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Research Methods: SRM Datasets


Researchers exploring new statistical techniques often find that hands-on practice is essential to the learning process. The best way to learn how to do data analysis is to see examples of how others have approached analysis and then practice doing it yourself using real data.

Data vs Datasets  

Data is the raw information and the direct result of research that was conducted as part of a study, experiment or survey. It is typically raw data that needs to be manipulated using software.

Datasets are groupings of data collected and arranged in a set or structured manner. The records in a dataset can be organised in various ways, depending on how you wish to access the information. When a dataset has been created by another researcher or research group, it is classed as secondary data.   

Benefits associated with using datasets  
  • Much of the background work has already been completed therefore it is easier to undertake further research
  • Time-saving and cost efficient - reduced cost associated with duplication of data
  • Pre-established validity and reliability .
Where to find datasets?  

It can be time consuming finding data for your research as it involves searching major sources of published research data such as:

  • Government websites
  • Data directories
  • Subject based repositories
  • Institutional repositories
  • Research centre websites
  • Internet search engines e.g. Google Dataset Search  or Google Scholar 

Collection of Teaching Datasets
SAGE Research Methods Datasets is a collection of teaching datasets that can be used to support the teaching and learning of quantitative and qualitative analytical methods. These are datasets taken from real research projects, but edited and cleaned for teaching purposes. Each dataset will be accompanied by a short clear narrative description of the data and easy-to-follow instructions on how to apply the research method. 

Sources of Datasets
The datasets included in SAGE Research Methods Datasets are taken from government sources and academic research and demonstrate both qualitative and quantitative methods. Each dataset is presented with an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to best demonstrate how the method is applied.

SRM provides over 500 datasets using data from real research, designed to support the teaching and independent learning of data analysis techniques. You can browse by Method, Discipline and Data Type. Alternatively you can Browse all Datasets. Datasets are also included in the search results of SAGE Research Methods.

  • Quantitative Datasets
    The quantitative datasets are drawn from large surveys, experiments or government data sources and have been cleaned and reduced in complexity to make them easier to use. These datasets come with a step-by-step guide showing how to perform a statistical technique using the data in statistical software packages.
  • Qualitative Datasets
    The qualitative datasets include examples of various types of qualitative data including interview transcripts, field study notes as well as visual material. Accompanying the data is clear easy to follow advice on how you might approach analysis of the data making it perfect for students learning qualitative methods and for teachers looking for examples that they can include in their research methods course.
Datasets Content Pages

 Each content page includes the following:

  • A definition and illustrative example of the method
  • A description of the data
  • Instruction on how to apply the method to the data
  • Tips for presenting the findings
  •  A link to the original complete dataset or research project when available.

Sample Data 
Sage Research Methods Datasets provide sample data sets that students can use to practice doing data analysis and that faculty can use in a research methods course to demonstrate various analytical techniques.

Video: SAGE Research Methods Datasets Overview
Take a tour of SAGE Research Methods Datasets, a collection of teaching datasets and instructional guides that give students a chance to learn data analysis by practicing themselves. This bank of topical, engaging practice datasets, indexed by method and data type, are optimized to use in classroom exercises or in exam papers, saving faculty members hours spent sourcing and cleaning data themselves.

Practice Using Real Data 
The above video looks at an example of a quantitative dataset and how you would use it:

  1. At the SRM homepage scroll to the bottom > under the section "I want to..." > Practice data analysis > select Datasets. 
  2. From the datasets homepage, you can Browse Datasets > Browse by Method > View More> select the example Cross Tabulation.
  3. Select the dataset from China health survey on smoking habits in China. The webpage includes information about the following:
  • The data
  • The method
  • Instructions on how to apply that method to the data provided. â€‹Unlike the software guides you'll see later in the video, the instructions on the webpage are not specific to any particular software programme. This page also includes a number of useful  sections including a brief explanation of the method. In this case, the method is cross tabulation - a technique that is used to explore whether categorical variables are related to each other. This example shows if respondents have ever smoked or not and if they live in an urban or rural area?  You'll also see the following:
  • An illustrative example to explain the concept
  • How to present the results of a cross tabulation and research
  • A review to reinforce the concepts presented with this data set.

Hands-on Practice

  • By downloading the dataset and the SPSS guide, you can practice running your own cross tabulation using the data.
  • By following the steps outlined in the guide, you'll end up with a table showing the breakdown of smoking habits by those who live in urban and rural areas.

Practice makes perfect!
Sage Research Methods Datasets provide students and faculty with a range of interesting datasets they can use to practice data analysis techniques, as well as the wealth of pedagogical content to guide them through the process of learning new methods of data analysis.

Tips on Using Data in Teaching 
SRM Datasets are designed to help faculty explain data analysis to students through the following:

  • Reflective Questions
    Many datasets contain Reflective Questions or a review at the bottom of the dataset. Use this section as a homework assignment or to encourage class discussion.
  • "Also using this Dataset"
    Some datasets are analyzed in several different SAGE Research Methods Datasets and can be useful teaching tools. One such data series is Cross-Tabulation and the News Coverage Index (2012): The Geographic Focus of TV News Stories. To find other Teaching Datasets that use this dataset, look to the right menu underneath the site and share buttons. In this particular case, it's easy to see a Pearson's Chi-Squared Test dataset, a Frequency Distribution dataset, and One-way and Two-way ANOVA datasets that use the same data:

also using

  • Download Formats 
    You can download the data found in each dataset by in the Dataset and Guides tab.
    To learn more about dataset file types, click here.

More about Sage research Methods Datasets

To learn more about datasets for teaching, visit:

Teaching with Sage Research Methods Datasets

Nick Allum, Professor of Research Methodology at the University of Essex, discusses how he uses the practice datasets and instructional guides from SAGE Research Methods Datasets to teach analytical methods to his students.