Space is hard

I’ve been writing up the methodology section of my PhD, and in what is becoming a recurring theme in writing things up it’s caused me to go back over some things I read ages ago and get a fresh perspective on them.

Today that fresh perspective is about what everybody else has been doing in hyperlocal research, and where what I’ve been doing is different.

One of the things I’ve done differently in my work is embed myself for a while in organisations, which puts me inside the space and time reference of hyperlocal media workers and their practice. Most of my contemporaries are working the other way around: bringing the hyperlocal media people into their own timelines. And it turns out that what I did was hard, but valuable.

What am I talking about? OK, so a lot of hyperlocal media research is desk based. Some work has counted things — websites, articles, comments, that sort of thing — and that’s cool, because we can find out a lot by counting things. The most important thing about counting stuff is we can see how much of it there is and if there’s a lot (there is quite a bit of hyperlocal stuff as it goes) then people are happy for us to go find out more stuff.

Some researchers have found out some of the extra stuff by doing questionnaires and surveys, and that’s desk based too. All the desk based stuff is hard graft (there’s lots of data to get, then sort, and code) but it’s work that researchers can easily control.

In some projects the researchers wanted to get some richer data and they spoke to practitioners — normally using semi-structured interviews. Those interviews belong to a world that the researcher can control, too. Sure there’s a little bit of compromise in finding time that suits researcher and interviewee, but fundamentally this takes the subject out of their world and drops them into research-land.

So what have I done again? Well as I say, I went into the organisations and I made things and I observed and did some interviews prompted by the things happening around us that day (very loosely semi-structured as I had certain beats I wanted to hit).

And it turns out that space is hard — finding the space for this sort of research into hyperlocal is hard.

Because the thing is that hyperlocal media work isn’t very neat. Now truthfully no media work is. We’d be naive to think that a local newspaper journalist works a 9-5 day but there are core office hours and there’s an office so we could do participant observation of a newsroom quite easily. Hyperlocal though is rarely that neat. While there are some operations that have core hours and proper offices, a lot of the work isn’t like that at all.

So how do you deal with getting into the space and time frame of work that happens when it can, that happens on odd days, or in the gaps between things, or that happens at ten o’clock at night sat up in bed?

You can’t that easily. You definitely aren’t getting into that bed. But you can find some of the gaps and be there for them and that is really interesting.

Scrivener + EndNote crib sheet

fuck yeah scrivener!

After much prevaricating I’ve downloaded Scrivener. Why? Because everyone told me I should, and I was convinced after watching the demo video (10 minutes well spent). For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a writing tool that makes long writing projects easier to manage. One thing that I wasn’t sure of when I downloaded it was how it links with EndNote, my citation management tool of choice.

A brief look around the Internet and I realised it does. I then realised I needed to know a bit more about EndNote to make that useful. I sent this to Dubber earlier, then realised it might be of wider interest. So, as sharing is caring, here’s my Scrivener + End Note cribsheet:


Once you have linked Scrivener and EndNote, cmd+Y will bring up EndNote’s library, from where you can copy & paste or drag and drop content into Scrivener. This will use the EndNote markup which looks a bit like this: {Hickman, 2010 #199@102-103}.

When you are finished drafting, compile from Scrivener to Word, and then run Tools > EndNote > Format Bibliography to convert the citations into your selected format and to generate a bibliography.

How to Link Scrivener to EndNote

Go to Scrivener > preferences > general and tell it where your EndNote application is.

screenshot of Scrivener preferences

EndNote Mark Up

Page numbers

When you place a citation you can add page numbers by typing @the page numbers before the closing } bracket.

e.g. like {Hickman, 2010 #199@102-103} = (Hickman, 2010 pp. 102-103)Date only
To omit author name just leave the comma but delete the author name:
{, 2010 #199@102-103} = (2010 pp. 102-103)

With annotations

To prefix the citation use a backslash before the start of the EndNote data:
{e.g. \Hickman, 2010 #199} = (e.g. Hickman, 2010)To suffix the citation, use `, after the EndNote data:
{Hickman, 2010 #199`, his emphasis} = (Hickman, 2010, his emphasis)

Importing drafts from Word

When importing documents from MS Word, it is best to first remove the citation formatting and revert back to EndNote mark up. That allows you to freely edit and remove citations and will ensure that your bibliography is correct when you output it later on.

Tools > Endnote > Unformat citation(s)


Update, August 2011

I spotted this video (by YouTube user Jigglebent), which takes you through all of the items discussed here. May be useful to watch that and then use the notes for reference:

I’ve also made an A4 PDF to print out and pin up over my desk, which might be of use:


A new bibliography style

I’ve never been happy with the default list of bibliography styles. In particular the Harvard and Author-Date styles don’t seem to want to display page numbers in citations, and the bibliography style for online materials seems a bit odd.

This bibliography style is my current Harvard variant, based on BCU’s Harvard referencing guidance for students.