Developing SAGE Research Methods to Meet Teaching Needs

By Melissa Crowley, Marketing Manager, SAGE Publishing

Research Methods has been at the core of SAGE Publishing’s mission since the early 1970s. The first methods book, Public Policy Evaluation, was released in 1970, followed by the launch of Sociological Methods and Research, our first methods journal, in 1972. The Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences series—affectionately known as the Little Green Books—started in 1976 and have sold more than 2 million copies to date.

SRMSAGE Research Methods launched in 2011 as an online resource for researchers of all levels. Comprised of book, reference, journal article, and video content, plus tools to guide users through every step of the research process, it is suitable for novice through the most experienced researchers.

We wanted SAGE Research Methods to be more than just another eBook platform, so we created tools that instructors could use to integrate content into their courses and guide students through the research process.  Methods Lists are one such feature.  These reading lists can be used by individual researchers to keep track of content they will use in their project, but they can also be published on the site for other users to see. By making a public list, instructors can select book chapters, articles, or full books that complement their course textbook and provide students the link to the Methods List in their syllabus or course management system.

Another innovative tool is the Methods Map, a visual representation of how methods and terms are interrelated.  This is particularly useful for students just learning how to do research. They can start with a term as broad as qualitative or quantitative research, then navigate through the map, which includes short definitions of methods, to find the method that best fits their project. The map also connects to related content in the database.

As we interviewed faculty and students who were using SAGE Research Methods, one thing became clear: students wanted more examples specific to their field of study. Most of the methods content was general, rather than being specific to one discipline, but students really wanted to see how to do a survey for business, or how to run a focus group to support research in education.

SAGE Research Methods Cases, a collection of case studies written by researchers in the field about how they chose and applied methods to their research, gave us the opportunity to increase the amount of discipline-specific content on the platform. Users can search cases by discipline, method, or keywords to see how researchers have approached various topics. Each case is accompanied by learning objectives and discussion questions, making them perfect to use at the center of classroom discussions or activities.

Another need that emerged when talking to faculty was the availability of raw data that is suitable for students to use when learning how to do statistical or qualitative data analysis. Raw data is freely available, but faculty members were spending hours editing it down and making it appropriate for student use. SAGE Research Methods Datasets is a collection of more than 120 qualitative and quantitative datasets that can be downloaded for students to use for hands-on practice with analytical techniques.  Each dataset is accompanied by a clear how-to guide to show how the method is applied to the data.

Next on the horizon is SAGE Research Methods Video, a collection of streaming video that will bring methods, statistics, and evaluation to life. Our research shows that more and more instructors are using video in their courses, and the majority of students surveyed seek out video on their own to help them understand concepts that are presented in class.  SAGE Research Methods Video will include content such as a focus group in action, which is a much more powerful learning experience than simply reading a description of a focus group. There is also a full 15-hour intro stats course, so students can review lessons that they didn’t fully grasp when first presented in class.

We continually talk to people who are using the content on the SAGE Research Methods platform so that we can make sure it is meeting their needs.  If you aren’t familiar with the platform, sign up for a trial here: www.sagepub.com/SRMtrial16  If you are a SAGE Research Methods user and have feedback, please write to: librarymktg@sagepub.com.

     
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