Workshop: Constructing a Theoretically-Motivated “Numerical Narrative”

Presented by Chris Rider, Thomas C. Kinnear Professor and Associate Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies, Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan


Thursday, April 25, 2024

3:30-5:00 pm

338 Brogden Hall

Space is limited so please register: Register

Workshop Description: In this 90-minute workshop, we will focus on storytelling for social and behavioral scientists who work with qualitative and/or quantitative data. Specifically, we will discuss how researchers can integrate theory with empirical evidence to construct “numerical narratives” that are accessible to diverse audiences (e.g., colleagues, policymakers, students). Elaborating a systematic approach to affirming some audience beliefs while denying others, we will work on persuading audiences that our arguments are possible, plausible, and even probable. Using an illustrative data set and empirical context, we will practice establishing phenomena, motivating multiple mechanisms, and designing a series of compelling data visualizations culminating in a “thousand-word picture” (as in the adage “a picture worth a thousand words”) that delivers a conclusion characterized as “differences-in-inferences” (i.e., a novel contribution that is related to, but distinct from, prior work).

Target audience: This workshop is for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty who work with data on questions related to the social and behavioral sciences. Although the workshop geared toward IDS affiliates and connected graduate students and postdocs, all members of the UW–Madison campus community (graduate students, postdocs, and faculty) are welcome to register.

Suggested Readings

Damodaran, A. (2017). Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business. Columbia Business School Publishing: New York. [Read pp. 10-51]

Davis, M. S. (1971). “That’s Interesting!: Towards a Phenomenology of Sociology and a Sociology of Phenomenology.” Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 1(2): 309–344. [Read pp. 309-326]

Elster, J. (2007). “Explanation.” Chapter 1 in Explaining social behavior: More nuts and bolts for the social sciences. Cambridge University Press: New York. [Read pp. 9-30]

Healy, K. & J. Moody. (2018). “Data visualization in sociology.” Annual Review of Sociology, 40: 105-128.

Hedström, P. & K. Wennberg. (2017) “Causal mechanisms in organization and innovation studies.” Innovation, 19:1, 91-102. [Focus on “Coleman’s boat” figure and explanation]

Merton, R. K. (1987). “Three Fragments From a Sociologist’s Notebooks: Establishing the Phenomenon, Specified Ignorance, and Strategic Research Materials.” Annual Review of Sociology, 13(1): 1-29. [Read pp. 1-10]