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SAGE releases white paper to support the development and use of new technologies in social science research

November 11, 2019

London, UK

Following a review of over 400 research tools and software, this white paper examines the ecosystem of technologies for social science research. It addresses the challenges facing those who build and use these tools, and looks to the future of technology in social research.

With the ever-increasing availability of digitally-borne data, social researchers are turning to new technologies in order to collect and analyze this data, as well as to connect with research participants and collaborators. There has been an explosion in the number of software tools that support these needs, but there are still barriers to use. This white paper is a first step towards making software tools and technologies more accessible to social science researchers.

The white paper covers:

  • Which tools are social researchers currently using?
  • The characteristics of these tools, and trends over time.
  • Who is developing and supporting the development of research software?
  • What are the challenges facing those who build and use these tools?

The paper presents the methodology and findings of research conducted by the team behind SAGE Ocean, an initiative launched by SAGE in 2018 to support social scientists to gain the skills, tools and resources required to work with big data and computational research methods. The insights shared reflect SAGE Ocean’s ongoing mission to better understand the landscape of research tools in the social sciences in order to support the development of tools and software, and enable more social researchers to engage with these technologies.

Key insights include:

  • Using software tools in the research process is of critical importance to a majority of social science researchers.
  • Academics are at the forefront of innovation in the development of research tools.
  • Only 10% of the people we identified as creators or developers of the tools are women.
  • There is an emerging trend of organisations coming together in consortia to support the development and sustainable management of these tools.

“As social science research continues to adapt and evolve as the result of technology, SAGE Ocean is tracking those changes and sharing what we learn with the social science community. The landscape of tools and software for research is increasingly diverse, and this white paper will help researchers and tool builders navigate the landscape, and ultimately do better, more impactful social research by keeping apace of changes in the field.”

- Katie Metzler, Associate VP of Product Innovation and white paper co-author.

“There is no shortage of software for running experiments, collecting and analyzing data in the social sciences, but there is a need for better dissemination of these tools within the community. By working with academics and start-ups, researching the software available and offering funding for software developers through our SAGE Concept Grant scheme, we have built a collection of tools to understand how the ecosystem works. We are delighted to share our findings and help researchers and research technologists navigate the infrastructure of tools in the social sciences.”

- Daniela Duca, Product Manager at SAGE Publishing and white paper co-author.

This white paper represents the start of SAGE’s ongoing mission to understand how social researchers are engaging with research software and support the development and use of these tools. In order to keep abreast of this constantly evolving landscape, we will be sharing and updating a version of the white paper on GitHub, along with the data we gathered during our research. We will welcome comments and contributions to the ever-growing list of research tools as we continue to map the ecosystem of new technologies in social research.

Download the white paper here.

Contact: Chris Burnage, Corporate Communications Manager:

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Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 1000 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. A growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company’s continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne.

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