Methodological Innovations

The Methodological Innovations (MI) Research Group is focused on supporting and improving the understanding and application of contemporary approaches to the research of the social world. 

We draws upon techniques/methods used across the health and medical professionals, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities and our membership has extensive discipline specific and inter-disciplinary researchers. In addition, there is established pedagogical expertise in supporting undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that further supports the next generation of discipline specific and inter-disciplinary research/researchers.

Auto/biography (A/B) 

Auto/Biography recognises the relationship substantively and methodologically between the self and other. The Auto/Biography (A/B) cluster within the Methodological Innovations group was formed in 2012/13 and draws on the expertise of academics at all stages of their careers, some of whom are also active members of the British Sociological Association (BSA) Auto/Biography Study Group (established in 1991). For example, Professor Gayle Letherby was guest of honour at the 26th BSA Auto/Biography Study Group Summer Conference. Letherby and Parsons are also organising the BSA Auto/Biography Study Group Summer Conference in 2020. The A/B cluster group meets at least three times a year as half day conferences, paper sessions and/or research seminars with a combination of internal and external speakers. Focused themed activities include respondent-researcher relationships, organizations, power and emotion, families, relationships, and memories, autobiography and ethics. The A/B cluster has been a consistent presence at the last four Methodological Innovation conferences with a dedicated conference stream. It draws upon an inter-disciplinary staff from across the university with significance presence from health, arts, education, medical school and business.

Methodological Innovations Conferences 2014-18

For a number of years members of the MI group have organised a Methodological Innovations Conference. This conference offers a unique opportunity to debate current and future issues of methodological relevance, with delegates drawn from different disciplines and professional areas.

  • Methods & Methodologies for exploring everyday life, 26 June 2018. Keynote: Chrissie Rogers, Professor of Sociology, University of Bradford, ‘Necessary Connections: “Feeling photographs” and doing care-full criminal justice research’
  • Showcasing contemporary, collaborative and creative approaches to research questions, 26 May 2017. Keynote: Professor Jayne Raisborough, School of Cultural Studies and Humanities, Leeds Becket University, ‘Working towards an antidote to anti-ageing’. 
  • Innovation, Challenges and Opportunity, 3 December 2015. Professor. Kalwant Bhopal, School of Education and Social Justice, University of Southampton. Researching the ‘Other’: Towards an intersectional informed reflexivity
  • Creative and critical possibilities: methods, methodologies and epistemologies, 9 -10 December 2014. Keynote: Dr Angela Meah, University of Sheffield, ‘“Good morning video diary.” Co-producing meanings of domestic ‘masculinities’ using participant-generated videos’

Coming soon

  • Autumn event: October 9 2019, Professor Fergus McNeill and Dr Alison Urie, University of Glasgow, discussing the Distant Voices project and Collaborative Action Research.
  • Special Issue of Methodological Innovations Online (Sage) on Creative Collaborations in Research with a Social and Criminal Justice Focus (2019), edited by Julie Parsons and Gayle Letherby.
  • The Palgrave MacMillan Handbook of Auto/Biography (2020), edited by Julie Parsons, University of Plymouth and Anne Chapple, Brunel University. Current research from authors at different stages in their careers from doctoral students, early career researchers, established professors and practitioners. 27 chapters in nine sections: Creativity and Collaboration, Families and Relationships, Epistolary Life, Madness, dys-order and autist/biography, Prison Life, Professional Life, Race and Cultural Difference, Social Justice and Voices from the Inside, Spatiality, Geography and Auto/Biography.

<p>Methodological Innovations</p>

Methodological Innovations research group staff

Methodological Innovations publications

Some examples of Auto/Biography and Methodological publications from members of the group:

  • Pettinger, C., Parsons, J., Letherby, G., Cunningham, M., Whithers, L., Whiteford, A., (2019) Participatory Food Events as Collaborative Public Engagement Opportunities, Methodological Innovations Online, Sage.
  • Gale, K., (2018) Madness as Methodology: Bringing Concepts to Life in Contemporary Theorising and Inquiry, London: Routledge
  • Parsons, J.M. (2019) Narrative re-scripting: Reconciling past and present lives, Auto/Biography Review 2018, (Ed) Sparkes, A.C. British Sociological Association Auto/Biography Study Group, Russell Press, Nottingham,
  • Brennan, M and Letherby, G. (2017) Auto/biographical approaches to researching death and bereavement: connections, continuums, contrasts, Mortality, 22:2, 155-169.
  • Parsons, J.M. (2017) “I much prefer to feed other people than to feed myself.” The ’i-poem’ as a tool for highlighting ambivalence and dissonance within Auto/Biographical accounts of everyday foodways, in a Special Issue of The Journal of Psycho-Social Studies, Offering Food ↔ Receiving Food, Vol 10, Issue 2 (unpaginated)
  • Parsons, J.M. and Pettinger, C. (2017) ‘Liminal identities’ and power struggles, reflections on the regulation of everyday foodways at a homeless centre and the use of creative participatory research as a tool of empowerment and resistance, in Bleakley, A. Lynch, L. & Whelan, G. (eds) Risk and Regulation at the Interface of Medicine and the Arts, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp171-189.
  • Brown, G., Davidson, D., Harvey, J., Letherby, G., and Parsons, J.M. (2015) HE(R)tales: reflections on some auto/biographical inter/multi-connections in academia, in Sparkes, C. (Ed) Auto/Biography Yearbook 2014, 118-134.
  • Letherby, G., (2015): Bathwater, babies and other losses: a personal and academic story, Mortality: Promoting the interdisciplinary study of death and dying, Volume 24, Issue 2, 128-144
  • Letherby, G., (2014). Auto/biography and the feminist research process and product. In Evans, M, et al. (Eds.), Handbook on Feminist Theory. London: Sage.

Doctoral publications that have utilised Auto/Biography:

  • Molland, S (2018) Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Health, Wellbeing: Definition, Identity and Experience, PhD thesis,
  • Twinley, R. (2016) The perceived impacts of woman-to-woman rape and sexual assault, and the subsequent experience of disclosure, reaction, and support on victim/survivors’ subjective experience of occupation, PhD thesis,
  • Parsons, J. (2014) '', An Auto/Biographical Study of relationships with Food, PhD thesis,

Grants awarded:

Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF), Residential Research Group Award: Mapping the transformative potential of participatory styles of research with vulnerable, marginalised and/or hard-to reach groups. Girton College, Cambridge 2017. Details on the ISRF website: Also, see website:

Follow us on Twitter: @MI_IHC