Reviews and Links for AS and A2 Research Methods and Methodology
|Artlab||Artlab "...explores new forms of research which engage participants on a creative, artistic and/or visual level". In other words, it features research projects based around the use of visual media as a means of gathering data - and very good it is too. It's well worth a visit for the insight into a slightly-different type of research methodology.|
|Communication Research Methods||Although this guide is aimed at media / communication students it's general enough in scope to be useful for an understanding of the research process and methods at A-level (although some of the chapters go beyond what's necessary at this level and for this subject). The guide is divided into 14 chapters, each consisting of general notes on a particular topic coupled with short self-test quizzes and, occasionally, links to further reading.|
|Content Analysis Guidebook||Everything you've ever wanted to know (and plenty you probably didn't) about "doing Content Analysis". There's a huge amount of material to wade through on this site but if you're planning to use this method in a piece of coursework research then it's probably worth a visit.|
The focus of this site is cultural anthropology and the various methods anthropologists use in their fieldwork - one of which just happens to be participant observation. You'll find some relatively plain pages of notes here covering some of the basics of this method, with additional comments relating to possible sources of bias. Although many of the links to further reading are broken there's enough information here to serve as a useful introduction to ethnographic research methods.
|Expectation Effects||Everything you'd ever want to know - and plenty that you probably didn't - about various forms of expectation effect (more-commonly known in the A-level sociology literature as the "observer effect"). This article draws on and illustrates familiar studies - from Hawthorne to Pygmalion in the Classroom - to illustrate the general proposition. You may also want to check-out this link if you're teaching Hawthorne.|
|Gerard Keegan||This A-level Psychology site has some useful notes on areas like research design, methods, data and sampling. It's basically just pages of annotated / linked text and the colour scheme's a bit garish (or funky if you prefer) but it all seems competent enough (if a little unexciting - and speaking as one who doesn't like to live dangerously that's fine by me...).|
If you need Official UK government statistics this is probably the site to visit since, as you might expect, it contains a wealth of statistical information across a wide range of areas (crime, education, family and so forth). The material is mainly available for download in Adobe .pdf format (which means you'll need the Adobe Reader), rather than for on-line viewing (but unless you're looking for something small and specific this is not really a problem).
|How Scientists Cheat||Although this site might (fairly) be described as "heavy going" in terms of the depth of knowledge / understanding it requires, it will repay investigation for the student or teacher who wants to delve a bit more deeply into the philosophy of science. In basic terms, it's an on-line book (very text-heavy) that explores the nature of "science".|
For comparative data covering just about every country in the known world (and then some), this United Nations site is the place to go. The site lets you (interactively) compare geographic, economic, political and - most-usefully - social data to your heart's content.
|Interviews||A page about interviews (oh yes) - what are they, when and how they are used, types of question, their advantages and disadvantages and much, much, more. It's all neatly presented, as it should be given that it has the backing of Channel 4.|
|James Randi Foundation||
James Randi is a world-famous magician who also happens to take a close and abiding interest in "the paranormal" - in the sense that he takes a sceptical view of the claims of those who claim various forms of "psychic powers" (his "Million Dollar Challenge", for example, offers the aforesaid fortune to "the individual who can prove, in a controlled setting, that they have "super" powers"). This site, therefore, offers teachers and students a practical setting for the exploration of methodological concepts and positions (positivism, empiricism, reliability, validity and so forth) relating to ideas about the sociology of science.
The opening blurb on the site tells you most of what you essentially need to know: "The Research Methods Knowledge Base is a comprehensive web-based textbook that addresses all of the topics in a typical introductory undergraduate or graduate course in social research methods". In basic terms, it's a hyperlinked document that covers most of the essential aspects of social research in a level of detail that's probably too complicated for A-level students without a lot of teacher help and guidance. However, if you take the time to sort the wheat from the chaff this is a very useful and comprehensive methods site.
|Observation||This is a neat flash-based presentation from the University of Cambridge that takes the student through the ins-and-outs of participant and non-participant observation. The presentation uses real-life examples to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of each method and includes some simple student activities to reinforce the learning process.|
|Onlineethics||Amongst a wide range of goodies on offer here relating to ethical research practice, this particular section of the site offers some case study material that can be used as the basis for the discussion of ethical issues. Each case is briefly outlined and followed by questions that can be used as the basis for further examination / discussion.|
|Questionnaires||As you might expect from the title, this page is about questionnaires - what are they, when and how they are used, types of question and much, much, more. It's all neatly presented in a cartoony sort of way, as befits most efforts from Channel 4's Learning Zone.|
|Research Methods Lab||
I really love this site. It examines 5 types of research method (experiments, correlations, observation, social surveys and case studies) across different academic disciplines (including psychology and sociology) using a combination of text and visual material. Each method has a short description plus some indication of its strengths and weaknesses and Shockwave Flash is used to create multiple choice tests of student understanding.
|Resources for Methods||Gene Shackman's "Free Resources for Program Evaluation and Social Research Methods" (to give it it's full title) provides a range of annotated links to a wide variety of sites and sources relating to social research - from different types of method, through research methodologies to areas like sampling. Some of the linked sites / sources are above A-level standard but both teachers and students will find something useful here to enhance their knowledge and understanding of research methods and methodology in the social sciences.|
|Social Research Update||This online research publication site contains a wide range of accessible (and mercifully short) articles covering a number of different research methods and their application to real-world situations and issues (such as researching the fear of crime). Given that it's run by Surrey University, students may need help interpreting the data - but for teachers this is a useful source of summaries of recent research into the way different research methods can be used.|
|Social Trends||"Social Trends" is an invaluable source of official statistical information that draws together social and economic data from a wide range of government departments. The paper version is expensive, but electronic versions (currently editions 30 onward) can be downloaded "for free". The downloads can be large (around 10mb) and you'll need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them - a small price to pay for a reference work that brings hours of simple pleasure into the lives of untold numbers of students (and there aren't many things you can say that about while keeping a straight face...).|
If you're interested in learning more about this influential (and, it must be said, a little odd) social psychologist this site is probably as good a place to start as any. There's not a great deal of information here (although there is reasonable coverage of his major experiments) and it's general tone is a bit fan-boy so don't expect to find much by way of criticism here...
|Statistics Glossary||Although the glossary lists many more concepts than will be required for A-level Sociology (A-level Psychologists will probably find it more useful), students and teachers will find the sections on sampling and related concepts useful, if only for the fact that such concepts are clearly and concisely explained...|
|UK Data Archive||
The Data Archive is, in the words of its creators: "...a specialist national resource containing the largest collection of accessible computer readable data in the social sciences and humanities in the United Kingdom." If you want data, you have to register and you sometimes have to pay a small handling fee, but otherwise, it's all free. Which is nice.
|Why a Questionnaire?||This is a simple flash-based presentation from the University of Cambridge (under the general title of Reusable Learning Objects) that looks at different types of questionnaire research and includes some simple student activities to reinforce the learning process.|