Research methods courses are a compulsory element of many social science courses. Most social science benchmarks mention it as a core element and at postgraduate level the ESRC has made holding a masters qualification in research methods a prerequisite for its PhD bursary support. So there is a very wide demand across the HE sector and at levels from first year undergraduate to postgraduate for teaching and a fortiori for OER materials in social research methods. To some degree, materials are adapted for each of the subjects where research methods are taught. In part this reflects slight changes in emphasis and selection of particular methods for each discipline.
There is also some variation in the choice of examples used to illustrate the methods. These tend to be from the discipline in question. There is now a wide range of OER materials available to support social research methods. But in view of the above points, there is likely to be a problem in academics and students finding appropriate resources.
Aims and objectives
There are two challenges here that the project will address. First is which of the Web 2.0 technologies are best suited to this kind of dissemination support – Wikis, Blogs, discussion boards, database interrogators, bookmarking systems etc. The project will examine and pilot various approaches and seek to obtain feedback from potential users about suitable approaches. The second challenge is the issue of linking this material with the resources themselves found on different websites and inside repositories. Our key objective is a better informing of the process of using OER to support research methods teaching, and improving the discoverability of research methods resources.
The project will be co-ordinated closely within the core project team, including the lead, researcher, investigator and technical support, It will commence with a series of scoping exercises to refine the focus of our later outputs, particularly in relation to the types of collections appropriate as source OER, and our approach to the issues of static and dynamic materials. This will feed into a ‘front-end’ prototype for testing with consultant experts from the research methods domain.
Anticipated outputs and outcomes
Enhancements to core social science curricula in research methods using open educational resources.
Contribution to new technical developments which take advantage of the potential of Web 2.0 for increasing access to good quality educational resources.
Increased understanding of ways in which research methods resources can be used across social sciences disciplines.
Increased awareness of complexities related to copyright and IPR as these emerge in the process of creating collections of OER resources.
Dissemination activities including project events, workshops, project website, blog, and feeds into tools such as twitter and netvibes.
Technology / Standards used
The project will adopt the mandated OER programme keywords and tags for OER release. The project blog and web resource will use standard RSS/ATOM for feed dissemination. All released OER will use appropriate creative commons licenses (anticipated v 3.0).
At this point it is difficult to specify which other technologies will be used, however it is anticipated that further use of relevant technologies such as XML, JSON, PHP will be included in any approach to working with source collection API (though this has to be refined in the initial scoping).
This project outline originally appeared on the JISC website as archived at https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140614090058/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning/oer2/discoveringocialscience.aspx under a CC-BY-ND-NC license.