Archive for the 'Academia' Category

Hiring, again

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Work around here is expanding and so I’m hiring again, this time with my colleague Peter Miller. See ad below. Please forward to people who may be interested. Thanks!

Job Opportunity
Research Associate, Youth Digital Media Use Survey Project
Northwestern University

The Youth Digital Media Use Survey Project at Northwestern University is looking for a Research Associate for a project funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The Research Associate will work closely with Professors Eszter Hargittai and Peter Miller to collect and archive information on surveys of youth digital media use. In addition, the Associate will organize and document several in-person and on-line meetings of youth digital media researchers. The end product of the project, which the Research Associate will help to draft, is a report making recommendations to the MacArthur Foundation on survey design options for the study of youth digital media use.

*Responsibilities: Collect and archive published and “grey” literature on youth digital media use; collect and archive information on survey projects that have been or could be employed for the study of youth digital media use; work with the principal investigators, organize and document several meetings of researchers in this field; help to synthesize the information from these various sources for a project report. Depending on skills and interests, serve as a co-author on scholarly articles resulting from the project.

*Qualifications: Master’s degree in social science (e.g., communication, sociology, political science, economics, psychology, human development, learning sciences, library and information science); 1-3 years of work experience; strong organizational skills; strong written and verbal communication skills; excellent interpersonal skills; strong problem solving and analytical skills; ability to work in a professional manner as both a self-starter and a team member; intermediate-advanced skills in Microsoft Office (particularly Word and Excel); and intermediate-advanced skills in using Web interfaces.

*Desired Qualifications: Terminal degree (Ph.D., Ed.D., J.D.) in quantitative social science with experience in survey research; project management experience; archival experience; advanced skills in Microsoft Office (particularly Word and Excel); experience with analysis of quantitative data, especially in the use of Stata.

*Salary: $3,125 per month for 30 hours/week.

*The position starts immediately and will last eight months.

*Northwestern University is an EEO/AA employer.

*Please send cover letter, resume and reference contact information to

Jason Gallo, Project Coordinator (Web Use Project) at

If I’d only known…

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

I am working on the Introduction to an edited volume on the nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes work involved in empirical social science research (to be published by The University of Michigan Press in 2008). While each chapter in the book gets into considerable detail about how to approach various types of projects (from sampling online populations to interviewing hard-to-access groups, from collecting biomarkers to compiling cross-national quantitative data sets), I want to address more general issues in the introductory chapter.

One of the topics I would like to discuss concerns larger-level lessons learned after conducting such projects. The motivation behind the entire volume is that unprecedented things happen no matter the quality and detail of preparation, but even issues that can be anticipated are rarely passed along to researchers new to a type of method. The volume tries to rectify this.

I am curious, what are your biggest lessons learned? If you had to pick one or two (or three or four) things you really wish you had known before you had embarked on a project, what are they? I am happy to hear about any type of issue from learning more about a collaborator’s qualifications or interests, to leaving more time for cleaning data, from type of back-up method to unprecedented issues with respondents. If you don’t feel comfortable posting here, please email me off-blog. Thanks!

Vote for your favorite academic haikus

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Jim got such great response to his academic haiku contest that he decided to categorize the submissions by field. You are requested to cast your vote in the following categories:

I’m surprised by some of the classifications, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy with some of those submissions. Why my paper that was published in Social Science Quartery was not classified as social science is beyond me, but perhaps Jim needed some excuse to create a fourth category to make things manageable and thus put some entries in the fourth interdisciplinary tech/computer/Internet-related, but otherwise unrelated group. Even in the realm of academic haikus my work lands in a heap of confusion, the story of my academic life.

In any case, this was a really fun exercise and I thank Jim for inspiring so many of us to think about our work in 17 syllables. If you haven’t done it yet, I recommend playing with the concept even if you are too late to enter this contest. Go read the submissions and vote to get inspired.

I’m quite happy with my “I am an expert” haiku. If you agree, don’t be shy and please check off the corresponding mark, #3 on the tech/computer/Internet list.:-)

Academic haiku

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Grad school pal Jim Gibbon launched an academic haiku contest a week ago. I only noticed it today (Wednesday),which happens to be the deadline for submissions. If you still have time, head on over and submit something. If it’s past Wednesday then feel free to add your creative output in the comments here.

The idea is that the haiku should represent some of your work (a paper, a book, a dissertation, etc.). Here are my two submissions:

I am an expert.
I am man, you are woman.
I exaggerate.

From: *Hargittai, E & S. Shafer. 2006. “Differences in Actual and Perceived Online Skills: The Role of Gender.” Social Science Quarterly. 87(2):432-448. June.

RSS, widgets,
Don’t know one from the other.
Average Web users.

From: Hargittai, E. 2007. “Wikis and Widgets: Differences in Young Adults’ Uses of the Internet” Paper to be presented at the 2007 ICA meetings.

[*] I have to add that it’s actually not possible to tell from the findings whether men overestimate or women underestimate their skills, but perhaps that amount of artistic freedom for the haiku is allowed.

The latest in online video sharing

Friday, December 1st, 2006

An important aspect of scientific research is that others should be able to reproduce the work. This is significant partly, because it serves as a check on the system, but also, because it allows others to build on previous achievements. Replication is not trivial to achieve, however, given that studies often rely on complex methodologies. There is rarely enough room in journal articles or books to devote sufficiently detailed descriptions of how data were collected and procedures administered. Moreover, even with adequate space for text, many actions are hard to explain without visuals.

This is where recently launched JoVE comes to the rescue. The Journal of Visual Experiments publishes short videos of procedures used in biology labs. Former Princeton graduate student Moshe Pritsker created the peer-reviewed online journal with Nikita Bernstein. The inspiration came back in his graduate school days when he had often been frustrated in the lab while trying to conduct experiments based on others’ descriptions of the necessary methods. The goal of the journal is to assist others with such tasks. The publication has an editorial board and submissions are reviewed before a decision is made about publication.

What a great use of the Web for dissemination of material that would otherwise be difficult to get to relevant parties. [Thanks to Mark Brady for pointing me to the Nature article – that is now behind subscription wall – about JoVE. That piece served as the source for some of the above.]

Hey, hi, do my work for me, will ya?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Some people are not very good at communicating requests to strangers. My frustrations over this – being the recipient of such messages several times a week – have led me to write a piece on how best to approach a stranger with a request over email published today at Inside Higher Ed.

Often enough we are faced with a question that can best be answered by someone else, possibly a complete stranger. The upside of the Internet is that we can quickly contact folks without much effort. The downside of the Internet is that people can contact us without much effort. [..]

Given people’s limited amount of time, how can we ensure that our inquiring e-mail is not simply relegated to the recipient’s trash folder?

Descriptive subject line
Polite point-of-contact
Succinct statement of the message’s purpose
Brief introduction of yourself
Acknowledging other attempts at finding an answer or solution
Restatement of question
Gratitude for assistance

.. all done briefly.

See the piece for details. Of course, one problem is that the people who are most likely to write pathetic notes are the least likely to read an article of this sort. But at least for those who care, perhaps this can offer some helpful pointers.

Credit Slips blog

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

Credit Slips is a group blog focusing on “all things about credit and bankruptcy”. Not only does this blog have a great list of contributors, but they also bring in some star guests.

This week, Viviana Zelizer from Princeton’s Sociology Department has been guest blogging on topics ranging from the importance of personal ties in economic transactions to economic exchange across generations in families, the gendered aspects of spending and the intersection of economic transactions and intimate relations. (The latter is also the topic of her most recent book on The Purchase of Intimacy). She is great at talking about these issues so I highly recommend checking out her posts.

Full disclosure, Viviana was one of my mentors in graduate school. However, I think that makes me particularly qualified to comment on how helpful her work is in understanding questions about how social relations and cultural context influence economic processes. Be sure not to miss out on this treat.

Kindred spirits

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

My office for the yearIn honor of Halloween, the staff at the Center gave each fellow a list of previous office occupants. (As a reminder, I’m spending the year at CASBS thanks to a grant from the Annenberg Foundation to bring communication scholars here.) Below is my list of ghosts from the past.

Bay, Christian
Bauer, Raymond
Opler, Morris E.
Hymes, Dell H.
Beattie, John H. M.
Heady, Earl O.
Cohen, Albert K.
Millon, Rene
Shaffer, Jerome A.
Jenkins, James J.
Tannenbaum, Percy
Lydall, Harold F.
Mandelbaum, Maurice
Kothari, Rajni
Barber, Cesar L. Joe
Hartz, Louis
Mazrui, Ali
Neisser, Ulric
Peterson, Osler
Said, Edward
Cohen, Ronald
Graves, Theodore
Vaillant, George
Goody, Esther Newcomb
Dawes, Robyn M.
Watson, Richard Allan
Kaestle, Carl F.
Prewitt, Kenneth
Scott, Rebecca J.
Cawte, John
Weber, David J.
Lougee, Carolyn Chappell
Nipperdey, Thomas
Ashenfelter, Orley
Hermalin, Albert I.
Meinwald, Jerrold
Palloni, Alberto
Weber, Elke U.
Lerdahl, Fred
Camarillo, Albert M.
Trouillot, Michel-Rolph
Green, Martin B.
Rév, István
Cook, Karen S.
Twining, William Lawrence
Grimshaw, Jane
Biernacki, Richard G.
Gruenfeld, Deborah H.
Fisher, Philip
Katzenstein, Mary F.
Katz, Jonathan N.
Hargittai, Eszter

My It may seem silly to focus on individual offices, but given the special architecture of this place, each office is a distinct part of the Center. Its architect William Wurster did a wonderful job of constructing a place that offers considerable privacy to each office occupant while also fostering interaction among community members. Perhaps some of the pictures I have taken convey that. There are no hallways here, just rows of offices and gardens in between.

Being given an opportunity to be at the Center is already humbling enough, but to think that all of the above people had been in the exact same spot working away is quite amazing. It’s neat to find some connections. For example, I only brought a few dozen books with me to the Center, but one of them is Carl Kaestle’s Literacy in the United States so it was really fun to see his name on my list.

I could spend days browsing the lists of the various offices, there is so much exciting history here.

MacArthur initiative on Digital Media and Learning

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Earlier this year, Brad DeLong suggested that he should get rich and then give a large grant to me to do a study. I’m all for Brad getting rich and I happily await the day including the check he’ll send my way as a result. However, in the meantime, it’s good to know that there are some other sources of potential funding for work on information technologies.

Yesterday, the MacArthur Foundation announced a new initiative in Digital Media and Learning. They have committed $50 million dollars over five years to this. I was fortunate to be one of the recipients of a research grant. My project will be a look at young people’s uses of the Internet with particular focus on their skills and participation. I will also be conducting a training intervention (on participants randomly assigned to the control versus the experimental group) to see if we can create a program that helps people improve their online abilities (in such domains as efficiency in content navigation and evaluating the credibility of information).

Generally speaking, the goal of this initiative is to gain a better understanding of how young people are using digital media in their everyday lives and how various types of learning are taking place outside of the classroom through the use of such media. MacArthur has also launched a blog to discuss related projects.

The press conference was simulcast in Second Life and some participants captured a few screenshots, including ones from Teen Second Life.

As you can imagine, I’m super excited about all this and so will likely be blogging about related issues in the future (hah, not that I haven’t already).


Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

I am hiring for a full-time staff position in my research group. Details are below. If you know of someone in the Chicagoland area who may be interested (or someone somewhere else who’d be up for moving to the area), please let them know about this opportunity. Or if you can think of relevant mailing lists, please let me know. (I’ve posted it on air-l and CITASA. I’ve put an ad on Craig’s List Chicago and on Salon Jobs. And I’ve sent a note to a bunch of people I know both in Chicagoland and elsewhere. I welcome suggestions for additional ways of publicizing it though. For now I’m holding off on posting it on Thanks!

The Web Use Project, a social science research group at Northwestern University, is looking for a full-time Project Coordinator. The Project Coordinator will work closely with Professor Eszter Hargittai, her graduate students and undergraduate students in coordinating, overseeing and administering research studies on young people’s Internet uses. See for more information about the research group and for more information about Prof. Eszter Hargittai’s work.

*Responsibilities: Coordinate the day-to-day activities for research projects; Recruit, hire, and oversee the management of undergraduate research assistants; Schedule the use of lab space for lab members and research activities; Manage Institutional Review Board (IRB) submissions; Coordinate with off-site project consultants; Organize scheduling of data collection; Oversee and administer data collection; Interview study participants; Conduct training sessions; Manage research databases and locked data cabinets; Manage the security and use of equipment; Ensure conformity to research group policies and perform other related duties as assigned.

*Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in Communication, Sociology, Social Policy, Human Development, Education, Psychology, or a related field; 1-3 years of work experience; Strong organizational skills; Strong written and verbal communication skills; Excellent interpersonal skills; Strong problem solving and analytical skills; Ability to work in a professional manner as both a self-starter and a team member; Intermediate-Advanced skills in Microsoft Office (particularly Word and Excel); and Intermediate-Advanced skills in using Web interfaces.

*Desired Qualifications: Master’s degree in Communication, Sociology, Social Policy, Human Development, Education, Psychology, or a related field; 3+ years of social science research experience; Project management; Advanced skills in Microsoft Office (particularly Word and Excel); Experience with quantitative data; Experience with public speaking; Skills in use of Stata.

*Salary: between $35,000-$38,000 (based on experience) plus benefits

This position is scheduled to end after one year; based on availability of funds and satisfactory performance it may be renewed for a second year.

Please send cover letter, resume and reference contact information to Eszter Hargittai at You must also submit your application through the Northwestern eRecruit system:
This is position #10572.

Keywords: research, project coordinator, Communication, Sociology, Education, lab manager

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer. Members of historically underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

But what if you meet a man?

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Interesting anecdote in the comments to this post over at Science + Professor + Woman = Me. This is a conversation between the commenter and her chair, a man, about getting the signature for two graduate students to join her lab.

    Chair: I’m not sure that I can sign off on your being the advisor for these students.

    Me [Pam]: Excuse me? (Background: two new federally-funded three-yr grants, each with a doctoral stipend available for a student)

    Chair: Well, how do I know you are not going to meet a man and run off and be with him?

    (I kid you not, he said that).

    Me: You don’t. But how do I know that you aren’t going to meet a man and run off with him, and abandon the department?

    (He didn’t think it was funny – but he signed the forms.)

Visiting Cornell

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

I’m on my way to Cornell to give a talk in the Information Science Colloquium tomorrow. There are several great people at Cornell across numerous departments studying IT-related topics so this should be a fun trip.

It’s been almost 15 years since I’ve been to Ithaca. That first visit was for the Cornell Summer College Program for high school students. I still have very fond memories of it and one of my closest friends to this day is someone I met that summer in 1991. Unfortunately, the program no longer offers full scholarships for international students. Bummer.

As a side note, I would like to recommend the Cornell campus-to-campus shuttle from NYC. It’s not only comfortable, it has wifi. I’ve never blogged from a bus before, it’s a nice option to have.

Public speaking pet peeve

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Today’s Lifehacker special is a piece I wrote on “Public speaking do’s and don’t’s”. I list ways in which one can prepare for a talk and suggestions for how to make the most of a presentation. I welcome additions to the list, in the comments here or to the original post.

I won’t replicate the entire piece here, but I do want to mention one of the issues I discuss. One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to presentations has to do with most people’s inability to stick to the time they have been alloted for their talk.

Few people are such amazing speakers that the audience can’t get enough of listening to them so it is best to wrap up a speech on time. One of the most common pitfalls is to add “brief” introductory remarks to one’s prepared talk. There is usually nothing brief about such comments. Moreover, given that most conference presentations – the ones with which I tend to be most familiar – are supposed to take about 15 minutes, adding just three minutes of intro uses up 20 percent of the time allocation. However, most people are already short on time so this way they get even more behind.

I have considerably less experience in industry and other realms. Is this better elsewhere?

A related pet peeve concerns moderators who are unable to tell people that it is time to wrap up and give the next person a chance to speak.

The Mrs

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

I blogged this over on Crooked Timber yesterday. It got tons of comments (over 80 as I write this) many of which are very interesting so I recommend checking that out. Kevin Drum picked it up – and added an interesting comment about how sports commentators refer to tennis players – so you may want to check that out as well (in addition to Kevin’s point, some of the 130+ comments there are also an interesting read).

On occasion, I get emails in which people address me as Mrs. Hargittai. I’m not suggesting that people need know my personal history or preferences. However, if you are going to contact someone in a professional context and they have a Ph.D. and they teach at a university (both of which are very clear on their homepage where you probably got their email address in the first place), wouldn’t you opt for Dr. or Professor?

Most of the time when someone contacts me and says “Dear Dr. Hargittai” or “Dear Professor Hargittai” the first line of my response is: “Dear X, please call me Eszter.” So the status marker that comes with these is not what’s of interest to me. Rather, I’m intrigued by how gender ties into all this and would love to hear how male junior faculty get addressed in such situations.

Today, I received a message that had an interesting additional component:

Dear Mrs. Hargittai,

Professor Name-of-one-of-my-senior-male-colleagues recommended that I get in touch with you.

Read the rest of this entry »

Radio interview segments now available

Monday, January 2nd, 2006

As I noted earlier, last month I was interviewed on Milt Rosenberg’s Extension 720 radio show in the company of Dan Drezner and Sean Carroll, two other Chicagoland academic bloggers.

Segments of the interview are now available as an mp3 file.

The first part of the podcast is from another interview. If you want to skip ahead to the sections from our show then here is where you’ll want to slide the player once the file has loaded:

Extension 720 podcast location indicator


“Nature” on blogs

Tuesday, December 6th, 2005

The current issue of Nature has several articles about “Science in the web age” including a focus on scholarly searching online, the digitization of books, and the sharing of research ideas through the use of blogs, which discusses the use of blogs by academics to communicate about their research.

The latter is of particular interest here and something I have written about before. This being the last week of the quarter I am running around like crazy and have little time to comment. The short summary of some current thoughts I have on this are as follows. Traditional academic outlets rarely offer the opportunity to publish short think-pieces. But many thoughts, while valuable, do not require or necessarily merit a 25-40 page paper. Where to publish them then? Blogs seem like an obvious and helpful outlet in such a case. And yes, blogs can have a peer review component if comments are allowed and knowledgable people are reading the material.

Paper to the rescue

Friday, November 18th, 2005

Following up on the last post regarding dissertation completion, I thought I would acknowledge the role of paper that came up as a theme in the panel this morning. There were two of us recent PhDs on the panel and it turns out both of us turned to playing with paper as a way to take breaks from our dissertation writing. I picked up papier mache the Spring of 2003. Given the results, it is not surprising that I gave it up after the dissertation was complete. The other recent graduate on the panel said he was doing lots of origami at the time. Go figure.

All of this relates to keeping healthy during the process. It is important to take breaks. In fact, I do not believe it is possible to do good work without taking breaks. So what is your preferred break activity? I am especially interested in responses other than “blogging”.;)

Strategies for successful dissertation completion

Friday, November 18th, 2005

[Also posted on Crooked Timber.]

If you are or were at some point in a doctoral program then you have probably heard the following before: The best dissertation is a done dissertation. But how to get it done?

I am at the annual meetings of the National Communication Association where I have been asked to present on a panel about “Strategies for Successful Dissertation Completion”. It is hard to say whether I have any more expertise in this area than anyone else with a PhD, but I did sit down to come up with a list that I thought may be worth sharing here. I want to acknowledge the contributions of my grad school friend Erica Field who kindly entertained this question over dinner last night and offered several helpful additions to the list. Since we had spent countless dinners during grad school discussing our dissertations her contributions to all this have been more significant than simply talking about it over one meal.

I welcome additions to the list. I plan to share this with students in the future so the more helpful pointers the better.

It is probably fair to note that I did not follow all of these points, but if I had to do it all over again, I likely would. The list is presented in no particular order.

Also, several of the items are likely helpful for people who are at more advanced stages of their academic careers so you may get something out of this even if you already have a PhD.

Read the rest of this entry »

West Coast dispatch in ’06/07

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

Next year Eszter’s Blog will be coming to you from Silicon Valley. I will be a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. I am super excited about this opportunity. The Center got a grant from the Annenberg Foundation last year to add Communications to the fields represented among its fellows and I’m going as part of such a cohort.

There’s something amusing related to all this. Or I thought it was amusing until I shared it with a friend who didn’t think it funny at all. You be the judge. While I was lifehacking away a few weeks ago, Chris pointed me to Google Sets for various associations. I decided to see what Google Sets had to say about my academic affiliations. I typed in the names of my BA and PhD granting institutions plus Northwestern (the place of my current employment) and pressed Large Sets. The fourth school on the list was Stanford. When I did this I already knew that I was headed to the Center next year so I found this amusing. But perhaps you need to have a certain geek factor to get anything out of this exercise.:)

Paul Starr wins book award

Sunday, July 10th, 2005

I am happy to let people know that the Outstanding Publication: Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s section on Communication and Information Technologies has been awarded to Paul Starr for his book on The Creation of the Media. Paul was one of my advisors in graduate school. He wrote this book throughout the time I spent at Princeton. I learned a lot from following the progress in the project. Here is the note from Lori Kendall who chaired the CITASA awards committee:

Starr is Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, and Stuart Professor of Communications and Public Affairs, at Princeton University. Prof. Starr has received numerous awards for his previous works, including the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for his book “The Social Transformation of American Medicine.” “The Creation of the Media” recounts the historical development of the political framework for the communications industries in the United States. Given its phenomenal breadth and depth, its wealth of historical detail, and the excellent attention to both social and technological issues in the development of media, “The Creation of Media” provides an important historical context for scholars of today’s media. Published in New York by Basic Books, 2004. The other members of the committee are Karen Cerulo, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, and Mary Virnoche, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Humboldt State University.