Being able to choose appropriate research methods and executing those methods effectively are absolutely essential if we are to collect valid, reliable and representative data, and below I present some links to some of the best resources which enable us to do so. These are mainly relevant to the selection, application and evaluation of research methods within sociology, but might also be of interest to students of other social science related subjects such as psychologists, business studies students, international relations students, and anthropologists.
I start off below by including some good ‘general resources’ such as text books and general web sites, followed by some links which focus on specific research methods – surveys, experiments, interviews, participant observation and secondary quantitative and qualitative data.
The point of this post is to provide links which take you to sources which are as broad as possible but where this isn’t possible, I provide links to specific examples of studies using certain research methods.
This list is very much a work in progress and will be updated in an ongoing manner.
Good general resources
Bryman, Alan (2015) Social Research Methods – A great introductory book on research methods organised by the major different types of research method (surveys, interviews, etc.), with supplementary material including PowerPoints and mutli-choice quizzes.
Gilbert, Nigel (2015) Researching Social Life – A classic introductory text book which takes you through the research process step by step, from research design, to data collection and analysis.
Supporting web site for ‘Researching Social Life’ – I’ve set the link to the Sage Journal publication links page, which is probably the most useful of the supporting pages, but if you want something a bit more advanced than A-level then you might like to check out their Quizlet Flash Cards too – definitely first year degree level (or maybe even beyond that)
The British Sociological Association Code of Ethics – A very thorough consideration of what counts as ‘ethical research’ according to the BSA.
Good Resources for Quantitative Data
Data Science Central – The online resource center for big data practitioners. Big data ‘scientists’ analyse huge data sets to reveal insights into human interactions. The link takes you to ’38 seminal articles about big data’.
YouGov is a great site for finding out results of recent surveys of public opinion on a range of issues. Of special interest at the moment (July 2017 at time of writing this paragraph!) are the election results, which give details of how different ages voted. If you like this sort of thing, you can even sign up to take part in YouGov surveys, which will give you a chance to find out some of the limitations of the survey method, and earn some cash.
The Office for National Statistics – ‘The UK’s largest provider of official statistics – it’s not actually that useful as a ‘search site’ (you’re better off just using Google), but you cant’ not include this!
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (about) – Crime stats are one of the most useful sources for illustrating how statistics are socially constructed – this is a useful Q and A on England and Wale’s massive annual victim survey.
The Crime Survey of England and Wales – The Results… A link to the results of the 2016 crime survey, towards the end is a discussion of methodology.
NB – these research methods resources are not meant as an exhaustive list, nor are they meant as a ‘good sources for A-level students’ list – this is more meant for first year degree students and people with a more general interest in learning about research methods.
As a final note, these are the resources which I have used (in modified form) to write many of the blog posts here on research methods.