Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes

  • List a variety of methods that can be used to analyse data, and start to choose appropriate data analysis methods for your research
  • Identify potential data analysis challenges and outline possible solutions
  • Reflect critically on data analysis conclusions and outputs
  • Recognise and address ethical and legal issues surrounding data analysis
  • Identify and apply professional and academic standards of integrity and scholarship when analysing data.

Using the module

Welcome to Research Methods in Practice: Social Sciences. This course explores the practical applications of research methods in the social sciences. Through practical examples, scenarios and case studies, it will help you to reflect on the challenges you might face during your research project.

Research Methods in Practice: Social Sciences is intended as an introduction to research methods in the social sciences. The course Principles of Research Methods provides a more in-depth overview of research methods, with examples in multiple disciplinary areas. We suggest that you complete Principles of Research Methods before starting this course.

This module is designed to introduce you to a variety of data analysis methods, and to help you evaluate their applicability to your own research project.

If this is the first time you have accessed the Research Methods in Practice: Social Sciences course, or if you need a brief reminder, here is some information on how the screens are organised, and some of the tools and features that are used throughout:


Content

  • The centre of each screen contains the core content for the course, presented as either text, interactive activities, graphics, videos or animations
  • Text highlighted in a box preceded by an arrow contains instructions on how to navigate the activities that follow
  • Terms highlighted like this are clickable glossary terms, and can be clicked on to access pop-up boxes containing definitions of key terms
  • Note that your responses to the notemaking and text entry activities (where you type responses in the space provided) can be printed and used as part of your ongoing work
  • At the top of each screen you will see an indication of the approximate time it will take to complete the core content. These estimates include time to watch videos and complete activities in the central section, but not to read the content in pods.

Pods

Throughout this course, you will see additional learning opportunities in 'pods'. Exploring the information provided in the pods will enrich the learning experience.

  • Useful information Contains extra content to expand or emphasise key points from the main screen.
  • Learn more Contains links to useful external resources and suggestions for further reading to help you explore issues raised in the main screen.
  • Your context Contains links and information specific to your context and/or institution.
  • Download Contains the glossary for the entire course.

Quiz

At the very end of each module, you have the opportunity to test your learning further with a multiple-choice quiz. This consists of five questions and can be taken more than once (a new set of questions will appear).


The Research Methods in Practice: Social Sciences course is designed to gradually build up your understanding and skills. We recommend that you complete the modules in the order given, but they have been designed so you can access each of them independently according to your own requirements and those of your institution.

Expert panel

Author

Dr. Catherine Dawson

Dr. Catherine Dawson

Catherine Dawson is a researcher and writer specialising in research methods, digital research methods and teaching research methods. She has worked as a researcher and tutor for a number of UK universities and colleges, including the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and Northern College, an adult residential college located near Barnsley. Over the years she has developed and delivered a number of research methods courses for postgraduate students, and has delivered bespoke training courses in the public and private sectors. She has also published a variety of research methods books aimed at undergraduates, postgraduates and tutors.


Lead advisors

Professor Fiona Denney

Professor Fiona Denney

Fiona Denney is a Professor of Business Education at Brunel Business School, Brunel University London, where she has a particular focus on supporting and enhancing the student experience. From 2014 to 2020 she was the Director of the Brunel Educational Excellence Centre, supporting learning and teaching enhancement for both staff and students. Fiona is a member of the Executive Committee of the UK Council for Graduate Education, a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). She has a Ph.D. in marketing and has held academic posts in marketing and management studies. Fiona has worked in academic staff development since 2003 and has research interests in academic leadership.

Professor Douglas Halliday

Professor Douglas Halliday

Douglas Halliday is Director of the Durham Global Challenges Centre for Doctoral Training, supporting a cohort of 25 students from developing nations to undertake multidisciplinary doctoral research exploring solutions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He is also a Co-Director of Durham Energy Institute and the Director of the Multidisciplinary Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy, which trains doctoral candidates across science and social sciences. He has helped organise the UK Council for Graduate Education International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training. Previously, he was Dean of Durham's Graduate School from 2005 to 2010 and a recipient of a 2009 THE Award for Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Higher Education Academy and the Energy Institute.


Reviewers

Dr. Susan R. Hemer

Dr. Susan R. Hemer

Susan Hemer (Ph.D., GradDip AbSt, BAHons) is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Susan is a postgraduate coordinator and teaches research methods for postgraduates. She has recently won the Stephen Cole the Elder Fellow Award for HDR supervisory practices (2019). Susan has supervised over ten Ph.D. students to completion, and has published on the supervisory relationship. Her research is focused in Papua New Guinea, with over four years of ethnographic fieldwork, on medical and psychological anthropology, and horgendered relationships.

Professor Mary McNamara

Professor Mary McNamara

Mary McNamara (CChem, FRSC) is Head of the Graduate Research School, Technological University Dublin, Ireland. She graduated with an honours degree from the Royal Society of Chemistry and obtained a Ph.D. in Physical Inorganic Chemistry from University College Dublin. Mary was a member (2012–2018) of the steering committee of the Council for Doctoral Education of the European University Association and, in Ireland, she is a member of the National Forum on Research Integrity. Mary is also a member of the National Advisory Forum for Ireland's National Framework for Doctoral Education. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and an active researcher in the development of novel drug delivery systems.

Dr. Tina Ramkalawan

Dr. Tina Ramkalawan

Tina Ramkalawan is Director of the Graduate School at Brunel University London, where she leads the university's strategy for researcher development. She has a background in multidisciplinary collaborative research, with particular expertise in psychology, health and epidemiology. Her doctoral research was at the MRC Institute of Hearing Research, University of Nottingham, with a focus on outcomes for hearing-impaired children. Her work contributed to the establishment of the UK NHS Newborn Hearing Screening Programme. Tina has initiated and managed doctoral and post-doctoral programmes funded by the Medical Research Council. She is also a Chartered Psychologist and a qualified coach and mentor. Her research publications cover the areas of disability and health research.

Dr. Mark Ramsden

Dr. Mark Ramsden

Mark Ramsden is a Lecturer in Sociology and Director of the Social Sciences Research Methods Programme (SSRMP) at the University of Cambridge. The SSRMP provides training for staff and students across Cambridge and beyond. Mark's research interests focus on social inequality and how inequality becomes expressed in space and the urban environment. In particular, he explores how individuals experience inequality within their communities and neighbourhoods but also how schools, the labour market and residential housing interact to not only reflect social inequality but reproduce it. He has expertise in research design and the application of a wide range of research methods, including quantitative methods of data analysis and mapping.


Accessibility advisor

Wilma Alexander

Wilma Alexander

Wilma Alexander is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy with Master's degrees in Human–Computer Interaction, Linguistics and Information Science. She has over 15 years of experience as a manager with the online learning team at the University of Edinburgh, where she specialised in usable and accessible digital practice, tutored on the groundbreaking Master's degree in Digital Education and developed online staff training on accessible e-learning and online tutoring skills. Since retiring from the university at the end of 2015, Wilma has provided consultancy services on all aspects of online learning, with a special focus on accessibility and usability issues.