Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices
Anol Bhattacherjee, University of South Florida
Pub Date: 2012
Publisher: Global Text Project
Conditions of Use
This book covers all the important topics in social science research and is approachable regardless of discipline and course level (high school, read more
This book covers all the important topics in social science research and is approachable regardless of discipline and course level (high school, undergraduate, graduate, and even post-graduate). It provides an introduction to philosophy as well as components of research. You'll find yourself returning to the basics, and it gives strong foundations. Specifically, I find that the book provides a very comprehensive introduction to research philosophy and research designs, particularly in addressing how to come up with research questions, which is often a challenge for new doctoral students. However, due to the succinct nature of the book, some sections seemed lacking. Particularly, in the more practical steps of the research process (the data collection and data analysis sections)
The text does not seem to be biased in any way.
The content of the book is up-to-date. The text included relevant descriptions of current software commonly used in research.
If you want to have a compressed body of knowledge of social science research, you may read this one. Beneficial.
The text consistently matches the book outline. Terms were used consistently throughout the text.
Each chapter can stand along as a separate lecture. The headings, subheadings, an bold items are great additions that highlight important topics or definitions.
Most of the text flows in a logical, clear fashion. However, it may be clearer to have quantitative data analysis methods immediately follow quantitative data collection methods, and similarly for the qualitative data collection and analysis.
No issues noted.
There are a few grammatical errors.
There does not seem to be any culturally insensitive or offensive text.
The biggest challenge faced when writing a book about research methods is the decision about what NOT to include. Instructors and disciplines within read more
The biggest challenge faced when writing a book about research methods is the decision about what NOT to include. Instructors and disciplines within the social sciences vary widely in terms of their expectations of students in an introductory methods course, and thus their needs from a textbook also vary. This textbook does an excellent job setting the stage for what we mean by "research" in the social sciences. Students will develop a solid foundation in the goals and rationales behind the methods social scientists employ. Students will also develop a comprehensive vocabulary in social science research methods. However, the book falls short in the development of students' research skills. Learning about methods is important, but not much is gained from that knowledge unless the student also learns how to execute at least some techniques. Furthermore, there is little guidance for the student regarding how to properly write a research paper, something that many instructors will find disappointing. This book is probably comprehensive enough for a 3-credit methods course with test-based assessments in a program where few students pursue graduate work. But if teaching students to actually conduct and write up research is important to the course, there are much better books out there (although at significant cost).
Content is accurate and unbiased.
The relevance and longevity are strong. This book describes some of the most current methods but still focuses on the foundations of research that will be appropriate for the foreseeable future. Updates could be easily made every five years or so to keep up with methodology.
The writing is very easy to follow with helpful examples. Prose is direct and to the point, giving only the essential information so as to allow the learner to develop a grasp of fundamentals. The section on theory, for example, is refreshingly clear for learners. Graphics aid in understanding the material in many parts.
This textbook uses consistent terminology and framework.
The textbook is appropriately structured for a standard 15 week course and even recommends a syllabus. Adapting it to other formats, like a 5 or 10 week summer course, might be tricky. There are ample headings and sub-headings, however, that allow the text to be divided into smaller chunks, which is nice to see given how many students feel overwhelmed by this topic.
Organization and flow is excellent. From an education and instructional standpoint, I wouldn't change the organization.
The simplicity of design is a strength -- students should have no difficulty opening and viewing the text on a wide variety of devices. On the downside, there are no bells and whistles that many some students have come to expect from online textbooks.
The casual writing style makes it very accessible, but one consequence is the very occasional grammar problem. It's a trade-off, I think, that is worth making.
Research methods are pretty "culturally-neutral", so there's nothing in it I would see as insensitive or offensive. That being said, the text recommends SPSS and SAS as software to use while neglecting free options (like R) or more ubiquitous programs (like Excel). For a textbook intended to keep costs at zero, these are glaring omissions.
I could certainly see this book being used as an accessible and low-stress introduction to the world of research methods in the social sciences. The main improvements I would like to see would be (1) sidebars throughout that guide students through the paper-writing process and (2) activities using datasets for students to actually perform some of their own quantitative analyses. Perhaps a companion volume could address these needs.
This text provides a fairly comprehensive coverage of topics. It is broad, hitting most of the major topics I need to cover in an intro PhD seminar read more
This text provides a fairly comprehensive coverage of topics. It is broad, hitting most of the major topics I need to cover in an intro PhD seminar for social science research methods (I'm teaching public administration/policy, political science, and criminology students). That said, there is not a ton of depth in this textbook. I don't view that as a negative; I prefer having a textbook that gives a basic outline of essential concepts and then fleshing this out with supplemental readings, but some might prefer a textbook that goes into more depth.
Overall, this textbook is accurate but not perfect. Sometimes I wish it was a bit more precise, particularly in coverage of quantitative topics. But I use another textbook to more fully cover quantitative topics anyway for my course.
I would say this textbook reads as modern and relevant, although perhaps it could do more to address emerging methodological concerns in social science disciplines (p-hacking, replication, pre-registration of research designs, etc.).
The textbooks is very accessible and easy to read for someone new to the disciplines of social science.
The book appears to be consistent.
I've assigned students to read the chapters in a different order than they are presented in the text had have not encountered any problems. Chapters are coherently organized into distinct topics.
The organization of the book is logical.
Overall, this book is easy to read and use. Graphs are not always high-resolution, but they are readable.
I have not noticed many grammatical errors.
I have not noticed any clear biases or insensitive handling of material in the book.
I'm delighted to have found this book. It's a great starting point for teaching my students to think about the basics of social science research and provides a nice skeleton on which I can layer more in-depth material for my course.
The author states that the text is not designed to go in-depth into the subject matter but rather give a basic understanding of the material. I read more
The author states that the text is not designed to go in-depth into the subject matter but rather give a basic understanding of the material. I believe the author covers the necessary topics with enough depth to give the reader a basic understanding of social science research.
I found no errors in content and no observable bias in any of the chapters.
This text will continue to be relevant because of the nature of the subject matter. Updates may be needed to reflect more current research or trends, but no major changes should be necessary.
The text is written clearly and succinctly. The text is understandable for those who are new to the subject matter.
I found no inconsistencies in the text.
The text is divided into logical chapters, and subheadings seem to be appropriate. Chapters can be read fairly easily in isolation without putting the reader at a disadvantage.
The topics are presented in a logical fashion. Some of the chapters have summaries or conclusions, while other chapters seem to end abruptly. It would be helpful to the reader to have a summary statement at the end of each chapter.
I downloaded and read the text in a PDF reader and had no trouble with formatting, navigation, or images/charts.
The text contains some grammatical errors but the errors are minor and do not distract the reader.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.
This text is well written and I would recommend it to an individual looking for a bare bones book on basic research methods. It contains information essential to understanding quantitative and qualitative research. The charts and images provided enhance the understanding of the text. At times, the author digs a little deeper into background and formulas for certain statistical ideas, which may be unnecessary to someone looking to understand the basics (e.g. the formula for Cronbach's alpha). Some chapters seem to end abruptly while other chapters have excellent summaries or conclusions. There is one recommendation that goes against the prevailing wisdom on survey design. On page 77, the author indicates that a survey should begin with non-threatening questions such as demographic information. Many experts have written that these types of questions, when asked at the beginning of a questionnaire or survey, can affect the respondents' answers to subsequent questions and should be saved for the end. Aside from these minor issues, this text is a great resource and I recommend it.
The text offers an introductory overview to scientific research for PhD and graduate students in social sciences. It covers a broad range of topics, read more
The text offers an introductory overview to scientific research for PhD and graduate students in social sciences. It covers a broad range of topics, research theories, research process, research design, data collection methods, qualitative and quantitative research, statistical analysis, and research ethics. This book touches on many important topics related to the scientific research process that is typically found in several different text. As the author stated in the preface, this is an introductory book that is minimalist by design, it does not contain in-depth discussions or many examples. This is both a plus and a minus, as it makes the book more compact and allow it to be used by many different disciplines, but may be harder for students to relate. The comprehensive nature of the book allows the reader to be exposed to all the necessary topics, or provides a structure for a course instructor, who then supplements with additional materials to create the depth that is specifically tailored for their discipline. Specifically, I find that the book provides a very comprehensive introduction to research philosophy and research designs, particularly in addressing how to come up with research questions, which is often a challenge for new doctoral students. However, due to the succinct nature of the book, some sections seemed lacking. Particularly, in the more practical steps of the research process (the data collection and data analysis sections), as a new doctoral student will certainly need more details than what is provided in the text to begin their first research endeavor. For example, in the quantitative analysis section, only a handful of basic analysis were discussed in detail (univariate analysis, hypothesis testing, t-test, regression). I would like to see a more practical discussion of ANOVA, as it is a very commonly used statistical analysis tool. These topics may also be more discipline specific, where instructors of research classes can supplement with additional materials. The discussion on research ethics is certainly a nice addition to the book where many other research methods texts lack. An index/glossary is not included with the text, but the table of content clearly outlines the topics discussed for each module.
The book is overall accurate and unbiased. The book covered different social science research methods fairly. I did notice a discrepancy in Figure 5.1, where “single case study” is plotted on the graph as high in external validity, but the rest of the text frequently brought up case studies (especially single case studies) having the difficulty with generalizability which should have low external validity.
The content of the book is up-to-date. The text included relevant descriptions of current softwares commonly used in research. It will also stand against the test of time as research methods do not change drastically. The content can also be updated to reflect new technological updates. One needed update noticed is on page 120, where the authors cautioned that only smaller datasets can be stored in Excel and larger datasets needs a more elaborate database system. While the statement is still relevant, the numbers the author cited appear to be old and Excel has since been updated to handle larger datasets (1,000,000 observations and 16,000 items) than what the author had listed.
The content is written in a very clear and concise manner. It is easy to read and to follow the author’s arguments. I did not notice any jargon or technical term that was used without explanation.
The text consistently matches the book outline. Terms were used consistently throughout the text.
The book has a modular organization, with each chapter designed to be used for a different lecture. Each chapter is a self contained unit that can be used as its own reading. Each chapter also has subsections that are clearly marked with subheadings. Important terms are also highlighted by bolding, making it easy for the reader to identify the important concepts.
The chapters of the book flows logically from one to the next. The current layout of the text groups all the data collection methods together and all the data analysis methods together. It may be clearer to have quantitative data analysis methods immediately follow quantitative data collection methods, and similarly for the qualitative data collection and analysis. This could be easily done based on the course instructor preference.
No interface issues noted.
The text is generally free of grammatical and spelling errors, with the exception of 2 minor typos noticed on page 139 (“Rik”, “riska”).
The text and examples provided are not culturally insensitive or offensive.
The text is easy to read and covers a broad and comprehensive range of topics important for research. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on research ethics which is often missing in many research methods texts. I would recommend discussing that topic earlier, together with research design, as many of these ethical issues and IRB requirements come up during research design phase. As the text is a meant to be a concise overview of the research process, the more practical topics are not covered in as much detail and would require supplementary material.
The textbook covers the majority of what would be expected for a research methods course. It builds upon basic topics to more advanced concepts, so read more
The textbook covers the majority of what would be expected for a research methods course. It builds upon basic topics to more advanced concepts, so students from various backgrounds of research experience should still find the text useful. The glossary for the text is clear and a sample syllabus is provided by the author for individuals wishing to use this text for their course. The text was lacking an index, which would prove helpful for students.
The text is accurate and up-to-date with research methods in the social sciences. A variety of data collection methods and concepts are discussed in an easy to understand manor.
The content is up-to-date with research methods in the social sciences. The text should be able to prove useful for a research methods or as supplementary material for a statistics course for the foreseeable future. While I looked through this text with a focus on using it for a psychology course, I feel that this text would be useful across other fields as well.
The book was clear and built upon concepts in a thorough manner. Technical terms were well defined, though as mentioned previously, an index would be helpful for this text for students to look up key terms if they became lost. The text would be useful for an upper-level undergraduate or introductory graduate level course.
The text is consistent throughout. There were no notable deficiencies in any of the content provided in each chapter.
The course is broken down into logical subsections and chapters. Introductory topics relating to research methods are provided early and are built upon in subsequent chapters. A sample syllabus and course outline are provided for instructors who wish to utilize the text for their class.
The book is constructed in a well-organized fashion, without any issues of chapter structure.
The PDF version of the text worked wonderfully on a laptop, with no issues of navigation or distortion of images. This text was not, however, viewed on a tablet or e-reader, which many students use for classes. Based solely on use of a PDF file on a laptop, the interface was flawless, however, if you are considering using this for a class, I would test it out on an e-reader/tablet first to make sure there are no issues with format/text size, etc.
The book did not appear to have any noticeable grammar or syntactical errors.
There were no notable instances of cultural insensitivity throughout the text. Examples were broad and not specific to an individual race or culture.
This is a wonderful open source option for a main text for a research methods course or as a supplementary option for a statistics course that also focuses on data collection.
The textbook adequately covers most fundamental concepts related to research methods in the social sciences. Areas that would need attention: a read more
The textbook adequately covers most fundamental concepts related to research methods in the social sciences. Areas that would need attention: a chapter introducing mixed methods research, and a deeper discussion on Research Ethics. More social science based examples on specific research designs, experimental research would be great. The research process could include steps involved in academic research with information on the publishing and peer review process.
Content is accurate for the most part. I would have liked a more nuanced discussion of reliability and validity concepts- introducing the concept of validity as conceptualized by Messick/Kane is needed. In social science, especially education (the field I work in), masters/ doctoral students need to be introduced to the complex nature of establishing reliability and validity. While the content covered is detailed, a more critical introduction of the concepts as being situated in the obtained scores as opposed to the instrument itself would have made the chapter stronger.
Content is for the most part up to date (see above comments for specific areas: reliability, validity, mixed methods); some examples may become outdated very soon (example of political movements in middle eastern countries for example).
The writing is excellent in terms of clarity. I appreciate the use of straight forward language to explain the multitude of concepts!
The text is consistent in its overall approach to research methods as well as consistent in its use of terminology.
Bold font for key terms is appreciated. More insets/boxes within chapters would be a great addition visually. Addition of research studies and discussion questions would be great.
The chapters are well-organized. Only suggestion would be to introduce research ethics early on in the book.
No issues whatsoever in this regard.
No issues with grammar
The text is best suited for universities in western countries although I did not identify any insensitivity that would hinder teaching and learning of research methods using this textbook elsewhere.
Specific chapters in this book will be useful for me, from an instructor's perspective. For example, Chapter 2 - 'thinking like a researcher' is wonderfully written. The chapter on Interpretive Research and Qual. Data Analysis are thorough and clear in presentation of concepts- I definitely would use these chapters in my Research Methods class.
This is a comprehensive overview of research design and research methods in the social sciences. The book's introductory sections offer a discussion read more
This is a comprehensive overview of research design and research methods in the social sciences. The book's introductory sections offer a discussion of the philosophy of science, the history of science, and definitions of some key terms and concepts, which will help students to contextualize their own endeavors - and their own discipline(s) - inside a larger framework. It also tackles the more familiar topics of research design - conceptualization, measurement, sampling, and so forth - and several specific approaches to data-collection. Overall, then, the book is to be commended for tackling both the philosophical issues at stake in research design as well as the 'nuts and bolts' (or 'brass tacks') of actually doing research. One of the book's touted selling-points is its focus on phases of research that precede data collection. That is, the book aims to train students not only in research methods, but also in the critical tasks of theorizing problems, generating research questions, and designing scientific inquiries - what the author refers to as 'thinking like a researcher.' This is certainly a welcome addition to a textbook on research design, and ought to help students to overcome some familiar stumbling blocks that seem to present themselves during graduate programs. Because of its breadth, however, parts of the book can sometimes seem thin and underdeveloped. In particular, the chapters on data collection (specific research methods) are less detailed and comprehensive than other books manage to provide. It is hard to give a detailed 'how to' guide to either survey research, experiments, case studies, or interpretive methods in just 10 pages. As a result, instructors will almost certainly want to supplement this book with more detailed material, perhaps tailored to their specific discipline. Even so, this book is an excellent backbone for an undergraduate or graduate class on research methods. It will have to be read in conjunction with discipline-specific guides to conducting research (and, most likely, alongside examples of good and bad research), but this does nothing to detract from the book's own value: it will certainly offer a valuable overview of key concepts, ideas, and problems in research design and data-collection, and will serve students throughout the duration of their studies and not just for one class.
This book is accurate, error-free, and as unbiased as it is possible to be in the social sciences. Of course, it is possible to imagine those who simply hold different views about what social science "is" or should be; some scholars might bristle at the notion that only knowledge produced according to the narrow strictures of the scientific method can be considered "scientific knowledge," for example, while others might balk at interpretivism being given parity of esteem with what they see as more rigorous methodological practices. But for the broad mainstream of the social sciences, there will be little in this book that stands out as unusual, controversial, or one-sided.
On the whole, the content of this book will remain relevant for a long time. After all, the basics of the scientific method and the fundamentals of research design seem unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. New and cutting-edge strategies of data collection and theory-testing do emerge, of course, but these are probably best delivered to students in the form of discipline-specific books or articles that could be assigned to complement this textbook, which deals more with foundations than it does with current debates.
The book is organized well and information is presented in a clear way. The prose is accessible and each chapter proceeds methodically.
This text is certainly consistent, and proceeds according to a methodical and logical structure. Key terms and concepts are introduced early on, and there are no 'surprises' in later chapters.
This book is organized into chapters, each of which could be used as the keystone reading for a given class session, and each chapter is broken down in easy-to-digest sections, making the book as accessible as possible. The fact that there are 16 chapters mean that the book could support 16 separate class sessions - that is, just enough to orient classroom discussion for an entire semester. That said, each module does not comprise sufficient material for a whole week; the chapters will need to be supplemented with extra reading material, especially in graduate seminars. It is unlikely that instructors will want to assign only part of a given chapter. Overall, the text reads well as a whole and in terms of its individual chapters.
The chapters for this book are organized into five sections: the introductory section, a section dealing with the basics of empirical research, sections on data collection and data analysis, and a final section that deals with ethics in research. This is a sensible and logical structure for the book, and nothing seems out of place. Again, the book is an accessible and smooth read; it will pose no challenges to an informed reader, and there will be nothing in the organization of the book that will be distracting or irritating.
As a single PDF, this book is easy to navigate.
I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors in this well-written book.
I can detect no culturally insensitive or offensive remarks in this book.
It is worth mentioning that this text ought to serve students well throughout their undergraduate studies, graduate careers, and beyond. It is a timeless - if necessarily limited - resource, and be returned to again and again.
As acknowledged by the author in the preface, this is intended as a survey book that doesn't cover all topics in great detail. The upside is that read more
As acknowledged by the author in the preface, this is intended as a survey book that doesn't cover all topics in great detail. The upside is that this is a flexible text that can be used in many disciplines; the down side is that the text is short on examples, which reduces readability. I also prefer a textbook that provides a more detailed discussion of the following issues, but could supplement the textbook with these discussion in class: a) confounding variables, b) writing a research report, and the parts of a research report, c) evaluating the internal and external validity of a study, d) how we handle Likert and Likert-type scales (with better reflection of the rich controversy about this issue), e) historical background that has informed our current ethical guidelines, and f) more detail about manipulated vs. observed independent variables. Also, the 'research process' section doesn't include a step for going through IRB review and approval, so overlooks an important step in social science research. I think more detail is provided about paradigms and theories than is necessary, but those chapters and sections could be left out of course reading assignments quite easily. In general, I think this textbook would be best suited to a course where the textbook is seen as an overview to supplement course discussions rather than a detailed coverage of research methods principles.
As far as I can tell, the book is accurate. There are some terms that the author uses that are not widely used in my field (developmental psychology, human development & family studies) but the descriptions are clear enough that I think students will be able to understand what is meant (however, it would be great to acknowledge and discuss some of these variations in terminology so the burden isn't entirely on the students who are still learning these concepts).
Research methods and statistics content are unlikely to change rapidly, although with the increasing use of ecological momentary assessments, daily diaries, and internet sampling techniques, it might be useful down the road to include more detail about those techniques.
The book is easy to read and follow, although the lack of examples to clarify concepts sometimes reduces the clarity of ideas (but is in keeping with the philosophy of the book).
I haven't spotted any problems with internal consistency.
It would be very easy to divide this into smaller reading sections and assign at different time points.
In general the organization makes sense; the only exception is having research ethics as an epilogue, when ethical issues need to be considered before a study is completed.
My two suggestions for increasing are a) hyperlinking the table of contents so that it was easier to find exactly what you want in the textbook, and b) providing a more detailed table of contents (with subheadings) so it's easier to determine where in chapters you should reference.
I haven't found any grammatical errors.
The text is neither culturally insensitive nor offensive.
I think this book is very well-suited for intro graduate level courses in research methods, as long as instructors are comfortable with this as an overview supplement rather than a detailed stand alone resource for students.
This text offers a comprehensive overview of social science research methods appropriate for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. The text read more
This text offers a comprehensive overview of social science research methods appropriate for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. The text covers the basic concepts in theory, research design and analysis that one would expect of a text geared toward the social sciences in general. The text could be easily adapted and/or supplemented to fit any discipline-specific needs. While the text covers a broad array of topics, it is a bit superficial and lacks depth in some areas. More examples and case studies, for example, could improve the text's thoroughness. The text also lacks an index, glossary and discussion questions, all of which would have been quite useful for a text of this nature. I do like that it includes a chapter on research ethics and an appendix with a sample syllabus, however.
Based on my review, the text's content is accurate, error-free and unbiased. I liked that it presented both qualitative and quantitative research methods fairly, as this divide is often a source of bias.
The text contains up-to-date approaches to research methods and presents classic theoretical debates. The methods presented should not become obsolete in the near future. Any new trends in research methodology could be easily updated in future versions of this text. I feel the text will be relevant and useful for multiple years.
The text is generally well written. It presents the information in a clear and concise way. I find it provides sufficient contextualization and examples for graduate students with some background already in research methods. Undergraduates will likely require supplemental materials and additional case studies to grasp some of the concepts covered. The illustrations do help guide understanding of concepts presented.
The terminology and research methods frameworks presented in the text are consistent. The use of bolded terms and illustrations throughout the text provide additional consistency.
The division of the text into the following sections: theoretical foundations, concepts in research design, data collection and data analysis, make it easy for instructors to structure a course and assign readings based on these main foundational areas. This format also enables instructors to easily supplement with other materials.
Overall, this is a well-organized text. Bolded words/phrases throughout the text provide some structure to guide reading. The text is divided into 16 chapters, which corresponds seamlessly with a 16-week semester. This enables instructors to cover one chapter per week, if they so desire, or optionally spend more time on chapters relevant to their course and exclude others. As mentioned earlier, the logical division of the text chapters into the areas of theory, research design, data collection and data analysis, lends to a soundly-structured course and facilitates the assignment of readings and other coursework.
I did not experience any issues with the text's interface, navigation or displays of images/illustrations. The text is in PDF format.
I did not notice any grammatical errors that impeded reading of the text.
I did not come across any culturally-insensitive or offensive passages in the text.
Generally the major topics are covered. The table of contents (chapter listing) makes it easy to find content. Occasionally I found what I thought read more
Generally the major topics are covered. The table of contents (chapter listing) makes it easy to find content. Occasionally I found what I thought was a topic covered only minimally in a chapter - but then found additional information in a later chapter (e.g., treats to internal validity). Overall I'd say in comparison to most other texts with which I am familiar that most all topics are covered, to some degree, but some topics are covered less than I would expect in a doctoral level textbook.
I found no errors in fact in the textbook. I found it to be written in an accurate and unbiased manner.
Primarily due to the topic covered (research methods), I do not believe the text will become obsolete in a short period of time. I think updates could be easily added, and if the author decided to cover some topics more thoroughly, that could be accomplished relatively easily, too.
The book is written in an easy to read style. It is easy to understand. Technical terminology is explained appropriately. The author puts many words in bold type and then defines or describes the word. Students will like this approach.
I had no issues as I reviewed the book in terms of consistency of terms used. The text is internally consistent.
The chapters of the book are separated by natural divisions. It would be easy to use this book in a course on research methods, in fact, there is a syllabus included at the end of the book that could be used by a faculty member when course creating.
The textbook topics are presented in a logical fashion. The ordering isn't necessarily the same order I have seen in other texts, but the order is reasonable.
I had no major interface problems as I reviewed the book. Some of the diagrams in the book are a little out of focus, but, they are still readable.
I found no grammatical errors in the sections of the book that I read.
I found no cultural insensitivity in the text. I noticed the examples cited were from articles written by authors from different countries.
The book is easy to read and fairly comprehensive in terms of topics covered. Some topics are covered in less detail than in some other books I've had the chance to read / review. I am most accustomed to finding discussion of theories in separate texts and presentation of statistics that might be used to analyze quantitative data in separate texts. There are even a couple of chapters on qualitative methods in this book. So, the book covers a wide variety of topics and introduces them in a clear way. Topics are not covered in as comprehensive way as in many texts.
The book is divided into sixteen chapters, which seemed a bit intimidating at first. I later realized that they are not necessarily very long read more
The book is divided into sixteen chapters, which seemed a bit intimidating at first. I later realized that they are not necessarily very long chapters; it varies in terms of the topic. This makes the book quite comprehensive in that the book could be used for the length of the semester, one chapter per week. This is a useful model and one can add or subtract if needed. For example, the beginning chapter which discusses what science is and uses vocabulary from the hard or natural sciences may not necessarily be relevant in a social science course, but the author is being comprehensive by explaining the origins of science and the creation of the scientific method.The vocabulary in bold is extremely effective throughout the book.
The book is meticulously researched and I did not note any egregious statements or inaccuracies. There was one strange sentence when the author was trying to contrast a liberal to a conservative’s viewpoint on page 18 that made this reader feel a bit uncomfortable in how one ideological viewpoint was portrayed, but I’m not sure it was necessarily bias; perhaps just the writing was a bit heavy handed
The book makes sure of updated case examples, discusses how students utilize the internet for research, etc. The theories outlined here are the classic important debates, and the breadth of knowledge the author imparts is extremely comprehensive and up to date. this book could definitely stand on its own for many years before changes in the field might necessitate updating.
I found the textbook to be a refreshing read. The writing is very accessible and clear, but can be dense at times (though not in a problematic way—it means that with some of the more challenging material, the students will have to dig a little deeper to glean the information. The writing was very crisp, and to the point.
The book is written in a careful, consistent manner. As mentioned earlier, the vocabulary words in bold are consistent signposts, and there are citations (not too many, not too few) that help structure the book and provide a cogent framework. Sometimes there are summaries and bullet points, and other times there aren’t, so this is not exactly consistent, but it doesn’t detract from the overall work.
The chapters are excellent stand alone essays that could be used interchangeably. Some of them, such as the first chapter, is historical and philosophical, but not essential to understanding social science research methods. The second and third chapters are excellent for the researcher who is just starting out to formulate a research question. It helps them to think about the various theories and approaches available to them in terms of the angle, focus and methodology selected. The later chapters explain in greater detail various kinds of methods such as how to measure constructs, and scale reliability. These are higher order concepts which would be useful to graduate students—chapters 1-3 could not only work for graduate students, but also for upper division undergraduates.
The book was structured in a logical progression. There were no problems there. There was some repetition with various terms such as Occum’s razor, but this is because there is some overlap with concepts which I think is fine, given that some chapters may not be used in the course of a semester.
No problems with typeface, the diagrams and graphs are incredibly useful in breaking down more complex research methods.
There were no problems with syntax, grammar, spelling that I came across, except for a minor typo in chapter 9 in the table of contents.
I felt that the author was careful in his selection of case students to try to be inclusive and culturally sensitive. There was that one sentence that raised eyebrows about liberals versus democrats that I mentioned previously, but it wasn’t a major deal.
I found this book to be extremely useful and of high quality. I will to recommend it to a colleague who is teaching research methods next semester in a different department.
Dr. Bhattacherjee’s book, Social Science Research, is a good introductory textbook for upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students to read more
Dr. Bhattacherjee’s book, Social Science Research, is a good introductory textbook for upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students to learn about the research process. Whereas most research methods textbooks either focus on “research design” or on “data analysis”, this book covers the whole research process – from theories and conceptual frameworks to research design, data collection, and analysis. This book is structured as four modules and is very adaptable to instructors who want to teach any portions of the book. Social science is a quite diverse field, including studies of socio-economic data, human behaviors, values, perceptions, and many others. Not only are the topics wide-ranging, but the research methods and the underlying philosophy of science also vary. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to write a textbook that includes everything. Dr. Bhattacherjee’s book is a nice overview of all these different methods commonly used in the social sciences. It aims for breadth, but not depth. Once could use this book as an entry to the field, but would need to seek additional resources for specific methods or analytical skills.
Based on my review of the book, the content is accurate, error-free and unbiased. However, better consistency with terminology often used in other related fields (such as statistics) would lessen students’ confusion with concepts.
Research methods are not time-sensitive topics and are not expected to change much in the near future. The inclusion of some cases or examples showcasing how social science research methods can be applied to current events or topics would help illustrate the relevance of this book (and social science research).
The book is very clear and accessible. It’s written in a way that is easy to understand. Important terminologies are bolded and these are good signposts for key concepts. A glossary summarizing definitions for the key terminologies would help students understand these key concepts. The book includes some helpful figures illustrating concepts in research design and statistics.
Overall, the book is very consistent.
The author, Dr. Bhattacherjee, structured the book following the research process – from theories, to research design, data collection, and analysis. Each module can be a standalone unit and is very adaptable to instructors who want to teach with either the whole book or individual modules. Although each module is mostly self-contained, it is impossible not to refer to other chapters since research is an iterative process. However, I do not expect this to be a huge problem for someone who wants to teach only a section of the book. The fact that this book is structured as modules also makes it expandable. For those who want to teach only the philosophy of science or only the research design portion, they can add more details and in-depth discussion to these topics.
The book is well-organized and flows well with the research process. The chapters are clearly titled as well as the subheadings. Some numbering with the subheadings would help with navigation. In addition, a chapter summary/conclusion would also help with summarizing the main concepts of a chapter (some chapters do have a summary, but not all chapters). The flow of the first module (Introduction to Research) is sometimes confusing – the book jumps between big ideas (scientific reasoning, conceptual framework) and specific details (variables, units of analysis) several times in the first four chapters. I thought that reorganizing the chapters as Ch1, Ch4, Ch3, Ch2 would flow better (from big ideas to specific details). Since the book is organized by the research process, not by the type of research (qualitative vs. quantitative), Module 3 (Data Collection) and Module 4 (Data Analysis) cover both types of research. As a result, the flow/connection between each chapter are less clear. By reorganizing these two modules into “qualitative research methods and data analysis” and “quantitative research methods and data analysis”, not only would improve the flow of the book, but also better serve researchers who are interested in a particular type of research.
There are no major problems with the book’s interface. Each chapter is clearly titled. I would like to see the subheadings being numbered as well. If the PDF could have the Table of Contents on the sidebar, it would improve the navigation even more.
There are no grammatical errors noticed.
There are no culturally insensitive or offensive materials noticed. The few examples used in the book are very general and not controversial.
This book is a nice walk-through guide for researchers new to the field of social science research. One thing I would recommend adding is examples and cases. With more examples and cases, students would be able to put research methods into context and practice how they can apply the methods to their own research projects.
For its purpose, as introduced by the author, this is appropriately comprehensive. However, it is much more brief, more concise, than traditional read more
For its purpose, as introduced by the author, this is appropriately comprehensive. However, it is much more brief, more concise, than traditional research methods texts for undergraduates – which the text does not claim to be. It lays a sufficient foundation, with room and expectation for the professor to supplement with additional materials. Supplementing would be important if using this in an undergraduate classroom. I appreciate that the author emphasizes the process of research, and takes the time to address, in the first four chapters, the logic and process of research in a way that allows the text to be used in multiple disciplines. Indeed, this is one of the strengths of the book: that it can be used broadly within the social sciences. The text does not provide either an index or a glossary. This is more challenging when planning for its use in an undergraduate research methods class; however, I think that the strengths of this book outweigh the weaknesses.
I have not noticed any errors or bias. The only issue I’ve noticed, as indicated in other parts of the review, is depth. Doctoral students would bring in a sufficient foundation for reading this on their own; undergraduates will need scaffolding and additional resources to competently understand the complexity inherent in research.
The content does not read in a way that seems (either now or in the future) likely to read as dated or obsolete. The discussion of survey methodology and analysis programs will change with technology, but that should be easy to update. One of the book’s strengths is its focus on the foundation of research methods: the relationship between theory and observation, the understanding of science, and the logic that underlies the process of research.
The book is well-written and concise. Bearing in mind the author’s stated target audience of graduate and doctoral students, it is entirely reasonable that this would require additional work and instructor support (extra time and explanations for definitions and examples, for instance) when used in an undergraduate classroom.
The terminology is consistent throughout.
Faculty would be able to easily divide the text into smaller sections, which would be useful as those smaller reading sections could be combined with targeted supplementary materials.
The topics generally flow well as presented; the only exception is having the section on research ethics at the end. However, this chapter would be easy to assign earlier in the semester.
I did not have any problems with respect to interface issues.
I did not notice any grammatical errors that interfered with the reading process.
I did not notice any offensive comments or examples. The book is brief by design; it does not include the numerous examples that populate the traditional undergraduate research methods text. I did not find it offensive or insensitive.
I have not seen a more comprehensive text for this topic area, and yet it retains a concision that I would have appreciated as a PhD student when I read more
I have not seen a more comprehensive text for this topic area, and yet it retains a concision that I would have appreciated as a PhD student when I took courses in research methods. I think that the text may lend itself to several different types of courses. The early chapters can by used for more theoretical research courses, especially for new researchers and fundamentals of research courses. The later chapters can be used for "nuts and bolts" courses for addressing specific methodological issues. The appendices are an especially nice touch and added value for faculty to understand how the author uses this text and creates a syllabus to complement it.
There are very few typographical errors, and overall, the text is rigorously unbiased in its scientific method claims and explanations.
The overwhelming majority of the content in this text is classical understandings of research and methodologies that are essential to all graduate students, particularly in business and the social sciences. There is no indication that any of the content will suffer from claims that it is obsolete or irrelevant.
The clarity of the text is sound partly due to the concision of the book. Shorter chapters, easily navigable paragraphs, and other compositional devices make the text accessible to most levels of graduate students. The bolded words invite the reader to create a self-guided glossary, not any different than a textbook in an 8th grade student collection, which is helpful to counter the sometimes sophisticated nature of research theory.
No consistency issues noted.
The chapters have a nice flow to them, and can be "chunked" out for use in more beginner or more advanced courses. One preference of this reviewer would be to assign the ethics in research chapter earlier in the course calendar, and thus earlier in the textbook, so it is part of the foundational aspects of understanding social science inquiry. Meanwhile, the qualitative and two separate quantitative chapters play well together for students who will want to review them before exams or after the course is finished while they pursue a thesis/dissertation.
Again, I think the ethics chapter should be earlier, but that is simply a personal choice and can be altered by my syllabus. One issue that I wonder if graduate students might prefer is if they are not already 13 chapters into a text/course and only then are they getting to a basic concept such as measures of central tendency. Offering some of the nuts and bolts of research methods earlier in the text and tying them into the more theoretical concepts might help with clarity of flow for the typical graduate student.
No issues, nice charts and graphics throughout.
Very few noted.
This text is not insensitive in any way. As a matter of fact, pointing out historical issues in research ethics using some sensitive vignettes actually heightens the importance of research in everyday life.
I'm looking forward to adopting it for courses and using it for my own reflections on research!
This text covers a wide array of topics relevant to social science research, including some that are not traditionally included but are welcome read more
This text covers a wide array of topics relevant to social science research, including some that are not traditionally included but are welcome additions, such as a chapter dedicated to research ethics. A sample syllabus for a graduate course on research design is also offered at the end of the book, facilitating course development. The book is comprehensive in its treatment of the central components of research design and the different methodological strategies that researchers can leverage to investigate various research questions. Notably absent, however, is an index, glossary of terms, or questions for discussion, which are frequently included in textbooks devoted to research design.
The content is accurate and unbiased, which may be particularly important for texts on research design, as many fields within social science are intractably polarized between quantitative and qualitative approaches. The book goes a long way toward bridging that gap by treating the multitude of methodological orientations fairly and without obvious preference for one or another.
This book will stand the test of time due to its comprehensiveness and fair and balanced approach to research design. Both cutting-edge and classic approaches to research are discussed and the book may be easily updated as warranted by important developments in the social sciences.
The text is written clearly and accessibly, providing adequate context for most of the jargon and technical terminology that is covered. For this reason, it seems suitable for a variety of graduate-level courses, including research design survey courses and more advanced courses focusing on specific approaches.
The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
The book neatly compartmentalizes the topics, making it easily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course. The individual chapters stand on their own and do not require contextualization. Numerous sub-headings throughout each chapter flag the central themes.
The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion. The topics build productively throughout the textbook, beginning with the basic concepts of research design and culminating with different strategies to approach research.
The book's interface is seamless. Charts and images appear appropriately sized and undistorted and the text is free from navigation problems.
The text does not contain conspicuous grammatical errors.
The text and examples provided in it are not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. Examples are drawn from universal theories rather than research that is culturally-specific.
This text covers all the basic concepts expected in a book on social science research. However, it does so at a fairly superficial level. The author read more
This text covers all the basic concepts expected in a book on social science research. However, it does so at a fairly superficial level. The author says this was intentional in order to provide coverage of essential topics and not distract students. As such, the book seems to do a good job introducing all the essential concepts for graduate research, but supplemental materials are likely needed depending on instructor or student needs.
The book seems to free of errors and bias.
Social science research isn't likely to change greatly so this text should remain relevant for some time and can easily be updated to accommodate new techniques as they arise.
The book is generally well-written and accessible. The writing is clear and there are sufficient examples to help students grasp concepts.
The text appears consistent with others in the field.
The text may be best used as an overview of the research process in social sciences rather than a reference. However, various chapters could also be used alone or as supplement to other materials and excluding chapters not relevant to a particular course should not cause any issues. The author even mentions excluding certain chapters that are actually full courses where he teaches.
The organization and sequence seems very logical.
I accessed the PDF version and did not experience any issues with text or graphics.
I think a good proofread would help. There are a number of places where extraneous words were left in (perhaps when rewriting and changing the structure of a sentence) or where words are not quite right. For example: "...a researcher looking at the world through a “rational lens” will look for rational explanations of the problem such as inadequate technology or poor fit between technology and the task context where it is being utilized, while another research[er] looking at the same problem through a “social lens” may seek out social deficiencies..." Such errors are not really problematic but they are a bit distracting at times.
I did not find the book to be insensitive or offensive. Examples used are fairly benign. For example, when discussing the tendency of lay people to view a scientific theory as mere speculation the author uses an example of teacher practice instead of a more charged example such as evolution.
Overall, this is a good book to introduce graduate (and even undergraduate) students to social science research. It is not comprehensive enough to be the only text students encounter, but it would be sufficient for say master's level programs that focus more on capstone or practical "informed by research" projects. Students planning to conduct original research, analyze data and interpret results will likely find this insufficient.
This text certainly covers all the basic concepts and processes I would expect to find in an introduction to social sciences research. What I read more
This text certainly covers all the basic concepts and processes I would expect to find in an introduction to social sciences research. What I liked in particular is that the author includes information on the ENTIRE research process, including critical thinking and research ethics, in addition to the "nuts and bolts" of research such as operationalization, data collection, and data analysis. I also find it useful that the author includes sections on both qualitative and quantitative research, which is great for an introductory level course. In general, readers can expect to find information on theory- and hypothesis building, operationalization/measurements, sampling, research design, various data collection strategies (e.g. surveys, experiments, etc.), as well as data analysis. The primary reason I did not give this text 5 stars is that the author does not provide a great amount of detail for a lot of the book's sections. He explains in the preface that he purposefully chose to reduce the text to the basics in order to keep the text compact and clutter-free. In general, I tend to agree with this approach, as so many methodology textbooks seem to get lost in examples and case studies without clearly illustrating the research process as a whole. However, as I was reading through this book, I kept thinking that I would need to supplement multiple areas of this book with more information in order to make it truly accessible to my students. To be fair, I think that A) anyone who has taught methods before would be able to use the "bones" of this book to prepare students sufficiently well for class and then easily fill in the blanks, and B) it appears that this text was written primarily with graduate students in mind, whereas I most teach undergraduates. In all, I still think that this is a great free alternative to many textbooks out there, but if your teaching style depends on your text including a lot of explanation and examples (or even applications), then this is likely not the text for you. Finally, this book does NOT include an index or a glossary. Personally, I did not find this to be a problem, as the outline/table of contents is very useful, but perhaps students using the text could benefit from an index that would allow them to quickly look up what they need to know.
I did not detect any errors or any purposeful bias in this textbook! Some readers might find that the author's choice of terminology does not necessarily match what I would consider standard practices in the broader social sciences (e.g. the use of the term "mediating variables" instead of "intervening variables"), but it is always clear what the book is referring to and it shouldn't be too difficult to bridge this "terminology gap." Occasionally, I was a bit puzzled by a definition or an explanation. For instance, the author states that "control variables" are not pertinent to explaining the dependent variable, but need to be taken into consideration because they may have "some impact" on it. I'm assuming the author means that they are not pertinent to the hypothesis being tested (as opposed to them not being pertinent to the explanation of the dependent variable). This type of ambiguity does not occur very often in the textbook and it does not necessarily represent an error. It merely seems to be an issue of miscommunication. Overall, I very much liked this text for its accuracy.
Luckily, research methods do not change drastically in a short period of time, so I expect the longevity of this book to be very high. In my experience, the biggest factor that can make a research text outdated is the use of up-to-date examples and case studies. This text includes very few of either, so I think this text could be used for many years to come.
The book is very clear and accessible, probably largely due to its minimalist approach. Aside from the above-mentioned deviations from broader social sciences terminology on a few occasions, I did not encounter any problems with the jargon/technical terminology used. The only minor problem I noted (which made me I've a ranking of 4 as opposed to 5) was a certain amount of repetitiveness in the earlier chapters, specifically with regard to positivism/post-positivism and the discussion of theory/hypothesis creation and testing.
The book is very consistent. It has a clear outline that matches the natural research process and the author very consistently adhere to this outline. Chapters naturally flow from one another and are logical.
This book is very well organized and easily accessible due to its division into logical chapters and sub-sections. In addition, the author highlights important concepts in bold, making it even easier to follow along. I would have no problem assigning smaller reading sections throughout the quarter/semester.
As mentioned above, the text is very well organized and flows naturally/logically. It follows the research process from critical thinking, conceptualization, to operationalization/measurements, research design, data collection, and data analysis. Research ethics are discussed in an appendix/addendum.
There are no major problems with the book's interface. Occasionally, graphs and tables are not as crisp and visually appealing as they might be in an expensive textbook, but personally, the ability to assign an open source text to my students far outweighs any concerns I might have about the visual attractiveness of a book. This text is easy to read and quite user-friendly.
I detected no grammatical errors.
The text includes very few examples and it is hard to imagine how research methods in general could be offensive to anyone (unless it is the practice of science itself that offends them), but for completeness' sake, allow me to state that I found no instances of insensitivity or offense in this textbook.
This text covers all the basics of the research process. It does not contain a lot of the "bells and whistles" that the expensive traditional textbooks have (e.g. lots of examples, fancy graphs, text boxes with case studies and applications, etc.), but it certainly gets the job done. Personally, I appreciate the compact nature of this text and I would much rather fill in a few gaps on my end, if it means that I can assign my students an open textbook.
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Dr. Bhattacherjee's "Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices," is a comprehensive, but a bare-boned (and generic) introduction to social science research. In this case "generic" is actually a positive attribute: because the text covers social science research broadly, rather than sociology, psychology, etc. specifically, this text can easily be adapted to the needs of basic research methods courses in allied disciplines. (I teach an introductory quantitative research course for master's and Ph.D. students in a School of Journalism & Mass Communication). I describe the text as comprehensive, because if my students got a basic grasp of all of the concepts in the book, they'd be well positioned to continue on to more advanced research courses (though the text is less valuable as a reference than more comprehensive introductory texts). But while Dr. Bhattacherjee's introduction says that the book is bare-boned by design -- "I decided to focus only on essential concepts, and not fill pages with clutter that can divert the students' attention to less relevant or tangential issues" -- some topics deserve more attention. For example, Institutional Review Boards (IRB) receive only two short paragraphs, and there is no mention of the history of why such boards were deemed necessary and play an important role in the research process. I'd consider such knowledge essential for students, and this is the type of information I would like a text to focus on so that I can spend class time reviewing more complicated concepts students might have trouble grasping on their own. (Generally I found the writing to be approachable, and concepts to be well explained, though extensive examples are also part of the "clutter" omitted from this book). Another topic I would have liked to see developed further - and perhaps is especially important to the more digitally-savvy crowd interested in the open textbook movement - is the expanding role of the Internet and digital technologies in the research process itself, particularly in the era of "big data." The text, for example, mentions Internet surveys, but there is no conversation about tools one can use to build an Internet survey; how Internet surveys differ from traditional modes of surveying; or the practice of weighting Internet survey results to make them "representative" of the larger population. That said, I am balancing using this text versus a more comprehensive, but much more expensive, commercially produced text. Another thing that this book is missing are instructional resources that commercial publishers provide, but ultimately by using this text I can contribute to creating greater value for my students. However, it would have to be supplemented heavily with other materials, as well as lectures, which is not without a trade-off cost. It's certainly doable, but ultimately means a greater investment of my time, and I have to weigh investing my time in creating hands-on learning opportunities and providing students with thorough feedback on their work with the time I'd have to invest in using a text that is complete, but needs to be much more heavily supplemented with additional materials. Ideally, several faculty with similar teaching needs would team up to combine and adapt several open texts to their courses' needs. Adapting and supplementing this text for my purposes by myself, however, remains a steep, if not insurmountable task for a tenure-track professor. This text, however, is thorough enough to maintain my interested in trying to find a way to make it work.
This text introduces social science doctoral students to the research process. It can be used in sociology, political science, education public read more
This text introduces social science doctoral students to the research process. It can be used in sociology, political science, education public health, and related disciplines. The book does an excellent job covering topics that are too often neglected in research methods classes. Standard texts devote most of their attention to different modes of data collection (e.g, lab experiments, field experiments, quasi-experiments, survey research, aggregate data collection, interpretive and case study methods, etc.). This book covers these materials but also devotes a lot of time to steps in the research process that precede data collection. These steps include formulating a research question, concept definition, theory elaboration, measurement (including reliability and validity) and sampling. There is also cursory coverage of descriptive statistics and inferential statistics (a chapter on each) as well as chapter on research ethics. In terms of coverage, then, the text can be described as comprehensive in terms of topics. In terms of depth of coverage of the topics, the text takes a minimalist approach. That is, the fundamentals of each topic are covered, but there is little discussion beyond the basics. Teachers looking for the perfect text that nails all the key points should look elsewhere or make heavy use of supplements. For instance, in the discussion on concepts, constructs, and variables, the text does not distinguish between latent variables, which are unobservable, and manifest variables, which are observable, as is common in the structural equation modeling tradition used in sociology and psychology. This is a minor omission and there are others one might quibble with. The bottom line is that most key topics in the research process are covered, but the coverage is not terribly deep.
From what I can tell, the book is accurate in terms of what it covers. There are some things that should probably be included in subsequent revisions.
The social science research process is unlikely to change in any signfiicant way for some time; therefore, I suspect the book will be relevant for years to come. The key will be ensuring that the latest research trends/improvements/refinements are added to the book. For instance, internet sampling techniques have come a long way over the past decade and there are now pollng firms that can admister online surveys to representative samples of the broader U.S. population. So long as the author keeps on these develops, this will serve as a useful introductory text for the foreseable future.
This text is extremely and unusually well-written and clear. This is one of the text's greatest selling points. No complaints on this score.
The book is very consistent from what I can see.
This book can work in a number of ways. A teacher can sample the germane chapters and incorporate them without difficulty in any research methods class.
The organization is fine. The book presents all the topics in an appropriate sequence.
The interface is fine. I didn't experience any problems.
I didn't see any errors, it looks fine.
The book is not culturally offensive.
Teachers looking for a text that they can use to introduce students to the research process and cover the foundational components of the research process should find this manuscript sufficient for their needs. Simple additions on slides or class room commentary can easily take care of the various omissions that pepper the text. Indeed, one could use this text in conjunction with discipline specific supplements quite effectively. For instance, in chapter 3 on the research process, the author devotes 5 paragraphs to common mistakes in the research process, such as pursuing trivial research questions or blind data mining. I can see how psychologists, sociologists and political scientists could provide discipline-specific examples to tailor this to their students particular needs. More generally, I suspect that the text could be used in conjunction with germane discipline specific materials quite effectively in research methodology classes. The book is not perfect. I wish there was more discussion on field experiments in the experiment chapter. Other than a brief mention that these are relatively rare, there was nothing. These are indeed relatively rare but that seems to be changing in some fields (e.g. economic, political science), and I think more discussion of this technique is warranted. The chapter on case study methods would benefit from discussion on the historical and comparative methods that are used in various social science disciplines, as well as some discussion on case selection methods. The statistical coverage is very thin and should not serve as the primary source material in any class that covers statistics. For instance, the discussion on the empirical assessment of reliability (for items or scales) does not discuss in depth the assumptions that underlie the various methods nor the modifications that need to be made across different levels of measurement. To take another example, the author presents the formulae for the variance and standard deviation on p. 122 with the customary n-1 in the denominator. Students often ask me why we divide the mean squared deviation by n-1 instead of n, which is what we do for the mean. Professors will need to make sure that their slides include discussion of the degrees of freedom idea and perhaps some discussion on unbiasedness as well. In the inferential statistics chapter there's no discussion on desirable properties of estimators (unbiasedness and efficiency). This is an unfortunate oversight. These could be added very easily using simple graphs. One thing that's lacking is a chapter on statistical graphics. The book makes great use of graphics and other visual aids throughout the chapters, but I wish there as a standalone chapter that introduces simple plots for univariate and bivariate data. This can be supplemented easily enough, but the omission seems odd. Again, this book can serve as an compact introduction in a graduate research methodology class for students across the social sciences, but it would work best in conjunction with deeper and more discipline specific materials prepared by the professor.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Research
- Chapter 1: Science and Scientific Research
- Chapter 2: Thinking Like a Researcher
- Chapter 3: The Research Process
- Chapter 4: Theories in Scientific Research
Basics of Empirical Research
- Chapter 5: Research Design
- Chapter 6: Measurement of Constructs
- Chapter 7: Scale Reliability and Validity
- Chapter 8: Sampling
- Chapter 9: Survery Research
- Chapter 10: Experimental Research
- Chapter 11: Case Research
- Chapter 12: Interpretive Research
- Chapter 16: Research Ethics
About the Book
This book is designed to introduce doctoral and graduate students to the process of scientific research in the social sciences, business, education, public health, and related disciplines. This book is based on my lecture materials developed over a decade of teaching the doctoral-level class on Research Methods at the University of South Florida. The target audience for this book includes Ph.D. and graduate students, junior researchers, and professors teaching courses on research methods, although senior researchers can also use this book as a handy and compact reference.
The first and most important question potential readers should have about this book is how is it different from other text books on the market? Well, there are four key differences. First, unlike other text books, this book is not just about “research methods” (empirical data collection and analysis) but about the entire “research process” from start to end. Research method is only one phase in that research process, and possibly the easiest and most structured one. Most text books cover research methods in depth, but leave out the more challenging, less structured, and probably more important issues such as theorizing and thinking like a researcher, which are often prerequisites of empirical research. In my experience, most doctoral students become fairly competent at research methods during their Ph.D. years, but struggle to generate interesting or useful research questions or build scientific theories. To address this deficit, I have devoted entire chapters to topics such as “Thinking Like a Researcher” and “Theories in Scientific Research”, which are essential skills for a junior researcher.
Second, the book is succinct and compact by design. While writing the book, I decided to focus only on essential concepts, and not fill pages with clutter that can divert the students’ attention to less relevant or tangential issues. Most doctoral seminars include a fair complement of readings drawn from the respective discipline. This book is designed to complement those readings by summarizing all important concepts in one compact volume, rather than burden students with a voluminous text on top of their assigned readings.
Third, this book is free in its download version. Not just the current edition but all future editions in perpetuity. The book will also be available in Kindle e-Book, Apple iBook, and on-demand paperback versions at a nominal cost. Many people have asked why I’m giving away something for free when I can make money selling it? Well, not just to stop my students from constantly complaining about the high price of text books, but also because I believe that scientific knowledge should not be constrained by access barriers such as price and availability. Scientific progress can occur only if students and academics around the world have affordable access to the best that science can offer, and this free book is my humble effort to that cause. However, free should not imply “lower quality.” Some of the best things in life such as air, water, and sunlight are free. Many of Google’s resources are free too, and one can well imagine where we would be in today’s Internet age without Google. Some of the most sophisticated software programs available today, like Linux and Apache, are also free, and so is this book.
Fourth, I plan to make local-language versions of this book available in due course of time, and those translated versions will also be free. So far, I have had commitments to translate thus book into Chinese, French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish versions (which will hopefully be available in 2012), and I’m looking for qualified researchers or professors to translate it into Arabic, German, and other languages where there is sufficient demand for a research text. If you are a prospective translator, please note that there will be no financial gains or royalty for your translation services, because the book must remain free, but I’ll gladly include you as a coauthor on the local-language version.
The book is structured into 16 chapters for a 16-week semester. However, professors or instructors can add, drop, stretch, or condense topics to customize the book to the specific needs of their curriculum. For instance, I don’t cover Chapters 14 and 15 in my own class, because we have dedicated classes on statistics to cover those materials and more. Instead, I spend two weeks on theories (Chapter 3), one week to discussing and conducting reviews for academic journals (not in the book), and one week for a finals exam. Nevertheless, I felt it necessary to include Chapters 14 and 15 for academic programs that may not have a dedicated class on statistical analysis for research. A sample syllabus that I use for my own class in the business Ph.D. program is provided in the appendix.
Lastly, I plan to continually update this book based on emerging trends in scientific research. If there are any new or interesting content that you wish to see in future editions, please drop me a note, and I will try my best to accommodate them. Comments, criticisms, or corrections to any of the existing content will also be gratefully appreciated.
About the Contributors
Anol Bhattacherjee is a professor of information systems and the Citigroup/Hidden River Fellow at the University of South Florida. He is currently one of the top ten researchers in the world in the information systems discipline (ranked 7th for the 2000-2009 decade), based on research published in leading journals such as MIS Quarterly (five papers), Information Systems Research, and Journal of MIS (four papers). In a research career spanning 15 years, Bhattacherjee has published 46 refereed journal papers and two books that have received about 3000 citations on Google Scholar. His 2001 MIS Quarterly paper is credited with starting a new stream of research on technology continuance. He served on the editorial board of MIS Quarterly for four years and was invited to present his work at venues worldwide.
Bhattacherjee holds Ph.D. and MBA degrees from the University of Houston, and M.S. and B.S. degrees from Indian Institute of Technology, and had prior faculty appointments at Arizona State University and the University of Colorado at Denver.