioural HIV Prevention Interventions among Men who have Sex with Men. AIDS care, 25 (2). pp. 133-150.

Lowe, W. and Benoit, K. (2013). Validating Estimates of Latent Traits From Textual Data Using Human Judgment as a Benchmark. Political Analysis, 21: 298-313.

Mejlgaard, N. and Stares, S. (2013). Performed and Preferred Participation in Science and Technology Across Europe: Exploring an Alternative Idea of 'Democratic Deficit'. Public Understanding of Science, 22 (6). pp. 660-673.

Jackson, J., Huq, A., Bradford, B. and Tyler, T. R. (2013). Monopolizing Force? Police Legitimacy and Public Attitudes towards the Acceptability of Violence. Psychology, Public Policy and Law. doi: 10.1037/a0033852. Published online Oct 14, 2013.

Gaskell, G., Gottweis, H., Starkbaum, J., Gerber, M. M., et al (2013). Publics and biobanks: Pan-European diversity and the challenge of responsible innovation. European Journal of Human Genetics, 21(1), 14–20. 

Suerdem, A. K., Bauer, M. W., Howard, S. and Ruby, L. (2013) PUS in Turbulent Times II: A Shifting Vocabulary that Brokers Inter-disciplinary Knowledge. Public Understanding of Science, 22, 1, 2-15.