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Data and Statistics for Social Sciences: Data analysis tools & training

You can use a range of software packages to analyse data - from Access or Excel to dedicated packages, such as SPSS, Stata and R for statistical analysis of quantitative data, Nvivo for qualitative (textual and audio-visual) data analysis (QDA), or ArcGIS for analysing geospatial data.
For more information see Bodleian Data Library.

To support social scientists and others who are required to gather and handle data, the SSL has created a Data Area providing access to PCs which have specialised and restricted-licence data software installed: Bloomberg PC, Eikon PC, NVivo, SPSS, ArcGIS, and IMF Government Finance Statistics. With the exception of the Bloomberg PC, which has to be booked in advance, any reader may use these PCs.

Quantitative data analysis | Qualitative data analysis | Online tools & services | Data visualisation tools | Geospatial data analysis | Sage Research Methods | IT training & calendars

Quantitative data analysis

Apache Spark™

A unified analytics engine for large-scale data processing built on data science; also popular for data pipelines and machine learning models development. Spark also includes a library – MLlib, that provides a progressive set of machine algorithms for repetitive data science techniques like Classification, Regression, Collaborative Filtering, Clustering, etc.


An increasingly popular tool for data analysis. In recent years, a number of libraries have reached maturity, allowing R and Stata users to take advantage of the beauty, flexibility, and performance of Python without sacrificing the functionality these older programs have accumulated over the years.


RA free software environment for statistical computing and graphics. It compiles and runs on a wide variety of UNIX platforms, Windows and MacOS. R provides a wide variety of statistical (linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering, etc.) and graphical techniques, and is highly extensible.
R is freely available online.


​A general-purpose statistical package widely used in academic research for editing, analysing and presenting numerical data. It is compatible with all file formats that are commonly used for structured data such as Excel, plain text files and relational (SQL) databases.
The package is available to use in the Social Science Library Data area, or from the IT Services.


STATAA powerful and flexible general-purpose statistical software package used in research, among others in the fields of economics, sociology, political science. It's capabilities include data management, statistical analysis, graphics, simulations, regression, and custom programming.
STATA is available to eligible students and staff in departments and centres in the Manor Road Building (MRB); to be eligible you must be nominated by your department/centre.
Students can also purchase STATA at a reduced cost for their own devices from the supplier Timberlake.

Online tools and services (subscription)

Bloomberg Professional

A subscription service that makes available financial information, news, reports, data and analysis. It contains near real-time and historical financial information on individual equities, stock market indices, fixed-income securities, commodities, currencies, and futures for both international and domestic markets. Data can be downloaded into excel. The service features an integrated set of in depth tutorials which should be used and understood by first time users.
Bloomberg Professional is only accessible on PCs in the Sainsbury and Bodleian Social Science Libraries, and is restricted to current University members for academic non-commercial research only. Access has to be approved and first time use booked by emailing the Data Librarian John Southall.


A financial market intelligence database and a set of financial analysis tools that replaces Thomson Reuters’ previous products ‘Datastream’ and ‘Thomson One’. It provides information on markets, indices, company and economic information and historical financial data. It provides access to trusted, up to the minute and accurate content from more than 5 million securities world-wide. Coverage includes pricing data, research, fundamentals, financial estimates, news, and charts.
Available by a dedicated PC in the Social Science Library and only open to current University staff and researchers (blue card holders).


A browser-based tool recently developed by the UK Data Service for exploration of a number of its key macro data collections. It is an attempt to integrate analysis and visualisation with the point of data access.
On UK Data Service, using your SSO to access the full portfolio.

See also examples and video tutorials

Online tools & services (free or free trial)


Quick data exploration tool for data analysis and visualisation. Offered on a free trial basis.


Offers various tools to make data analysis more accessible and collaborative. For example, Exploratory’s Analytics View facilitates the use a wide range of advanced open source AI / Machine Learning algorithms to discover hidden patterns and trends in your data effectively;
Data Wrangling allows to join/merge multiple data sets together with various options, or filter data by using other data sets;
Visualisation tools give an easier way to spot patterns or trends by comparing them together side by side, or visualise the relationship between pairs of two categorical columns. Offered on a free trial basis.

GESIS: MISSY (Microdata Information System)

Part of the service infrastructure of the German Microdata Lab, MISSY is an online service platform that provides structured metadata for official statistics. It includes metadata at the study and variable level as well as reports and tools for data handling and analysis. All documentation in MISSY refers to EU and national (German microcensus) microdata available for scientific purposes.

For EU-LFS microdata users MISSY offers SPSS- and STATA routines, which transfer the EU-LFS 1999-2016 ad hoc csv-files to SPSS/Stata data files. Latest update are available here.


NESSTARSoftware system for data publishing and online analysis consisting of tools which enables data providers to disseminate their data on the Web. Nesstar handles survey data and multidimensional tables as well as text resources. Users can search, browse and analyse the data online.
Trial licences for Nesstar Server & Webview, plus freeware version of Nesstar Publisher available from Nesstar website.


Free web reporting tool, providing online pivot tables, charts & datagrids builder -- simple data exploration with drill-down -- search driven analytics (natural lang queries) -- export crosstabs to Excel, PDF, CSV, HTML -- share and publish reports for public access.

Social Data Science Lab

An ESRC Data Investment, part of the Big Data Network for the social sciences brings together crime, social, computer, and statistical scientists to study the empirical, methodological, theoretical and technical dimensions of New and Emerging Forms of Data in social, policy and business contexts. This empirical social data science programme is complemented by a focus on ethics and the development of new methodological tools and technical solutions for the UK academic, public and private sectors.
The Lab develops and supports the COSMOS Open Data Analytics software, that provides ethical access to social media data for social science researchers.

Qualitative data analysis

Software packages comprised of tools designed to facilitate a qualitative approach to qualitative data, which include texts, graphics, audio or video. These packages (sometimes referred as CAQDAS - Computer Assisted/Aided Qualitative Data Analysis) may also enable the incorporation of quantitative (numeric) data and/or include tools for taking quantitative approaches to qualitative data.
Here are some more popular packages -


A qualitative data analysis (QDA) computer software package produced by QSR International. It has been designed for qualitative researchers working with very rich text-based and/or multimedia information, where deep levels of analysis on small or large volumes of data are required.
NVivo is installed on PCs in the SSL Data Area; also available from IT services shop.


MAXQDA – The Art of Data AnalysisAn alternative to Nvivo and handles a similar range of data types allowing organisation, colour coding and retrieval of data. Text, audio or video may equally be dealt with by this software package. A range of data visualisation tools are also included.
Trial licences available from MAXQDA


Software for the qualitative analysis of large bodies of textual, graphical, audio and video data. It offers a variety of tools for accomplishing the tasks associated with any systematic approach to "soft" data, i.e. material which cannot be analysed by formal, statistical approaches in meaningful ways.
You can download a trial version from the website, it is free and works without time limit.
Free training webinars are offered on the website.

Data visualisation tools


This free and open source 3D creation suite supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline — modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, in the context of research data in particular.
The suite is free to download from the website.
ITLC offers either a face-to-face, or online courses: go to LinkedIn Learning through Webauth using your single sign-on.
An overview course on 3D modelling taught by ITLC uses SketchUp, Blender and image manipulation software.


An online data-visualisation tool for making interactive charts which are responsive and embeddable in a website.


A cross-platform, free and open-source desktop geographic information system (GIS) application.
Online course through LinkedIn Learning.

R and Shiny

R is a tool used for data analysis and visualisation.
Using the free Shiny package, these analyses and visualisations can be published as interactive webpages just using R.
'R and Shiny' are available as both face-to-face and online courses.

Tableau Public

An easy to use, free and powerful tool for creating interactive dashboards and data visualisations that can be shared publiclly and embedded in your personal site.
Check out a face-to-face course offered by the ITLC.

Geospatial data analysis


A geographic information system that can be used by anyone working with geospatial data or in fact any statistical information that includes geographical variables such as location, elevation, population density and so on. If the information being used features a geographical representation of the world as part of the mix then ArcGIS should be of interest.
Use ArcGIS to:

  • View maps/mapped information as part of analysis;
  • Compile geographic data;
  • Build and edit maps to help analysis or visualisation;
  • Amend properties and fields in geospatial databases and generally manage such information;
  • Develop projects that draw on the large user base and functionality this package has built up.

It can be used with any geo-spatial data such as the Landscan population database.

ArcGIS Desktop is available on library computers in the Social Science Library (can be found in the all programs menu).


Can be used to work with Google Earth files: create documents from KML (Keyhole Markup Language) or KMZ files (zipped KML files), which will start Google Earth and fly you to a specified location. Google earth functionality is thus enabled from within ATLAS.ti.

MapInfo MapInfo

A geographic information system (GIS) popular among entry-level users due to its low cost and ease of use. GIS is software that is designed to store, query, analyse, process, and visualise spatial data. Offered on a 30-day free trial.

Geospatial Analysis online

This free online resource introduces concepts, methods and tools, provides many examples using a variety of software tools such as ArcGIS, etc. to clarify the concepts discussed. It aims to be comprehensive (but not necessarily exhaustive) in terms of concepts and techniques, representative and independent in terms of software tools, and above all practical in terms of application and implementation.

SAGE Research Methods

SAGEResearch Methods

A library of books, reference works, journal articles, and instructional videos on methods across the social sciences, including the largest collection of qualitative methods books available online from any scholarly publisher. The site is designed to guide users to the content they need to learn a little or a lot about their method.

Stories of how real research projects were conducted. The collection provides more than 1100 case studies, showing the challenges and successes of doing research, written by the researchers themselves.
A collection of teaching datasets and instructional guides that give students a chance to learn data analysis by practicing themselves.
Contains hours of video, including tutorials, case study videos, expert interviews, and more, covering the entire research methods and statistics curriculum.

IT Training & Calendars

IT Learning Centre (ITLC) offers both classroom-based and online video courses to University members. Lunchtime sessions, online resources and some courses are free; there is a charge for other courses.

You can search classroom-based courses via online course booking system which allows you to book or cancel a taught course and to manage your notifications using your Single Sign-On.
Online training includes the University's subscription to LinkedIn Learning, a resource of online, video-based courses that University members can access at any time for free using their single sign-on credentials.
ITLC also offers self-service learning resources through its IT Learning Portfolio, a range of resources that you can download and use to develop your IT digital skills for study, research and work.

Workshops in Information Discovery & Scholarly Communications, the programme designed to help you to make effective use of scholarly materials. It covers, among other things, managing your research data, information discovery, keeping up to date with new research, responsible research metrics, understanding copyright and looking after your intellectual property, open Access publishing and complying with funder mandates for open access.

Q-StepA programme designed to promote a step-change in quantitative social science training.
The Oxford Q-Step Centre enables undergraduates across the Social Sciences to have access to enhanced training in Quantitative Methods, through lectures and data-labs. It is hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations, in close co-operation with the Department of Sociology, and based in the Manor Road Building. See Courses and Resources.

Data training in the University

Training opportunities are available within the University: workshops are run by different departments, from the Bodleian Library's iSkills sessions to IT Learning Centre courses.

External data training & events

Online training opportunities as well as various workshops, seminars and conferences are also available from UKDS and other organisations.