Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1998


Useful Resources on the World Wide Web for Social Scientists

The Internet Research and Information for Social Scientists (IRISS) conference in March 1998 at Bristol University brought together for the first time producers of web pages of use to social scientists in the UK. This conference was of importance because it pulled together a range of different web resources that can be of use to researchers in the social sciences. This research note documents the kinds of services that are now available to social scientists and outlines their particular usefulness and their limitations. The web services discussed are by no means exhaustive, there are many other services available to social scientists. However, this research note attempts to provide a review of services most useful to social science researchers. The IRISS web site includes the text of most of the papers presented during the course of the conference.

Bath Information Data Services (Bids)


This is probably the biggest database available to social scientists. BIDs provides a number of important resources for social scientists. BIDS IBSS provides access to the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, the largest and most comprehensive social science database in the world.. BIDS offers access to other sources of information for social scientists such as the ISI social sciences citation index (the most popular service) British Library Inside Information and Journals Online. Bibliographic material and on-line journal articles can be downloaded to a local e-mail account via BIDS. ISI Users of the BIDS IBSS Online Web service can now access some full-text articles directly at their own terminal. If an article in a search results or marked list is available electronically from the BIDS Journals Online full-text journals service, a link labelled Full Text Availability will appear; click on this link to request the complete article. If your site is registered for the journal you can download the article free of charge. Most full-text articles are offered in PDF format. You will need a PDF viewer such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the document. AutoJournals is a new service of note. The contents pages of your most important journals can now be sent to you automatically by email. This brand new service from BIDS allows you to keep up to date with journals without even accessing a database. Select up to 3 journals of interest, the BIDS system will email the contents directly to you whenever a new issue is added to the database. The service is completely free and is simple to set up. Users of BIDS must have a username and password provided by their university.



REGARD is a fully functional bibliographic database of ESRC research awards and all associated publications and products. It offers detailed in-depth research records including abstracts and products such as books journal articles, broadcasts and software. The database allows researchers to search for topics of interest, find out who is working in the field, what research is in progress and what research results are available. It is important to search this database before submitting an ESRC grant application. It replaces the previous ESRC awards and outputs database, known as RAPID. Using REGARD, you will be able to search for details of ESRC research awards and the publications and research activities which are the products of these awards. All the awards have a unique reference number which you can search on. Provides information on publications but does not provide these on-line.

SOSIG (Social Science Information Gateway)


SOSIG is the catalogue of Internet Resources for the Social Scientist. Users are provided with descriptions of internet resources and the ability to connect directly to the resources themselves via a hyperlink. Every Monday SOSIG posts a new "What's New" list on the URL <>. SOSIG is an extremely important gateway to other social science web sites available. Provides information on UK sociology departments and also European Collaboration. Database largely contains hypertext bibliographic information

Scout Report for Social Sciences


The Scout Report for the Social Sciences is the American equivalent of SOSIG. It provides social scientists with ongoing current information of how they can make effective use of the internet in their work. Provides a comprehensive listing of web sites of interest to social science researchers in the United States. Each bi- weekly issue offers a selective collection of Internet resources covering topics in the field that have been chosen by librarians and content specialists in the given area of study. The Scout Report for Social Sciences is also provided via email once every two weeks.



Education line is developing a live collection of documents on the internet. It has been established so that researchers, practitioners and policy makers from the world of education and training can present their work at the early stages for immediate review by colleagues world-wide, store important documents for archiving, publish specialised or small scale texts to the widest possible audience, find reports and papers relevant to their own interests, using the sophisticated search tools of the British Education Index and contribute to debates about the work through on-line commentary and see the latest reports as they appear on a daily basis. Education-line is calling for a wide range of 'grey' and pre-print texts.



This is the world wide web server for Edinburgh University. EDINA is a JISC- funded national data centre offering the UK higher education and research community access to a library of data, information and research resources. Includes the Periodicals Context Index and Palmers Index to the Times. Some services require prior registration and university subscription.

BOPCAS (British Official Publications Current Awareness Service)

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BOPCAS is the searchable, browsable and weekly updated World Wide Web catalogue of British Official Publications. Sources of information come from the government statistic office, government departs, green papers published by the House of Commons Public Information Office Weekly Information bulletin and the House of Commons Library Research Papers. There are a series of electronic mail policy awareness lists. With effect from the first printed Statutory Instrument of 1997, all new Statutory Instruments will be published in full text form on the Internet via the Her Majesty's Stationery Office Web Pages. The aim is that all Statutory Instruments should be published on the Internet within 15 working days of their publication in printed form. With effect from the first Public General Act of 1996, all new Public General Acts have been and will be published in full text form on the Internet via the Her Majesty's Stationery Office Web Pages. All Public General Acts appear as originally passed by Parliament. Subsequent amendments are not included. With effect from the first Local Act of 1997, all new Local Acts have been and will be published in full text form on the Internet via the Her Majesty's Stationery Office Web Pages. All Local Acts appear as originally passed by Parliament. Subsequent amendments are not included. Summaries of a wide range of earlier Public General Acts comprising Long Title, Arrangement of Sections, ISBN, page content and price, are also available via these Web Pages. You can also search the Lords and Commons Hansard. Includes comprehensive bibliograhic and full text material.

MIDAS (Manchester Information Datasets and Associated Surveys)


MIDAS provides on-line access to several key government and other large scale surveys. These include the General Household Survey, the Family Expenditure Survey, Family Resources Survey, Labour Force Survey, Quarterly Labour Force Survey which are continuous government surveys and the Longitudinal Panel Surveys, the British Household Panel Survey and the National Child Development Study. It offers flexible on-line access to strategic research and teaching datasets, such as the 1991 Census of Population Statistics, government and other large continuous surveys, macro-economic time series data banks, digital map datasets, spatial geo-referencing datasets, and scientific datasets. Specialist support is provided including training courses, comprehensive documentation, software support and statistical advice, relating to the datasets and the associated data access/analysis software. There is access to software packages and large-scale computing resources required for data storage, access, manipulation, and analysis/visualization. These computational facilities are also available to users wishing to analyse their own large and complex datasets which require either large amounts of disk space/CPU and/or access to specialist software not available locally. You need to be a registered MIDAS user to access the survey database on-line. You also need to apply to the data archive at the University of Essex to access any of the large survey datasets for teaching or research purposes.

CASS (Centre for Applied Social Surveys)


CASS has a question bank of facsimiles of questionnaires run jointly by the Social and Community Planning Research and the University of Southampton. There are 180 available. There is a Newsletter provided proving information on all CASS courses. It also now contains definition and explanations of data collection and methodology and commentary on main concepts and topics. Now uses a search engine MUSCAT to search for concepts and topics. This database can be useful for questionnaire design. You will need a PDF viewer such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the document. Some of the questionnaires included are not presented in their hard copy form and this creates difficulty in using these surveys as models for questionnaire design.

Anthropology on the Internet


. This is a anthropological resource provided by the Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing (CSAC) at Kent University. The resource is for the use of anthropologists and others to promote wide access to information. The Gallery contains information on research at the CSAC, reference resources of special use to anthropologists, and a range of resources useful in the teaching and learning of anthropology. Also included is the Anthropologists Index. There are CSAC texts and publications on-line available from this service.

Sociological Research Online


An electronic journal for the social sciences. The internet is used at all stages of article management. Sociological Research Online publishes high quality applied sociology, focusing on theoretical, empirical and methodological discussions which engage with current political, cultural and intellectual topics and debates. Sociological research on-line provides notification of the publication of the journal and you can be informed by email when each new issue of Sociological Research Online is published. Sociological Research Online is at the moment free of charge for access but over the next year arrangements are going to be made so that individuals and institutions are charged for use of this service.


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Contains comprehensive guidelines for depositing qualitative data, access agreements and conditions, information about copyright and confidentiality, information relating to the new ESRC research grants application form and archiving, links to other repositories which old/will hold qualitative data, details of recent data deposited/processed There is a list of all deposited qualitative material from ESRC projects. Does not provide full text of qualitative data archives.



Grapevine provides up to date information on research jobs in the social sciences. It also provides information on training courses. Researchers can send their C V s to Grapevine for employers to access. Also provided is a forum for contact and discussion with other researchers called 'Likeminds'. Likeminds is the equivalent of 'classified ads' and is free. Each Entry gives the author's name, research interests, brief text message and contact details. If you are looking for research collaboration, want to discuss potential research project work, are requesting or announcing information, you will want to use Likeminds. If you don't have your own home page, the Likeminds Entry offers an alternative.



COPAC is a new national Online Public Access Catalogue, providing unified access to the online catalogues of some of the largest university research libraries in the UK and Ireland. The COPAC database currently contains approximately 4.7 million records, with approximately 7.7 million holding statements. At the moment the database contains records from: Cambridge University Library, Edinburgh University Library, Glasgow University Library, Imperial College Library, Leeds University Library, University of Manchester Library, Nottingham University Library, Oxford University Library, Trinity College Dublin Library, University of London Library and the University College London Library. It is planned that the online catalogues of the other libraries will be added to the database during the next year or so. These are: Birmingham University Library Durham University Library, Kings College Library (London),Liverpool University Library, London School of Economics Library, Newcastle University Library, School of Advanced Study (London),School of Oriental and African Studies (London), Sheffield University Library, Southampton University Library, Warwick University Library and the Wellcome Institute.


The review indicates that there is now a wealth of information available to social scientist researchers. There is so much available that it is now important to spend as much time on the computer terminal in one's own office doing bibliographic and full text research as one would spend in one's own university library. However, many of the sites simply offer bibliographic material and some need complicated readers and browsers to access the information obtained. In addition service providers often require users to register their services. Nevertheless, there appears to have been a growth of services on-line which provide full-text retrieval to the social science researcher. As these replace publications which were previously charged for it is unlikely that all information providers will provide these kinds of services free of charge.

Beverley Holbrook
University of Wales, Cardiff

Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1998