The changing field of research methods- Part 8

How will innovations in research methods affect teaching and research? That was the underlying question during a panel discussion hosted by SAGE Publishing at the 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology. “Big Data, New Skills,” saw Jerry Coulton chair a panel that included Henrietta O’ConnorBarbara KawulichMark CarriganNigel FieldingKingsley Purdam, and Vera Toepool. You can watch their discussion here.

In addition to the above, we addressed other topics related to research methods innovation in October. Read on to see a round-up of our latest activities.

Sharing research methods teaching best practices

The October instalment of our Methods in Action series focused on  visual methods. Dawn teaching-best-practicesMannay, a senior lecturer in social sciences at Cardiff University, discussed her experience having research participants create visual materials, such as photographs, maps, and collages, to illustrate their everyday worlds from a unique perspective. She went on to explain the benefits of using visual research methods and gave advice for those interested in trying the approach. For more information, check out her case study for SAGE Research Methods Cases.

Connecting with the methods community

Big data is a key challenge facing social science researchers. How can social scientists engage with these vast datasets, what tools are needed, and who is already undertaking this research? We’ve been looking into this ourselves (find out about SAGE’s recent whitepaper here), as well as working with our industry partners to try and answer these questions.

We recently started a video collection on “The big deal about big data,” a lecture from Gary King, director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. The collection had two new instalments in October: Social Scientists Determine Cause Of Death At A Distance and Exciting Data that is Useless Without Analytics. To see all the videos in the collection, click here.


In late September we sponsored DataKind’s DataDive, a hackathon where mission-driven organisations work alongside teams of data scientists, developers, and designers using data to gain in-depth insight into the communities they serve.  This event was a great chance to practically explore how we can harness and use the vast amounts of data that our now at our fingertips for better social good.

Interested in finding out more? You can watch a video from the event here and read an interview with DataKind UK here.

What’s coming up?

This November, we’re holding two free methods-related webinars.  Join us on November 15th for our first webinar during which survey research expert Lesley Andres, Professor, Department of Education, University of British Columbia, will give her top tips for creating and deploying effective surveys.  Lesley will also cover best practices for phrasing questions, offering answer choices, and minimizing bias. Register here.

On November 16th, we’re hosting the webinar Teaching Statistics to People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics with bestselling author Neil J. Salkind. Register here for the webinar and hear about some ways you can help your students reduce their statistics anxiety. Neil will cover some of the topics that students struggle with most, including correlation, understanding hypotheses, and significance (including z-scores and t-tests).

The changing field of research methods’ series is part of a monthly SAGE research methods update, focusing on developments in the field, engagement in key debates, innovative new products and publications as well as top tips for those working with new and emerging research methods techniques. Interested in reading more? The rest of the series can be read here.

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