Call for Papers: 8th Annual GSCS Student Conference

The UBC Graduate Student Council of Sociology (GSCS) seeks paper proposals for its eighth annual interdisciplinary graduate conference taking place May 9, 2015 at the University of British Columbia (Learning Exchange Center).

Abduction: Embracing the “alien” aspects of social research 

In methods courses, social science students are taught the research process is straightforward: there  is a “formula” for coming up with a research question, for gathering data, and for turning data into theory. In practice, students learn that research is anything but formulaic–questions change, interview protocols and surveys evolve, and once-foundational points of reference in the literature lose sway in the process. To bring these familiar yet taboo topics into the foreground, some sociologists have begun to advocate for an “abductive” approach to sociological research, where the actual process of theorizing is made explicit. Unlike grounded theorists, who claim that theories can emerge cleanly from the data, or more traditional sociologists who claim to “deduce” objective truths, abductive sociologists take a more practical view of research as an iterative back-and-forth between questions and answers, theory and data, researchers and participants.

We invite conference participants to present the behind-the-scenes aspects of their research projects. How do you move beyond empirical observations to constructing a theory? How do you reconcile existing theoretical conversations with this new data? What does the practice of social science research really involve? Instead of focusing on research results, the idea for this conference is to focus on the research process. Panels will consist of 5-8 minute self-reflexive presentations on topics such as:

  • Turning ideas and observations into a research topic
  • Finding the “right” literature
  • Gathering data – dealing with unexpected results
  • Moving beyond empirical observations to construct a theory
  • Introducing research insights into the academic conversation

If reading this list brings to mind a vivid moment of your research experience, go on this! We are looking for panelists to recount personal experiences of a hurdle in the research process, along with insights or strategies they’ve developed as a result. Abstracts can be a summary of this experience.

Presentation-based panels mean no papers are required. Presentations will be used as a lifting off point for group discussions of similar research issues and solutions.

Keynote speaker: David Wachsmuth, Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow and SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia

Please submit abstracts of up to 250 words to: with the subject heading “GSCS 2015 Conference Abstract.” The deadline for abstracts is: March 31st, 2015.

Abstract submissions from all social science/humanities disciplines are welcome!

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