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Data in Ministry


Event audio recording and transcript


Jennifer Butler: 

Hello, everyone. We're glad that you could come and join us for the second annual TML Speaks event. Today we're going to be discussing how working with data-- that is, gathering data or interpreting published data sources-- can be incorporated into your work in practical ministry and in theological studies. It's our hope that we will inspire you to think creatively about your own research and also learn about how BC Libraries can partner with you in finding resources and tools that will help you with your work. 

And today we have four panelists who will be speaking to us. First, Dr. Hosffman Ospino is Associate Professor of Hispanic Ministry and Religious Education in the School of Theology and Ministry. In addition to being a prolific author and editor, he has been an investigator on several national studies on the Catholic Church. Currently he is acting as a principal investigator for the National Study of Latino Catholic Vocations and as a collaborator for a national study on the spiritual life and practice of young-adult Hispanic Catholics in the United States. 

Dr. Theresa O'Keefe is Associate Professor of the Practice of Youth and Young Adult Faith. In her work as a practical theologian, she draws from multiple disciplines, including sociology and developmental psychology, to unpack the complexity of culture and to think theologically about ministerial settings. She has written articles and book chapters on various aspects of adolescent and young-adult faith and recently released a book titled Navigating Toward Adulthood: A Theology of Ministry with Adolescents

Barbara Mento is the Data/GIS librarian and senior librarian in Economics, Computer Science, and Mathematics. She received her Master's in Library Science from Simmons College and has worked as a librarian at Boston College for 37 years. She works across disciplines to support data acquisition and research, often collaborating with Research Services and Allison. 

Allison Xu is the Data and Visualization Librarian for the BC Libraries and serves as part of the Digital Scholarship group based out of the O'Neill Library. She received her Master's degree in Information Management from Syracuse University and was the Analytics and Assessment analyst at the Syracuse University Libraries before coming to Boston College. She works with students, faculty, and library staff to help them strategize about how to best visualize their data for presentations and for further analysis. 

So, to begin, I'm going to ask our faculty panelists two questions. And then Barbara and Allison will each give an overview of the services they offer, in presentations they've prepared. I will let you all decide who wants to respond first.

Our first question is just: "Please describe how you make use of data in your research-- how do you generate or locate that data, using methods, tools, and/or resources that you use, and how it supports your work."

Hosffman Ospino:  

Thank you very much, Jennifer, for putting together, and Steve and everyone else, for supporting these conversations. And let me start with a story. One day, I received a phone call, in my office, from a priest in a diocese here in New England. And this priest asked to me, "well, Hosffman, there are a couple of families, Latino families, that would like to start a mass in Spanish, in the parish. But I don't see Hispanics anywhere!" And then I said, "OK, so let me just take a look at, you know, the data that I have and look at some aspects of the community." 

And I said, "but before I actually want to go and see your neighborhood-- you know, where the parish is-- and then I can offer better advice." So the first thing that I noticed was a business, in front of the rectory, called Taqueria. You know? And I said, "well, this could be a good place to see how many Hispanics come in and out on a regular basis. No?" And then I looked at the census data, and we realized that, in the territory where the parish is established, there were about 2,000 Hispanic people-- you know, Spanish-speaking, mostly immigrants. 

So why do I start with this particular story or anecdote? Because data, in many ways, within the context of ministry, helps us to make the invisible visible. It helps us to understand better the reality that we claim to interpret theologically, ministerially, philosophically, et cetera, et cetera. 

So I was not trained as a social scientist. I was trained, like most of you, as a practical theologian. You know, I got my degree, like Theresa, here at Boston College. You know, we were lucky that they offered us a job, they like us so much. 


And so my degree's in Theology and Education. I was trained to do pretty much standard theological work. We look at the books, we look at theories, we engage in dialogue with some people who died 500 years ago, 1,000, years ago 2,000 years ago, and then we try to make sense, in light of those ideas, of current realities. You know? 

That's how much of theology is done-- which is fine! Sometimes we do it biblically, sometimes we do it historically, and so forth. But soon I realized that if I wanted to work and commit to ministry and research, with people who were alive and changing, and people who were in particular circumstances, I needed to know more, learn more, about those people who were alive, you know, and in particular circumstances, in contexts and neighborhoods. And frankly, reading Augustine or reading Tertullian, or even reading the Gospels did not help me much to understand the people in Lawrence, Massachusetts, or the people in Los Angeles in 2015 or 2019. So I needed better tools, in order to do that. 

And this is why, almost instinctively, I began to ask whether I should go back for a degree in sociology. You know? But I just finished one in theology and education! So what should I do? 

And I began to engage in conversation with actually people who are experts in social science-- sociologists, some anthropologists, some people doing psychology, and people doing education-- who helped me understand better the tools that are needed for me to answer some of the questions that I wanted to answer. My particular center of research focuses on how Hispanic Catholics in the United States are transforming Catholicism. You know? 60 years ago, Hispanics constituted about 7% of the entire Catholic church, or Catholic population, in this country. Today, 60% of Catholics under 18 self-identify as Hispanic. Total transformation. And the impact is happening at the local level-- parishes, schools, neighborhoods, and other structures. Universities are kind of behind, still. You know? 

So the question is, how is that happening? And then I learned quickly that there is a way to measure changes. For instance, congregational studies, which is an amazing field, provides amazing tools in order to look at what's happening in congregations. And then, little by little, I became not an expert but certainly familiar with methods, both quantitative and qualitative, for analysis. What I have been doing? I'm a mixed-methods person. So I'm not known as someone who only does, say, surveys or only does focus groups or only does x or y type of analysis. 

As a matter of fact, for the type of research that I do, I need to use several methods. What do I use? I use surveys, you know? For one of my studies, I sent out surveys to 4,300 parishes nationwide. You know? And these were multiple surveys, to each community. And from that we gathered data. 

I have ran focus groups, which is perhaps one of my favorite tools to gather information. Focus groups allow you to engage in conversation and probe certain topics and ideas. Interviews-- this is a tool that I'm using right now. In the current study that I'm doing right now, I'm doing a study on Latino vocations, Catholic vocations, focusing primarily on priests or those who are preparing for the priesthood and those who are preparing to make vows in religious life, in the Latino community. And I'm using a lot of interviews. My hope is to have at least 200 interviews over a period of two years. 

And then something that-- one treasure that I discovered, and I'm so glad that you are here, you know? Barbara, when I was a younger theologian here at Boston College-- and I had hair, back then-- 


Barbara introduced me to the beautiful world of databases, which was something-- that it was a treasure that I did not even know it existed. And particularly one of the database worlds that she introduced me to was the GIS, the Geographic Information System-- literally scary, how much the government and researchers know about us and everybody. And all is codified through data. It's available, publicly available. Some of that, some of those resources actually can be accessed through libraries. But demographic information, socioeconomic information, educational information, employment, access to health care-- anything that you want to know about a community now, or many of the things, are available through those databases. 

The census office is an amazing-- it has an amazing wealth of resources. And particularly in the last decade, the census office has improved its access, its website, and the way you access data. The American Community Survey-- a wealth of resources, there. 

I also use data from the National Congregations Study, which connects very much with the work that I'm doing. And I also work in collaboration with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, which is by far the best Catholic resource on questions of social science providing data. And they also use web mixed methods to gather their information. 

And I think that I would be remiss not to mention another source of data, which is the one in which I was trained. I was trained to do conceptual research. No? So literally I do-- I also do research, like many of you are doing in your own work for your papers, which is looking at theoretical frameworks from a systematic theological perspective, from an ethics perspective, from a biblical perspective, and so forth. 

So I have not stopped doing the classic humanities kind of research-- literature review, analysis of that literature. But what I'm doing is-- and I will say that more in the second question-- what I do is I combine those two dynamics. So yes, I'm still a theologian, in some of the classical sense, a humanities person in the classical sense, who have grown in passion and familiarity with some of the social-science methods available.

Theresa O'Keefe:  

Question 1? OK. So how do I use data? Well, yes, Hosffman and I did the same degree, the PhD in Theology and Education, but I had the happy experience of being paired with a qualitative researcher at the Lynch School of Education, who said, are you going to do an empirical study as part of your dissertation? And the answer to that ended up being yes. 

And so I worked with her guidance doing a qualitative project. And that was part of what helped me begin to not only use data differently but also generate data differently. So, in some ways, it was a mixed-method study with survey instruments, observation, interview, material. So lots of rich data from which to draw. 

So I want to speak about one of the modes of data of drawing inferences from material, and that is the use of grounded theory. So Hosffman named two different big groupings of data-- quantitative, and qualitative. So quantitative is usually big-number surveys. The challenge with that is, you have to figure out what are the right questions to ask. You also are looking for verifiability-- how well does this data represent what we think it's going to answer? 

On the other hand, you have qualitative data. You know, sometimes people think of this mistakenly as illustrations. Well, let me just go find some illustrations. And I'm going to suggest to you that people always start data searching with a hunch. There's something I want to figure out. But if they only say, I'm going to look for things that verify what I'm looking for, then that's not really research. 

So grounded theory is a way of looking at, say, an interview, for example, and you're not simply looking for what is it-- what you think you're going to find, but you have to be very intentional to say what else is there. Am I finding anything that supports what I came in with? And what am I finding that's actually in addition to that or contradicting that? 

So one of the values of the research I did for my dissertation was that my interviews were not supporting my assumption. But I knew something was happening. [LAUGH] So, as an educational researcher, what I'm looking for is change over time. What happens with people? What's this thing that helps with the learning? 

And so I had this assumption about what would happen with people if you put them together and had them study something, but that wasn't in fact what happened. But what I did discover was dramatic change, over time, with the individuals with whom I was working, and it was quite different. So when you say "grounded theory," it's saying, I'm looking for something, but let me be open up to what's actually there. And in that "what's actually there," I'm paying attention to the words people say, but I'm not simply taking the words at face value. I'm looking for patterns, I'm looking for presumptions that are behind the words, I'm looking for feelings, I'm looking for body language, that may be communicating more than the words communicate. 

So grounded theory also asks researchers often to bring a particular lens to it. And so one of the lenses that I bring as an educator is developmental theory. And I want to say, is this indicative of somebody with one kind of developmental space? And how would I know that they moved to another developmental space? Would they use the same words? Would they describe things in the same way? 

So you're bringing kind of a level of a critique to the language that people use-- their sense of themselves-- that in fact can be very difficult to capture in quantitative research. So if I'm looking for a change within a human person, you have to ask yourself, what is it I'm looking for? What do I expect? Why would I expect those things? On what basis? 

And you bring to that a critical lens to that reading. So that critical lens, as I was suggesting, can be a developmental lens. Another lens might be critical race theory or gender theory. Say, how are they talking about women and men? What are their presumptions about how women and men should behave? 

So those kinds of lenses help you read the data that you have. So qualitative research isn't simply well, let me find nice illustrations to fill out what I presume to be my hypothesis. Qualitative research requires you to go in and discover what in fact is really there. 

Everybody enters into research with a hunch. I have an idea of something. And so the question is, what are the methods you're going to use to figure that out? And in some ways, your initial hunch is going to help you start the investigation. You have to start from somewhere. But even if your hunch doesn't get fulfilled, something else begins to be revealed. 

And so I have a great appreciation for qualitative work, for its capacity potentially to kind of dig deeper and find out, well, what does this say? Why am I getting the answers that I'm getting? Instead of saying, I'm not getting the answers that I'm looking for. 

So I use a lot of sociology and religion material. And I have two very different methodologies represented in these two sources that are quite popular as I state in my courses. Maybe you're familiar with Christian Smith, who was the primary investigator in much of the National Study of Youth and Religion. That's a huge set of data that these people are still collecting, about adolescence, young adults, and religious belief and practice. 

On the other hand-- and, I should say, they do interviews, but I'd suggest that their reading of their interviews is most illustrative. They're not really doing grounded theory as I understand it, in their reading of the interviews. 

On the other hand, Meredith McGuire, another sociologist of religion, is coming from a qualitative-methodology stance. And her question about religious belief and practice isn't saying, are people doing what I think they should be doing? Like, how many times do you go to mass, and do you receive the sacraments, and blah blah blah-- the markers that they can kind of look for and count off. 

Rather, she's saying, what is it people normally do in their day? Let me just ask them. Tell me about your spiritual lives. Tell me about your religious practices-- if you have any. And, in that rich narrative, she teases out what are the big themes that she's finding therein? So-- two very different methodologies, both looking to say, how is it people believe and practice? 

Now, I find these essential for my work in the area of youth and young-adult faith because people are always saying, well, what are adolescents doing today, and how do we save them? And-- 


--my question is, what are you saving them for, and what are you saving them from? And so you need more data on who are they and how do they self-express, and what are the challenges and pressures that they live in within our contemporary culture, and not assume that their lives are like our own lives. And so that takes a deep investigation into that. 

In that, I do value quantitative work, but the big question you have to ask is, what are the questions they're asking, and why are they asking those questions? And then to pair that with more qualitative work that maybe kind of goes into those blank spaces where we're unsure-- why is it this way? Why are people behaving this way? 

Because my experience is that people who just look at qualitative numbers and then you say "survey says-- people are behaving badly," they do it in a kind of moralizing sort of way. People should be better. Whereas I find what's helpful with qualitative work, or pairing one form of research with another form of research, is to say, let's take a different angle at this same behavior to see if we can figure out the why behind it. 

So, for example, I'll pair my sociology and religion sources with something like Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in the Age of Uncertainty, where this researcher who's a sociologist is saying, why is it that-- or what kind of experience it for a young person to grow up in the contemporary culture, where somebody like Jeffrey Arnett is saying, they don't hang around their jobs very long, they don't have a sense of commitment-- which I think is a little bit of a finger-wagging-- those bad young adults. She's looking at saying, they are living in a world that makes no commitments to them. And she looks at the historical trajectory of the decline in economic security and work security, employment security, across North America. 

And so you look at these different pieces together, so that you can get a richer, thicker understanding of what the status of a question is and then be able to think theologically about that and say, what does that inform my understanding? How does that speak to me about God's actioning grace into the world? Where are people struggling? Where are people seeing openings and moving? What's going on? How is the grace of God active and present? 

So we'll stop there.

Jennifer Butler:  

Thank you. Well, for our second question, it's kind of a follow-up.  Can you please describe what relationships you see between ministry and developing and applying skills in working with data? And I think some of that you've addressed, but how might students work on developing those skills? And what kinds of projects or activities could they do, to further their personal development?

Theresa O'Keefe:

So I think, if you're going to do ministry in the world, it's a good idea to know about the world. And so in my courses, I generally have projects where students actually have to inquire into their context. And because I'm in North America, I bring to the course, a lot of material about North America, but not all the students are from there. And I want to say to you, you've got to find out about where you're from, and what are the questions. 

And so, over the last few years, here at the library, they helped develop-- um, what do we call that page? A LibGuide, for investigating-- this is the challenge of eating your lunch-- 


--investigating what's going on in other parts of the world, relative to adolescents and young adults. And there's been a growing resource, and it's something I'm really grateful that we have here for our students. 

So I say you've got to go find out what is going on. And what are basic population questions? What is the demographics? Who's around? What kind of money do people have? What kind of resources do they have? So those sorts of things. 

But I often say you start with a hunch, and you start with something that bothers you, probably is the best way to think about it. It may be an article in the Boston Globe or the Washington Post or the New York Times, or some other source-- a website. Don't stop there. That's the place to start, because any of those good resources, like Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe, they're always pointing to another study. Go and find that study. Go find that researcher. 

And so a lot of my questions and inquiries about the state of the world start with those journalistic pieces, but that's just the entryway. And then I find access to that original article. Because we're here at Boston College, we have access to tremendous databases and journals and all sorts of other sources which become really helpful. 

But you have to keep asking the question then about that data. Why did they ask these questions? What were they looking for? Is that a valid thing? Is that the thing I'm looking for? Is there something that they're missing? 

And so the only thing I want to-- a couple of things I want to say. Again, you're not simply looking for illustrations, you're looking to inquire. What's the state of the question? What's the state of the world? 

And, to that-- I'll finish with this final thing-- is that I think research is necessarily becoming more and more interdisciplinary. Because what I find, and one of my biggest challenges with some research, is that they're answering questions that are too narrow and, in fact, not on target. And so I'm actually involved in a couple of projects right now that are interdisciplinary, here at Boston College. The first is working with colleagues at the Lynch School of Education. 

Bill Damon, who's a developmental-psych researcher and a very big voice at Stanford University, wrote a book, a number of years ago, called Path to Purpose, and he talked about the role of purpose in adolescent lives, for their lives improving. But you read that book, and he presents purpose as if it's a binary reality. Either you have purpose, or you don't have purpose. And, in a sense, he graded people as if-- if they could use the word "purpose" in a sentence, they must have purpose. 

And I said to him, mmm, maybe not quite. I say to my colleagues, if you're going to ask for purpose-- purpose is a multidimensional, rich sort of thing-- how do you tease it out? And so now I'm very happily involved in a project where we're creating a research measure that looks for what I call, what we are calling, the "horizon" of someone's sense of purpose. How far out are they looking? How far out is their sense of meaning? How far out is their goal orientation? How far out is their concern for the other? 

And so we're trying to develop a research tool. So what's interesting to me is to see somebody-- I'm working with someone who's a statistician, who creates measures and measures those measures for verifiability and so forth. And I have no idea what he's talking about, except I nod a lot when he's doing his part. 


And I try to get him to talk about, what are we talking about, when we're talking about a philosophical horizon? What are we talking about when we're understanding ultimacy? And he's like, I can follow you, but don't ask me to repeat it. 

And so we are working in an interdisciplinary way to kind of stretch both of our areas, his to develop a tool beyond what everyone, someone, before him already created and measured, and for me to help create more valuable data. That's one project. That's enough.

Hosffman Ospino:

Sometimes I'm bothered by people who say that pastoral theologians, practical theologians, embody the soft discipline. You know? So we put our systematicians and our biblical scholars and our historians on a pedestal, in the world of theology. But I'm always encouraged, at the same time, by Karl Rahner who with deep admiration said that the people who are doing most of the heavy lifting in theology-- and he has kind of an appreciation for them-- are the pastoral theologians because of what it requires, to do this kind of practical pastoral work. No? You've got to be in conversations with psychologists, sociologists, politicians, economists, people who work in the field of medicine, people who work on questions of the environment-- name it, you know? 

Again, I'm going to go back to the whole point-- as long as we are dealing with human beings who are alive and living in particular contexts, then we are confronted with the complexity of reality. And Theresa's absolutely right-- there is not one entry point into the complexity of reality as it is presented in front of us, as it comes to us. So we need different tools. 

Now, we cannot aspire to have one person to be the superpsychologist the supertheologian, the superanthropologist, the supersociologist-mathematian, and on and on and on and on. Therefore, this is maybe one of the most beautiful things about the kind of work that we are doing. And I actually--when I presented this, present the work as a forward commitment to interdisciplinarity in collaboration. 

We need to be able, right now, the kind of theology-- or, at least, if you are committed to using data, you've got to be able to sit down with a statistician, to sit-- and not understand 80% of what they are saying, but still we need to sit down with a statistician. No? We need to sit down with the person who is working on politics or economics, or the demographer, and so forth, because that's how we get a better sense of reality. 

So, as someone researching in the area of practical theology, I enter into this conversation with a strong commitment to interdisciplinarity. However, I am very mindful that I come into this conversation as a theologian. So I can not usurp the role of the sociologist, and I'm very careful about it. I do a lot of sociological work and integrate a lot of sociological work in my own studies, in my own work, but I will not claim myself to be a sociologist or an economist and so forth. And it gives me peace of mind. But, at the same time, it allows me to contribute a voice that most likely the other scholars do not have when we start collecting data or when we start analyzing the data. 

So I'll give you an example. You know, when I was working on the study on Catholic parishes with Hispanic ministry, what we looked at 4,300-plus parishes, nationwide. And I was working with a team of sociologists. There were about four sociologists, who were advising me-- and these are the most brilliant people. 

And then what I discovered is that the questions that they were asking, they were asking questions about, yes, demographics and how many times people go to mass, how many sacraments do we celebrate, ages, salaries, and all the stuff that you can quantify. And then, when they asked me, what questions do you want to ask, and I actually wanted to measure levels of commitment to Catholicism-- how Catholic is a community? How is the Catholic committed to social justice? And those are questions that actually, for a sociologist, not all the time would come at the top. You know? Because they are difficult to measure. 

Also, questions about ecclesiology. As a theologian, not only in the process of data, of data collection--developing the tools, whether a focus group or a survey--I come into that process of development, of developing the tools, as a theologian with an ecclesiological lens, and, in the process of analyzing the data, I also bring that ecclesiological lens. 

And this is why, when I have put together some of the reports that have emerged from my studies, some of my sociologists, sociologists friends, tell me, "Hosffman, I could have written two 300-page books with the data that you have." And my answer is, "go for it." You know? Because I'm more interested in taking the data that I--and, of course, I mean, I'm not saying that those books are not necessary. Yes, there are important. But, as a practical theologian, I'm more aware of bringing this ministerial, ecclesiological, and overall theological perspective, I am more aware in the analysis that is going to change pastoral practice, that is going to change structural commitments in dioceses, in parishes, religious-education programs. And, lucky enough, actually the studies that I have done so far-- I have run a couple of major studies-- are widely used, nationwide, in processes of pastoral planning, in process of ministerial training, in seminaries, and so forth. 

And again, my contribution to this world is precisely to know the questions that the community-- and I go back to-- I agree with you, you know? We need to understand, what are the questions that we have? And, most likely, the question of the sociologist is not always or doesn't always match the question of the theologian. However, we need to come to the table and see how we can both reach the same goal, which is to better understand the reality. 

In terms of how do we encourage students to developing the skills that are needed for this kind of interdisciplinary work and so forth, I've got four general pieces of advice. One, mentorship. Theresa gave us an excellent example of mentorship. And it's very important, and I would agree that that's perhaps the best way. You know? 

We need to find out and associate ourselves with people who know what they are doing when it comes to using social science, social data. You know? I mean, I was mentored by Barbara into the use of GIS data. I have been mentored by the sociologists who have done amazing work, you know? So mentorship is very important. Sometimes the mentor could be your own academic advisor. You know? You just hang out with academic advisors and professors who are doing this kind of work, not only at the STM but also throughout the university. 

Remember that Boston College is one of the few Catholic universities in the entire country that is an R1 institution, a research institution. We are at the top level in the--what 700, 1,000 faculty?-- that we have on board, hundreds of these people are well-versed in research and on methods. So let's take advantage of it, you know? 

Two, take classes. If you're interested in this kind of use of data and social-science dynamics, and incorporate it into the field of your theological analysis, ministerial analysis, take classes on, for instance, participatory action research, which is something that, many of our students, they hear. But do not hesitate to take a course on qualitative research. I actually took a course in qualitative research with Jerry Starratt, you know, back then, and it was amazing. You know? 

And take a course on-- I mean, if you already have some background in quantitative or qualitative methods, you know, see how your courses can help you to actually expand your knowledge. In the School of Education, you can take those courses through the lens of educational theory. Or you could go to the School of Social Work. You could go to the law school and all these different schools, you know? As a matter of fact, that's one of our weaknesses at the School of Theology and Ministry, that we do not have anyone teaching research methods, you know, per se-- and for ministry. And this is something that, eventually, we need to start improving, as a school. 

Three-- I want to give you an advice that one of my mentors and good friends, who also teaches at Boston College, told me when I was writing my dissertation. Her name is Mariela Páez, and she teaches at the School of Education. And Mariela, Dr. Páez, told me-- Hosffman, as a researcher, if you want to be a researcher, you have to become someone who consumes research-- someone who consumes research. 

And I asked her, what does that mean? She said, you've got to read, read, and read research. That's the best way for you to become a researcher. 

And she was absolutely right. I developed a habit, since the time I was writing my dissertation, to read at least-- at least-- one article, from a peer reviewed journal on research, at least one article per day. And I still do it, to this day. You know, on days when I certainly fool around and sleep a little bit later, no? 


But, most of the time. I'm trying to read. According to the New York Times, only 13% of articles published out there that are research-based are read by more than four, five people. You know? So there's some wealth of information. Now, granted, not all the research is attractive, and not all the research is well done. But you have-- 

I mean, the only way to be able to judge what's good in what is out there, you've got to delve into this. A lot of people say, I don't have time to do that! Yes, you have time. It takes you 20 minutes to go through one of these articles quickly. And you get then a sense, no? 

Now, it doesn't mean that you have to read everything, but read on those questions that make you passionate. You know? And I can guarantee you that you can spend the rest of your lives reading all this. So read, read, read, consume research. 

And finally, my final piece of advice is, participate in research projects that the university provides already. You know? Not only at the STM, but also in other schools. The School of Education is well-known for incorporating and inviting graduate students as research assistants. You know? 

When I did the national study on Catholic parishes, I hired 14 graduate students, mostly from the STM, a few from the School of Education and Social Work, to work with me. And they were mentored, in the process. no? Right now, on this research on vocations, within the next year I will be hiring about 10 people, research assistants. 

Now, I'm not going I guarantee that you are going to become highly qualified researchers on qualitative, quantitative, or you are going to become the next Christian Smith, but you will gain some skills. And that's how it happens. Little by little, you will start learning some important skills-- how to run an interview, how to do a focus group, how to interpret certain sets of data. And that is valuable.

Jennifer Butler: 

Both Hosffman and Theresa are wonderful supporters of the Theology and Ministry Library, and we're just so grateful to have you here, with us, and for sharing your time today. We are going to have time for questions, at the end. We want to give time now for Barbara and Allison to present. And I'm just going to pull up Barbara's [PowerPoint] presentation, here. 

Barbara Mento: 

I want to say that was overwhelmingly wonderful, really, a perfect, perfect introduction to research methods. Really incredibly inspiring. I took some notes, so I'm hoping to follow up on some of the concepts that you both brought up. 

So what I'm going to cover today is I'm going to give you a little bit of an overview of research data and what it is. I'm going to talk about best practices in managing your data. And again, some of this is a little condensed from presentations I've given to other groups. But the methodology, the practices, are good practices for responsible conduct in research. So they do apply to all aspects, really, of your research. 

And then I'll talk about tools and services that support research on campus. And one of the concepts I do want you to walk away with, from this, is that there's a wide range of people on campus here to help you, to support your research-- you know, from Steve and Allison and other groups on campus. So please ask for help, because there just is a wide range of support services across campus. And then I'm going to do a little bit of highlighting of some of the resources that were mentioned and how to find those and search for those. So we'll do this. 

So the first thing I want to do is open your mind a little bit about data. When we talk about research data today, and grant granting agencies, they have a broader definition of "data." So I want you to keep this in mind. This is a data description from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

And they talk about data as information, but it can be gathered as architectural sketches, ballet performance clips, romantic-comedy stills, audio clips. So keep in mind that the research definition of "data" now is beyond numbers. It includes images and videos and audio material, plus text for interviews. 

So the data can be qualitative and quantitative. And also-- and this is a thing you will hear-- you also have to always be aware of who owns that data, depending on where it comes from. So you might be doing a history of your community, and you start interviewing parishioners, and they talk about history in your community. So there might be an oral history. There might be images of your physical church, over time-- the altar, and how that has changed over time, and how we worship, and how that has changed over time. 

So "data" has a much broader meaning. So keep that in mind. We've heard references to primary data, data you collect yourself. And again, it can be numeric, images, oral histories. But keep in mind, when you are working with human subjects, there are rules to protect confidential information about human resources. So one of the partners we have on campus is the Institutional Review Board, which helps to make sure that, as you are collecting this data, that you're complying with all the regulations and protecting your human subjects. 

And then there's secondary data, which is data that other people have collected. And talking about-- I mentioned that I'm going to talk about best practices. Always-- and this is true in any research-- document the sources of your data, just as you would a bibliography when you're doing your research. 

Also, document your methodology. And this goes back to one of the concepts that we heard a little bit about, is that research is an iterative process. So you might start out with a hypothesis and, as you get into your research-- and I heard Steve has talked-- I've attended some of Steve Dalton's classes-- it is an iterative process, and you might find that you change direction. So you need to make sure that you are documenting any change in approach and methodology. 

And again, that copyright permission. Secondary data can be from some of the databases that the library subscribes to, so that you cannot share that data, but there is a very large amount of open-source data that can be easily shared and used and so forth. But do keep that in mind. 

So this is, a little bit, a condensed best practices for data management. And it doesn't matter-- if you do apply for a grant, many of them do require a data-management plan that talks about how you manage your data. And I'll talk a little bit more about that. But even if it's for a publication or a dissertation, some good practices are-- again, document your data methodology, from day one-- any changes. 

Even the criteria-- who did you select to survey? What is the scope of who you survey, and why you made that decision of who to survey? Even that criteria says something about your research methodology and what you're trying to accomplish. 

And part of the reason I mention here replication-- you hear it a lot more in the social sciences than the sciences-- but, if you are using data and either a reviewer for a publication or sometime in the future someone asks you, well, how did you come to that decision, it is important as a researcher to be able to replicate your research. So, keeping track of the methodology, the sources of your data, and preserving your data. 

Use consistent labeling. Students that we talk to, graduate students, this really resonates with them. A year from now, you may have a folder with all your material for your project, but it's like, OK, what does that mean? This just says "Interviews," but was that interviews of this one or that one? 

So-- best practices is, find a short, even if it's an abbreviation of your project name-- should be on every piece of information for that project. So there's a tool I'll show you-- sorry, a survey-- called Lasting Relationships. That should be on everything-- images, spreadsheets, audio. That name should be on everything. 

And connected with that is versions. So, as of what date? If this is a spreadsheet, what is the date of the spreadsheet? Did I do something with it? When I did some cleanup, I had some missing data. I had some misspellings. I did something to it. So that's version 2. 

So using versions and dates, to manage the data-- again, it's so you can follow that process and remember what you did, a year from now, five years from now. When somebody reads your publication five years from now and calls up with a question, you want to be able to answer and help that person. 

And quality control. Again, you know, is there some sort of really off-kilter answer that is going to throw off some of your data? So, being aware of that-- again, whether somebody left a blank, a date is missing, whether they put a zero-- what does that mean, in certain software and analysis tools that you're using? 

And to decide where to archive. And again, it's important-- you know, when I hear about this research, as Hosffman said, his partner said, you know, you could do two books out of this data. So, being sure to preserve that data for future use is really important for you and for further researchers. And you all know you're building on other people's research, so it's really important to do that. 

So I'll talk a little bit about some choices, there. So again, online surveys are part of primary data research. But also what I'm going to delve in a little bit deeper, again, some of what was mentioned is using the census. So I'd like to show you a little bit of that. 

The census is an extremely rich source of data, going back in time. But it doesn't ask questions about religion or health or other things. So there are other sources, like the CDC, Center for Disease Control, which you might use. And there are some sources that give some community-level information. So, for instance, depression, some mental-health issues, in certain areas-- obesity-- things like that. 

So there are different sources. And I'll introduce you to something called the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. Has anyone heard of that? I know at least [LAUGH] some people have. 

This is a data archive of over 9,000 studies. So this is a place that I would start looking-- if I saw a study cited in an article, I would look here first and see if we have access, as BC members. And there are opinion surveys. If you're interested, there are a lot of groups that survey about faith and religion and relations-- so forth. 

And also there are both free and subscription databases. You're probably familiar with the ARDA, the Association of Religion Data Archive, which is free. But we also subscribe to World Christian and World Religion databases, which is a very large amount of international data about congregations and so forth. And all of this is on-- there's a link down here, but it's also linked to from Jennifer's page that she's making available. 

So, again, I'm going to talk a little bit more about the census, but I wanted to introduce it here. I'm going to go through the rest of the sources, first, and then I'll go back and do some live demo-- because sometimes it won't link from the PowerPoint. 

So just be aware that, the government, the census is mandated every 10 years. You heard a reference to the American Community Survey. Policymakers found it very difficult working with old data, if it's 10 years old. So the government now does a survey, every year, called the American Community Survey. And it does a sampling, and then it aggregates that sampling over five years. 

So the American Community Survey is considered an authoritative source of estimates between the 10-year censuses. So you'll see that. But I also wanted to mention, and I'll show you, sometimes when you're looking at your communities, certainly for your ministry, you may have multiple ZIP codes. And you can look at data by the ZIP-code level, but you also may have a school in the district. So they do have school-district data. 

But also something called "census tracts." If you've ever heard of them before, it is a government designation. And it is an area of 4,000 to 5,000 population. So what you find is-- 

For instance, I'll use an example. Brighton is 02135. So it's one ZIP code for Brighton, but I want a little more detail. So there are about 10 census tracts within Brighton. So I can go a little bit more micro and get a better view of the community, using this geographic area that's a little bit more specific. 

OK, so now a couple of sources, before I actually go into the demo. We do have a research guide that we've referred to, before, which talks about data plans. If you are applying for a grant, again, each agency has different requirements for a data-management plan. You may not need one. If you're not doing anything that requires data collection, you can say it's not necessary. We also have something called a "data-management tool," which is listed there, but here are a couple of other sources. 

So Research Services, through IT, does support survey design. So, if you need some help articulating the questions for your survey, they're a group that helps with that. They have multiple tools that you can use for the surveys. One of them is Qualtrics. They'll help you with your analysis, [and] subsetting large data sets.  There are a couple of very large data sets in ICPSR which I mentioned. 

Also, and just to follow up, learning more about how to work with both qualitative and quantitative software, Research Services every semester offers classes in different statistical analysis tools and qualitative analysis tools. There are multiple softwares that will help you do things like taking your interviews and coding them by category. In this interview, someone talked about the concept of fear, or depression, and so forth. And you can then create these research categories and actually produce quantitative information from your interviews. So again, you're testing the themes and your hypothesis and what appears in them. 

So-- Research Services, and the email is there. And again, they have tutorials every semester that do this. They also support the software, and Boston College does give you access to multiple statistical software packages and qualitative software packages. 

I mentioned the IRB. Again, if you have human subjects, you will, first thing, talk to them. There's an online forum, and ask for the support and working with them, to make sure you're de-identifying individuals, so you're not revealing any confidential information. 

I mentioned the DMP tool, the Data-Management Planning tool. And this is nice because, again, if you're applying for a government grant, it brings in all the templates from all the agencies for you, so that you have a nice starting point, and you don't have to start from scratch. We do indeed, at Boston College, have a data repository called Dataverse. And I have a couple bookmarks there, but I will show you that at the end also. 

We have an e-scholarship, a research repository. And I want to mention this in the context of social justice. What this does is it authors a version of your research which is available to everyone-- third-world countries-- 

Most publishers' journals allow some version of your article to be open-access and available. So it is a nice commitment to making the research available to those who can't afford subscriptions and so forth. And our group will help you determine whether a particular publication allows you to deposit that open data and what version of it it will allow. So we do have people who can help you decide that, so don't worry about it. But, when you're ready, contact us, and then we'll help you determine that. 

I also wanted to mention ORCID, which is a unique researcher identifier. So ORCID means that you have one identifier that follows you everywhere. So, if you go to another institution, people could still identify you. If you change your name, you might hyphenate it, if your status change, it will keep it under one identifiable name. 

And that's very helpful, particularly if you don't have a unique name. My name is also the name of a professor of Computer Science in Maryland, so I have an ORCID ID which distinguishes me from someone else. And it also helps me gather and control my research data under one ID, whether it be data or publications. And often, when you submit an article now, they will ask you for an ORCID number, because they will use that in a different publication. 

So I have a couple quick slides to go through. I'm going to show you Dataverse later, but this is what it looks like. That's our data repository. Easy to share your data and deposit it. E-scholarship, our publications, our scholarly publications. And ORCID-- again, it takes less than 60 seconds to go in, set up your ORCID ID, and BC supports it. You can see the BC number. OK. 

So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to go to certain resources and demonstrate how to find information in different places. And, as I said, we're going to look at community profiles-which you might use to identify potential community needs--and the CDC. You might use a study to benchmark services that other religious groups are offering in their ministries' opinion surveys, I mentioned. 

Now, this probably won't..Watch. Let's see. Otherwise, that's usually what I do until the end. Nope! It actually is. Very good. OK. 

So, at the bottom, I do have a guide that lists social sciences by topic. And I mentioned the data plan-- oh, I'm sorry. So there is a specific-- 

So there is one on religion. And this will list databases, both subscription and free. So I mentioned the World Christian and World Religion databases. The ARDA, if you haven't looked at it before, can give you a quick overview of your community. So I'll just show you, quickly. They do have mainly at the county level, but there are a couple of metro-level areas. 

So I can look at Boston-Cambridge-Newton and get a quick overview of the religious affiliations in the area. It doesn't do this at the micro level, but if you do click on the Catholic Church it does give you an overview of the demographic background. It gives you the history, over time, of the growth of the church. 

It also has a member profile, from a survey they did in 2014 that gives you a bit of demographics of the Catholic Church. And again, that's at a broader level, not necessarily at your local level. So, just to be aware of that. 

I mentioned American Fact Finder. So this distributes the census information. And I'll show you how to dig into some good data, here. I can go to the advanced search. 

And I mentioned to you geography. So you do have a choice of looking at those various geographic levels. And that's why I showed you that chart. School district, place level, and census tracts. 

So I want to look at the census-tract level. So I want to get very micro. I'm going to select Massachusetts. And then, at county, I can select census tracts for all of Massachusetts, but I want to be a little bit more specific-- select census tracts in all of Suffolk County. 

And notice, when I make my selection, it appears on the upper left-hand corner. So I know I've selected this geographic area, here.  

OK, and now let's look at, as I said, a very rich amount of data. So, if I select topic-- and again, there's a lot of housing data-- but, for people, I can look at age group. So I want to know how many children under five are in my community. 

I can do disabilities. How many in my community have mobility problems? Education level. I might want to look at-- yes. 

Event attendee: 

Barbara, could you zoom that a little bit, for the folks in the back? 

Barbara Mento:  

OK?  OK, employment. Is there an issue with a large number of unemployed members of your community? Part-time workers, workers on disability. Income-- what is the median income? 

This is important--insurance coverage. Is there a high number of members of your community who have no health insurance? That could be a huge issue.

Language, as we've talked about. What is the language spoken at home? That's one of the questions on the census-- what is your primary language spoken at home? Marital status. Origins. Again, if you want to look at the Hispanic population, and that kind of thing. 

And often social workers, nurses, look at things like poverty. What percentage of your community is at the poverty level? Which one have a food need? Who's living on food stamps? So I'm going to choose that. 

And you'll notice-- I'm going move over to-- let's see, I may have to make this a little bit less large. All right, I'll just scoot over. 

But remember, I mentioned the American Community Survey. So this is the most recent estimate. It's the latest five years ending, in 2017. It's a five-year sampling. So it's a large sampling, so it's an estimate, the most current estimate you can get, of food stamps. 

So here, you can see, it shows my data, by census tract. And it's giving me households with receiving food stamps, the percentage of all households-- so, the raw number. If you just get the number of households on food stamps, but one area, census tract, has more households than the other, it's not as meaningful perhaps as the percent of the households on food stamps. And you get that at the census-tract level. 

Now, this goes to a little bit-- another way to look at that is, you can also use this to map your data. And this will give you sense, if you're not-- and many people are not-- familiar with, um-- are not familiar with the census tracts, that you know your ZIP code. What you could do is click on Create Map, click on Estimate. And this is the percent of households receiving food stamps. And you actually have-- 

The American Fact Finder will draw you a map. And there's your map of Suffolk County. So again, if I want to look at the Brighton area-- 

A little too close up, but this is the Brighton area, and the percentage of households with food stamps. So this gives me a way to identify a need perhaps in my ministry, if there are social services I want to identify, then that gives me, again, a wealth of demographic information, socioeconomic information, about the neighborhood. 

And it's actually quite easy. You also have some labeling. This is a little awkward to do. Let's see. You can actually put the ZIP codes in there which are significant. 

Again, Brighton is a neighborhood. So, if I ask it to label the place, it will just call us Boston, because that's really what we are. But I can put a label on, real quick. 

And then what I can do is just download this as a map. Now, this'll take a minute, but I'll just do this. It's going to create a PDF file. And it's going to take a minute, so I'm going to leave it go. 

While it's doing that, let me go and show you a couple of other things. One is, I mentioned opinion surveys. Pew, you've probably heard of it. Pew does interviews, and they do research. And they have very specific surveys that they do on religion, drinking habits may vary by faith, higher education, and they're more likely to become involved in a community group. So there's some interesting surveys that talk about religion. 

And then the other one I want to show you is called ICPSR, which I mentioned. So what's nice about ICPSR is a couple of things-- again, over 9,000 studies. You can just use keywords in search-- the name of the study. Again, if you saw a study cited in a publication, this is where I would first look and see if it's available. And as a BC member you have access to all 9,000 of these. 

You could search by a variable. But, if you're also looking for publications, you can also search by a bibliography of articles based on this data. So, again, one of those mentioned was, if I type in "congregation"-- and I will spell it right, or it will not let me-- and it brings up articles, based on data. 

So what we see is, here's, in 2016, an article, "Congregations and Social Services." And it talks about three waves. So it also gives you access to the full text of this article. So you may just want to read the article and see what they're saying, but you can also go to the survey itself, and this points you to the data that's affiliated with this survey. So this is what they used. 

So you can go to the survey. And what you will see is a description-- again, documentation, the methodology. And you also can look at the variables. 


So I can go in here and see that there are about 1,500 variables. All right. So I do want to show you a couple of things. 

But, just so you know, you can search the variables. You can get some frequencies. There's one in here on aging, and so forth. 

And also I wanted to mention, this also has a huge study called AdHealth, which is an adolescent health survey. It's a longitudinal study of public health for adolescents, going back in time. And there's a public use, which means it's not restricted. You can use it. So that is one of the most heavily used surveys on adolescents and issues dealing with adolescents. 

I'll also mention there's something called a General Social Survey which interviews 30,000 people. They did have a religion segment, at one point, where they asked questions they had. Anyone who a researcher could submit questions. It's also sorts of things like relationships. You're not going to see this, although it's quite beautiful. 

Just one more thing I did want to show you, I promise you. So, on the main library page, for all of you who may not have seen it, our research guides are here. And on the right-hand side are all of the guides that I mentioned. There's a guide on data management with the data management plan, data visualization, Dataverse, our data archive. There's one on ORCID. If you have questions on ORCID, that's in here. 

So there are a lot of research guides there, number one. Number two, if you want to take a look at-- and I do want to show you this one thing in Dataverse which I think is really interesting and, again, should open your minds. This is our Dataverse. This is BC scholarship. But I want to show-- and lasting relationship is the data that I talked about that has both interviews plus quantitative data that was developed using Hyperresearch, which is a tool. 

So you can see there's tabular data. You may not see it right now.  Let me increase it a little bit. That's not making it bigger. 

Sorry, it's not making it bigger. But one is Tabbed, one is PDF File. The interviews are in text file. So it's different formats. 

But the one I wanted to show you which is fun is, we had an art historian who actually deposited 3D-model code to create a baptismal font. Her research was medieval baptismal fonts, and she deposited two bits of coding for different 3D models. So you could download the code, create a plastic 3D model of a baptismal font. So-- open up your minds, in terms of data And what you can contribute to research.

Jennifer Butler: 

Thanks so much, Barbara. I know we are running close on time, and we want Allison to have time for her presentation, but if you have questions at the end of this you can follow up with anybody that is here, because that's what we are here for. And certainly Barbara has a wealth of information and resources to share with you.

Allison Xu:

Hi, everyone. So I'm going to talk about data visualization, one of my favorite topics. And first I want to show you a video pretty quick. 


- Bah, bah, bah, bah. 


So what sounds did you hear? 


With B, right? OK-- 


- Fah, fah, fah, fah, fah, fah, fah, fah, fah. 


So, this time, what sound did you hear? 


OK. I will prove that all of you are wrong. 


So you can close your eyes, and I will play the same sound, here. And you listen to it again. 


- Bah, bah, bah, bah, bah. 


OK, I'll pause here. So, what sounds did you hear? 


Yeah, actually those two sounds are the same sound. But the second part is because of the person were pronouncing like "fah," so it makes-- your brain tricks you. So you're thinking it's "fah," but actually it's "bah." So the point I want to make, here is that, because of the way that our human brain processes information, we are far more engaged by visual content. And this is why we use data visualization as a method to help us review and understand the significance of data. So, as Barbara mentioned, that there are a lot of different types of data: text file-- a lot of other types--like numbers, unstructured, or even databases. 

So we can use data visualization to help us to see the inside and the patterns more easily with data visualization. So, today, I have-- I know that, once you have your data and you decide to use data visualization, the next question will be, what technology do you use? So, and thanks to the growing technology, many data visualization tools make the storytelling very powerful. 

For example, there's a lot of visualization tools that have the capacity of interactive functionalities. So this flexible ability can help the user discover and explore the data in a deeper detail. And I know this is a very large subject, and I only have five minutes. [LAUGH] And there's a billion different technology with different features and benefits. I will just highlight a few of technologies, with examples that may be useful for you. 

So the first one is Tableau. So I'm not sure how many of you have heard about this software. So this is a software that I use a lot, and I found it's very powerful and very intuitive. 

One of the strengths of using this software is that it can pull various [types] of visualization and data together into one single, interactive dashboard, which you can just use this dashboard to present to anyone without showing them the data. And the people, if they're interested in your data visualization, can dig into your data visualization to see more in depth. And I want to mention that, if you are a student or you are a researcher here at BC, you can request for a license of Tableau. And I will mention that we also have a couple of workshops in our library, if you are interested. 

So, the next software is called Gephi. So it is great at visualizing very large, complex networks. I don't know if you can see this example very clear, but this is an example shows that we have a music collection called Connelly collection in our library. So we'll use this visualization to show the relationship between the musicians. 

But you can also use, like, this software, this type of visualization, show the relationship between other-- 


Yeah, it can be applied to a lot of examples. So next one is called D3. So it is a JavaScript data-visualization library. It's not like the software-- Tableau or Gephi. It's more like a JavaScript library.

So this give you huge advantages over other tools, because it can look at anything that you want. So you can be very creative. However, it does require some of programming skills. And you will probably need to invest time to learn the basics of JavaScript. OK. 

So, mapping. Mapping is another big topic of visualization. So mapping visualization can help explore data geographically. And there are a lot of visualization tools include GIS software, like ArcGIS and QGIS. And there's also a lot of web-based software, too. 

When determining the most suitable online mapping applications to explore for creating your online map, it is important to consider how you plan to use a mapping application and the features of the mapping application that are important to you. So they all have different features. So, before you really start to think or create a map, you have to think about the questions you will have or the features that are mostly important to you. 

And here are some examples. So the first example are created in Tableau. So it shows a number of Catholic congregations in the United States at county level. So, as you see, the size of the bubble shows the number of congregations, as well as the color. So the darker the color, the larger the circle, means that they have more congregations. 

And the next example shows that, if you have historic data, and you want to show it on a historic map, then there are also some online tools can make this possible. So, for example, this example is created by our digital scholarship librarian, Anna Kijas. So she used a 19th centuryAfrican ?] map and overlay two other information layers on this historic map, with the use of Carto, which is also an online-based mapping tool. 

So the next example is-- so the data source is from ARDA which Barbara just mentioned. So it's the religion census data. And it shows the top religions categories in the United States in 2010. 

OK, so next I want to mention some of our digital-scholarship services. So the first one is, each semester our digital scholarship [team] offers a wide variety of workshop topics including visualization, but is also include other topics like text analysis and digital tools to use. So you can go to our website to find out the workshops that we provide each semester. 

Of course, we also provide custom workshops for the researcher or for the class. So if you are specifically interested in one topic, you can send us a request, and we can work on that together. And we also provide consultations. You can send us email and make an appointment with us, with your data and visualization questions and projects. And-- OK. 

So, last, I want to mention that we have a person-- so we recently just hired a data-services librarian. And she will come in August. So this person will coordinate and teach workshop sessions with us and also do a lot of programming related to research data management and provide advice for projects related to data. 

So I think that's all my slide.

Jennifer Butler: 

Thank you, everyone. I know that we have just four minutes, so-- a tight agenda, today, but we've covered so much content. And everyone here, of course, is available for you, as a resource for further questions that you might have. But is there anyone who might have one question that we can answer in about the time that we have? If there's anybody with a question that they want to ask-- yes...

Question 1: 

So I'm wondering-- my question is for Hosffman . So the work that you do obviously is intended to actually be used by people doing actual practice. I'm wondering about your experiences in communicating that to people who are practicing what has worked well and the challenges in doing that, and how it was received?

Hosffman Ospino: 

I mean, I have to say that I have been the best vehicle to bring the data results to the communities I want to impact. And that has required traveling a lot, bringing this to the dioceses, to communities organizations. And the one piece that I would say is, the way it reported on the data, I did it in such a way that anyone with, say, elementary-school education can read it and say, I get it. You know? Or someone who has a PhD in Statistics or whatever can say, I see much more than this other person would see. But it's written in such a way. 

Perhaps the biggest difficulty is that those who are doing pastoral planning in dioceses, they want more, and they want more at the local level. So what I always tell them is, you are going to have to replicate that at the local level. Because, frankly, I can't do that. But there is always the thirst for a little bit more. 


Question 2: 

Can I just ask a quick question? Maybe for all, but primarily for Theresa and for Hosffman. You're sitting here as people who have done significant work in data management relating to ministry, pastoral ministry. From your perspective, how widely known among the faculty at BC are some of these research tools that are available through the libraries? And how-- if not very well known, how could we better promote the kinds of services that we try to make available-- for faculty, and for students?

Theresa O'Keefe: 

Well, I think part of the challenge is that there's just so much data. I mean, we have a proliferation of data in our world, now. Everybody is doing something and publishing it somewhere. And one of the easy things is we just become overwhelmed-- say, well, there's just so much, I won't even start. 

So I think the challenge is to always connect people and the data they can use and need. So I'm just starting a new research project-- hopefully. We're putting a grant proposal in, now-- that will be a effort between someone who's in the Sociology department, someone who's in the School of Education, and myself, about religious belief and practice-- so, something a little bit more of in the line of the Meredith McGuire work. And I'm interested to see some of the things up here about the material that's already here about religious belief and belonging and how we access that in a way that's helpful for our advancing our own awareness.

But it's just that there's so much. I think it comes down to the individual project and what's out there that could be accessible. So I guess that's the thing I'm thinking of, is I may have to kind of get my old group together and say, do you know the resources that are here and maybe we make an appointment with somebody we know to say, what's in here, and how can we find our way through it? 

Hosffman Ospino: 

The one thing that I would add is that it's also generational. You know? We've got faculty who were trained 50 years ago. And they might not see this as relevant or as part of the way they do their scholarship. You know? And faculty-- I mean, most of the professors who have been hired at the STM in recent years actually have been doing interdisciplinary work as part of their training. 

So I guess, as we move from this generationally, I think that also we need to keep in mind that the students are asking questions that most likely will require this kind of work. And something that I would recommend  the TML to do is invite speakers, you know, maybe to those kind of stuff, or maybe for an hour, you know. Bring someone who's doing work on Teresa de Ávila. And I'm thinking of Andrew, back there, you know? 

So Andrew writes a lot on spirituality, but it would be great to see, for instance, someone who's doing work on Teresa de ​Ávila and schools of spirituality or monasteries, using social science, as well, you know? Or looking at someone who is using social science in Bible studies. And then expand our imaginations. Because sometimes, I mean, as I was listening to Allison right now, I didn't know about some of these tools that she was mentioning. And I was imagining, wow, my life would have been easier, if I knew about that a long time ago. You know? But I was exposed to that. And without exposure, it's very difficult to appreciate it. 

Jennifer Butler:

Well, we are sadly at 1:30, and I'm sorry not to have had more time for questions. But, again, I hope you will feel free to follow up with our presenters, here, and ask them questions on and your own. And we will follow up with sending out an email, following up with the LibGuide that is going to list a lot of the resources that everyone has mentioned here and also link out to other guides that Barbara mentioned, including one also fromAdam Williams, who is here, and is a librarian in the social work library. 

And so we hope that those can be of help to you but also, of course, just to reach out to Barbara and to Allison, if you're interested in the resources that the library offers this way. And even if you have questions about how to think what the possibilities are for questions that you're entertaining, that you'll come to us and talk with us about that, as well. And so we really thank you for your time here. And I want to thank Hosffman and Theresa and Barbara and Allison for their time in preparing for this-- and for speaking with us today. So, thank you.