SRMO – the research so far…

When we first approached the development of this product there were a number of assumptions that we outlined to verify during our initial research phase. These included:
– we assume there will be significant value in delivering our research methods book content online, in particular we have heard significant demand from both academics, students and libraries to have our QASS (little green book series) delivered online
– we think that given the volume of our material (we have over 1200 titles in our research methods list) we will be developing a product that will be purchased by libraries rather than individuals
– we think the core value of the product will be for research rather than teaching
– we are interested to develop an online product that is dynamic and that will evolve over time, as new material is published and technologies develop

The research phase was divided into four distinct parts:
1) Understand how electronic book product is purchased by libraries – what types of models do they prefer and what responses to ebook product have they received from their users
2) Revisit how academics and students are performing research online and how they use online resources within teaching
3) Receive feedback from the academic and library communities on a product concept that we outline
4) Perform an internal review of our content, systems, author contracts and technology platforms to understand how we will deliver the product that is proposed

I thought that the results of the second part of this research would probably be most interesting to MethodSpace readers and I have compiled a shorter version of the report that was produced from this research that can be downloaded here (let me know if you would like to receive the full report and I will pass it on).
SRMP P2 MS.pdf

This research was performed through the analysis to an online questionnaire that was distributed to individuals to have reviewed our research methods books and who we asked to pass on to their colleagues and students. We also performed a series of interviews with our authors. The response we had to our proposal to deliver our titles online was phenominal – 528 responses to the online survey were received (out of the 2500 that were distributed) and the suggestions and recommendations that emerged through interviews with our authors were exciting – driving us to move forward with the project.

Here are some of the core conclusions that we drew from the second part of this market research phase:
– primary audience will be (post)grad students, new teachers, researchers keen to be informed about new methods emerging and researchers interested in following different methods
– the onlie environment is a place for ‘browse and discovery’; very few individuals will want to read 250 pages of a book online. Therefore, we would need to chunk content to make it more valuable, and provide download, printing and hardcopy purchasing options.
– there would be value to delivering material at a range of levels, from introductory to intermediate and advanced, perhaps including our dictionary, encyclopedia and journals materials together with our books
– it would be important for academic and student researchers to have access to the product that was “free at the point of use”, further verifying that our product should be something that the library community would acquire
– individuals approaching the product were less likely to want to look for a particular titles as to look up the meaning, the theory or to understand how to apply a method. So individuals would be search the product for terms rather than authors; individual chapters may be more useful in some instances than entire titles. Providing recommended links to classic literature could be very valuable for students
– there could be opportunities for SAGE to engage with community tools to allow individuals on the site to recommend non-sage material to users or to create reading lists for particular subject areas that could be shared

Much food for thought. Combining this with the feedback we had received from the library community we started putting together a concept for our product and going back again to receive feedback from individuals we had consulted on that concept. More on that in a few days…