Exciting New Research Opportunity on Street Gang Communications in SOC!

Looking for a Spring (and potentially Summer 2018) research opportunity?

A criminology study of street gang members is seeking motivated individuals to take part in an innovative research project that investigates street gang member communication.

Sociology graduate student John Leverso is looking for a few undergraduate students to help with a current project on Chicago gang members.

This is an unpaid research position but has the option for academic credit!

The purpose of the study is to assess patterns of change and stability in Chicago street gang member communication from the 1990s to the present.  To do so mix tapes from the 1990s and 2000s will be transcribed and analyzed.  Gang communications on Facebook will also be scraped and analyzed. After data collection the research team will assess the data both qualitatively (communication patterns) and quantitatively (a statistical process called sentiment analysis). This is an excellent opportunity to learn how to conduct a mixed methods research project.

Duties will include:

  • Data collection, data entry, and database management
    • Developing transcriptions of gang communication
  • Type up recordings and save files into a password-protected encrypted software
  • Aid in quickly skimming and assessing the relevance of communications
  • Help comprehend voices on the tapes that are difficult to hear/understand
  • Researching relevant literature that has been conducted on similar topics
  • Constructing annotated bibliographies
  • Weekly meetings to receive training on the process, exchange notes, and debrief materials
  • Help with Analyses – The first 5 weeks of the quarter will encompass data collection. The second 5 weeks will be dedicated to data analysis. To maximize your experience as a research assistant there will be involvement in both areas.  No experience necessary, training will be provided. All that is required is that you come ready to help and work.
  • Summary of findings – The goal is to produce a short report with the findings. This will be a team effort completed with the whole team.

Experience gained: 

  • An in-depth understanding of how mixed-methods research is conducted
  • Exposure to qualitative and quantitative data analytic software
  • Exposure to qualitative and quantitative data analytic techniques
  • Exposure to academic writing
  • Conducting research as part of a team
  • Helping researchers by comprehending voices on the tapes that are difficult to hear or understand
  • Familiarity with published literature on the research topic


  • Good attention to detail
  • Motivated
  • Works well as part of a team
  • Comfortable listening to highly personal information that may be sensitive and/or disturbing. Not bothered by offensive language.
  • Some computer background
    • Reasonable typing speed
    • Comfortable listening to the transcription tapes and typing them up

Time commitment and necessary equipment: 

  • In order to earn credit, students need to perform 3 hours of work per week, per credit. You should expect to work at least 6 hours per week (3 credits).
  • The specific responsibilities will depend, in part, on the number of hours per week that the student is able to work, as well as the student’s schedule. You will need to be available for training. 
  • Regular meetings will take place once per week on campus in SAV 216D (to be arranged).
  • Work will be conducted from home, you will not need to commute to campus except for the weekly meetings.


  • Personal computer with internet access and access to Google Drive/Docs
  • USB port on computer for thumb drive
  • Headphones that connect to computer

If you are interested please email John Leverso at jlever5@uw.edu with the following information: 

  1. Your name
  2. Your class standing
  3. Include your resume or list separately any relevant coursework and/or research experience.


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