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 Capacity building: developing researcher expertise
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Research Approaches

This resource, produced as part of the TLRP's commitment to research capacity building, draws together materials that could be helpful to educational researchers at different stages of their careers.

It is not intended as a ‘course’ on research methods, although it makes reference to such courses that are available online. Instead, it is a collection of accounts, written by experienced educational researchers and scholars, describing the methodological resources they have found important and helpful in their work, together with examples of the ways they have used them. The focus is mainly on aspects of research on teaching and learning, and related concepts, within TLRP’s framework.

Many of these authors have been researchers within TLRP, others have not, but in most cases we have made links to related TLRP work where relevant.  The accounts are described by us as ‘walkthroughs’, mostly with electronic links to other source materials.

In this part of the website we have clustered resources under four broad headings, although many walkthroughs touch on more than one:

You can also search these resources by:

Where relevant we also link to more general research resources in the social sciences.

For example, the following suggest some possible approaches for educational researchers seeking to access general resources on research methods.


Intute is a free online service which aims to provide a trusted source of selected, high quality Internet information for students, academics, researchers and practitioners in a wide range of subjects: for an introduction see Intute Education and Intute: Research Tools and Methods. Each resource has been evaluated and categorised by subject specialists based at UK universities. For an example of content on the site look at their sections on quantitative methods and qualitative methods. The Intute Virtual Training Suite also provides an introductory tutorial in the use of the Internet for education research and teaching, where you can look at the range of information about Education on the Internet. It can also guide you to some key Web sites for teaching and research in Education; and help you start collecting your own list of useful Web sites. See especially the sections on  Internet for Social Research Methods, written by Louise Corti of the Depatment of Sociology and Data Archive, University of Essex, and Internet for Social Statistics, written by Robin Rice of the Edinburgh University Data Library.


For more experienced researchers, the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) facilitates workshops and other activities in relation to a wide range of research techniques, TLRP's alert service provides information on these and a wide range of other events. The advent of the National Centre for Research Methods and its nodes offers educational research communities the opportunity to engage in capacity building activities alongside colleagues from different disciplines.

The ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) is a Hub-Node network of research groups, each conducting research and training in an area of social science research methods, coordinated by the Hub at the University of Southampton. The Centre forms part of ESRC's strategy to improve the standards of research methods across the UK social science community. On the site you can search for training events and forthcoming methods workshops, conferences and seminars. Other training opportunities such as placements and apprenticeships are outlined in the pages for individual nodes. You can also access NCRM publications and presentations. They also provide grants to facilitate networks of methodological innovation. You can subscribe to receive information on developments and events in research methods, including a quarterly research methods e-newsletter; a monthly e-bulletin of forthcoming events, courses, training opportunities and so on, offered by ESRC, NCRM, the Research Methods Programme, the Researcher Development Initiative, and related groups. Further details.

Research Methods Programme

Until 2007, the Research Methods Programme formed part of ESRC's strategy to improve the standards of research methods across the UK social science community and still provides links to a wide array of useful resources on research methods.

  • support substantively focused research that poses interesting or novel methodological issues;
  • foster work that directly enhances methodological knowledge or improves and advances quantitative and qualitative methods;
  • encourage and support the dissemination of good practice, including the enhancement of training programmes and training materials for the research community;
  • establish Fellowships linked to research funded through this Programme, or linked to existing centres of methodological excellence;
  • promote cross-national initiatives involving substantively focused and methodologically innovative research

The Programme Director is Angela Dale, based in the Centre for Census and Survey Research at the University of Manchester. If you would like to receive information on the events and activities of the programme, you can register at


The ESRC Researcher Development Initiative supports the training and development of researchers in the social sciences at all stages of their career. Established by ESRC's Training and Development Board, RDI contributes to the development of a robust national training infrastructure intended to drive forward research training in a systematic way. RDI aims to facilitate the production and deployment of a range of activities and resources, including student-led activities; training for research students and researchers throughout their career; regional training events; and the development and use of new tools and packages for training purposes.

The Researcher Development Initiative is linked closely with other ESRC training activities and resources, such as the National Centre for Research Methods, and the Research Methods Programme.


The Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education  (CUREE) "supports and develops the effective use of research and evidence in education in order to improve practice and policy and to help raise standards." It works at the leading edge of research and evidence-informed practice in collaboration with a range of individuals and organisations. It aims to make research and evidence useful and attractive to practitioners and policy makers. It produces publications that may be of interest for researchers: see, for example: their publications and resources sections.

NCSR, Rowntree, RIP, Research Methods Knowledge Base

There are also a number of not for profit research organisations that produce publications which may of interest, such as the National Centre for Social Research and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. One specialist resource is Research in Practice , which is the largest children and families research implementation project in England and Wales , and includes a section designed to help users find and evaluate research.

Also on the Internet there have been attempts to reproduce complete textbooks on Research Methods in a web-based format: one example of this is the Research Methods Knowledge Base  which is a comprehensive web-based textbook that addresses all of the topics in a typical American introductory undergraduate or graduate course in social research methods. 





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