Quantitative Ethnography Reviews
"David Williamson Shaffer is … ringing the bell to announce the revolution is coming to education and the social sciences…. Shaffer integrates big data, data-mining, discourse analysis, social interactionism, cognition, learning science, statistics, and ethnography into a brand-new integrated human science…. Here we get numbers and meaning both, and they don’t fight each other, rather they give birth to truly new ideas and innovative ways out of our old ruts. Those interested in teaching, learning, meaning-making, culture, social interaction, and human development will find here the first shot in a real revolution. It’s a wild ride and a great read to boot."
"What happens when we dissolve the boundaries between quantitative and qualitative research? In this groundbreaking and incredibly engaging book, David Williamson Shaffer gives researchers the tools they need to focus on human sensemaking in the age of big data. Quantitative Ethnography uses humorous examples, cultural references, and vivid metaphors to explain cutting-edge research methods for the 21st Century. A must read for anyone interested in social science and humanities research."
"This extraordinary book manages to achieve the impossible: integrating ethnographic and statistical methodologies without compromising the integrity of either. Shaffer presents sophisticated and complex ideas in an accessible and even entertaining manner, and guides the reader through the messy and imperfect process of interrogating big data with sensitivity, rigor and honesty. He introduces key concepts and methods for conducting quantitative ethnography, including data collection, organization, segmentation, coding, statistical analysis, interpretation and meta-methodological reflection. But the book is much more than a how-to guide. Its most important contributions are its philosophical integration of ethnographic and quantitative perspectives into a coherent theoretical framework, its demonstration of how to think critically about the research process, and its persuasive argument about the utility – even necessity – of quantitative ethnography in investigations of big data. Both qualitative purists and big data crunchers are likely to balk at the idea of putting "Ethnography and "Quantitative" together, which is exactly why they need this book."
"Quantitative Ethnography… may be the next revolution in scientific inquiry."
"Quantitative Ethnography is an exceptionally readable book: remarkably thoughtful, useful, literate, and humane. Shaffer is an excellent storyteller; he shows how to use sophisticated statistical tools but keeps the focus on humans and real human behavior. The book should be required reading for anyone interested in analytics for education."
"David Williamson Shaffer has written a compelling account of the need for Quantitative Ethnography in the era of Big Data. He takes the reader on an engaging and practical journey through the worlds of statistics and ethnography, creating a critical understanding of each one and showing the power of joining them together. Quantitative Ethnography is wonderfully instructive for learning analytics researchers. A great book for both undergraduate and graduate students in the field."
"David Williamson Shaffer has written a must-read book about research methodology in the age of Big Data. Quantitative Ethnography is a masterful weaving of qualitative and quantitative research techniques, showing why just having more data is useless unless we also understand what the data really means. Shaffer presents the beauty and subtlety and synergistic power of quantitative ethnography as way to turn Big Data into Big Understanding. Read this book--and learn from one of the best!"
"This book beautifully exemplifies Alan Kay’s idea that a change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points--in this case, the power of combining ethnography and statistical analysis. Quantitative Ethnography is must reading for anyone who wants to understand the whether, what, and why of Big Data."
"This is not your standard research methods book! Shaffer offers a fresh look at the relationship between numbers and meaning, between qualitative and quantitative approaches to analysing human interaction. A fascinating exploration of topics at the nexus of learning research, pragmatics, and data science."
"Introductions to research methods rarely invite page turning or bring smiles to the reader, but David Williamson Shaffer manages to achieve both! Quantitative Ethnography shows researchers how to make sense of the data deluge: how to go from Big Data to Big Understanding. Shaffer guides the reader through the science of quantitative ethnography, using stories and real examples. The book explains both practical applications of analytic methods and their theoretical underpinnings, and each section ends with further reading and key questions to consider."
"Quantitative Ethnography sounds like an oxymoron, but so is Jumbo Shrimp, and they are delicious. This book is too. Shaffer writes: “The mountains of data that we see around us are more like a chain of islands in the middle of the cultural ocean of meaning. Ethnography is a way to chart that ocean, and Quantitative Ethnography is a way to use statistical tools to make better charts by finding landmarks amidst the mountains of data.” He goes on to demonstrate — in the most engaging way — how statistical techniques can strengthen the study of people and cultures. Shaffer takes the reader on a tour of the goals, biases, and practices of both ethnography and statistics, showing how researchers can rid themselves of the outdated dichotomy between qualitative and quantitative approaches to studying how people make sense of the world."
"Statisticians and ethnographers have been working apart for too long! Shaffer presents an exciting and important vision: a compelling argument for how these two approaches can be brought together to draw deeper meaning from the big data that saturates modern life."
"In captivating prose, Shaffer conveys in Quantitative Ethnography simple messages such as the difference between correlation and causation—a difference that is so often forgotten by researchers and readers reviewing a result that they believe to be true. More than that, in language that is accessible to those who are not experts in the subject, Shaffer conveys much more complex messages about how big data can be used in ways that are safe, retain the integrity of the scientific method, and yet retain the richness we expect of qualitative methods."
"Quantitative Ethnography is the book to read for anyone who wants to bridge the gulf between qualitative and quantitative research. Shaffer shows how to bridge that gap with mountains of insightful analyses of Big Data about conversations, emotions, and physical interactions with the world."
"This book makes a compelling case for quantitative ethnography in the social sciences. Shaffer’s argument unfolds in a most engaging writing style, without compromising on scholarship."
"Dare to quantify the qualitative! High accolades and generous applause don't do justice to this amazing methodological discovery. David Williamson Shaffer uses psychological theory and data visualization to crack the code of understanding how people make meaning in the world by analyzing words and actions. Quantitative Ethnography is a must read for researchers and scientists--and anyone who wants to have a relationship, whether in-depth or fleeting, with complex data."