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Most of the projects and online methodological resources produced under the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Researcher Development Initiative (RDI) are a great asset for social scientists, particularly those who are interested in e-research.


One of recently made available resources includes self-learning materials for those UK researchers who want to use international databases “The Linking International Macro and Micro Data”. Some of these materials are accessible for everyone (not databases however).


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The following Axel’s Bruns’s paper, originally published in First Monday and summarised this week in CreativeEconomy, caught my attention for its research tools and methodology.

  • Axel Bruns (2007) Methodologies for mapping the political blogosphere: An exploration using the IssueCrawler research tool, First Monday, 12(5). URL

This paper studies patterns of interaction in blogosphere using network mapping tool IssueCrawler. Many other similar methodologies and internet research tools are available (and usually for free). Social researchers employ them broadly and provide valuable information about virtual communities and social networks (e.g., see First Monday for other ideas).

What do we know about educational virtual communities and networks? Not many of them probably thrive, nevertheless they do exist. Research issues and tools are available. Answers are missing.

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If somebody argued that e-research is quite common practice in social and educational research, I probably would agree. Well, at least one method – online surveys – is quite common in current social research practices.

If somebody argued that social e-research is not supported and social e-research methods are not thought at universities, I probably would agree too. Well, at least I know two research-intensive universities that currently do not have a standard platform for doing online surveys for academic research (Ref1). Have you ever heard that online research methods would be covered in university research method courses?

Nevertheless, I was quite successful finding two good academic websites with self-learning materials, references and other resources dedicated to online survey method.

  • Exploring Online Research Methods Incorporating TRI-ORM: URL

  • WebSM – Web Survey Methodology: URL

More resources and links for those who want to do online survey are in the blog.

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Data mining or Knowledge Discovery in Databases (KDD) is the process of discovering hidden patterns and knowledge within large amounts of data and making predictions of individual outcomes and behaviours. Data mining techniques are well acknowledged in banking, retail and many other commercial service sectors for their power helping to understand consumer individuality and improve individualised services. How data mining is applied for understanding learners’ needs and personalising learning?

The ideas summarised in this blog mainly come from two papers about educational data mining:

  • Zhao, C.-M., Luan, J. L. (2006). Data mining: Going beyond traditional statistics. New Directions for Institutional Research, 131, 7-16. URL
  • Romero, A. C., & Ventura, S. (2007). Educational data mining: A survey from 1995 to 2005. Journal of Expert Systems with Applications, 33, 135-146. URL

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