Social Science blog

Exploring Social Science at the British Library


Find out about social sciences at the British Library including collections, events and research. This blog includes contributions from curators and guest posts by academics, students and practitioners. Read more

04 October 2015

Animals Inspired Events at the British Library

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As it is World Animal Day, I thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce two animal-related events that are taking place next month at the British Library as part of the Being Human festival. These two events were motivated by our current Animal Tales exhibition which shows how animals have come to play such an important role in literature and in human life and culture more broadly.

The Being Human festival begins after the exhibition itself closes, but these two events are still linked to some of the themes of the exhibition. The first, on 13 November is ‘From Animal Tales to Animal Tags’ which is a virtual, drop-in event which hopes to involve interested members of the public in curating our online collection of images which is held on Flickr through tagging images of domestic animals. We have 1 million out of copyright images as part of our Flickr collection which are held under a creative commons license. The more the public are involved in tagging and grouping these images, the more user-friendly the collection becomes to researchers and other interested individuals and groups. If you have a Flickr account, or are able to set one up, it should be easy to participate in this event.

You can take part using your own device at home (e.g. via a tablet, laptop or PC) or can take your device along to one of the participating public libraries within the BL’s BIPC network (more details to follow), or our St Pancras site, to bring a sense of the collective to the event through tagging animals in this collection alongside other members of the public.


Image taken from page 81 of '[Travels through the Southern Provinces of the Russian Empire in 1793 and 1794. Translated from the German [by F. W. Blagdon]. MS. notes.]'

Our second animal inspired event, ‘Humans and their non-humans’ is on the evening of the 19 November at the Terrace Restaurant at our St Pancras site. This event will explore something very close to the hearts of many of us – the relationship between humans and our pets. For this event, we are very lucky to have a fantastic panel of experts to talk about different aspects of the human-animal relationship through the research they have undertaken.

From the biological to the sociological, this event will address issues such as: our emotional engagement with pets, pets as family members, pets as enablers and their role in health and, wider sociological questions about the changing nature of the human-pet relationship. Our chair for the evening will be Professor Claire Molloy, Director of the Centre for Human Animal Studies at Edge Hill University, who has written extensively about the representation of animals in film and other media.

Our speakers for the evening are Dr John Bradshaw, Professor Nickie Charles and Professor Daniel Mills, whose diverse expertise and interests will make this a informative and fun evening for all of us interested in the human-animal relationship. The event starts at 18.30 and will be followed by a pay bar until 21.00. It includes time for audience questions and is aimed at the public, so there is no need to come with any prior knowledge of the topic. This event is charged and can be booked via our What’s On pages. We hope to see you there!

23 July 2015

PhD placements available!

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Are you:

-an ESRC-funded PhD student?

-interested in social science research and policy?

-interested in learning more about the British Library’s collections?

-interested in working alongside expert curators?

-keen to learn about public engagement with research?

Then we may have a funded, three month ESRC placement for you!

Working at the Library is an amazing way to find out about the scope of the collections we have here and to be exposed to unique and unusual research materials that cannot be found elsewhere. The British Library has hosted a number of ESRC placements in the past, including projects on diverse topics such as sports archives, ageing and the body, migration, health studies and the use of the web in social science research. Previous placements have produced a range of useful outputs such as topical bibliographies, reports, webpages and events for the public and academic audiences.

There are 5 placements currently open to ESRC-funded PhD students. They are each funded for a three month period. These are outlined below. For more information and how to apply, please see full details on the RCUK website. The deadline for applications is 16:00 BST 28 August 2015.

We are also offering up to three placements for MRC or NERC-funded students and one placement for AHRC-funded students. For more details see the RCUK website.


Above: The British Library, aerial view. Public Domain image.

Outline of projects for ESRC-funded placements

Mapping the 20th Century

Contribute to a major exhibition launching in November 2016 that will explore key aspects of national and international government policy, boundaries and identities through the 20th Century. You will focus on developing part of the exhibition narrative that discusses the role of maps in geopolitical contexts e.g. boundary mapping used to establish new national borders; the role of mapping in communicating the work and supporting the existence of supranational bodies such as the UN, EEC etc. (One placement available, open to ESRC students).

Social Science Now!

Develop the concept for a public event that makes social science research and policy accessible, exciting and relevant. The intern will work with an experienced team to research, plan and deliver an event as part of the BL’s public programme. You will work closely with high-profile speakers to develop format and content, liaise with BL teams to engage in targeted promotion and post-event evaluation and other outputs (e.g. podcasts, videos). Time-permitting, you will also undertake research into a specific aspect of use of policy information in our collections relating to social science (One placement available, open to ESRC students).

UK General Election 2015 – the Web Legacy

The British Library is part of a consortium that has formed a collection of 7500 archived websites relating to the 2015 UK General Election. This is a unique resource for political and social research. You will be involved in improving discoverability and presentation of the collection using cutting edge web archiving tools; negotiating permissions from rights holders to make archived sites openly available worldwide as well as quality checking of gathered sites. You will have the opportunity to carry out research using the collection (e.g. analysing the role of the Internet in political communication) and to disseminate your findings through BL blogs and other routes (One placement, open to ESRC students).

American Foreign Policy - a User’s Guide to the BL

The Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library houses one of the world’s foremost collections of American books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers and sound recordings. You will develop a resource that will enable researchers to get the most out of the collections related to American foreign policy. The resource could take the form of bibliographies, case studies, learning resources or a web exhibition. You will also be involved in engagement and publicity work to promote use of this resource. (One placement available, open to ESRC students).

Asia, Africa and International Development

International partnerships are fundamental to the British Library’s activities, including those in Asia and Africa. As well as hosting vast collections from these areas ourselves, it is our aspiration to support cultural institutions across Asia and Africa whose own collections are at risk from war or civil emergency. More broadly, the Library’s international projects and partnerships seek to generate social and economic impact. This internship would involve drawing on the intern’s knowledge and research of current best practise in international development to produce a report to the BL with recommendations about how it could more actively and more usefully engage in this area. (One placement, open to ESRC students).

01 July 2015

Call for Papers

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The importance of early years, childhood and adolescence: Evidence from longitudinal studies

Monday 30 November 2015

British Library Conference Centre

We are delighted to invite proposals from researchers using longitudinal data to explore the broad theme of: The importance of early years, childhood and adolescence. Submissions will be considered for an oral presentation or poster. Analyses involving cross-study comparisons are particularly encouraged.

Important Dates

Deadline for receipt of submissions: 27 July 2015
Notification of acceptance: Early Sept 2015
Registration Opens: Mid Sept 2015

Deadline for final camera-ready copy: 9 OCTOBER    
CLOSER CONFERENCE: 30 November 2015

Selected submissions may be considered for publication in a "Conference Edition" of Longitudinal and Life Course Studies.

A prize for best Student Poster, as judged by the Conference Programme Committee, will be awarded during the conference.


The UK’s longitudinal studies are leading sources of evidence on how our early circumstances and experiences affect our paths through life and our outcomes in adulthood. CLOSER is bringing together researchers from across disciplines to showcase outstanding longitudinal research in the importance of early years, childhood and adolescence. It is an opportunity to share ideas and innovations with longitudinal researchers from across disciplines and sectors, both from the UK and abroad. It will also showcase the latest resources for research, including a new cutting-edge metadata search platform.



Image: copyright CLOSER, reproduced with permission

Promoting excellence in cohort and longitudinal research

CLOSER (Cohort and Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources) aims to maximise the use, value and impact of the UK’s cohort and longitudinal studies. Bringing together nine leading studies, the British Library and the UK Data Service, CLOSER works to stimulate interdisciplinary research, develop shared resources, provide training, and share expertise.


CLOSER is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Medical Research Council.