Introduction to General Research Methods

Bibliography of Research Methods TextsACRL IS Research and Scholarship Committee

Babbie, Earl R. 2007. The Basics of Social Research. 7th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning. 530p. ISBN: 1305503074.

This is a recent update to the textbook many librarians used in graduate school. The latest edition contains commentary on contemporary issues and new learning objectives for each chapter, in addition to clearly-written and engaging essays on understanding and performing qualitative and quantitative research.

– Caroline Barratt, 2009, revised by Dawn Amsberry, 2017

Foundations for Research

deMarrais, Kathleen B., and Stephen D. Lapan. 2004. Foundations for Research: Methods of Inquiry in Education and the Social Sciences. Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates. 432p. ISBN: 0805836500.

Foundations for Research is a unique work in the area of research literature. The authors provide an array of important social science research possibilities, and practical suggestions for conducting research. What makes the text truly unique is the author’s discussion of the philosophical debates that are inherent to research in the social sciences, and their emphasis on implementing high-quality and trustworthy designs.

In this text, deMarrais and Lapan distinguish between research methods and methodologies and deliberate at length the relationship between research theory and design. Specific research methods and pedagogical strategies are also provided. Librarians in search of a text that combines practical suggestions with ethical direction can find both in this book.

– Christopher Hollister, 2006

Denscombe, Martyn. 2007. The Good Research Guide for Small-scale Social Research Projects. 3rd ed. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press. 360p. ISBN: 0335220223.

This accessible guide covers both philosophical and practical issues regarding social research. The book is designed to help the researcher with limited time choose strategies, collect data, and analyze data.

The book is organized in three parts. Part I, Strategies for Social Research, covers surveys, case studies, internet research, experiments, action research, ethnography, phenomenology, and grounded theory. Part II, Methods of Social Research, covers questionnaires, interviews, observation, and documents. Part III, Analysis, discusses quantitative and qualitative data, and writing up the research. An FAQ section provides a key definitions, and there is an index and extensive list of references.

Throughout, Denscombe emphasizes that there is no single correct research technique and that the researcher needs to know the issues involved to make educated decisions. This book aims to help that process.

An update to this best-selling book includes information on mixed methods and research using the internet, enhancing a useful guide for the first-time researcher.

– Nancy H. Dewald, 2006, and Caroline Barratt, 2009;  revised by Robert Miller, 2013

Dooley, David. 2001. Social Research Methods. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 385p. ISBN: 0139554289.

Dooley’s book is an introductory text for students in the social sciences. His emphasis is on quantitative methods. Only one chapter, “Qualitative Research: Participant Observation,” discusses qualitative methods. Each of the fifteen chapters in the book ends with a summary, related web sites (though some links are dead, there are still useful suggestions), exercises, and key words.

The fourth edition added information on use of the World Wide Web in Appendix A. Obviously, much has happened on the Web since the book was published in 2001, and most librarians would not read this book to access this section. Appendix B, entitled “Statistics Review,” might be more helpful and could serve as a quick review of statistical terms and examples. The book concludes with a glossary, reference list, and name and subject indexes.

– Christen Cardina, 2005; revised by Robert Miller, 2013

Drew, Clifford J., Michael L. Hardman, and Ann Weaver Hart. 1996. Designing and Conducting Research: Inquiry in Education and Social Science. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. 470p. ISBN: 0205166997.

For those of us who may lack a “conceptual framework” in research methods, the authors provide an excellent primer. The text has 16 chapters, references, a glossary and both a subject and an author index. The authors begin logically with an introduction to the research process (I only wish a review of the literature had been prominently featured). The authors also cover ethics and professionalism, and the nitty-gritty of design and statistics. This book would be helpful as a textbook if you were teaching students (undergraduate or graduates) about research or for one’s own use at the outset of a research project.

This is not an advanced statistics book that includes all the tables necessary for analysis and that’s just as well: it’s not overwhelming. Designing and conducting research is a great tool for the beginning researcher.

– Alison Armstrong, 2006; revised by Robert Miller, 2013

Glicken, Morley D. 2002. Social Research: A Simple Guide. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. 282p. ISBN: 0205334288.

As a professor of graduate research in social work, the author found that his students had difficulty understanding the research methods texts he assigned. Glicken therefore wrote this guide to be comprehensible to everyone interested in research.

Social Research concisely describes each phase of the research process using real-world examples and humorous vignettes to aid in understanding complex concepts. Starting with a discussion of why research is done in the social sciences, the author then explains how to choose a research problem and walks the reader through the proposal process. Later chapters describe and explain research instruments, qualitative research design and quantitative research design, the literature search, statistical analysis, ethics in research, and writing the report. Written and tested as a textbook, each chapter is followed by review questions and a list of references.

– Polly D. Boruff-Jones, 2006; revised by Robert Miller, 2013

Gray, David E. 2004. Doing Research in the Real World. London, UK: Sage Publications. 422p. ISBN 0761948783.

Doing Research in the Real World is a well-written introduction to research methods, whether for people doing research in the workplace, students writing theses and dissertations, or people writing journal articles.

The first three chapters should be read by everyone, and later chapters on specific methods can be read as needed. Chapter one covers the deductive and inductive process. Chapter two summarizes the philosophical underpinnings of the various research methodologies. Chapter three discusses selecting and planning a research project, including helpful tips on types of topics to avoid and writing a research proposal. Succeeding sections of the book cover research methods, data collection tools, analysis, report writing, and action research. Ethical issues are mentioned throughout the text.

Throughout the book brief case studies and activities are set apart in boxes. The case studies bring theories and definitions to life, while the activities help the reader reflect on his or her own research.

– Nancy H. Dewald, 2006; revised by Robert Miller, 2013

Research Methods

Hammond, Michael, and J. J. Wellington. 2013. Research Methods: The Key ConceptsLondon, England: Routledge. 179p. ISBN: 9780415599832.

Hammond and Wellington aim their book at undergraduate and graduate students undertaking social research for the first time; alternatively, librarians and other professionals will find the book useful. The book comprises an extensive series of key concepts arranged in alphabetical order, among them: action research, grounded theory, surveys, and writing for audiences. Each key concept is defined and contextualized to show what part it can play in a research project. Citations provide the reader examples of classic and contemporary research studies exemplifying each key concept. Hammond and Wellington are careful to inform the beginning researcher regarding limitations of certain research approaches. The convenient dictionary-style format makes it easy for the reader to access information at point-of-need as well as explore unfamiliar concepts.

– Robert Miller, 2013

Kerlinger, Frank Nichols, and Howard B. Lee. 1999. Foundations of Behavioral Research. 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. xxv, 890p. ISBN: 0155078976.

This text examines the fundamentals of solving a scientific research problem, focusing on the relationship between the problem and the research design. This edition includes information about computer statistical software, multivariate statistics, research ethics, and writing research reports in APA style. This book is ideal for graduate students in that it covers statistics, research methodology, and measurement all in one volume. This is a book that graduate students will keep as a reference throughout their careers.

There are very few books written that cover as many important topics in behavioral research methods as this one. This is a must have book for anyone planning to do statistical analysis, not only in psychology but in the social sciences as well. Earlier editions were outstanding and the fourth edition is exceptional. The new material in the 4th Edition is helpful to today’s researcher. The examples are extremely useful in facilitating the understanding of research methods and the analysis of data.

– Mark Spasser, 2005; revised by Robert Miller, 2013

Loseke, Donileen R. 2013. Methodological Thinking: Basic Principles of Social Research DesignThousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. 194p. ISBN: 9781412997201.

As Loseke states, this book differs from many standard textbooks in that it emphasizes the principles and logic of social research design over technical details. Loseke presents a holistic approach to research design in which students learn the affordances of various methods and the critical thinking skills necessary to choose an appropriate method for a particular research project. The intended audience for the book comprises undergraduate and graduate students, and another of Loseke’s aims is to give students the ability to not only design and produce research, but to critically examine and evaluate published research. The book covers topics such as formulating a research question, conducting a literature review, generating data, and writing and evaluating research reports.

– Robert Miller, 2013

Miller, Delbert C., and Neil J. Salkind. 2002. Handbook of Research Design and Social Measurement. 6th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. xxii, 786p. ISBN: 0761920463.

The 6th edition of this handbook addresses all areas of social science research and would make an excellent text for any overview course in this area. Comprehensive in scope, it addresses most of the aspects of understanding behavioral or organizational research, applied and evaluation research, and qualitative research. It also deals with issues such as study design, data collection, research resources, and analysis. Particularly useful are the sections regarding such fundamental issues as research proposals and ethics.

Each section includes many examples and an extensive list of resources. This volume may not be practical for the casual reader or practitioner in a hurry; it is so broad in scope that it would be most useful for someone with a serious academic interest in social sciences research.

– Anna Pilston, 2006; revised by Samantha Godbey, 2017

Neuman, W. Lawrence. 2006. Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. 592p. ISBN: 0205457932.

Neuman presents an updated edition of his popular textbook, Social Research Methods. This book is really meant for use in an undergraduate or beginning graduate class. It introduces readers to social research generally, including discussions of theory and basic methodologies. The remainder of the book has basic information on developing research questions, a literature review, and quantitative and qualitative research designs and methods. The book provides definitions and some excellent examples throughout, especially of good research questions and an example of effective literature reviews.

The book would be useful to librarians who want a very general introduction to the broad sweep of social science research. Consulting the chapters on literature reviews and measurement, for example, might be useful at the beginning of a research project. The book does read like a textbook, however, and is less effective in its entirety. For more detailed and practical treatments of various qualitative and quantitative research methods, books focused on those areas alone are likely more useful.

– Wendy Holliday, 2006

Conducting research : social and behavioral science methods

Orcher, Lawrence T. 2014. Conducting Research: Social and Behavioral Science Methods. New York, NY: Routledge. 312p. ISBN: 1936523191.

Frequently used as an introductory text for courses on conducting research, this book’s concise nature and practical examples are assets for an LIS audience. The text provides step-by-step advice on selecting a topic for empirical research, conducting a literature review, identifying participants, and analyzing data. The sample literature reviews will be particularly useful to beginning researchers.

– Dawn Amsberry, 2017

Outhwaite, William, and Stephen P. Turner. 2007. The SAGE Handbook of Social Science Methodology. Los Angeles (Calif.); London: SAGE. 640p. ISBN: 1412901197.

A thorough guide to the history, issues, and debates regarding social research and its methodologies, written by experts in the field. Though not a how-to handbook, this collection of essays may be useful to the researcher who seeks to understand the philosophies behind certain modes of inquiry.

– Caroline Barratt, 2009

Patten, Mildred L. 2004. Understanding Research Methods: An Overview of the Essentials. 4th ed. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing. 170p. ISBN 1884585523.

(This review is of the 4th edition) The strongest feature of Understanding Research Methods is its explanation of research methods. Each topic  is explained in two pages, and each topic ends in a three part exercise. The topics are organized under seven categories: introduction to research methods, reviewing literature, sampling, measurement, experimental design, understanding statistics, and effect size and meta-analysis.

There are seven Appendices. The best amplify the regular text on the topics of standard deviation, effect size, and determining reliability. A “table of random numbers,” a “table of recommended sample sizes for populations with finite sizes,” and an index complete the book. There are no references to other sources. This book would be helpful to any researcher trying to determine what type of method(s) to use, as well as how to ensure the quality of one’s research.

– Nancy H. Dewald, 2006; revised by Robert Miller, 2013

Research methods for community change : a project-based approach

Stoecker, Randy. 2013. Research Methods for Community Change: A Project-Based Approach. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. 304p. ISBN: 1412994055.

This review of research methods provides a unique perspective that focuses on using a project-based research model to implement and evaluate community change. The author uses authentic examples to demonstrate how to involve community members throughout the research process. Librarians looking to conduct community needs assessments and develop stronger ties with their communities will benefit from this book.

– Dawn Amsberry, 2017

Yates, Simeon J. 2004. Doing Social Science Research. London, UK: Sage Publications: Open University. 293p. ISBN 0761967974.

Yates begins by explaining that this book was developed with the book Social Science in Question by Mark J. Smith.  However, it is not necessary to read both books to benefit from Yates’ text. Following an introduction, Part II discusses quantitative research methods, including survey research, experimental research, and the numerical data analysis used for both of these methods.

Part III, qualitative research methods, discusses interviewing (in-depth interviews, focus group interviews, and ethnographic fieldwork), analyzing qualitative data, and discourse analysis. The book ends with a brief chapter on selecting and evaluating methods of research, plus references and an index. Yates has included extended readings from other sources. Yates also uses Self Assessment Questions (SAQs) throughout the text to help the reader absorb the material. Although there are no library or information science examples, this is a helpful textbook for researchers who are relatively new to social science methodology.

– Nancy H. Dewald, 2006; revised by Robert Miller, 2013

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