Approaches to Social Research.

Other software products not specific to methods used in leadership profiling include SSPS, Nvivo and HyperResearch. SPSS is one of the most widely used products that both students and researchers can use if they want to carry out quantitative research.  It was developed in the 1960s and has since been transformed into a product that organizes data in an excel style spreadsheet where each row represents a specific case and each column a variable (Bryman, 2012).   SPSS allows researchers the ability to effectively and efficiently perform calculations and statistical analyses on large sample sizes and data sets.    Qualitative research has also given way to a few software packages as well, and more and more researchers are carrying out computer-assisted qualitative data analysis.  Nvivo and HyperRESEARCH are two such products which allow students and researchers an effective and efficient way to categorize, analyze, and store their research.  Qualitative data software also provides an additional way for researchers to add additional transparency to their work.  Like many software products, these come at a cost.  While many universities have site licenses for products like SPSS, NVivo, and HyperRESEARCH for its graduate students and faculty, APUS currently does not.  However, there are numerous sites out there that offer such products at a discounted rate to both students and faculty.  Products like this are especially important for students working on their MA thesis, peer reviewed articles, and even conference papers.

As you come to work with your data rather than just looking at what you’ve got, you should also be thinking about what it means in relation to the theory or theories you are using in your research.  Data analysis is something that should be looked at in conjunction to a researcher’s hypothesis (if carrying out an experimental study) or theoretical framework (Singleton and Straits, 2010).  These frameworks “guide the collection and analysis of data, indicating what variables should be measured and statistically controlled” (Singleton and Straits, 2010, p.53).  The analysis portion of research then helps provide validation to current theoretical holdings, provides insight on theoretical gaps, and helps determine new areas of research that should be explored.

Archiving Data

After researchers complete their research projects many are typically required to archive their work for preservation, recall, and sharing.  While it’s always good to save one’s work, researchers that have created large data sets often come to share their data with others in the spirit of collaboration.  The  Global Terrorism Database  at the University of Maryland,  RAND Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents ,  National Institute of Justice’s  Terrorism Databases for Analysis  GIS Geography  Human Trafficking Indicators , and  USDP/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset  are all examples of data sets that have been shared by researchers.  This information is something that anyone can use in research looking to use secondary or existing data sets. More data sets are available in the Public Administration Program Guide at .    When preparing data for archiving or sharing the key is to put it into a format that is widely accessible like an excel file, word document, or even a pdf file. When it comes to geospatial data files, “the researcher must submit to the archive the relevant geometry files (or information on how to access them) to permit others to recreate or extend the original analysis using the same boundaries” (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, 2012).  If you are using existing or secondary data which is already publicly available, your completed paper and clear discussion of your methodology may be sufficient when it comes to archiving your work.

Students may find value in archiving their data if they plan to continue to pursue the line or research at a later date. In this class it’s unlikely that you’ll need to establish a formal procedure for storing and archiving your work.  It is however highly recommended that you keep your completed research paper saved.  For students that have gone through the IRB process they will need to adhere to the data usage, storage, and destruction agreement they have in place at their universities.  In particular, these often require that the data be kept for a period of up to 5 years.