Related Web links

The references and links on these pages have been collected and reviewed by Colin Robson. They will be updated on a regular basis.

Chapter links Click on the links below for websites giving further information on topics covered in each chapter of the book:

Most of these websites have been found by surfing the Web using Google. Apologies if any links don't work. They all did when this material was prepared, but things change on the Web. There is, of course, nothing to stop you surfing for yourself. Take care, it can be addictive and act as a displacement activity to getting on with your project!

Chapter 1 Preliminaries

Websites on topics covered in this chapter

Of general use when starting to think about doing your project

The Guide to the Best of the Web for Social Science INTUTE: Social Sciences has been an absolutely invaluable resource for anyone carrying out a research project using social science methods. It is discussed in detail in chapter 3. Unfortunately funding was withdrawn as part of the current cuts and it closed in July 2011. The material has been archived and will remain of considerable value for the next few years.

The Web Center for Social Research Methods A very useful and wide-ranging compendium of resources developed by Bill Trochim from Cornell. Aimed at people involved in applied social research and evaluation. Lots of resources and links to other locations on the Web that deal in applied social research methods.

Final Year Projects Down to earth advice on completing a final year project for business students, but generally applicable. Mainly focused on ‘desk' or library-based projects. Written by Mike Hart, University of Winchester.

The Social Science Undergraduate Dissertation Companion Covers all aspects of completing projects in sociology, anthropology, politics, social policy, social work and criminology. Well worth studying. Edited by Malcolm Todd from Sheffield Hallam University.

Research methods and methodology Wide-ranging, engagingly quirky with extensive set of links. written for sociologists but of general interest. The home page (‘A Sociological Tour Through CyberSpace' includes sections on data resources and useful Web tools. In addition to extensive sociological material, there are links to sites covering mass media and communication studies, political science, health statistics and the medical establishment, anthropology and history). Edited by Michael C. Kearl, Trinity University, Texas.

The Research Gateway An online resource to support student research project work in Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism by Tess Kay and Leigh Robinson, Loughborough University.

Web resources helpful for librarians doing research A site created for librarians who find themselves needing to perform research for purposes of publication, promotion, tenure, or other reasons. Useful generally. From Beth Ashmore of ‘The Researching Librarian'.

Social Research Updates Wide range of articles on different research methods and techniques. From the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey.

Covering specific issues

How to Keep a Research Diary Useful notes on keeping a research diary by Ian Hughes. Discussed in the context of an action research project but generally applicable. An Action Research E-Report from the University of Sydney.

Team building Invlauable for anyone working on a group project. Written by James Groccia, John T. O'Connor, and Susan Vernon Gerstenfeld from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA.

Chapter 2 Approaches to research

Websites on topics covered in this chapter

Action research

Introduction to action research A useful chapter on what is meant by action research and how to do it. By Rob McBride and John Schostak, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Soft systems methodology An introduction to Checkland's soft systems methodology, popular in business and management research. Developed by Chris Jarvis for the Business Open Learning Archive Project.

Case study

Introduction to case study Provides a general discussion of case study methodology in the context of a specific example on the introduction of information technology at a university. By Winston Tellis in the e-journal Qualitative Report. Another useful paper, from the e-journal Qualitative Report, on case study. Focus is on nursing research, but generally applicable. By Donna Zucker, University of Massachusetts.

Documentary analysis

See section in chapter 4 below.

Ethnographic research

What is ethnography? Introduction by Jean Schensul, Institute for Community Research ,Hartford, CT

Concepts, terms and assumptions Brief, clear review by David Gerson, North Carolina State University.

Evaluation research

The worldwide evaluation gateway Includes a wide range of articles, papers and reports. Links to methods, also to data, e-mail lists, other resources. Very comprehensive. Part of the the ‘Virtual Library' Project.

Online evaluation texts List of handbooks and texts which are available in their entirety online. Most are multi-chapter documents focusing on how to do evaluation-related subjects. From the American Evaluation Association.

Evaluation resources list of free resources for methods in evaluation and social research. The focus is on how to do evaluation research and the methods used: surveys, focus groups, sampling, interviews and other methods. Most of the extensive links are to resources that can be read over the Web. By Gene Shackman, applied sociologist.


Note: I have had some difficulty in selecting websites to recommend. Many I have come across contain dogmatic and debatable views about experimentation.

Experimental design This can definitely be recommended. Includes sections on two-group experimental designs, classifying experimental designs, factorial designs, randomized block designs, covariance designs and hybrid experimental designs. From Bill Trochim's ‘ Research Methods Knowledge Base'. See also for quasi-experimental designs.

Introductory text

Robson, C. (1994) Experiment, Design and Statistics in Psychology, 3rd edition. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Out of print but available at

Feminist research

Methodological and epistemological issues Covers a range of issues raised when doing feminist research. A paper from Sociological Research Online by D. Millen. Discusses the appropriateness of qualitative and quantitative methods for feminist research. A paper by Nicole Westmarland in Forum: Qualitative Social Research.

Feminist Research Design and Institutional Gatekeeping Mechanisms A blog entry from Nancy Ratliff of the Department of English at East Carolina University discussing the problems posed by institutional gatekeeping mechanisms.

Grounded theory

Introductions to grounded theory A straightforward account of what grounded theory is and how to use it by Steve Borgatti. The paper outlines the key principles of grounded theorizing and then goes on to discuss open, axial and selective coding in turn, using worked examples of qualitative data. A very useful ‘thumbnail sketch'. Addressed to psychologists but generally applicable. By Bob Dick, Southern Cross University.

Qualitative research (includes stuff on action research, case study, grounded theory, ethnography, etc.)

How to do qualitative research Wide-ranging introduction to what is involved in doing a project based on collecting qualitative data. Written for students of information systems but generally applicable. By Michael Myers, University of Auckland.

An introduction to qualitative research A guide which has been used as an introductory text on courses aimed at teachers, health professionals and business consultants. Written by John Schostak, Manchester Metropolitan University.

ESDS Qualidata A service providing access to a range of social science qualitative datasets.

The focus is on digital data collections from purely qualitative and mixed methods contemporary research and from UK-based ‘classic studies'.


Guide to doing survey research Detailed coverage of most aspects of survey design. Online material linked to the course ‘Quantitative Research in Public Administration' by G. David Garson, North Carolina State University.

Survey design Introduction to survey methodology and design. Includes material on sampling, response rates, Choosing the right survey method, Question wording, questionnaire design, pretesting, survey implementation, ethical considerations, and reporting on survey methodology. Prepared by James K. Doyle, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Social surveys online Gives online access to a wide range of surveys (e.g. Families and Children Study, General Household Survey, English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, National Travel Survey, Health Survey for England, British Social Attitudes Survey 2002 Questionnaire, National Survey of NHS Patients. The ‘Question Bank' is very useful when devising your own survey questionnaires (special reference is made to the wording of questions and the construction of questionnaires). Can also be used for secondary analysis of survey data.

The UK MORI polling organisation. Lot of material about recent real-life surveys. See also the US Gallop website at

Other approaches

Narrative-based research An introduction to the basic ideas behind using narrative as a vehicle for research by John Schostak, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Hermeneutics A short introduction to using a hermeneutic approach. Also by John Schostak, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Discourse analysis This is the homepage of a relatively new online journal dedicated to the theory and practice of discourse analysis (DA). Edited by a team at Sheffield Hallam University, it contains a range of interesting articles that you can browse from the current and previous editions of the journal; these include ‘themed issues' on topics such as feminist DA. Useful section on DA resources.

Conversation analysis Tutorial covering the basic principles of conversation analysis written by Charles Antaki at Loughborough University. See also A course designed for a group of Danish students studying for an English degree by Charles Antaki. The basic idea of thelectures is to give a reasonable grounding in Conversation Analysis, or CA and which includes several papers on the topic

Chapter 3 Developing your ideas

Websites on topics covered in this chapter


Topic selection

Getting started Discusses how to find a topic and suggests some sources that may prove helpful. Part of ‘The Social Science Undergraduate Dissertation Companion' edited by Malcolm Todd from Sheffield Hallam University

Ideas for topics A searchable database containing information on a very wide-ranging set of projects completed by students on the Global Perspective Program from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The topic areas include: Technology and Environment, Energy and Resources, Health Care and Technology, Urban and Environmental Planning, Science and Technology: Policy and Management, Social Studies of Science and Technology, Safety Analysis and Liability (including Fire Safety), Humanistic Studies of Technology, Economic Growth, Stability, and Development, Social and Human Services, Education in a Technological Society, Law and Technology, and Historic and Artistic Preservation Technology. There are, for example, 76 Projects in Social and Human Services, including Access to Special Needs Housing, Analysis of Dog Training in Switzerland, Disadvantaged Youth Recreation, and Web Use in Small Churches. A fortnightly digest of interesting new psychological research from the British Psychological Society, aimed primarily at students, and which could provide ideas for topics.


How to do a literature search Entertaining and enlightening PowerPoint presentation from a workshop presentation by Andrew Booth of Sheffield University and Mary Dixon-Woods of Leicester University.

Library Research Seven Steps to Effective Library Research by Michael Engle, Olin and Uris Libraries, Cornell University. How to get help with finding literature and research. Part of ‘The Social Science Undergraduate Dissertation Companion' edited by Malcolm Todd from Sheffield Hallam University.

Evaluating Information Found on the Internet A free, ‘teach yourself' tutorial that lets you practise your Internet Information Skills. Highly recommended for anyone using the internet for research purposes. Written by Louise Corti, University of Essex as part of the Virtual TrainingSuite.

Reference styles

Psychology Detailed guide to the American Psychological Association (APA) referencing system, commonly used in both social and natural sciences. By David Baker and Lynn Henrichsen, Brigham Young University.

Sociology Formatting in Sociology.

Humanities Using the Modern Language Association (MLA) format common in the humanities.

Referencing electronic sources Resources for Documenting Electronic Sources. All from the Purdue University Online Writing Lab.


Research ethics for projects Discussion of research ethics for projects in Sociology, Anthropology, Politics, Social Policy, Social Work and Criminology. There are links to various useful documents: Research Ethics Proposal, Participant Information Sheet, Sample Consent Form, Risk Assessment Proforma. A resource developed in partnership by the Higher Education Academy's Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics, the Centre for Social Work and Policy and Sheffield Hallam University

Ethics in participant observation Guidelines from the University of Toronto. (PDF file – needs Adobe Reader).

Research ethics codes

The following is a selection. If your discipline or field of study isn't included you should be able to locate the appropriate one via the website of the relevant disciplinary or professional organization.

Social Research (general) Social Research Association

Business and Management Market Research Society


British Educational Research Association guidelines.

Nursing and health-related areas Medical Research Council (MRC) provides links to documents detailing their ‘Research Governance Framework’ NHS National Research Ethics Service covering most ethical aspects of NHS research. Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Research Governance and Ethics

Psychology American Psychological Association Australian Psychological society British Psychological Society

Canadian Psychological Association New Zealand Psychological Society

Social anthropology American Anthropological Association Association of Social Anthropologists of the Commonwealth

Social work British Association of Social Workers National Association of Social Workers (USA) — see section 5.02 on research and evaluation

Sociology American Sociological Association British Sociological Association

Criminology British Society of Criminology

Oral History Oral History Society

Chapter 4 Selecting the method(s) of collecting data

Websites on topics covered in this chapter

Reliability and validity

Internal validity Excellent tutorial on threats to internal validity. By David Polson for Athabasca University.

Reliability Bill Trochim's chapter on reliability in the Research Methods Knowledge Base.


Interviewing Techniques Includes material on when interviews are appropriate, choosing the right interview method, getting the interview, ethical considerations, in-depth qualitative interviews, selecting participants, deciding how many interviews to conduct, preparing to interview, the interview process, and reducing and analyzing the data. Also covers similar issues on the running of focus groups. Prepared by James K. Doyle, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Interview guide for semi-structured interviews An example of an interview guide for semi-structured interviews. The guide is copyright Sociological Research Online, 1997.

Focus groups Short, clear review of the issues involved in running focus groups by G. David Garson, North Carolina State University.


Questionnaire design A very useful tutorial teaching how to design a questionnaire and conduct a survey. Very practical, covering aspects such as planning the structure of the questionnaire, working out its layout, writing a cover letter, following up non-responders, and managing the data. By David Walonick at the University of St Thomas, Minnesota.

Postal Surveys and Self-Completion Questionnaires Useful short discussion of the use of questionnaires in different contexts including telephone interviewing, postal or self completion, computerised interviewing and online interviewing. From Research Solutions.

Diaries (as a research method) The use of diaries as a qualitative research method, particularly in relation to medical sociology by H. Elliot (from Sociological Research Online). Using audio diaries to research sleep. By Jenny Hislop and colleagues (also in Sociological Research Online).

Tests and scales

Sources for tests Wide-ranging coverage of both published and unpublished tests. From the American Psychological Association. Complete guide to tests and testing from the British Psychological Society.

Scaling Bill Trochim's chapter on scaling in the Research Methods Knowledge Base.

Covers Thurstone or Equal-Appearing Interval Scaling, Likert or ‘Summative' Scaling and Guttman or ‘Cumulative' Scaling.

Using standardized tests Thorough coverage of the use of standardized tests, concentrating on the different types of scale and appropriate statistics to use with them. By David Garson, North Carolina State University.


General Covers the use of different types of observation in real world projects. Part of the Rapid Assessment and Response Technical Guide, by Gerry Stimson and colleagues from the World Health Organization.

Participant Observation Very useful, thorough discussion of the issues involved in using participant observation as a data collection method. includes exercises for developing observation techniques. A paper by Barbara Kawulich in Forum: Qualitative Social Research.

Structured observation Example of a project using structured observation, with details of procedures and methodology. From Tom Wilson and David Streatfield, Project INISS. Use of a movement observation schedule with children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. A paper by Glynis Pratchett presented at ISEC 2000.

Examples of observation schedules From a manual used to conduct a software evaluation (select ‘Observation Scheiule') – the EASEIT-Eng: Evaluation Manual.

A simple classroom observation schedule by Vidijka Harej and colleagues. From the South East Europe Education Cooperation Network (SEE-ECN). (PDF file – needs Adobe Reader),70384&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) by Catherine Lord and colleagues at the University of Michigan. 

List of observation schedules From Simon and Boyer's ‘Mirrors for Behavior III' by Helen Hough, Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Documentary analysis

Example A study of rural and remote nursing practice in Canada based on an analysis of policy documents. Open access to useful detailed report as a PDF file. Produced by a team from several Canadian universities.

Approaches Discusses strategies for analyzing primary sources including newspapers, official documents and personal accounts – also material culture (images and objects), maps, music and travel narratives. Part of a project on ‘World History Sources' from George Mason University.

Unobtrusive measures Bill Trochim's chapter on unobtrusive measures in the Research Methods Knowledge Base.

Online research

Psychological Research on the Net Links to a wide range of experiments on the internet that are psychologically relatedition. Maintained by John Krantz for Hanover College.

Other methods


Wide-ranging review of simulation methods and methodology by Robert Axelrod, University of Michigan. (PDF file)

Discourse analysis Short description with bibliography and links. Home page of ‘Discourse Analysis Online' an online journal covering many aspects of the topic.

Repertory grid techniques Overview from the Brint Institute. Extensive Web links. Detailed manual covering design, administration and analysis. From the Spanish Association for Cognitive Psychology.

Verbal protocols Example of the use of verbal protocols in observing documentary reading. A paper by Mariângela Fujita and colleagues in ‘Information Research'.

Multiple methods

Example Discusses the use of multiple methods in sports fan research. Paper by Ian Jones in ‘ The Qualitative Report'.

Discussion of the issues Report (including transcripts) of a workshop on applying multiple social science research methods to educational problems. From the Center for Education, National Research Council of the National Academies, Washington, DC.

Integrating quantitative and qualitative methods Discusses how these two different research approaches can be integrated in the context of a health promotion program. From a text on ‘Social Marketing' by Nedra Weinreich.

Chapter 5 Practicalities of data collection

Websites on topics covered in this chapter

Safety issues

Safety in Social Research Very useful discussion of the risks involved in social research – for researchers, and for those people who agree to take part. A Social Research Update paper by Gary Craig, Anne Corden and Patricia Thornton.

Gantt charts Clear diagrams showing the Gantt chart approach.


General Bill Trochim's chapter on sampling in the Research Methods Knowledge Base. Sections on Sampling Terminology, Statistical Sampling Terms, Probability and Nonprobability Sampling. Clear and easy to follow discussion of various types of sample. By Neville Hunt and Sidney Tyrrell, Coventry University A brief introduction to sampling, developed by the Psychology department, UC Davis. Excellent detailed coverage of many aspects of sampling by David Garson, North Carolina State University.

Sample Sizes Discusses the factors to be considered when deciding on sample size, and shows the sample sizes needed for a given margin of error at different confidence levels from Research Solutions, an Auckland market research company. An alternative site covering the same issues (and explaining the meaning of confidence levels and other technical terms) is from Creative Research Systems, Petaluma.

Snowball sampling Paper on ‘respondent-driven sampling' (a combination of snowball sampling

with a mathematical model that weights the sample to compensate for the fact that the sample was collected in a non-random way). By Salganik, M. J. and D. D. Heckathorn.

Probability sampling Guide showing how to choose probability samples (e.g. of communities, households, and/or individuals). Material developed by The Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) Project, Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC.

Informed Consent

Issues, background etc. Comprehensive review with wide range of links. from James Drisko, Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, MA.

Anonymity issues

Anonymity of research participants Discusses assumptions, ethics and practicalities (and the legal requirements of the Data Protection Act). A Social Research Update paper by Anne Grinyer.


Dealing with clients How to anticipate possible difficulties. The focus is on contract research but useful suggestions for anyone working in organizations; e.g. What happens if the client does not like the research findings? What ethical issues are raised by the client becoming the subject of the research? If the client objects to the findings, what are the implications for publication? Another Social Research Update paper by Anne Grinyer.

Chapter 6 Analysing and interpreting your findings

Websites on topics covered in this chapter

Quantitative analysis

Online introductory statistics texts My out of print Penguin text ‘Experiment, Design and Statistics in Psychology' HyperStat Online Textbook by David Lane, Rice University

Descriptive statistics

Inferential statistics Sections on the t-test, dummy variables, posttest-only analysis, factorial design analysis, randomized block analysis, analysis of covariance, nonequivalent groups analysis and regression-discontinuity analysis.

Selecting Statistics An online statistical advisor. Answer the questions and it will lead you to an appropriate statistical test for your data.

All from Bill Trochim's Web Center for Social Research Methods.

Methodology of quantitative analysis Links to a fascinating set of essays on fair tests of treatments in health care. Part of the James Lind Library, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Data analysis in action research Discussion on how to analyse data in an action research project By Rob McBride and John Schostak, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Time-series analysis Comprehensive coverage of the issues involved in various types of time-series. By David Garson, North Carolina State University.

Qualitative analysis

Grounded theory analysis A straightforward account of what grounded theory is and how to use it by Steve Borgatti. The paper outlines they key principles of grounded theorizing and then goes on to discuss open, axial and selective coding in turn, using worked examples of qualitative data.

Qualitative content analysis Discussion of the issues involved in doing content analysis in qualitative rather than quantitative terms. Outlines the basic principles of this form of content analysis, including the idea of ‘inductive category development', and then goes on to summarize a number of interesting studies that have used this method to analyse documents, from mass media texts to interview transcripts, diaries and biographies.

NUD • IST and NVivo Website giving details of latest versions. Note: has now been superseded buNVivo.

Chapter 7 Writing the report

Websites on topics covered in this chapter


Presenting graphs Covers just about everything you are likely to need to know about using graphs (includes section on Gantt charts). By Betty Jung. An excellent PowerPoint presentation on how to produce good graphs.

From the Washington Statistical Society Methodology Seminars by Marianne W. Zawitz, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Presenting tables Another excellent PowerPoint presentation this time on how to produce good tables. From the Washington Statistical Society Methodology Seminars by Marianne W. Zawitz, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Report writing

Guides Short review of all aspects of writing a report or dissertation. Part of The Social Science Undergraduate Dissertation Companion edited by Malcolm Todd from Sheffield Hallam University. See also sections on ‘ Developing Your Academic Style of Writing' and ‘Preparing the Dissertation for Submission'. Brief, clear guide for psychology students to writing reports. From the Psychology Department, University of Glamorgan.

APA style ‘Psychology with Style: A Hypertext Writing Guide' (for the 5th edition of the APA Manual) by Mark Plonsky, University of Wisconsin

Plagiarism Defines plagiarism, explains its seriousness, and help you to avoid it. From The Social Science Undergraduate Dissertation Companion e dited by Malcolm Todd from Sheffield Hallam University.