Robert Fahey

Research Assistant, Graduate School of Political Science, Waseda University (JP)
Twitter: @robfahey

Walk us through your resume: how did you get into the topic of your course?
Finding ways to effectively store and manage data is a challenge any researcher who uses modern empirical methods will meet very quickly – as soon as you turn your eye to social media or other online APIs as data sources, you very rapidly reach the point where tools like Excel or folders full of CSV files simply can’t do the job any more. Perhaps some senior professors can solve those problems by getting an army of undergraduate research assistants to organise their data by hand; for me as a graduate student without the funding to hire minions, making the wrong data management choices created many weeks of (extremely tedious!) work on my MA thesis, so I was very determined to learn the right way to do things when it came to my PhD work and beyond.

What will students learn by attending your classes?
By the end of this class, you’ll know how to turn data storage and management from a tedious challenge into a valuable part of your research workflow. By properly planning your data strategy, you can let the database software do a lot of the hard work – potentially solving some of your analysis problems before you even export the data into your software of choice. Students will learn about the database options available to them – from free software they can install on their laptops up to cloud services suited to handling terabytes of data – and learn their strengths and weaknesses so that they can effectively choose the right database or other storage methodology for different types of research task.

How would your students describe you?
At Waseda the feedback generally focuses on how relieved they are that I can speak Japanese so they didn’t have to communicate with me in English as they had feared… Apart from that, I wouldn’t want to assume anything about my students’ opinions of me, but quite a few people who have taken classes with me have contacted me later on for help or advice, so I guess I must not be that much of a monster. Probably.

Please, tell us something about yourself that’s not on your resume.
I was bilingual in Irish and English when I was a child – but to my shame, I’ve almost completely forgotten how to speak Irish.