NIH launches online resource on behavioral and social science research methods

March 23, 2012, National Institutes of Health

A Web-based interactive anthology will provide psychologists, economists, anthropologists, sociologists and other scientists with the latest research methods and tools to address emerging challenges in public health, such as the obesity epidemic and the rise of chronic diseases such as heart disease. The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health collaborated with New England Research Institutes to create the free resource (http://www.esourceresearch.org/), called e-Source.

Because behavioral and hail from widely varying disciplines from political science to social work research, there was a need for a central resource for current, high quality behavioral and social science research methods. With contributions from international experts, this anthology provides authoritative answers to methodological questions and sets quality standards for the research community.

The goal of the program is to demonstrate the potential of behavioral and social science research, focusing on applying research findings to public health activities and the potential to enhance biomedical research. It is also a useful training resource for biological scientists, providing them with a basic foundation for collaborations with behavioral and social scientists. "The behavioral and social sciences research community has long needed an easily accessible, low-cost central resource for standardized methods," said Dr. Robert M. Kaplan, director of OBSSR.

Behavioral and social science has broad appeal and impact, and the program was developed to reach a wide audience of researchers, within the NIH, nationally and internationally. The Web-based interactive collection consists of 20 interactive chapters with new features including a discussion forum and enhanced note-taking capabilities. The twenty chapters cover a range of topics, but are accessible to all users, including those with limited familiarity of concepts such as how to conduct a qualitative analysis. The concepts are supported with interactive exercises and a full set of references linked to abstracts in Pubmed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed), a library of citations for scientific journals.

The program includes chapters under five major categories relevant to behavioral and social science. "Setting the Scene" introduces major concepts in design and planning of social and behavioral science research. "Describing How" addresses methodologies used to explain how something occurs (for instance, learning how a disease is distributed in a population by conducting a survey or an observational study). "Explaining Why" provides guidance on qualitative methods appropriate for describing why something occurs. "What Works" explores research methods that can evaluate whether one treatment is better than another and whether there are cost differences (for example, a brand drug versus a generic medication). "Emerging Issues" addresses challenges in behavioral and research.

Several features engage the user and promote sharing, including a discussion board, a notes feature to save content and share it with others, and a function which allows the user to print a page or a chapter as a PDF. Unlike a printed textbook, the site has been developed with the expectation that it will provide a foundation of methods, but also evolve as new issues emerge. Future topics may include the effects of living in a particular neighborhood, the impact of differences in language and lifestyles, and the science of writing questions.

Explore further: Training grant targets behavioral and social factors linked to health

Related Stories

Training grant targets behavioral and social factors linked to health

February 28, 2012
It is estimated that half of all deaths in the United States are linked to behavioral and social factors such as smoking, diet and physical inactivity. Despite these causal links, of the $2 trillion spent annually on health ...

Too much sitting is bad for your health

July 12, 2011
Lack of physical exercise is often implicated in many disease processes. However, sedentary behavior, or too much sitting, as distinct from too little exercise, potentially could be a new risk factor for disease. The August ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.