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Data and Statistics for Social Sciences: Data analysis tools & training


data handlingThere is a whole range of software packages and tools for data analyses and visualisation - from Access or Excel to dedicated packages, such as SPSS, Stata and R for statistical analysis of quantitative data, Nvivo for qualitative (textual and audio-visual) data analysis (QDA), or ArcGIS for analysing geospatial data.
For more information see the Bodleian Data Library.

To support social scientists and others who are required to gather and handle data, the SSL has created a Data Area providing access to PCs which have specialised and restricted-licence data software installed: NVivo and IBM SPSS Statistics. Any reader may use these PCs.

The SSL also provides safe access to secure research data via the SafePod that can be booked and used by researchers internal and external to the University. For general enquiries about the SafePod Network, contact 01334 463901 or email SafePod Network (SPN).

Go to the SSL Data Services page for more information.

Data analysis:

The process of systematically applying statistical and/or logical techniques to describe and illustrate, condense and recap, and evaluate data. There four types of data analysis: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive.

Data visualisation:

The representation of information in the form of a chart, diagram, picture, etc.

Geospatial data analysis:

Involves collecting, combining, and visualising various types of geospatial data. It is used to model and represent how people, objects, and phenomena interact within space, as well as to make predictions based on trends in the relationships between places.

Qualitative data analysis:

Involves the identification, examination, and interpretation of patterns and themes in textual data and determines how these patterns and themes help answer the research questions at hand.

Quantitative data analysis:

Involves analysing number-based data, or data that can be easily “converted” into numbers without losing any meaning (which includes categorical and numerical data) using various statistical techniques.

Data analysis tools

See below some data-driven tools used to understand complex concepts:

Software packages comprised of tools designed to facilitate a qualitative approach to qualitative data, which include texts, graphics, audio or video. These packages (sometimes referred as CAQDAS - Computer Assisted/Aided Qualitative Data Analysis) may also enable the incorporation of quantitative (numeric) data and/or include tools for taking quantitative approaches to qualitative data.
Here are some more popular packages -

Online tools and services


Data training in the University

Many training opportunities are available within the University to gain valuable research skills and develop a better understanding of finding and working with data. Workshops are run by different departments, from the Bodleian Library's iSkills sessions to IT Learning Centre courses. Booking links are available in the course description.

External data training & events

Online training opportunities, as well as various workshops, seminars and conferences are also available from UKDS and other organisations.

Online training includes the University's subscription to LinkedIn Learning, a resource of online, video-based courses that University members can access at any time for free using their single sign-on credentials.

ITLC also offers self-service learning resources through its IT Learning Portfolio, a range of resources that you can download and use to develop your IT digital skills for study, research and work.

You can also try

For students embarking on their dissertation projects, or those supervising them, the UK Data Service offers dissertation resources, data and events to help with planning and completing a dissertation project.

UK Data Service student pages

The student web pages in the Learning Hub bring all student resources together in one place. On these pages, you can find information about the UK Data Service, its data collections and how you can find and access these.

If you’re unsure about why you might want to use existing data sources in your research project, then watch video Secondary analysis What and why?

You can also find out more about using survey data in a dissertation or finding and accessing data for your project.

Want to boost up your data skills? Try interactive data skills modules for users who want to get to grips with key aspects of survey, longitudinal or aggregate data.

Useful data

The UK Data Service holds a wealth of data on many different topics that students may wish to explore in their dissertation projects.

UKDS student pages provide guides on top surveys for dissertation projects. This includes the Quick start guide: British Social Attitudes (BSA) and Quick start guide: Health Survey for England (HSE).

The Browse Data pages also allow you to search data by key themes or data types.

Free workshop

UKDS is also hosting the following free workshop for dissertation students. If you are interested but can’t attend UKDS' YouTube channel includes recordings of all webinars and workshops. You can also find video tutorials such as using SPSS playlist.

Dissertation Award

The UK Data Service Dissertation Award recognises students who use data from the UK Data Service in their undergraduate dissertations. Each year we give awards to the three best dissertations from the academic year.