This is the third of a series of blog posts discussing different aspects of the CLEOPATRA Research and Development week, which was held online at the end of March. The project ESRs organized themselves into groups to develop demonstrators, and this is the report from Team TIME (Gullal Singh Cheema, Daniela Major, Caio Mello and Abdul Sittar)
Working in an interdisciplinary project is an effort as rewarding as it is challenging.
With a group like ours, made up of computer scientists and social science researchers, communication and a readiness to listen to and learn from your colleagues is key. We soon realised that our differences as well as our shared interests pushed us to find ways of combining the methodologies of the social sciences with the analytical tools of computer science.
This is how we arrived at TIME: Temporal Discourse Analysis applied to Media Articles. During the weeks preceding the R&D week we defined research questions and thought about the best ways to answer them. The social scientists in the group were especially interested in analysing media texts on two different topics (the concept of Olympic legacy and the concept of Euroscepticism). The choice of media outlets also followed the logic of our research questions: the comparative approach was always a priority in both of the topics. In the case of the concept of legacy we chose to scrape data on the Rio and London Olympics in both Brazilian and British media. With Euroscepticism, our choice fell on English and Spanish media coverage.
One of the main challenges was to build a tool that could answer our questions about the data we collected. However, any tool we built had to be able to answer more than just the questions we wanted to ask. After all, an analytical tool should be able to answer the demands of several researchers as opposed to only a couple of them. The effort, therefore, was to think outside our box and create something that could be used not only by our group, but by a wide array of people from academics to the general public.
The tool we created offers a graphical visualisation of the concepts as employed by each media outlet. We hope that in the near future this cross-temporal tool can be fed with more terms of research and more media channels so as to facilitate a wider range of analysis.
The weeks we spent working on collecting the data and building the tool were evenly divided between the social scientists and the computer scientists. It is worth keeping in mind that working on an interdisciplinary team involves a certain degree of self-awareness. The point is not that everyone should know about everything, but that the knowledge of each team member complements that of the others.
Returning to our original idea of challenges and rewards, like all research projects the CLEOPATRA network involves a willingness to work as a team, and above all, requires the effort to understand the points of view of others, even when they are a little off our comfort zone. But the works pays off!
Daniela Major, University of London