CYGNA: Secondary data sources and research portfolios

Reports on our 19th CYGNA meeting with presentations about working with secondary data sources and balancing your research portfolio

Since moving to the UK, I have been involved in running CYGNA. The network was established in June 2014  as a combined initiative of Argyro Avgoustaki, Ling Eleanor Zhang, and Anne-Wil Harzing, later joined by Shasha Zhao. The name CYGNA comes from the female version of the Greek word for SWAN (Supporting Women in Academia Network). The main objective of the group is to promote interaction among female academics based in the London area and to provide a forum for learning, support, and networking. 

 We typically hold four or five meetings a year with a mix of presentations and informal discussions. A quick overview of the topics covered can be found here. Yearly meeting overviews with pictures can be found here. In February 2018, I have started to write up our meetings as blogposts so from February till June 2018 you'll find reports on a mix of recent and older CYGNA meetings on my blog. A full list of the blogposts of our mid 2014 to mid 2018 meetings can be found at CYGNA: Resource collection for the summer holidays. We also maintain a readings and inspirations section for female academics and have a Twitter hashtag #cygna_london.

19th meeting 26 January 2018 (ESCP Europe)

Organised by Argyro Avgoustaki, ESCP Europe

We met in the lovely building at the ESCP campus at West Hampstead (see picture). As usual, we had a mixed group of old-timers and new members, including our first member completely outside the Social Sciences: Saoirse O'Toole and a visiting academic from the USA - Mary Maloney - who managed to catch our meeting just before she returned home. We had two presentations dealing with working with secondary data and balancing your research portfolio respectively. 

Working with secondary data sources

In the first part of the meeting Argyro Avgoustaki (ESCP Europe) gave us a very useful overview of the possibilities of  Working with secondary data sources [presentation download]. She covered three main data-sources:

  • Working with European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS)
  • Working with Understanding society Survey, wave B
  • Working with European Company Survey (ECS)

Her presentation focused on the strengths and challenges of secondary data and the differences among the sources. She also gave examples of statistical analysis using secondary data. After her presentation, we were all more motivated to explore these data sources. As one of the attendees said: "these data sources might well have their drawbacks, but I have made all the same mistakes that they have made in collecting similar types of data; only it took me a lot more time and I ended up with only a fraction of the sample size."

Balancing your research portfolio

In the 2017-2018 year, we tried to match the topic of the main presentation with the topic of the facilitated discussion. One reason to use secondary data might be that you are trying to balance your research portfolio with different types of projects. In the second part of the meeting, Anne-Wil Harzing therefore facilitated a discussion on balancing your research portfolio, using an investment perspective suggesting a MATURE portfolio: Low hanging fruit or mature wine: Balancing your research portfolio [presentation download]

  • Manage exposure: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
  • Adjust risk levels to your time horizon
  • Take environmental conditions into account
  • Understand the market you are operating in
  • (Re)-align the portfolio with your personal preferences
  • Enlist the help of a professional “investor”

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