May 29, 2014

Dr. Anol Bhattacherjee is an Information Systems professor at the University of South Florida who understands the burden of expensive textbooks. After listening to his students’ complaints about the high cost of textbooks, he decided to create his own open access textbook, “Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices.” However, saving students money was not his only goal.

Dr. Bhattacherjee believes scientific access should not be restricted by paywalls or limited accessibility. He also feels that existing research textbooks focus only on research methods and do not address the full process of social science research, such as the beginning, where a creative purpose for the research is required, or the end, where one actually tries to get published. In addition, he wanted to avoid the dense language of a professional paper and streamline the main topics to create an easily accessible and compact reference. His solution was to write his own textbook and provide it online for free or at a low cost in print.

The open access textbook book evolved from Dr. Bhattacherjee’s doctorate-level course handouts and notes from over a decade of teaching at USF. In the beginning, he experimented with a first edition, gathering feedback from his graduate students. After reviewing his students’ suggestions, he modified the text into a second edition and released it publicly online. Initially, it was hosted on a server at the University of Georgia and announced on a listserv for MIS research, but the popularity of the textbook quickly took on a global perspective across six continents. Dr. Bhattacherjee was surprised by its surging popularity, expecting the textbook to be downloaded only a few thousand times; it was eventually hosted online by Scholar Commons, a service of the USF Tampa Library to showcase research and creative works. According to the data from Scholar Commons, his textbook has been downloaded over 70,000 times from their website in the last two years.

Currently, Dr. Bhattacherjee uses the textbook in his courses at USF, but many other universities throughout the world from the USA to Australia to China to South Africa have also adopted the textbook. The popularity of his text was due in part to the fact that he wrote about conducting social science research in a general way, not specific to his field, and therefore it held a broad appeal for many disciplines. It was originally written in English, but it has been translated into several other languages, including Arabic, Chinese, and Korean, with more planned for the future.

  • The textbook was published under a Creative Commons license and is freely available on the Scholar Commons website.
  • If you would like a printed copy of the textbook, it is available from Amazon for $8.99.

“For me, the value is that students find it useful.” – Dr. Bhattacherjee