Student perspectives on learning research methods in the social sciences

Melanie Nind, Michelle Holmes, Michela Insenga, Sarah Lewthwaite, Cordelia Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
226 Downloads (Pure)


This paper addresses the perspectives of students of social science research methods from a UK study of their holistic experience of learning during two years of their postgraduate research training/ early careers as researchers. Unusually the ten participants span diverse institutions and disciplines and three became co-authors. The study used a diary circle combining online diary method with face-to-face focus groups to generate dialogue. Data were analysed narratively and thematically to produce two individual learning journeys and a synthesis of common experiences. Findings show the active, experiential learning of the participants alongside salient themes of difficulty and struggle. This leads to discussion of the emotional dimensions of methods learning and implications for teaching. The iterative role of the diary circle in the learning journey is also examined. The paper argues that teachers and supervisors should attend more carefully to the social, emotional, active and reflective nature of methods learning.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Early online date14 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Mar 2019


  • Research methods learning
  • active learning
  • diary method
  • experiential learning
  • research methods teaching

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