Research Methods and Tools


A number of sites offer free online training in the basic principles of social science research.  Here are several good options, as well as other tools for staying organised and productive as you carry out your research.  This list is only intended as a reference; the Mawazo Institute is not affiliated with any of these organisations.  We're also looking for online resources for research in STEM fields, so do contact us if you have recommendations.

Anol Bhattacherjee's 2012 book "Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices" is available for free through the University of South Florida.

MIT's edX platform offers a range of online courses which are free to audit.  Check out their two-course sequence on introductory statistics and inferential statistics.

Coursera is another good option for online courses.  They're not free, but it's possible to apply for financial aid.  Don't miss this introductory course on qualitative research methods.

If you're interested in programme evaluation and randomized controlled trials, check out the Jameel Poverty Action Lab's video series and introduction to evaluations.

The R Project for Statistical Computing offers a free and open source statistics package.  It's used by the edX course mentioned above.


Moving backwards through the alphabet, QGIS is a free and open source geographic information system.  "A Gentle Introduction to QGIS" is a good place to start if you'll be doing any mapping work.

Don't lose your files if you lose your laptop.  Box offers 10 GB of free cloud storage.

Use the free version of Evernote to organise articles, notes, photos, and other research materials.

Keep your references organised with Zotero, the free citation manager.