On March 20, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a safer-at-home mandate in response to the growing spread of COVID-19. For graduate students like myself, the safer-at-home mandate has caused a shift in daily life. Some have an unanticipated increase in free time with the suspension of on-campus research (visit our Updates page for more information), internships, or fieldwork, and less time spent commuting, socializing, and studying. The ever-present question among these students, myself included, is, “What do I do with this new free time?”

For those trying to settle into a regular routine or feel themselves growing restless (one can only binge-watch so much Netflix), now is the perfect time to tackle that “I’ll get to it someday” list. Whether it's learning a statistical software package or reading up on a new topic of interest, there are a number of free professional and academic development opportunities available through Teachers College (TC) and external sites.

Knowledge & Professional Development

  • TC and Columbia University (CU) offer an online library system. These resources are helpful for compiling literature reviews and developing methodologies. Students and faculty can still access all online texts, articles, and videos.
  • TC Information Technologies (TC IT) has a wealth of resources related to data analysis. Students can download software packages for free at MyTC. 
  • TC IT also offers free introduction courses and “how-to” guides for a multitude of programs.
    • SPSS
    • NVivo
    • R Studio
    • Qualtrics
    • REDCap
  • DataCamp offers free introduction classes to R and Python. 
  • SPSS users have access to a wide array of tutorials on IBM’s Predictive Analysis open forum. I access these forums frequently for SPSS support. Recently, I used their tutorials to learn how to filter select cases using syntax.
  • APA has offered the latest 7th edition manual online for free through May 25, 2020.

Data Analysis & Big Data

Data analysis is not just confined to the laboratory. Researchers looking to practice analysis methods can access online public-use datasets. If you plan to publish or present your analysis, be sure to submit an IRB application as well (visit our Submitting a Protocol for Existing Data for more information):

  • Data.gov is a hub for open data and tools. Researchers can search for datasets by topic and location.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau has a wealth of information on American population data.
  • UNICEF publishes data sets on women and children globally.
  • EU Open Data Portal has datasets covering a wide range of topics and populations 

Last but not least, here are a few common big datasets to get researchers started:

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it’s a great starting point for researchers looking to continue developing their skills. Whatever you choose to do during the safer-at-home quarantine, whether it's learning a statistical package or enjoying the latest Netflix show, we hope that all TC student researchers are safe and well.

*updated April 2, 2020: added APA manual under Knowledge & Professional Development.