Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Planet SOSIG: Internet Resources for Social Scientists

Pete Maggs discusses finding high-quality Internet resources for social science and methodology, based on his experience as a SOSIG Section Editor.

The Social Sciences General, Methodology Section of SOSIG

With such a broad remit, this section of SOSIG clearly has the potential to describe an almost endless number of Internet resources. As editor of the section, my aim has been twofold - to include as many multi-disciplinary high quality international resources as possible that contain useful information in their own right, as well as identifying Internet sites that complement and expand upon those included in the more specific sections of the gateway. Clearly this can be, on occasion, a difficult balance to get absolutely right but as editor I’m always keen to receive feedback on the section and am happy to explore all suggestions for sites that users feel should be included. Please feel free to contact me directly at the email address <p.r.maggs@exeter.ac.uk> or use the link from the SOSIG page [3].

The SOSIG browsing page for the 'Social Science General' section
Figure 1: The SOSIG browsing page for the "Social Science General" section

Nearly all of the sites I include provide information that is freely available. However, if I feel a site is of particular value - even if perhaps some sort of subscription cost may be involved - its details will also been added. It is left to the discretion of the user if they actually then wish to subscribe to the data being provided by the host site.

What follows is a selection of some of the most useful and interesting sites from this section.

Types of Internet Resources Available

With the new version of SOSIG you now have the choice to browse resources in each section either under an alphabetical listing, or by Resource Type (see the option on the top left of each browsing screen).

The option for selecting different views of the SOSIG browsing section
Figure 2: The option for selecting different views of the SOSIG browsing section

Browsing by resource type gives you a clear indication of the nature of each resource listed, which can save you a lot of time and effort. I’d like to highlight the following types of resources in my section:

  1. Organisations
  2. Datasets
  3. Books and Directories
  4. Electronic Journals, Working Papers and Pre-prints
  5. Mailing Lists and Mailing List Archives

1: Organisations

Many of the important social science organisations now have a home page. These can be found by browsing under the following headings:

Organisations / Societies

Research Projects / Centres

You will find the following types of important organisations listed:

2: Datasets

The Internet is increasingly used as a means of storing and accessing social science data. SOSIG has a browsing category for data, which vary in format from:

3: Books and Directories

The Internet is throwing up its own version of books. These include digitised versions of printed books but also new "book equivalents" where a Web site provides primary access to original content held locally, created by a single author or corporate body, and relating to a single topic. Again, these vary considerably from:

4: Electronic Journals, Working Papers and Pre-Prints

When it comes to academic publishing on the Internet, there is a huge amount of variance in online information provision, ranging from full-text electronic journals, to sites that only list Tables of Contents; and from sites that point to single articles, to sites that point to vast collections of articles.

SOSIG now has created new categories to help users to identify very quickly exactly how much information they will be able to access online from a site:

There are many resources in this area and everyone has their own individual favourites. Perhaps some of the most popular include:

5: Mailing Lists and Mailing List Archives

You can find a number of generic social science mailing lists in this section of SOSIG. Again the range of services here is wide. Some you can use to follow the thrust of ongoing discussion e.g.,

Others might be used more as a current awareness service e.g.:

Social Science Methodology / Research Methods and Tools

The SOSIG browsing sections often have sub-sections or related sections which point to you to further lists of Internet resources. Within this section of SOSIG you will find sub-sections for Social Science Methodologies which in turn has sub-sections for Quantitative Methods and Qualitative Methods. There is also a related section called Research Methods and Tools. (you can access sub-sections by selecting the links at the top of each browsing page).

Some of the sub-sections available under 'Social Science general'
Figure 3: Some of the sub-sections available under "Social Science general"

This is a fast expanding area. Examples of the variety of resources already added to the gateway include:

The SOSIG Subject Guides

This has been a brief summary of the collection. SOSIG has produced Subject Guides for each of its subject sections, which suggest ways in which researchers and academics might use Internet resources to support their work - for example to support literature searches, to maintain current awareness and to find teaching resources. I’ve written the guide called "Social Science and Social Science Methodology on the Internet" available on the SOSIG Web site [22] and you are invited to read this for further information on this topic.

Index for the SOSIG Subject Guides
Figure 4: Index for the SOSIG Subject Guides


  1. SOSIG (The Social Science Information Gateway)
    <URL: http://www.sosig.ac.uk/>
  2. Social Science General (section of SOSIG)
    <URL: http://www.sosig.ac.uk/roads/subject-listing/World-cat/gen.html>
  3. SOSIG Section Editor for General Social Science/Methodology
    <URL: http://www.sosig.ac.uk/profiles/social_science_general.html>
  4. Social Science (general) and Methodology on the Internet - a SOSIG Subject Guide
    <URL: http://www.sosig.ac.uk/subject-guides/social_science.html>
  5. Centre for Health Economics, University of York
    <URL: http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/che/>
  6. Centre for Policy Studies
    <URL: http://www.cps.org.uk/>
  7. Centre for Rural Social Research
    <URL: http://www.csu.edu.au/research/crsr/centre.htm>
  8. Housingnet
    <URL: http://www.housingnet.co.uk/basehelp.htm>
  9. SADA
    <URL: http://www.hsrc.ac.za/sada.html>
  10. CESSDA
    <URL: http://www.nsd.uib.no/Cessda/IDC>
  11. Social Science Bibliography of Northern Ireland 1945-1983
    <URL: http://www.cain.ulst.ac.uk/bibdbs/nissbib.htm>
  12. Personal Diary of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (1989-present)
    <URL: http://www.birzeit.edu/diary/>
  13. Guide to Funding Opportunities for UK Social Science
    <URL: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/eu/esrclh.html>
  14. International Social Science Journal
    <URL: http://www.blackwellpublishers.co.uk/asp/journal.asp?ref=0020-8701>
  15. Public Administration and Management
    <URL: http://www.hbg.psu.edu/Faculty/jxr11/>
  16. ESRC Resource Centre on Micro-Social Change
    <URL: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/>
  17. Economics and Social Science Lists
    <URL: http://www.mailbase.ac.uk/category/L.html>
  18. ESRC-International Mailing List Archive
    <URL: http://www.mailbase.ac.uk/lists/esrc-international/>
  19. How to Put Questionnaires on the Internet
    <URL: http://salmon.psy.plym.ac.uk/mscprm/forms.htm>
  20. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
    <URL: http://www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/JASSS/JASSS.html>
  21. Multi Level-Analysis Mailing List Archive
    <URL: http://www.mailbase.ac.uk/lists/multilevel/>
  22. SOSIG Subject Guides
    <URL: http://www.sosig.ac.uk/subject-guides/index.html>

Author Details

Pete Maggs
Subject Librarian
Exeter University Library
Stocker Road
Email: p.r.maggs@exeter.ac.uk

Peter Maggs is a Subject Librarian in the University Library at the University of Exeter.