The Society for the
Study of Social Issues


Graduate Student Committee Methodology Webinar Series

In the spring of 2016, SPSSI began to host methodology- and policy-focused webinars organized by the SPSSI Graduate Student Committee. These one-hour webinars, which are free to attend and freely available in recorded form on SPSSI's YouTube page, are an excellent primer on important methodological approaches and social issue research/policy topics. If you are interested in potentially presenting at an upcoming webinar, click here

Upcoming Webinars

  • Nonverbal Behavioral Coding for Beginners Researchers, with Ph.D. student Katlin (Katie) Bentley of Washington University in St. Louis: Wednesday 11/29, 2017 at 12 pm EST.

  • The Role of Foundations in Supporting Policy-Relevant Research and Successfully Translating Research into Policy Initiatives, with Dr. Fred Karnas of The Kresge Foundation: Early 2018. Stay tuned for an exact date, and information on how to register!

  • Transnational Migration, Refugee Protection, and Human Rights, with Dr. Jacqueline Bhabha of Harvard University: Monday 4/9, 2018 at 1 pm EDT. Stay tuned for information on how to register!

Past Webinars

Methodology Webinars

Measuring and Assessing Constructs
Measurements of constructs in the social sciences are often inadequate. Constructs may be measured using “new” scales with inadequate reliability, or inadequate convergent and discriminant validity. Often this information is not evaluated. Sometimes we use previously validated scales but fail to check the psychometric properties in the current sample, and invalid conclusions can result when measurement error is too high. Unfortunately, the analysis of scale validity and the assessment of the structural properties of psychological constructs are often ignored in published papers. This webinar, featuring a presentation by Ph.D. student Joshua Wright of the University of Western Ontario, provides an introduction to the process of evaluating the psychometric properties of your construct that will prevent you from unintentionally undermining your research with poorly measured constructs. This is a “how to” to factor analysis (EFA and CFA), composite reliability, and average variance extracted.

An Introduction to Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Long considered the gold standard for research, systematic reviews and meta-analyses form the basis for many practitioners' and policymakers' decisions. In this webinar, Ph.D. student Robert Marx of Vanderbilt University provides an introduction to conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis, walking participants through the search, screening, and coding processes. He also discusses practical applications for systematic reviews and meta-analyses and locating additional resources to help researchers in their process. Because this is an introduction, the webinar focuses primarily on creating a replicable, thorough, and far-reaching search, establishing finite and clear inclusion and exclusion criteria, applying those criteria in the screening process, and then extracting meaningful data from eligible studies in order to calculate effect sizes.

Measuring True Change over Time - An Autoregressive Latent Trajectory Analysis
There are multiple ways to measure and understand change over time. Social scientists, including psychologists, are equipped with various statistical approaches to examine change and each approach consists of specific assumptions and answers specific kinds of research questions. In this webinar, Ph.D. student Juan Del Toro of New York University presents these traditional statistical models of change (including autoregressive models and latent growth models used to examine constructs at both univariate and bivariate levels) as well as an autoregressive latent trajectory analysis (ALT; Bollen & Curran, 2006). He discusses the theoretical questions relevant to these models as well as the practical ways in which these models can be used (for example, his own research from secondary data analyses).

An Introduction to Cardiovascular Psychophysiology
In this webinar, Ph.D. student William Ryan of the University of California at Santa Barbara speaks to researchers wishing to learn more about theory and methods of cardiovascular (CV) psychophysiology. CV measures provide a means of collecting continuous and covert indices of psychological states and can also serve as indicators of health. This makes them applicable to a wide variety of research topics and paradigms, particularly those subject to reporting biases or focused on the psychophysiological mechanisms underlying health disparities. The webinar includes an overview of the general principles of psychophysiology; covers the physiological structures and processes relevant to heart rate, impedance, blood pressure, and heart rate variability data; and relates these indices to a number of theoretical perspectives including the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat. Webinar participants also learn the basics of designing psychophysiological studies and collecting CV data.

An Introduction to Social Network Analysis in Psychology
In this webinar, Dr. Joanna Weill (then a Ph.D. Candidate) of the University of California at Santa Cruz provides an overview of Social Network Analysis, a methodology for collecting and analyzing data, and a way of learning about the world that focuses on the relationships between people. This webinar explains what social networks are and what types of psychological questions can be addressed with this methodology. The presenter also discusses strategies for collecting social network data, basic types of data analyses, and useful resources. Please note that although social network analysis can be used to look at online social networks like Facebook and Twitter, this is not the focus of the webinar.

Policy Webinars

Simple, Serious and Solvable: The Three S's of Climate Change
Climate change is one of the—if not the—most pressing social issues of our time. As psychologists and other social scientists have explored through their scholarship, the effects of climate change are associated with everything from depression and intimate partner violence to intergroup conflict and refugee crises. In order for psychologists and other social scientists to do their best science, they need to know what major findings and insights are coming out of other fields. In this webinar, Dr. Scott Denning of Colorado State University breaks down the science behind climate change and talks about what it will take to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Fostering Refugee and Immigrant Belonging and Well-being
In this webinar, Ph.D. candidate Achu Johnson Alexander and Dr. Anita H. Fábos, both of Clark University, discuss the role of local refugee and immigrant resettlement within the context of changing demographic and societal characteristics at the state level. In addition to providing a detailed overview of the methodology and findings related to this exploratory research project—called “Shared Worlds”— the presenters discuss how their research aims to expand our understanding of refugee and immigrant integration beyond the typical indicators (e.g., jobs, housing) to get at how refugees and immigrants develop a sense of belonging in their new communities. The presenters also discuss how data gathering on both foreign- and U.S.-born populations has been useful in understanding inter-group perceptions of belonging, and dedicate time to discussing the challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned that may be instructive to others who study or work with refugee and/or immigrant populations, especially at the local level. 

Science, Policy, and Controversy
Science involves epistemically significant decisions — decisions that can make a substantial difference in the outcomes of research — at every stage of the research process, from posing a research question to selecting data-gathering methods to analyzing and interpreting the resulting data.  In this webinar, Dr. Daniel Hicks examines the way epistemically significant decisions can become flashpoints for policy controversy, using examples from controversies over vaccination, genetically modified foods, chemical safety, and climate change. This phenomenon creates serious challenges for the ideal of public policy based exclusively on objective, universally-accepted "sound science.”

Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin