Links to Other Instructional Websites

On this page:


There are a range of topics here that could fill a web site with links. Many issues can be resolved simply by entering your question in Google or YouTube and picking one of the relevant links. For example, to find out how to construct a graph employing particular software such as SPSS or Excel one can access numerous tutorials that illustrate the steps necessary to create the graph of interest. The same could be said for the topic of graphic design which covers the aesthetics of visual communication with graphs and other visual media. Here there seems to be a battle between those who advocate rules for design versus those who advocate throwing out the rules for design.

  • General
    • Designing Effective Graphs (Frees and Tufte). A paper in pdf form that gives a nice concise discussion on the design and employment of some common types of graphs.
    • Perceptual Edge (Few). Perceptual Edge is a web site featuring the thoughts and design of Stephen Few, author of Show Me the Numbers and other books. You can subscribe to the Visual Business Intelligence Newsletter for monthly information. Note numerous articles under the Library tab and discussions of several example graphs under the Examples tab.
    • Table and Graph Design for Enlightening Communication (Few). A tutorial pdf file on graph design.
    • Edward Tufte. Edward Tufte’s web site which contains a series of blog topics on graph and graphic design for the more advanced designer. Tufte’s basic design principles are contained in his first three books, the Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Visual Explanations, and Envisioning Information. However, basic principles can be found in various articles he has written. Like Few, Tufte argues for focusing on the meaning of the data and keeping graphics simple and clear.
    • Examples of Graph Designs. Speckyboy design magazine has examples of static and animated graphs.
    • So You Need a Typeface (Choosing a typeface). A flowchart is provided to aid in selecting a typeface for a document. Click on the second image to enlarge it and follow a somewhat humorous flow chart to a typeface. See also Design Charts for Better Typography and Color which includes the above link and many others on selecting, employing, and combining type faces.
  • Tutorials



Making a map involves many of the same steps involved in making a graph and then adds quite a few more. Designing a proper map is not a trivial exercise, and so one should have a basic grasp of the process so that one can at least critique or modify the results created by computer software. People working with SPSS or other statistical software are most likely going to create what is called a thematic map. This type of map is usually highly focused on a specific concept and a limited data set and would be typified by maps of census data by county or census tract. The challenge here is to match your downloaded data records (by country, state, county, or census tract, etc.) to a boundary file which is a set of records that describe the location or boundaries of the geographic units. Fortunately many common geographic area or point locations already have suitable boundary files so that they do not have to be generated by you to make a map. Usually geographical information system (GIS) software such as ArcGIS is employed to match the two data sets and generate a desired type of thematic map. Most CSU campuses have access to ArcGIS software so that likely will be the software that most CSU faculty will use to make a map. Alternatively, SPSS does have a mapping extension of its own that utilizes Mapinfo software that some departments may have purchased.

  • Tutorials
    • ArcGIS Tutorials. ESRI also provides a number of tutorials on the use of ArcGIS software. Some are in text form and some are animated. Note that additional animated tutorials can be found on YouTube. See ArcGIS Insights --
    • How to Make a Layout in ArcMap. A brief video tour of the options in ArcGIS map layout menu used to construct a map layout.
    • Elements of a Good Map Layout in ArcGIS. This video from Washington University shows the addition of the basic elements of a map to a layout.
    • Mapping Census Data. A tutorial on handling and mapping census data.
    • How to Create Thematic (choropleth) Maps in ArcGIS, Part 1 and Part 2. A video showing the basic steps to produce a thematic map in ArcGIS.
    • Google Earth Tutorial for Historians. A video demonstrating how to add detail traced from an old map that has been overlayed onto a Google Earth image.
    • ColorBrewer and Typebrewer. This interactive web site is designed to help one select an appropriate set of colors and number of classes for a choropleth map (e.g. a map of median household map shaded by county). Consideration is given to the impact of color blindness, different display media, and the effect of background relief, roads, and cities. A chosen set of color fills can be specified in RGB, CMYK, and HEX color models. The Typebrewer interactive web site helps in the selection of basic type styles for a map.
    • GamChecker. This interactive WP site is designed to help Irish select an appropriate site for lucky gaming.



  • NVivo (WordPress). "A data analysis program designed for qualitative and mixed methods research."




SPSS (officially, “IBM SPSS Statistics”)

  • Catalog of SPSS Tutorial Workshops (PDF) (Hall). Includes a large number of SPSS tutorials, primarily for the beginning student. The larger site of which this is a part has additional useful resources and commentary regarding survey research,
  • IBM SPSS Statistics Training (PDF) (Cal State Los Angeles). Handouts for recent versions of SPSS
  • Nelson (ed.) IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows 26.0: A Basic Tutorial (California State University) Includes downloadable text and data files.Text-based (mostly)
  • Raynald’s SPSS Tools (Raynald Levesque). Answers to FAQs as well as numerous examples, generally for fairly advanced users. Includes links to other sites.
  • SPSS Learning Modules (UCLA). Information in various formats on a wide variety of topics for users from beginning to advanced. Mostly text-based, but also includes some videos.
  • SPSS for the Classroom: the Basics (Wisconsin)
  • SPSS Links (Wuensch). Lessons, links to other resources, etc.
  • SPSS Resources (Mississippi State University). Links to online guides and tutorials as well as to print resources.
  • SPSS Tutorials (Kent State)
  • Videos

  • Miscellaneous:
    • PSPP (The GNU Project). Downloadable software with the look and feel of SPSS and many (though not all) of its capabilities. For those without access to SPSS, PSPP provides a good (and free) alternative. There are two versions of PSPP, syntax, or command. mode, Command mode is much more comprehensive, but has a much steeper learning curve. The Graphic User Interface (GUI) mode is less comprehensive, but more user friendly.
      • The Free Software Foundation, creators of PSPP, has produced a comprehensive users’guide for the command (syntax) version of PSPP. Available in various formats.
      • For introductory guides to the GUI version, see:

    • The GUI version of PSPP is perhaps most limited in its very minimal coverage of graphics, offering only pie charts, bar charts, histograms, and scatterplots, and these only with very few options. Fortunately, another package, also freely available, is Statistics Open for All (SOFA), which includes much more extensive graphics capabilities. George Self has developed a comprehensive lab manual for this package. Designed for use by his own students, he has not as yet published it on the Internet. He has, however, generously granted us permission to post it here on the site of the Cal State University Social Science Research and Instructional Center. 



  • Online textbooks
    • Introduction to Research Methods in Political Science: POWERMUTT (Politically-Oriented, Web-Enhanced Research Methods for Undergraduates - Topics and Tools) (Korey). The POWERMUTT Project is a Web site that can serve as a basic on-line textbook for teaching research methods in political science and cognate disciplines. Compared to other texts, it is more interactive and less expensive (free!). It also comes with generous terms of use that allow instructors to use the entire resource or to take and modify portions to meet their specific needs. For example, an instructor might wish to simply use one or more of the datasets and codebooks provided.
    • Seeing Statistics (McClelland; published by Duxbury which is part of Cengage Learning). An online text (they call it a webbook) which is based on a visual approach to learning statistics. Uses interactive graphs to illustrate statistical concepts.
    • Rice Virtual Lab in Statistics (Lane). Online statistics text with many applets and case studies.
    • Stat Trek. Online statistics text with videos (e.g., what is a variable?), sample problems, statistical tools (e.g., random number generator) and calculators (e.g., binomial probabilities).
    • Statistics Every Writer Should Know (Niles). A simple but well written introduction to basic descriptive statistics, margin of error, sample size, and statistical testing). Contains only text but written in a very clear and simple way.
    • Electronics Statistics Textbook (StatSoft). An extensive online statistics textbook which contains lots of materials at the intermediate and advanced levels (e.g., canonical analysis, cluster analysis, log-linear analysis). Contains only text.
    • Chance (Dartmouth). Not exactly an online text book but lots of materials that can be used in any course that deals with quantitative literacy.
    • Statistical Associates Publishing (Garson). Series of small books on many statistical topics. Books area available for the Kindle at a small cost. Books can also be downloaded for free. Books are only available at Amazon for the Kindle for 90 days after being published. After 90 days, they are available to be freely downloaded. Requires that you register but registration is free.

  • Videos
    • Against all Odds – Inside Statistics (Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications and Chedd-Angier). A series of 26 videos on various topics such as “the question of causation” and “inference for relationships.” Originally produced in 1989 which may make some of the videos seem dated but the content is still excellent. Videos can be purchased but can also`be viewed online.



  • American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). Provides numerous publications in the area of survey research. Useful material includes:
    • Standards and practices – AAPOR’s Code of Ethics, best practices, survey practices that AAPOR condemns, standard definitions of survey outcomes.
    • Reports on such issues as election polling, response rates, sampling, margin of error, question wording, glossary of survey terms, cell phones.
    • Webinars on survey research topics (recordings of these webinars can be purchased from AAPOR).

  • "The new version of FiveThirtyEight will continue to provide data-driven coverage of politics and elections, while expanding its reach into other topics including sports, economics, technology and culture."
  • Summary of many national polls along with useful charts and graphs. Also includes a list of FAQs on trend estimates.
  • Research Randomizer (Social Psychology Network). Random number generator.
  • Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. Includes information that can be used in classes.
    •  Polling Fundamentals. Includes information on sampling, total survey error, reading tables and a glossary of survey research terms.
    • Classroom Materials. Includes assignments that you can use in your classes along with syllabi and lesson plans.

  • Sample Size Calculator (Creative Research Systems). Among other things, this applet is a great way to convince skeptics that, beyond a certain counter-intuitively low point, sample sizes needed for a given confidence interval don’t vary much with the size of the population.
  • Survey Research (Colorado State). General introduction. Includes links to other explanations and examples.
  • Survey Research Center (University of Michigan). Offers a series of programs to learn more about survey research. Also includes a list of publications relevant to survey research.
  • Opinion & Survey Data Sources (Princeton). "Sources for United States and international public opinion results and data, with an emphasis on political topics."
  • Web Survey Methodology. Includes references to the latest web survey methodology, information about online survey software and codes and standards.



  • Research Methods
    • Lecture notes, slides, syllabi and more
      • OPOSSEM (Online Portal for Social Science Education in Methodology). This is a portal for instructional materials for teaching social science research methods. This link will take you to the data sets available.
      • Online textbooks
        • MERLOT. Click on “learning materials, then search for “research methods textbook,” refine your search by choosing your discipline’s category). Several types of teaching tools (by various authors) including:
          • Virtual lab (java based) for Psychology (Malloy)
          • Electoral map simulations for Political Science (Tuthill, Williams, and Donnelly)
          • Interactive Introduction to SPSS Statistical Software (PowerPoints) (Bigham)
          • Some videos (limited)

    • For bringing the use of real data into higher education across the curriculum
      • Lecture notes, slides, syllabi and more
        • Teaching with Data (a partnership of ICPSR and SSDAN, both at the University of Michigan). is a web site devoted to providing faculty with tools to use in courses. This site gives you links to datasets, lesson plans, theoretical examples, charts, learning modules, sample assignments, etc. These materials are useful in any course where you would like to incorporate digital materials into lectures (in-person and virtual), assignments, and active learning. Teaching With Data also promotes the development of quantitative literacy. Among the resources currently available are guides for Economics, Sociology, and Political Science.
        • MERLOT (click on “learning materials," then search for “data,” refine your search by choosing your discipline’s category). Several types of teaching tools (by various authors) including:
          • Virtual lab (java based) for Psychology (Malloy)
          • Electoral map simulations for Political Science (Tuthill, Williams, and Donnelly)
          • Interactive Introduction to SPSS Statistical Software (PowerPoints) (Bigham)
          • Some videos (limited)

        • SSRIC - Social Science Research & Instructional Center -- Teaching Resources. (Various academic contributors). Includes modules and exercises, online textbooks, other courseware:
        • ICPSR - Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (housed by the University of Michigan). Includes an introduction to ICPSR, the Data User Help Center, and various resources for instructors (modules, exercises, tutorials, webinars. etc.).
        • Print publications and links to other online tools


Last updated: May 4, 2020.