How about some research data to test some of the theories that you have come across or ideas inspired by your cyberspace perusals? Click here for a collection of data and information resource sites (including some useful tools, such as an historical cost-of-living calculator). Be sure to check out and take advantage of the Federal Government resources. In this information age there perhaps has never been a greater need for information literacy. Be critical about what others are claiming to be "facts." A solid resource to explore is Nicole Auer's "Bibliography on Evaluating Internet Resources".

Within the topic-based pages at this site you will find considerable use of the General Social Surveys (GSS) of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). These face-to-face surveys of random samplings of English-speaking Americans 18 years of age and older, conducted nearly annually from 1972 through 2006 (and bi-annually for the near future), are some of the best information available to social scientists. Cumulative codebooks with variable marginals in addition to data downloads and programs allowing on-line analyses of the GSS can be found here.  Analyses of the GSS and the American National Election Studies can be performed online at Berkeley's SDA: Survey Documentation & Analysis website. Go to Queens College to either download an electronic searchable version of NORC's Annotated Bibliography of Papers Using the General Social Surveys or use their own online search engine (through 1996).

If you should use any of the analyses of the GSS on these pages, the following citation is recommended:

Davis, James Allan and Smith, Tom W. General social surveys, 1972-2006 [machine-readable data file] /Principal Investigator, James A. Davis; Director and Co-Principal Investigator, Tom W. Smith; Co-Principal Investigator, Peter V. Marsden; Sponsored by National Science Foundation. --NORC ed.-- Chicago: National Opinion Research Center [producer]; Storrs, CT: The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut [distributor], 2007.

If you enjoyed working with the GSS how about getting into cross-national surveys?  Another resource used at this site comes from the International Social Survey Programme. Conducted annually, each year features a different subject module, such as social inequality (1987,1992), women, work and family (1988,1994), religion (1991,1998), national identity (1995), and environment (1993,2000).

Courtesy of Jim Spickard, you can now obtain both data sets and analytic software at his Download Statistical Software site.


Methodology entails the procedures by which social research, whether  quantitative and qualitative, are conducted and ultimately evaluated--in other words, how one's hypotheses are tested. Getting more specific, researchers' methodologies guide them in defining, collecting, organizing, and interpreting their data. Often the major breakthroughs in our understanding of social processes occur because of the novelty of the data used, the techniques by which it is gathered, or by the model or question directing its acquisition and/or interpretation.  And let's hear it for the findings that don't support the hypotheses at the Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis and in the Index of Null Effects and Replication Failures.

Defining one's data: Precisely how does one go about and measure such theoretical concepts as altruistic behavior, esprit de corps, or anomie?  Even such apparent "no brainers" as religiosity, happiness, or social class reveal how methodological adequacy and validity are a function of the clarity of one's theory and its part.  Further, theory tends to be built into our measurement tools.  When, for instance, one measures temperature with a thermometer it is not the temperature per se that one sees but rather a phenomenon (mercury rising within a column) theoretically related to it.

For strategies for data collection see Bill Trochim's Research Methods Tutorials, including material on:

Thinking about using the web for conducting a survey?  From StatPac comes "Designing Surveys and Questionnaires." Available online is Matthias Schonlau, Ronald D. Fricker, Jr., and Marc N. Elliott's Conducting Research Surveys via E-mail and the Web.  Some use Quibblo to design surveys for Facebook.  Then, of course, there's SurveyMonkey.

So how are your statistical and methodological skills? Nothing worse that having great raw data and not knowing what to do with it. Here are places to brush up:

At Trinity, sociology courses typically use MicroCase for statistical analyses.  Click here for a pdf copy of the manual (portions Trinity-specific) that we use to introduce beginning students to its use, as well as some statistical basics.  In addition, some of us also use CHIP, which allows undergraduate students to engage in causal model analyses of categorical data.   Click here for an illustration of a CHIP analysis.  For a brief primer on using CHIP software click here.  Another how-to manual (pdf format) for both Macs and PCs can be obtained from William Frey's site.  

For you users of SPSS, available is a downloadable book, "SPSS For Beginners," as well as helpful links for Excel and statistics tutorials.  Raynald Levesque has an SPSS dedicated web site that includes hundreds of free sample syntax, macros and scripts classified by purpose, as well as Tips, FAQs, tutorials and a "Newbie's Corner."  For an interesting statistical data analysis package for the Web, one might want to try StatCrunch.

UCLA's Academic Technology Services has a detailed SAS Library.


W.L. Roberts's software for observing behavior in natural settings

Blogpulse from Intelliseek. In its Trend Search, for instance, "BlogPulse Trend Search allows you to create graphs that visually track 'buzz' over time for certain key words, phrases or links."

Let's get graphical


From the David King Collection, in Susan Llewelyn Leach, `Seeing is No Longer Believing,' Christian Science Monitor (Feb. 2, 2005) One realm of qualitative research worth exploring is visual sociology. Though others have claimed that is what I do, absolutely no expertise is here claimed. Google the concept and see where the results take you.


So you have your theory and have tested it with your data. What then? Click here to see the design (and rationale) of a research paper. Take advantage of the American Sociological Association's style guidelines and manuscript preparation checklist (pdf format).

And in case you find something in cyberspace that you wish to incorporate into your own work, be sure to give credit. Knowledge is property, especially in this information age. Here are some citation guides for the internet resources:

Citation formats from Dartmouth College
Modern Language Association's style handbook for citing WWW sources
A Student's Guide to Referencing On-Line Information Sources in Social Sciences
Citing Electronic Materials With the New MLA Guidelines
Beyond the MLA Handbook: Documenting Electronic Sources on the Internet
Guide for Citing Electronic Information--handy outline
Web Extension to APA Style
Walker/ACW Style Sheet
Is your paper something that you wish to share with others in this medium however you fear that it might not meet the standards of the electronic journals? Consider "The Social Science Paper Publisher" as an outlet. Here the works of both established scholars and undergraduates are welcomed.

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