Spotlight on our resources for students and supporting dissertations – including a prize!

Dr Kathryn Simpson, UK Data Service Research Associate at the University of Manchester, discusses the new quantitative resources for students and teachers designed by the UK Data Service.

Student Resources

The UK Data Service has developed a suite of Student Resources webpages for students who are using quantitative methods and secondary data in their research. We’ve found that when starting a research project many students assume that it is necessary to collect their own data, however there are many good quality datasets they can use – the UK in particular is rich in data, with the government regularly using representative surveys to inform policy. Data from these large social surveys are routinely archived and made available for others to use for data analysis. Re-using data saves time and allows students to have access to a wide variety of high quality data. The Student Resources webpages aim to help students utilise some of the extensive survey data available and are designed to support those starting small research projects, particularly those students who are writing dissertations. Along with survey data, the webpages also contain information about other data such as census data, international macrodata and qualitative data held by the UK Data Service.

In conjunction with the Student Resources pages, the UK Data Service has also developed a Using Survey Data Guide which aims to help students conducting project work and dissertations get started with projects using quantitative collections, most notably survey data[1]. Within the Using Survey Data Guide, key issues are related to “real-world” data using an example research project which covers themes such as research questions and designs, finding and accessing relevant data, getting started with data analysis and reporting of results. 

Student Forum

The UK Data Service has also developed a  Student Forum on Facebook which has over 175 members. The Forum hosts discussions on how to source and use data from the UK Data Service. Open to all students; undergraduate, taught postgraduates and doctoral students, the forum helps facilitate the peer–to-peer support provided. Joining the UK Data Service Student Forum is easy – sign in with a Facebook account and request to join the forum.

Undergraduate Dissertation Prize 2016

The UK Data Service has launched a Dissertation Prize which is open to all undergraduate students using quantitative data available through the UK Data Service in their dissertation. The prize will be awarded to a dissertation that demonstrates flair and originality in using quantitative data and the winning dissertation, along with its key findings, will be publicised on the UK Data Service website and to our networks within the social sciences through the UK Data Services’ quarterly Newsletter. Full details about this year’s Undergraduate Dissertation prize can be found on our UK Data Service website.

Teaching Resources

Following consultation with teachers the UK Data Service has developed a Teaching Resources Rubric – a one stop shop which provides direct access to the suite of Methods Guides available from the UK Data Service according to theme covered, dataset used and methodology employed. These resources provide teachers with direct access to Teaching and Learning Worksheets for use in the classroom to help students learn statistical techniques using real-world data from the UK Data Service. The Teaching Rubric also includes guides on using data from international organisations such as the IMF, OECD and World Bank as well as practical software guides about using SPSS, Stata and R.

We have also updated our Teaching with Data web pages which now include guidance on  making your own teaching data, as well as the quantitative resources and qualitative/mixed methods resources available for teaching.  The UK Data Service also has datasets specifically designed for teaching based on real data that has been kept to a manageable size to make it more accessible and engaging for students. Our teaching datasets include simplified versions of major survey datasets, qualitative data for teaching a range of themes-all of which can be found on the Teaching Resources webpage.  Newly released open-access Teaching Datasets include the 2013/14 Crime Survey for England and Wales, the Jan-March 2015 Quarterly Labour Force Survey,  the April-May 2015 Opinions & Lifestyle Survey and the 2012/13 English Housing Survey.

[1] The Using Survey Data Guide is based on the following workbook Williamson, L., Brown, M., Wathan, J., Higgins, V., (2013) Secondary Analysis for Social Scientists: Analysing the fear of crime using the British Crime Survey. The workbook was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

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