Disappointed (so far) with the SRMO beta

Oct 15 2010 Published by under publishing

Ever since I heard it mentioned a few months ago, I’ve been salivating over the new product coming out, Sage Research Methods Online (SRMO). It’s a collection of research methods books. Folks who do social science research will probably know this publisher immediately – I have 15 research methods books from this publisher in my citation manager and I’ve read parts of probably 10-15 more. Even more have been recommended to me but I haven’t read them yet.

When I saw a press release on ResourceShelf that the beta was out I immediately signed up. There’s free access until January to help with the testing (and do try, don’t just take all that I say uncritically).

Maybe I built it up too much, but I do have a lot of experience with ebooks at MPOW and so I know something about what works and what doesn’t.

First, I couldn’t find any of the books that I have in my collection. No Strauss, no Corbin, no Rubin, no Yin, no Maxwell (not the right one anyway), no Creswell, no Patton, no Wolcott (although I have 2 of his books and really don’t need any more). There is one by Miles and Huberman (a good one), but not the one I have. Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff here, but not what I wanted.

So, ok, the cool book by Miles and Huberman. It’s just html text, there’s no pdf. Well, actually, I just found the pdf – if you go to download, it pdfs the html text. It’s a little weird and has these big footers. In Arial.  The tables are sort of awkward – not sized for the page but running off the side. It’s one long page. The table of contents is in this little scrolling box on the left hand side, but the list of ancillary materials takes up the majority of the sidebar. It’s in a light font, and is somewhat hard to read. Good news is that the readability plug-in works for it so that helps with the light weight font.

Good stuff includes the ability to increase font size, a kind of cool bar that shows you how far you are in the book, the ability to go full screen, the ability to hide or show headings and page numbers, links to find in the library (oh and to buy, but whatever)….

When it comes to finding things, well, it seems a little strange. Looking up by author is mostly what I’ve been doing. I can’t really get anything useful out of the map of methods even though that’s supposed to be a strong point. There’s a category for writing up and a subcategory for dissertation, but it’s empty. When you go to writing up, you find book chapters on writing up dissertations. I did use the general search and found a definition in a reference book, so that’s cool. Browsing titles doesn’t really seem that useful. Maybe I don’t have something real to search for.

I wonder how much it will cost? Maybe they’ll add the favorite titles once it’s not free access? That would make sense.

I don’t know. Sigh… I was really, really looking forward to it.

One response so far

  • Hi Christina,

    We were really pleased to hear you have had a chance to look at SRMO in Beta and value your feedback. We are keen to gather as much feedback from potential users as possible during our Beta, which will enable us to make improvements to the product before launch: we expect that experts in the field will find areas for improvement!

    I wanted to take the opportunity to address some specific points in your feedback. Firstly on content included: at present not all 600 titles which will be available in the product have been loaded to the site. It is our plan to enhance the site with additional content on a yearly basis. You can find more information about this here http://srmo.sagepub.com/page/help.

    Regarding the concern about zero content related to the “Dissertation” term in the Methods Map, it should be clarified that the number in the parenthesis relates to sub-terms under the term and not to related content. For related content, click on the content tab directly above the map. You should find 30 titles related to “Dissertation.”

    We do have more development work scheduled to improve the Methods Map navigation and the TOC. Thank you for your feedback on the download feature. It is very useful to have, so that we can review and improve it. Similarly the tables issue is a larger project we are looking to improve in 2011.

    Again, we really value your input to help us ensure we have a truly great user experience for SRMO once we launch in January 2011. If you have further comments please do get in touch via http://srmo.sagepub.com/contactus or on Twitter @SAGE_SRMO

    Best regards,
    Mithu Lucraft, SAGE