New Year’s Resolution: More IR Resources

Four higher education professionals from a variety of positions and settings share their suggestions for 2017 books, podcasts, and e-newsletters of interest to the IR community. We hope you enjoy this departure from the typical eAIR lead story and come away with useful resources for 2018. 


In Epic Measures: One Doctor. Seven Billion Patients, Jeremy N. Smith recounts Christopher J.L. Murray’s quest to “track and quantify every illness, injury, and death for everyone on Earth” and answer not-so-simple questions about how we live and die. Told with an engaging narrative that deserves on-screen adaptation, the book describes Murray’s pioneering work founding the Global Burden of Disease, collaborating with like-minded people to connect data and develop tools to make those data useful for improving public health policy and practice all over the world. Smith chronicles Murray’s journey—from what motivated him to do this work to how he got people to pay attention in spite of personal and political obstacles.

In Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, former Google data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz pulls back the curtain on insights gleaned from massive datasets generated by platforms like Google’s search engine, social media, and online dating websites. His interest? Exploring the data crumbs we leave behind online in the privacy of our own homes and reconciling them with common public preconceptions. Those data crumbs are often hilarious, sometimes disturbing, and ultimately illuminating. Although his claims about the data may overreach at times, his point is well-taken: There are many interesting, useful insights to be mined in large data sets collected when social desirability is not an issue.

Archie Cubarrubia, Vice Provost, Institutional Effectiveness, Miami Dade College


Boagworld show is a podcast hosted by Paul Boag, a UK based consultant for non-profits adapting to the digital world. His podcasts cover many points of interests related to IR work including: grabbing user attention with use of imagery, digital strategy, and meeting (data/informational) needs of connected consumers.

Implementing and disseminating the European tertiary education register: Handbook for data collection (Benedetto et. al 2017) is a technical manual for the ETER project. ETER, in many ways, is a European version of IPEDS and this book covers data definitions, methodologies, and ways to use (benchmark with) the data.

Charles Mathies, Academy of Finland Research Fellow, Finnish Institute For Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä, Finland


​Data is about more than just the numbers and the words. It is about the ability to communicate and give shape and meaning to data in ways that others can understand, are interested in, and see themselves utilizing. My recommendations are born out of thinking about how to share and utilize data. I really like the podcast Data Stories, which focuses on data visualization in fun and interesting ways. Visualization is an important medium through which to give shape and understanding to data.

My book recommendation is Powerful Learning Communities: A Guide to Developing Student, Faculty, and Professional Learning Communities to Improve Student Success and Organizational Effectiveness. This book is a great practical guide to Learning Communities, how to build them, and how to use them to turn institutions into true “Learning Organizations.”

Bethany Miller, Director of Institutional Research & Assessment, Cornell College


​​​So often our work in colleges and universities is complicated because students and faculty (and other humans) like to think for themselves! Furthermore, data – particularly big data – should not just be thrown in and churned about in our statistical mixers. Any user of both qualitative and quantitative methods should enjoy Quantitative Ethnography by David Williamson Shaffer. In the words of the author “this book is about how to use ethnographic techniques to guide statistical analyses of Big Data” (p. 21). E-newsletters that I find invaluable are EdClips and EdBeat from the Education Commission of the States (ECS).

Karen Paulson, Associate Professor, Coordinator of Online Programs, Higher Education Program, Penn State University



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