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Research Basics

Research Basics
Design to Data Analysis in Six Steps

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October 2016 | 424 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Research Basics: Design to Data Analysis in Six Steps offers a fresh and creative approach to the research process based on author James V. Spickard’s decades of teaching experience. Using an intuitive six-step model, readers learn how to craft a research question and then identify a logical process for answering it. Conversational writing and multi-disciplinary examples illuminate the model’s simplicity and power, effectively connecting the “hows” and “whys” behind social science research. Students using this book will learn how to turn their research questions into results.

For Instructors: Why This Book?
What Lies Ahead  
About the Author
Why a Six-Step Formula?  
Looking Ahead  
Chapter 1 Step 1: Develop a Good Research Question
Start With a Research Topic  
From Topic to Question  
An Example: Mass Transit  
Making Decisions  
Search the Literature  
Recraft Your Research Question  
Questions Based on the Literature  
Three More Possibilities  
Start Your Research Proposal  
The Parts of a Proposal  
A Proposal in Brief: The Concept Paper  
Review Questions  
Chapter 2 Step 2: Choose a Logical Structure for Your Research
Three Examples  
1. Comparing Outcomes  
2. Systematic Description  
3. Seeking Correlations  
Ten Logical Structures for Research  
1. True Experiments  
2. Quasi-Experiments  
3. Ex Post Facto Research  
4. Correlational Research  
5. Descriptive Research  
6. Case Studies  
7. Historical Research  
8. Longitudinal Research  
9. Meta-Analysis  
10. Action Research  
Matching Logical Structure to the Research Question  
Review Questions  
Chapter 3 Step 3: Identify the Type of Data You Need
Fourteen Types of Data  
1. Acts, Behavior, or Events  
2. Reports of Acts, Behavior, or Events  
3. Economic Data  
4. Organizational Data  
5. Demographic Data  
6. Self-Identity  
7. Shallow Opinions and Attitudes  
8. Deeply Held Opinions and Attitudes  
9. Personal Feelings  
10. Cultural Knowledge  
11. Expert Knowledge  
12. Personal and Psychological Traits  
13. Experience as It Presents Itself to Consciousness  
14. Hidden Social Patterns  
Review Questions  
Chapter 4 Step 4: Pick a Data Collection Method
Match Your Method to Your Data  
Data Type 1: Acts, Behavior, or Events  
Data Type 2: Reports of Acts, Behavior, or Events  
Data Types 3, 4, and 5: Economic, Organizational, and Demographic Data  
Data Type 6: Self-Identity  
Data Types 7 and 8: Shallow and Deeply Held Opinions and Attitudes  
Data Type 9: Personal Feelings  
Three Examples (that include data types 10-12)  
Example 1: Mass Transit and Property Values  
Example 2: Mass Transit and Street Life  
Example 3: Best Places to Work  
Data Type 13: Experience as It Presents Itself to Consciousness  
Hidden Social Patterns  
Research Ethics  
Unethical Research  
Implementing Ethical Practices  
Institutional Review Boards  
Review Questions  
Chapter 5 Step 5: Choose Your Data Collection Site
Demographic and Economic Data  
Opinions, Identities, and Reports of Acts at a Shallow Level  
Populations and Samples  
Sample Size, Margin of Error, and Confidence Level  
Observable Behavior  
Deeply Held Opinions and Attitudes  
Cultural and Expert Knowledge  
Hidden Social Patterns  
The Remaining Data Types  
Review Questions  
Chapter 6 Step 6: Pick a Data Analysis Method
Preliminary Questions  
What Kind of Analysis Does Your Research Question Require?  
What Form Does Your Data Take?  
What Is Your Unit of Observation? What Is Your Unit of Analysis?  
Working With Numeric Data: Describing  
Working With Numeric Data: Comparing  
Interval/Ratio Data  
Ordinal and Categorical Data  
Identifying Cause  
What Statistical Test Should I Use?  
Three Fallacies  
Working With Qualitative Data  
Respondent-Centered Versus Researcher-Centered Analysis  
Internal Versus External Coding  
Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA) Software  
Review Questions  
Summarizing the Six Steps  
Chapter 7 Comparing: Economic, Demographic, and Organizational Data
About Comparing  
Comparing San Antonio and Portland  
Comparing the 50 U.S. States  
About Correlations  
Three Examples  
Comparing Places: Do Walkable Neighborhoods Improve Health?  
Comparing Organizations: Does Treating Employees Well Increase Company Performance?  
Comparing Schools: Do Charter Schools Improve Student Test Scores?  
Research Ethics  
Review Questions  
Chapter 8 Surveying: Shallow Opinions, Identities, and Reports of Acts
Three Reminders  
Two Examples  
Studying School Safety  
Kids’ Attitudes Toward Reading  
Survey Data Analysis  
Analyzing Interval/Ratio Survey Results  
Analyzing Ordinal and Categorical Data  
Practical Matters  
Creating Your Questionnaire  
Sampling (Again)  
Surveying Online  
Research Ethics  
Review Questions  
Chapter 9 Interviewing: Deep Talk to Gather Several Types of Data
Hermeneutic Interviews  
An Example: “Motherloss”  
How to Write an Interview Protocol  
Coding Your Data  
Interviews With Experts  
Critical Incident Interviews  
Focus Groups  
Phenomenological Interviews  
An Example  
How Is It Done?  
Other Types of Data  
How Many Subjects?  
Research Ethics  
Review Questions  
Chapter 10 Scales: Looking for Underlying Traits
Scales of Psychological Well-Being  
Creating Scales  
Using the Scales  
Analyzing Scale Research  
T-Tests and Analysis of Variance  
Control Variables  
Research Ethics  
Review Questions  
Chapter 11 Recording Behavior: Acts and Reports of Acts
Watching People  
Watching Gender Speech  
Collecting Self-Reports  
A Variation: The Beeper Studies  
Watching Animals  
Watching Chimps  
Ravens and Elephant-Shrews  
What If They Hide?  
Experiments About Stereotype Threat  
Experiments About Discrimination  
Rules for Experiments  
Research Ethics  
Review Questions  
Chapter 12 Finding Hidden Social Patterns: In Life, Texts, and Popular Culture
About Hidden Patterns  
Analyzing Texts  
Dreams as Texts  
Other Texts  
Analyzing Discourses  
Critical Discourse Analysis  
Two Examples  
Analyzing Popular Culture: The Soaps  
Research Ethics  
Review Questions  
Chapter 13 Ethnography: Exploring Cultural and Social Scenes
The Three Goals  
Goal One: Seeing the World as the Participants See It  
Goal Two: Watching What Participants Do  
On Taking Field Notes  
Goal Three: Understanding Hidden Patterns  
What Doesn’t Matter  
Steps to a Successful Ethnography  
Gaining Access  
Developing Rapport  
Listening to Language  
Being an Observed Observer  
What About Objectivity?  
Writing Your Results  
A Word About Grounded Theory  
Research Ethics  
Review Questions  
Chapter 14 Extended Example: Counting the Homeless
What Caused the Homeless Crisis?  
Who Is Homeless?  
How Can We Find and Count Street Homeless?  
Peter Rossi’s Chicago Count  
Martha Burt’s Weeklong Method  
Counting San Bernardino  
Conflicting Results  
Correcting National Figures  
Research Ethics  
Summary of the Six Steps  
Research Guides and Handouts
Six-Steps Graphic: From Research Question to Data Analysis  
What Is a Concept Paper?  
How to Choose a Data Collection Method  
A Template for Field Notes  
How to Write an Interview Protocol  
How Many Subjects? (for interview studies)  
Interview Rule-of-Thumb Flowchart for Nonrandom Samples  
What Statistical Tests Should I Use?  
Author Index
Subject Index


Instructor Resource Site
Calling all instructors!
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Instructor Resources include the following:
    • Microsoft® Word test bank is available containing multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
    • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course. Highlight essential content and features.
    • Discussion questions help launch classroom interaction by prompting students to engage with the material and by reinforcing important content.
    • Lively and stimulating class activities that can be used in class to reinforce active learning. The activities apply to individual or group projects.
    • EXCLUSIVE! Access to certain full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected for each chapter. Each article supports and expands on the concepts presented in the chapter. This feature also provides questions to focus and guide student interpretation. Combine cutting-edge academic journal scholarship with the topics in your course for a robust classroom experience.
    • Video and web resources include links to multimedia that appeal to students with different learning styles.

Student Resource Site
Use the Student Study Site to get the most out of your course!
Our Student Study Site is completely open-access and offers a wide range of additional features.

The open-access
 Student Study Site includes the following:
    • Mobile-friendly web quizzes allow for independent assessment of progress made in learning course material.
    • EXCLUSIVE! Access to certain full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected for each chapter. Each article supports and expands on the concepts presented in the chapter. This feature also provides questions to focus and guide student interpretation. Combine cutting-edge academic journal scholarship with the topics in your course for a robust classroom experience.
    • Video and web resources include links to multimedia that appeal to students with different learning styles.

"An extremely well organized text covering basics of research design and methods that consistently uses the six steps in the text and in examples to assure that students understand."

Anne Rothstein
Lehman College

"As Spickard explains, students tend to fear and shy away from research and particularly statistics courses. This textbook is designed in such a manner that it engages the student and keeps the student's attention through case illustrations and an easy-to-read format."

Manuel Zamora
Angelo State University

"It incorporates much of what must be pieced together from multiple resources into one text. The six-step strategy breaks the process down into manageable units, and it is clear to me how each step contributes to the overall process."

Terry Webster
Pacific Oaks College

"It's a textbook with lots of unique features, such as question-method match, data type-analytical tool match, as well as ethical theory-practice match. It's easy to follow and it acts as a textbook and a practical guide for undergraduate students. Chapters are organized as cooking recipes and examples are interesting and inspiring."

Lei Zhang
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

"Scholarly but not threatening to students who are scared of the word "research". The layout, language, and images make a challenging subject easier to understand and much less overwhelming."

Timothy Gunnells
Amridge University

"Research is hard. This text helps explain a complicated process and guides students through research design in simpler terms. As an instructor, I appreciate authors who understand the challenges associated with teaching research methods courses."

Marquita Walker
Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

"While many research design texts struggle with integrating statistical applications within the broader design process, this text is a notable exception."

Ryan McGill
The College of William and Mary

“A logical and thoughtfully designed text that brings together a preferred approach with the right amount of rigor.”

Robert H Buckham
Whitworth University

“A refreshing, holistic view of introductory research methods.” 

Stephanie Morgan
Alaska Pacific University

“This is an excellent introductory text for students that are interested in quantitative analysis. A nice feature of the book is that incorporates the increasingly important aspect of ethics in data collection and analysis.”

Andreas Kern
McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University
Key features

  • Individual chapters on the six research steps help students conceptualize their projects and see how each step contributes to the design process as a whole.
  • A wealth of examples from fields including sociology, business, education, psychology, and environmental studies illustrate key concepts.
  • Quantitative and qualitative data presented as different approaches to data analysis underscore the connection between types of data and the methods of gathering them.
  • An emphasis on research ethics as central to all forms of research can be seen throughout the book; the concluding sections in Chapters 7 – 14 specifically examine the ethical issues raised by each chapter's data-gathering methods.
  • The entire six-step model can be seen in action through a concluding chapter that explores various ways to count America’s homeless population.
  • Think About It questions, chapter-ending review questions, helpful research guides, and additional handouts offer robust pedagogical support and resources.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 4

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