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Social science research methods collections

Research methods are the practical procedures used to carry out research. They are informed by particular epistemological and methodological traditions which undergo continuous critique with respect to developments across the social science disciplines. Teaching in social science research methods now forms a key component of many undergraduate, as well as postgraduate, programmes.

Use the Library to find materials on methods and methodologies, as well as primary and secondary material for conducting research or designing a research project.

Collection overview

As a legal deposit library, the British Library houses vast collections in monographs, journals, grey literature and official publications. You can find reference collections in the Social Sciences reading room. These include journals published in the last 12 months, official publications, encyclopaedias (such as The Sage Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods) and bibliographies. This is currently being expanded to include a discrete collection on methods in social science research designed to fit the needs of both new and continuing researchers. The lists below summarise some key features of our collections:

In our reading rooms

  • Social science reading room - includes a selection of key texts published in the last four years. This includes books on qualitative and quantitative methods. These books are identified in Explore the British Library with a shelfmark starting with "SPIS";
  • Official publications - and indexes and guides to finding information;
  • Statistical sources - including electronic resources from and about inter-governmental organisations;
  • Humanities reading room - includes reference books on philosophy, which may support research into epistemological and methodological traditions; and
  • Electronic resources - use our indexes of databases and e-journals to find out what is available from our reading rooms

Special collections

Sound archive - including radio broadcasts, interviews and oral history. These can be particularly helpful if you are studying qualitative interviewing techniques.

Bibliographies and guides

Our collection of topical bibliographies is currently being expanded. Recently created bibliographies include:

We welcome your suggestions for areas to be covered.

Some useful external links


Social Sciences Enquiry team

For more help on using the Social Sciences collections, contact the Enquiry team at or telephone +44 (0)20 7412 7894 from 10.00 - 20.00 Mon- Thurs or 10.00 - 17.00 Friday.

Comments and suggestions

We are always developing resources and collections in this area and would be happy to receive your ideas about what we can do help your research.