Colchester, United Kingdom

Creative Research Methods

online course
when 7 August 2023 - 11 August 2023
language English
duration 1 week
credits 4 EC
fee GBP 478

Learn how to critically evaluate different creative research methods and assess their suitability for your research projects.

Need to know
While prior knowledge of qualitative methods is beneficial, it is not mandatory. Bringing your research topic or questions to the course is encouraged, but not mandatory. The course requires an approximate time commitment of 40 hours, which includes reading materials and participating online.

In depth

Day 1: Overview and introduction

Exploring the contribution of creative methods to research in the social sciences and assessing the motivations behind the use of creative methods: what can they help us answer? You will discuss the relationship between creative approaches and qualitative methods, and consider logistical issues in the implementation of creative approaches.

Sample readings:

Bagnoli, A. (2009). Beyond the standard interview: The use of graphic elicitation and arts-based methods. Qualitative Research, 9(5), 547–570.

Hicks, A., & Lloyd, A. (2018). Seeing information: Visual methods as entry points to information practices. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 50(3), 229–238.

Post-session exercise: Research questions for creative methods

Day 2: Creative approaches in interview settings

You will learn about the different types of creative tasks that can be used in the context of individual qualitative interviews. Focusing on mental mapping and its many applications, you will consider the strengths and limitations of these techniques and their suitability for different types of research topics and populations.

Sample readings:

Gieseking, J. J. (2013). Where we go from here: The mental sketch mapping method and its analytic components. Qualitative Inquiry, 19(9), 712–724.

Jung, H. (2014). Let their voices be seen: Exploring mental mapping as a feminist visual methodology for the study of migrant women. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38(3), 985–1002.

Post-session exercise: Cognitive mapping design for your research project

Day 3: Creative approaches in group settings

Explore different ways in which creative tasks can be used in group settings, such as workshops and focus groups. You will concentrate on visual focus groups as a novel method that embeds a collective drawing task in the context of a focus group. Consider the strengths and limitations of these techniques and their suitability for different types of research topics and populations.

Sample readings:

Ferrari, E. (2022). Visual focus groups: Stimulating reflexive conversations with collective drawing. New Media & Society.

Jackson Foster, L. J., Deafenbaugh, L., & Miller, E. (2018). Group metaphor map making: Application to integrated arts-based focus groups. Qualitative Social Work, 17(2), 305–322.

Haimson, O. L., Gorrell, D., Starks, D. L., & Weinger, Z. (2020). Designing Trans Technology: Defining Challenges and Envisioning Community-Centered Solutions. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings, 1–13.

Post-session exercise: Visual focus group design for your research project

Day 4: Hands-on session

Depending on interests, there will either be a speculative visual focus group or individual interviews with cognitive mapping. You will have a chance to experience what creative methods look like from the perspective of both researchers and research participants. More details about this session will be discussed at the beginning of the course and the activities will take into account individual preferences.

Post-session exercise: Draft reflective memo

Day 5: Ethical considerations and analytical strategies

Finally, you will be encouraged to think critically about the ethics of doing creative research. You will consider the ethical challenges that these creative methods can pose for us, either as standalone methods or in conjunction with other qualitative methods. Reflection on how to address these ethical issues before, during and after data collection will be required. You will go on to discuss how to analyse the data that you collect through creative tasks and how to relate these creative outputs to other data sources.

Sample readings:

Cuthbert, K. (2022). Researching ‘non-sexualities’ via creative notebooks: Epistemology, embodiment and empowerment. Qualitative Research, 22(6), 897–915.

Post-session exercise: Draft analytical memo on one output.

*Readings and exercises may be subject to change.

How the course will work online

You will participate in the course in different ways:

• Independent reading (in advance of the course and before class).
• Live seminars, including small group discussions and activities (120 minutes each day).
• Post-session exercises: (45-60 minutes).

Course leader

Elisabetta Ferrari is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Sociology at the University of Glasgow. Her research takes a comparative and critical approach to examine social and political implications of digital technologies, focusing on grassroots activism.

Target group

Researchers, professional analysts, advanced students

Course aim

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

• critically evaluate different creative research methods and assess their suitability for your research projects;
• develop research designs that include creative methods and implement them;
• assess the ethical implications of creative research methods and address them in your research designs; and
• apply analytical techniques to creative research data.

Credits info

4 EC
You can earn up to four credits for attending this course.
3 ECTS credits – Attend 100% of live sessions and engage fully with class activities.
4 ECTS credits – Attend 100% of live sessions, engage fully with class activities and complete a post-class assignment.

Fee info

GBP 478: ECPR Member
GBP 956: ECPR Non-Member


Funding applications for the 2023 ECPR Summer School in Research Methods and Techniques are now closed.
For more details on funding opportunities for ECPR's other events, please visit our website.