Creative research methods in the social sciences

Information for students

Further resources and useful links

As referenced in the book.

Chapter 1: Introducing creative research

Useful videos on grounded theory presented by UK researcher Graham Gibbs 

How to model hyperbolic geometry with knitting or crochet

Ways to manage your tech-life balance

UK researcher Dawn Mannay’s story

Lament for the Land: a film about personal experiences of climate change told through the voices of people from northern Labrador

TED talk on creativity by the author Elizabeth Gilbert

TED talk about the relationship between play and creativity

Interview with Donna Mertens

Chapter 2: Creative research methods in practice

Two videos explaining phenomenology:


An example of research in art practice

A TED talk given by the Swiss photographer Fabian Oefner, offering a good illustration of how art and science can work together in practice

A conference presentation on autoethnography by Carolyn Ellis and Arthur Bochner

An introduction to mixed-methods research by John Creswell

More information about the creative approach of Robinson and his colleagues to dementia research

Annette Markham's blog, which contains more information about remix

A presentation by Australian researcher Gabriele Bammer who suggests that 'integrated methods' could become a new discipline in itself

The New Social Media, New Social Science? blog, which contains useful information about online research


Chapter 3: Creative research methods and ethics

A YouTube playlist with a range of videos on how to navigate research ethics committees

A website containing information about an initiative by the Academy of Social Sciences to move away from the regulatory approach to research ethics and towards a more educative approach, to equip researchers more fully for managing the ethical difficulties they will face

A range of resources online to help with ethical decision-making RESPECT for research ethics

Association of Internet Researchers’ Ethics Wiki

Two videos about user-led research presented by Diana Rose and

A seminar on decolonising methodologies with Linda Tuhiwai Smith

A conversation on decolonising knowledge with Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Michelle Fine and Andrew Jolivette

A video giving more information about Gloria González-López' findings on incest

A video introduction to participatory action research

A website with resources for participatory research

A short video about a participant's experience of taking part in dementia research

A video with more information about Carla Reeves' ethnographic research with sex offenders in a probation hostel

 A video which explores research justice through transformative research frameworks

A video example of a researcher working through a consent process with a research participant who has moderate aphasia (reading) and limited verbal output

A video offering a few thoughts on the emotional well-being of researchers

Chapter 4: Creative thinking

A good TEDx talk on creative thinking from Raphael DiLuzio

An interesting blog post on creative thinking by Michael Michalko

A short video outlining five ways to think ethically

A video interview with Daniel Kahneman in which he talks about 'thinking, fast and slow'

A useful discussion about literature and decolonising methodologies

Advice on creative reading from some great writers

A video presentation by UK-based researcher John Schulz about the role of theory in research

A lecture by Elliot Eisner entitled 'What do the arts teach?'

The British Library’s Social Welfare Portal

A talk on creativity and imagination by US creativity expert Gregg Fraley

 Guidelines for quality in mixed-methods research from the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research of the National Institutes of Health in the US

Chapter 5: Gathering data

A UK newspaper article about UK researchers Sue Adamson and Margaret Holloway’s study of spirituality in 46 UK funerals

A useful web page on reflexive research by staff from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in America

A TEDx talk by Douglas Hoston Jr about poetic inquiry that examines culture

An online description of Zaltman's metaphor elicitation technique (ZMET)

An open-access journal whose first issue covers the use of diaries and field notes in research

A TEDx talk about a study on the relationship between the wellbeing of UK residents and their immediate environment, by George MacKerron

A talk on creative interviewing by Jennifer Mason

A video about photo-elicitation

A short video about observational research

The website of the WORKALÓ project, which aimed to find out why the Roma are excluded from the labour market, identify ways to create job opportunities, and help individuals become more employable

A short video showing the process of Open Space Technology in action

A participatory video project in which young people tell their stories of life in Rigolet

Hannah Gravestock's website which gives information about her work and the links she makes between figure skating performance, design, and research

A video of Jacqui Gabb and her colleague Reenee Singh discussing emotion maps

A good example of vignettes created to show some of the everyday challenges presented by early onset dementia

A short video outlining rationale for and method of conducting life history interviews

A short video about probes and how to use them

A useful open access article about Coget's method of dialogical inquiry

Chapter 6: Analysing data

An interesting panel discussion with American academics and practitioners, about data, analysis, and ethics

An online petition to stop the creation of a golf course at Cavo Sidero in Crete, analysed by Greek researcher Helen Briassoulis

A web page which outlines some of the pros and cons of secondary data

A UK website which has some online sources of secondary data

A short video introducing Q methodology

A presentation by Professor Ray Cooksey about the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data with the support of technology

A short video about researcher bias

A Huffington Post article showing one way Sofia Hussain's research on developers of prosthetic legs in Cambodia has been used

The open source R software, to support different kinds of data analysis

 Video output from research on patients' experiences of open-heart surgery

Chapter 7: Writing for research

A number of useful resources to help you write well for research

Some useful guidance on writing about statistics from the UK Government Statistical Service (GSS)

The Inventing Adulthoods website

A video presented by Nick Hopwood about how to give effective feedback on academic writing (the principles and practices discussed have application beyond the academy)

 The International Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines for peer reviewers

Patricia Leavy’s website, which has lots of useful information for people who want to write creatively in research

A short performative video based on the research of Douglas and Carless that shows some of the ways alternative styles of writing can be used

A Carolyn Ellis interview with Holocaust survivor Jerry Rawicki

Chapter 8: Presentation

An instructive short video about how not to present research

Five top tips for good quality presentation

Guidance on the presentation and dissemination of statistics from the UK Government's Statistical Service

A short video showing how best to work with graphs and charts in a live presentation

A website with dozens of examples of good infographics

Examples of how infographics can be animated

A TED talk by Hans Rosling on infographics

A short video example of academics performing at a Bright Club event

Websites with more on designers Duarte and Haidary's work on how to present research

A video presentation of research by Rosemary Reilly which uses photography, text, voice, music, and art

A video by Kimberly Dark talking about presentation through performance, with particular relevance to autoethnography

Kitrina Douglas' research-based song ‘Gwithian Sands’

A video of a presentation by Dr Karlo Mila, New Zealand academic and poet

Chapter 9: Dissemination, implementation and knowledge exchange

A video presented by UK researcher Melissa Terras about how to disseminate research using social media

A web page with tips for successful pitching

An example of a press release

 Project Skive, an interactive multimedia installation about work-life balance

A newspaper article on researcher Lane Mandlis's paper-based presentation of his research on transphobic violence

Kip Jones' website which contains information about the research and making of Rufus Stone

A video presentation of research by Jennifer Lapum and colleagues on patients’ experiences of open-heart surgery

The Facebook page for a community-based participatory research study on youth violence in communities where youth homicide was five times the national average

A webinar about dissemination and implementation research

Guidance produced by the UK's National Statistician

A short video on participatory research and implementation

A website, an animation, and a presentation about knowledge exchange:


This glossary contains definitions of words and phrases as they are used in the book. You need to bear in mind that research terms are not always used in the same way by everyone.
abstract: summary of academic research, usually 250–500 words long
academic research: research conducted for an academic qualification, such as a diploma, Master’s degree or PhD, or in support of an academic career
action research: an iterative process of reflection and problem solving in groups or communities
analysis: see data analysis
application programming interface (API): a piece of source code that is being used to release some open data in such a way that external programs can communicate with it and access or exchange data
average: see mean
background research: part of a research project designed to give context to the research question, which may be in the form of a document review – for workplace research; or a literature review – for academic research
bibliography: a list at the end of a book or other written document containing references, some of which are cited in the text and some of which are not but may be useful to readers
bivariate statistics: descriptive statistics which describe the relationship between two variables
case study: a research method in which a single ‘case’ (person, organisation, country and so on) is studied in depth
citation: giving the details of the source of an idea, fact or opinion which you draw on in your research
closed question: a question with predefined answers to choose from
code: a label for a piece of quantitative data or qualitative data
coding: labelling quantitative data or qualitative data to facilitate data analysis
coding frame: a set of words or phrases to guide your coding of qualitative data
content analysis: a method of analysing qualitative data where you count the number of instances of each code
convenience sample: a sample where you choose the first participants you can find who are willing to help
copyright: the legal right of control over original written (or musical or artistic) work
correlation co-efficient: a statistical calculation that gives an estimate of the average distance of each point on a scattergraph from the regression line
covariant relationship: a relationship where two variables change in accordance with one another
cross-analysis of data: see data synthesis
data: information collected for research
data analysis: methods of analysing data to find out what it can tell you
data collection: methods of collecting data for research
data mashup: a mixture of data from two or more APIs
data preparation: methods of preparing data for coding and analysis
data repository: a place where data is kept, usually on the World Wide Web
data synthesis: comparing and contrasting the findings of different segments of data analysis within the same piece of research. Sometimes called cross-analysis of data
dependent variable: a measurable characteristic which stays constant in the course of the research
descriptive statistics: statistics which enable us to summarise and describe numerical data
dissemination: sharing knowledge gained through research
dissertation: the write-up of a piece of academic research conducted for a qualification such as a Master’s degree
document review: a review of relevant documents to provide context for workplace research
documents: pieces of text which may be used for background research or as data
doi: Digital Object Identifier, used to uniquely identify electronic resources
draft: an unfinished piece of writing
edit: work to improve a draft
emancipatory research: see value-based research
emergent coding: coding based on whatever the researcher perceives to be of interest in qualitative data
ephemera: text and/or images that are not designed to be kept, but may be useful as data, such as advertising leaflets and social media updates
ethics: the rules of conduct for a particular activity
ethnography: a time-consuming research method, used in qualitative research, from the discipline of anthropology
evaluation: a type of applied research used to assess the effectiveness of services or interventions, and make recommendations for improvement
Excel: computer software by Microsoft designed for spreadsheets and with the ability to perform statistical calculations
executive summary: summary of workplace research, usually 1–4 pages long
findings: the results of research
focus group: a data collection technique in qualitative research that usually involves one or two researchers and several participants
formal theory: a way of making sense of an aspect or aspects of the world around us, based primarily on thought
freewriting: a technique to help writers overcome blocks or solve problems
frequency distribution: a way of showing how many times a particular variable has occurred, both of itself and in relation to other variables
generalisability: the extent to which the findings of research apply in situations beyond that in which the research was conducted
geographic information system (GIS): a way of working with data that contains location or place information, and plotting it on a map or doing calculations related to its position on the Earth
graph: a diagram to show changes in one variable or the relationship between two variables
grey literature: documents that are not formally published, but that may be available in hard copy and/or electronic formats from individuals, organisations, or governments
grid: a table designed for keeping records, for example of documents or literature, or making notes, for example of observations, for the purposes of research
hypothesis: a hunch, guess, or suspicion about something unknown
independent relationship: a relationship where two variables change independently of one another
independent researcher: a researcher who is not part of an academic or other institution
independent variable: a measurable characteristic that changes in the course of the research
inferential statistics: statistics that enable us to infer something about a population from a sample
informal theory: a way of making sense of an aspect or aspects of the world around us, based primarily on experience
instrument: see measuring devices
intellectual property: original ideas or words, which are held to belong to the person who created them
interval data: quantitative data in ranks with a defined numerical distance between them, such as age in years
interview: a data collection technique in qualitative research that usually involves one researcher and one or two participants
inventory: see measuring devices
literature: academic texts that may be used for background research
literature review: a review of relevant literature to provide context for academic research
location: a researcher’s position, which may be geographical, political, theoretical and so on
mashup tool: a technological tool for combining data from different APIs (application programming interfaces)
mean: a statistical calculation for quantitative data in which the total of all values is divided by the number of values. Also known as the average
measuring devices: scales, tools, instruments or inventories designed to measure human characteristics and conditions
median: the middle value in a set of quantitative data after it has been ranked in order
meta-analysis: similar to a systematic review, but also includes a statistical summary of findings from quantitative research
metadata records: data about data, such as grids designed for recording data during observation or for coding visual data
mixed-method research: research drawing on both quantitative data and qualitative data
mode: the value occurring most commonly in a set of quantitative data
nominal data: data in categories with labels, such as categories of ethnicity
non-probability sample: a sample in which every member of the population does not have an equal chance of becoming a member of the sample
NVivo: computer software designed to support the coding and analysis of qualitative data including text, audio, and images
observation: a data collection technique in qualitative research that usually involves one researcher and many participants
open access: free access for everyone, for example to academic journal articles
open data: data collected by governments and made freely available to everyone
open question: a question with no predefined answers
OpenOffice: freely available software that is compatible with Microsoft Office, including Microsoft Excel, and that performs the same functions
ordinal data: quantitative data in ranks without a defined numerical distance between them, such as the first, second, and third places in a competition
participant: someone who participates in research, for example by completing a questionnaire or taking part in an interview
participant observation: a time-consuming method of collecting data, often used within ethnography
participatory action research: similar to action research, but with a slightly stronger emphasis on partnership
pie chart: a way to show how many times a particular variable has occurred, of itself and in relation to other variables
pilot: a test run of a data collection method to assess its quality
plagiarism: presenting someone else’s ideas or words as your own original work
polish: the final stage in the writing process, to remove any remaining errors and finalise structure, grammar, word choices and so on
population: all of the people you could, in theory, include as participants in a research project
practitioner: someone who works in public services, whether paid or unpaid
primary data: data collected specifically for your research project
probability sample: a sample in which every member of the population has an equal chance of becoming a member of the sample
public services: services run by society for society, such as health, social care, criminal justice, and education services from pre-school to university
purposive sample: a sample of people who, in the researcher’s judgement, have most to contribute to the research
qualitative data: data in the form of words, images, sound, or anything except numbers
qualitative research: research based on qualitative data
quantitative data: data in the form of numbers
quantitative research: research based on quantitative data
questionnaire: a data-collection instrument for quantitative research
quota sample: the population is divided into segments on the basis of characteristics (for example gender, age, geographical location) and then a different type of sample, such as a convenience sample or purposive sample, is taken from each segment
random sample: a sample where random numbers are used to select participants
range: the difference between the smallest and largest values in a set of quantitative data
recommendations: suggestions for how workplace research can be put into practice
reference: the full details of a document or piece of literature, signposted by a citation
reference list: a list at the end of a research report, dissertation, or thesis, containing references, all of which are cited in the text
reliability: the extent to which a research method will produce the same results when used in different situations
research: systematic investigation, using a predefined research method, to gather information with the aim of answering a predefined research question
research commissioner: someone who holds a budget for a piece of research
research method: system for conducting research
research plan: similar to a research proposal, most commonly used in workplace research to inform people such as research commissioners, managers, and colleagues
research proposal: a written explanation of what you intend to research and why, and how you intend to carry out the research, to inform people such as potential funders or PhD supervisors, most commonly used in academic research
research question: the stated question which a piece of research aims to answer
research report: the write-up of a piece of workplace research
research topic: the subject area of a piece of research
researcher: a person who does research
sample: the people you include as participants in a research project, drawn from a population
scale: see measuring devices
scattergraph: a graph that gives an overview of the relationship between two variables
secondary data: data that was not collected specifically for your research project, but that you can use in your research
service user: a user of public services
snowball sample: a sample where one or more participants help the researcher to find other participants
SPSS: Statistical Package for Social Scientists, computer software designed to perform statistical calculations
standpoint: a person’s own position from which they view or judge things
statistics: a branch of mathematics that enables the analysis and interpretation of numerical data
stratified random sample: a sample where the population is divided into segments on the basis of characteristics such as gender, age, or geographical location, and then a random sample is taken from each segment of the population
stratified sample: a sample where you use one number generated at random to select the first participant, then choose other participants at regular intervals, for example every third or every tenth person
survey: a piece of research, often large-scale, to investigate people’s experiences, attitudes, behaviours, judgements, beliefs and so on
systematic review: a review of all the research previously conducted around a specific research question
thematic analysis: a method for identifying themes within coded data
theory: a way of making sense of an aspect or aspects of the world around us. See also formal theory and informal theory
thesis: the write-up of a piece of academic research conducted for a qualification such as a PhD
third sector: organisations and groups that provide public services and are neither state-funded nor run purely for profit, such as charities, social enterprises and community groups
tool: see measuring devices
transcribe: to convert data from audio to text
univariate statistics: descriptive statistics that describe a single variable
URL: Uniform Resource Locator; that is, the address of a web page
validity: the extent to which a research method does what it claims to do
value-based research: research intended to effect positive change, sometimes called emancipatory research
variable: a measurable characteristic
variance: in quantitative data, an estimate of the average distance of each value from the mean
visual data: qualitative data in the form of images, such as photographs, paintings, drawings, collage, video
viva: an oral examination for academic research such as a PhD
workplace research: research conducted to support professional work, such as evaluation research, skills audit, training needs analysis