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Number 9 (3/2002)

Research Methods Web Resource presented in the USA

Tuomas J. Alaterä

Research Methods Web Resource (MOTV in Finnish) was introduced last June in the annual IASSIST conference held in Connecticut.

This year the conference focused on the steadily increasing demand to have Internet access to research data for teaching and research purposes. MOTV seemed to fit the theme very well. Planning officer Tuomas J. Alaterä and director Sami Borg from FSD presented the implementation and ideas behind Research Methods Web Resource to other data archive experts and research methodology teachers. Even though MOTV exists so far in Finnish only, it aroused interest.

Grant Blank (American University) and John L. Korey (California State Polytechnic University) made presentations in the same workshop. Sociologist Blank described his own experiences of using genuine research data for teaching. He explained what kinds of issues were involved, what were the advantages of using genuine data - and what kind of problems he had encountered when looking for suitable data.

Professor Korey presented two projects, which are somewhat similar to web resource projects. His projects, like MOTV, seek to enable efficient secondary use of research data and to deal with the issues raised by Blank.

MOTV meets the challenges

In Europe data archives are national institutions. In Finland MOTV type web resources are deemed to be an integral part of the Finnish Virtual University. This connection enables the data archive to utilize and give information about archived data and to offer genuine data sets to be used in research methodology courses. All data sets in MOTV have been selected to be specially suitable for instruction and learning, and combined with the articles and exercises on the same website they seem to deal with issues discussed by Blank.

Data librarians belong to the North American library and university system. They are professionals to whom search and information services connected to research data are a part of everyday life. There is no such tradition in Scandinavia and the availability of research data depends on national statistics centres and data archives. With MOTV web resource FSD has opened a new path, creating its own open learning environment based on its own data collections.

New data sets

This autumn a number of freely downloadable data sets have been added to the MOTV data bank. They are either subsets of data sets archived at the FSD or other data sets specially tailored for MOTV use.

New data sets extend the usability of MOTV and cover new subjects. Exercises contain more topics and are more versatile. Data sets have been adapted so that it is possible to find some "statistical truths", like e.g. the impact of the number of cases on the significance of the result. The data contain some continuous variables which are rare in social science research data. Some data sets are specially created for the SPSS exercises of MOTV.

More content

Further exercises and articles will be added and SPSS pages will be diversified. Separate pages for teachers are under development. Their main feature will be exercises and answers connected to new exercise data. There will be an additional web application tailored for teachers which allows teachers to collect the articles, data sets and exercises they want, and have a webpage based on their selection created for them.

The number of MOTV users has increased significantly during the past year. A few courses were based on MOTV and a score of courses used MOTV as support material . The number of individual users is also growing.

Further information

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