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NIH introduces web-based tool on behavioral and social science research methods

A new online anthology aims to provide psychologists, economists, anthropologists, sociologists and other scientists with the latest research methods and tools to address the nation's obesity epidemic, rise in chronic diseases and other public health challenges.

The free resource, called e-Source, was created by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in partnership with New England Research Institutes. The anthology includes contributions from international experts and offers authoritative answers to methodological questions as well as sets quality standards for the research community. According to an NIH release:

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, 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 social science research.

The site was developed with the intention of providing a foundation of methods but with the expectation that it will evolve with public health trends. Future topics could include the effects of living in a particular neighborhood, the impact of differences in language and lifestyles and the science of writing questions.

Previously: NIH launches online tool providing information about the availability and scientific basis of genetic tests, National Library of Medicine Archives on the web, Scientific social networks aim to promote collaboration, accelerate discoveries

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