Ethnography reaches the parts of politics that other methods cannot reach. It captures the lived experience of politics; the everyday life of political elites and street level bureaucrats. It identifies what we fail to learn, and what we fail to understand, from other approaches. The Centre aims to rescue ethnography from its current void in political science and build the UK’s first centre for ethnographic research in politics and administration. It will be an interdisciplinary platform for colleagues nationally and internationally who are interested in ethnographic research in politics and administration. It will practice the ‘art of translation’ for multiple audiences.
Two Southampton University students, one from PAIR and one from ECS, with a colleague from India, have successfully bid for a research grant from the Open Data for Development (OD4D) Partnership to develop user centred metrics for open datasets – one of just five projects to be selected internationally for this programme.
Currently metrics for open data sets are based on “top-down” approaches – applying principles that open data experts think are appropriate to assess the quality of datasets. While these are valuable there is a danger that these metrics do not correspond to what users find most important in open data. Mark Frank from PAIR, Johanna Walker from ECS, and Nisha Thompson from the DataMeet Trust (a community that works in India on open data and data science) will be developing metrics using “bottom-up” approaches based on what users’ need from open data to solve pressing business problems. They will be working with civil society organisations (CSOs) in the housing sector in the UK and India – running workshops to identify in detail what about open data matters most to them and then developing metrics based on the results. The team will be presenting their results at the Open Data Conference in Ottawa in May 2015.