Summer Reading Suggestions

As I thought ahead to the research journey that you will all start this fall, I asked some of our best scholar-teachers about readings that they might recommend for the summer.  These readings are not about to any specific issue or research topic.  Instead, they are all readings designed to stimulate your sense of curiosity and exploration, and to start you thinking about how we “know” things about the world.  Thinking about, and reflecting on, these questions are essential to being a good researcher, so there is no time like the present to get started!

Suggestions from Dean Jackson

These two short texts both push us to go beyond our preconceived notions about research and the social world–and make us rethink what we can know and how we can know it.

Suggestions from Dr. Shinko (SIS Undergraduate Program Director)

Both of these readings open us up to different (and probably unexpected) ways of seeing, researching, and understanding the world.  Allow yourself to be challenged a bit in reading these excellent articles!

Suggestions from Dr. Field

We will explore questions of ethics and knowledge in SIU-206 and then in even more depth with Prof. Field in SISU-306.  Here are a few readings to get you thinking about the deeper ethical and philosophical questions associated with being part of the social world that we also research and seek to understand.

Suggestions from Dr. Boesenecker

Here are some lighter, but important, pieces that all have something to say about the process of scientific inquiry, the tools we use to know the world, and the (often flawed) assumptions we have about data and tools for research.

Take a moment to read through a few of these and then share your thoughts here!   This is an excellent way to re-engage your brain and start to get ready for the coming semester.  Feel free to post a reply to this posting, or to post your own original post with your thoughts to the Class Site here (remember to click “Class,” “SISOlson,” and “SISOlson15” in the Categories menu if you write an original post).  I look forward to hearing your thoughts and observations!

One thought to “Summer Reading Suggestions”

  1. Response to “Learning from @NateSilver538’s OMG-Wrong #Bra vs. #GerPrediction”
    One of the most effective ways to learn is analyzing and improving upon mistakes made by yourself and others. This theme becomes evident in Zeynep Tufeka’s “Learning from @NateSilver538’s OMG-Wrong #Bra vs. #GerPrediction”, allowing readers to recognize faults and solutions to research mistakes in a World Cup prediction. These errors include; (1) ignoring measurement error in your data, (2) ignoring field (or broad) effects, and (3) humans are not gases in a chamber but reflexive beings who react to events. The first inaccuracy I understand first-hand. When it is getting late and you have been crunching numbers too long, it is easy to let measurement errors slip. The article highlights that it is imperative to check and recheck your work or compounding errors can consequent in extremely miscalculated results. The second error is one that I did not recognize until reading this article. A research topic and question is often extremely focused. For example, I have chosen to focus on eco-labeling within the grand scheme of Global Environmental Politics. I must remember not to over look major policies or events that could have shaped societal or institutional attitudes toward eco-labeling. The final error is the difficulty of predicting human actions. The article provides an example of human actions that do not correspond with their inner thoughts. However, the immediate example I thought of was, often cookie-cutter, theories (ex. The Game Theory) used in social sciences to predict an outcome. While useful in many cases, these theories can neglect outside, human influences that may change the outcome.

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