Within the topic-based pages at this site you will find considerable use of the General Social Surveys (GSS) of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). These face-to-face surveys of random samplings of English-speaking Americans 18 years of age and older, conducted nearly annually from 1972 through 2006 (and bi-annually for the near future), are some of the best information available to social scientists. Cumulative codebooks with variable marginals in addition to data downloads and programs allowing on-line analyses of the GSS can be found here. Analyses of the GSS and the American National Election Studies can be performed online at Berkeley's SDA: Survey Documentation & Analysis website. Go to Queens College to either download an electronic searchable version of NORC's Annotated Bibliography of Papers Using the General Social Surveys or use their own online search engine (through 1996).
If you should use any of the analyses of the GSS on these pages, the following citation is recommended:
If you enjoyed working with the GSS how about getting into cross-national surveys? Another resource used at this site comes from the International Social Survey Programme. Conducted annually, each year features a different subject module, such as social inequality (1987,1992), women, work and family (1988,1994), religion (1991,1998), national identity (1995), and environment (1993,2000).
Davis, James Allan and Smith, Tom W. General social surveys, 1972-2006 [machine-readable data file] /Principal Investigator, James A. Davis; Director and Co-Principal Investigator, Tom W. Smith; Co-Principal Investigator, Peter V. Marsden; Sponsored by National Science Foundation. --NORC ed.-- Chicago: National Opinion Research Center [producer]; Storrs, CT: The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut [distributor], 2007.
Courtesy of Jim Spickard, you can now obtain both data sets and analytic software at his Download Statistical Software site.
Defining one's data: Precisely how does one go about and measure such theoretical concepts as altruistic behavior, esprit de corps, or anomie? Even such apparent "no brainers" as religiosity, happiness, or social class reveal how methodological adequacy and validity are a function of the clarity of one's theory and its part. Further, theory tends to be built into our measurement tools. When, for instance, one measures temperature with a thermometer it is not the temperature per se that one sees but rather a phenomenon (mercury rising within a column) theoretically related to it.
For strategies for data collection see Bill Trochim's Research Methods Tutorials, including material on:
Thinking about using the web for conducting a survey? From StatPac comes "Designing Surveys and Questionnaires." Available online is Matthias Schonlau, Ronald D. Fricker, Jr., and Marc N. Elliott's Conducting Research Surveys via E-mail and the Web. Some use Quibblo to design surveys for Facebook. Then, of course, there's SurveyMonkey.
So how are your statistical and methodological skills? Nothing worse that having great raw data and not knowing what to do with it. Here are places to brush up:
At Trinity, sociology courses typically use MicroCase for statistical analyses. Click here for a pdf copy of the manual (portions Trinity-specific) that we use to introduce beginning students to its use, as well as some statistical basics. In addition, some of us also use CHIP, which allows undergraduate students to engage in causal model analyses of categorical data. Click here for an illustration of a CHIP analysis. For a brief primer on using CHIP software click here. Another how-to manual (pdf format) for both Macs and PCs can be obtained from William Frey's site.
For you users of SPSS, available is a downloadable book, "SPSS For Beginners," as well as helpful links for Excel and statistics tutorials. Raynald Levesque has an SPSS dedicated web site that includes hundreds of free sample syntax, macros and scripts classified by purpose, as well as Tips, FAQs, tutorials and a "Newbie's Corner." For an interesting statistical data analysis package for the Web, one might want to try StatCrunch.
UCLA's Academic Technology Services has a detailed SAS Library.
One realm of qualitative research worth exploring is visual sociology. Though others have claimed that is what I do, absolutely no expertise is here claimed. Google the concept and see where the results take you.
And in case you find something in cyberspace that you wish to incorporate into your own work, be sure to give credit. Knowledge is property, especially in this information age. Here are some citation guides for the internet resources: