“What every researcher needs” – SAGE Research Methods!

Did you know that at the OU, we have access to the Sage Research Methods database?!

If you’re a researcher, now is definitely the time to be utilising the fantastic resources offered within this database. With no access to our on-campus research methods books during the current pandemic, the SAGE Research Methods site provides a wealth of material that can guide you through every step of your research process – from helping you decide a method to planning out your entire project.

The database offers guidance and support for each stage of the research process starting with: writing a research question, conducting your literature review, choosing the best methods to suit your project, analysis of data, writing up findings and the process to publication. Additionally the database offers:


  • Full versions of printed text
  • Handbooks with comprehensive coverage in a variety of subjects
  • Little Green Books – offering a detailed guide on specific quantitative research methods
  • Little Blue Books – offering a detailed guide on specific qualitative research methods
  • Major Work – volumes of curated journal and book content addressing particular methods of research

Research Tools

  • Methods Map – this tool will allow you visualise the relationship between difference research methods concepts
  • Reading Lists – users have created a list of recommended key research methods and statistics resources
  • Project Planner – a logical walk-through tool for the entire research process
  • Statistical Test (Which Stats Test) – enables you to evaluate and decide on an appropriate statistical method


Reference works provides dictionary definitions and encyclopaedia entries on research topics, including umbrella terms such as qualitative research methods, and specific lines of inquiry such as action research.

  • Encyclopaedia – detailed definitions of research methods concepts
  • Dictionary – quick definitions with less context

SAGE Research Methods Cases

This aspect of the database offers examples of how real research projects were conducted and is invaluable to those of you in the early stages of your research career as fellow researchers have taken the time to write case studies about their experiences. These case studies cover both the successes and challenges they encountered, how they overcame any issues that came up within their research and anything they might have altered with hindsight. Essentially offering you an insight into the realities of research that most journal articles and books leave out. Click this link to watch a YouTube video explaining how to use this resource.

SAGE Research Methods Datasets

This section of the website holds a collection of teaching datasets and instructional guides which enable you to learn the practice of data analysis remotely. By practicing analysis skills using real data from SAGE Research Methods Datasets, you have the chance to see how analytic decisions are made, which will contribute to your confidence when conducting your own analysis. Click the link to watch a short YouTube video explaining how you can best use this resource.


For more video tutorials click here and you’ll be redirected to the SAGE Research Methods Video Collections where you’ll find hours of tutorials, interviews, case studies, and mini documentaries covering the full research process.

Keep an eye out for future blog posts which will delve a little deeper into the four key elements of this database.

If you have any queries or need further advice, please contact library-research-support@open.ac.uk




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Four Golden Rules of Data Management: Rule 4 – use a trusted repository

The final video in our series on the Four Golden Rules of Data Management highlights the importance of using a trusted data repository through the story of an artist who used Facebook to archive his life’s work.

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Research 4.0: Research in the age of automation

On Monday, I was at the LIS-Bibliometrics 10th anniversary conference, “The Future of Research Evaluation”.

Dr Steven Hill* and Prof James Wilsdon**, highlighted the rise of AI in research evaluation as a major trend in their keynotes. This is particularly significant as they are two of the most prominent figures in research evaluation in the UK. They both cited the recent Research 4.0: Research in the age of automation interim report by Demos.

They pointed out how AI can already do/help out with research (e.g. discovering new antibiotics) and how AI can potentially revolutionise research evaluation. Regarding the latter, systems are being developed to:

  • generate research grant applications and evaluate them
  • spot relevant papers missed from citation lists
  • identify reviewers
  • identify journals to publish in
  • undertake actual reviews of research papers, perhaps as a complement to human peer review

It was noted that AI could potentially reduce existing biases in some of these procesesses but that they equally could introduce new biases or cement existing biases. There are also numerous issues with the transparency of AI.

The responsible use of metrics may well need to cover the responsible use of AI in future and the UK Forum for Responsible Research Metrics are already looking into this.

Please see Stephen Hill’s post about his talk (link to slides included) for more information. I will Share James Wilsdon’s slides when they become available.

*Director of Research at Research England, chair of the steering group for the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF)

** Digital Science Professor of Research Policy in the University of Sheffield’s Department of Politics, Director of the Research on Research Institute, chaired the independent review of the role of metrics in the management of the research system resulting in The Metric Tide report

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Four Golden Rules of Data Management: Rule 3 – Migrate formats

The third video in our series on Four Golden Rules of Data Management recounts the story of the BBC’s ill-fated Domesday project in order to demonstrate the importance of migrating formats for preservation.

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FREE UKSG webinar – Research integrity 2020: New challenges for a new decade

April 27 2020 – 13:00 to 14:00

This webinar will give an overview of what research integrity is, why it’s important and new challenges faced by publishers to maintain research integrity in a fast-changing industry. The webinar will focus on the importance of collaborative solutions to these challenges and will be of interest to researchers, institutions, editors, publishers, librarians and anyone else involved on the conduct, oversight and dissemination of scholarly research.

Speaker Jigisha Patel, Research Integrity Consultant

 Sign up and contact info: https://www.uksg.org/event/free-uksg-webinar-research-integrity-2020-new-challenges-new-decade

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Four Golden Rules of Data Management: Rule 2 – back up

The second in our series of videos on Four Golden Rules of Data Management looks at the story of the Royal Oak 80 Survey, which teaches us a lesson on the importance of backing up research data.

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Four Golden Rules of Data Management

To celebrate Love Data Week (10-14 February 2020), we are launching a series of videos titled “Four Golden Rules of Data Management”. These short videos look at examples of data management gone wrong which have hit the headlines and make recommendations for how these disasters could have been avoided.

In the first video, we look at the problems encountered by the Venice Time Machine project, and the importance of writing a data management plan.

Stay tuned for more videos in the series!

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New Training for the New Year 2020!

New Year'S Eve, Fireworks, Beacon, Rocket, Light

Something there for everyone, we hope!

All will be recorded, so if you can’t make it along in person or online at the time, you can catch up later at your leisure (using the ‘View previous recordings’ link at the top of  our Adobe Connect page.

If you have any question, please get in touch at  library-research-support@open.ac.uk

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Data Without Borders

Our new lunchtime Data Seminar series continues later this month with Data Without Borders, Thursday 30th January, 12.30 – 13.30.

We have three researchers with a breadth of experience in managing data in collaborative environments, both cross-institutionally and internationally, who will draw upon their own experiences to offer an engaging insight into the challenges collaborative projects can create for managing research data, and how they overcame them.

There will be plenty of advice for those of you who are currently engaged with or thinking about embarking on a collaborative research project, so please do join us! Feel free to bring your lunch, and as always we’ll provide some sweet treats too.

We’re pleased to announce the programme:

John Oates (WELS)

Drawing on his wealth of experience working with vulnerable research participants, John will discuss the ethics of working with research data, particularly in a collaborative environment.

Olga Jurasz (FBL)

Olga will talk about her experiences working cross-institutionally, both within the UK and internationally and the challenges this has produced.

Craig Walker (FASS)

Craig’s talk will focus on a project looking at building peace between vulnerable and marginalised groups in conflict, and the issues involved in working in sensitive environments.

Visit EventBrite to book your place

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Open Research Online (ORO) – A Well-Connected Repository?

ORO Connected Repository showing how ORO connects to internal and external systems to provide improved services.

ORO Connected Repository (JPEG file)

ORO (or any institutional repository) can sometime feel like a cottage industry – a lot of work going on at a local level for small gains. However, institutional repositories are increasingly embedded in the wider scholarly communications framework. So, not only are they performing vital services and integrations in their immediate locality, they are also connecting with external services to make an impact at national and international scale.

The local – ORO is connected to other institutional systems to support university services:

  • REF – ORO provides a key role to collect publications data and provide a route to Open Access required by the REF Policy.
  • Research Publications Showcase – publications data from ORO feeds individual people profile pages, faculty or departmental webpages, postgraduate prospectuses as well as performing its primary role as a platform for Open Access research publications.
  • eThesis – all PhD level theses are submitted electronically to ORO reducing the burden of printing and increasing the dissemination of our research by PGRs.
  • Student Projects – exemplar research projects at third level and Masters level in FASS are showcased in ORO for prospective students.

The national and international – ORO supports the scholarly communication infrastructure

  • Web Indexing – ORO is indexed by Google and Google Scholar which supports the dissemination of OU research publications on a global scale
  • ORCID – ORCID IDs are stored in ORO and connected to the central ORCID hub.
  • eThesis – ORO is also indexed by EThOS providing the British Library with current metadata of our theses and full text of PhD level theses.
  • IRUS – ORO is connected to the UK infrastructure of Institutional Repository Usage Statistics (IRUS) to provide COUNTER compliant metrics.
  • Open Access Infrastructure – Open Access publications in ORO are indexed by Open Access Discovery Services (e.g. CORE; unpaywall; Open Access Button).

And under the bonnet – ORO is connected to external services to improve how it works

  • Jisc Publications Router – to auto-populate metadata and full text from publishers and aggregators
  • CORE Recommender – to identify useful papers for the reader & CORE Discovery – to find full text if it is not held in ORO
  • Dimensions and Altmetric – to provide citation and altmetric information for publications archived in ORO
  • CrossREF – to aid data entry and RIOXX2 – to aid data interchange

So far in 2019 our well-connected ORO has seen 692,447 downloads of open access publications (as counted by IRUS) and 649,624 users (as counted by Google Analytics).

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