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Everyone is a member of a community, and every community is continually changing. To successfully manage that change, community members need information. Research Methods for Community Change: A Project-Based Approach is an in-depth review of all of the research methods that communities use to solve problems, develop their resources, and protect their identities.

With an engaging, friendly style and numerous real world examples, author Randy Stoecker shows readers how to use a project-based research model in the community. The four features of the model are

* Diagnosing a community condition
* Prescribing an intervention for the condition
* Implementing the prescription
* Evaluating its impact

At every stage of this model there are research tasks, from needs and assets assessments at the diagnosis stage to process and outcome studies at the evaluation stage. Readers will also learn the importance of involving community members at every stage of the project and in every aspect of the research, making the research part of the community-building process.

Research Methods for Community Change is perfectly suited as a text for undergraduate and graduate research methods courses across the social sciences, including sociology, social work, and public health. Community service workers, professional researchers, and consultants will also find this an invaluable guide to effecting change in their communities.

"At last! A concise, insightful and highly useful book on research methods for community action and social change. Drawing from his own rich experiences as well as from broader literature and examples, Stoecker demonstrates that valuable research is not the monopoly of professional researchers, but can be used by people anywhere as a tool for organizing and developing their communities.  Highly readable, grounded in analysis, and full of practical approaches, this book will be an important resource for activists, students, scholars, policy makers and community development practitioners who seek to use research for more effective and sustainable change."
—John Gaventa, Fellow, Institute for Development Studies, Sussex, U.K.

"Drawing from his own experiences and from case studies from across the nation, Stoecker offers an empowering and remarkably accessible discussion of how project-based research models build community and democracy by redistributing both power and responsibility. It is an informative and valuable text that makes a convincing case that research must become daily practice for all who are committed to working for effective social change."
—Stephen L. Fisher, Director, Appalachian Center for Community Service, Emory & Henry College

"Stoecker's highly readable book is a great leap forward in expanding the definition and practice of research and documentation through collaboration between academics and community activists. He makes project-based research accessible to readers through lively, real examples that involve creative and strategic use of sources and resources. Stoecker shows how good quality research can make meaningful differences in people's lives. The book is perfect for use in both classrooms and nonprofit organizations."
—Kathleen Staudt, University of Texas at El Paso

"At last, a book that demystifies research for both novice and experienced community workers who want to make a difference. Randy Stoecker presents a refreshingly innovative and accessible challenge to more conventional texts."
—Linda Briskman, Associate Professor of Social Work, RMIT University, Australia


 
Acknowledgments
 
1. "But I Don't Do Research"
"But I Don't Do Research"

 
"So What Is Research?"

 
"Okay, So I Do Research Already. Why Do I Need to Learn About It?"

 
"I'm Already Running Full-Out Managing Our Programs. How Can I Do More Research Too?"

 
"I'm Still Not Convinced. But Just In Case, Where Do I Start?"

 
"So Where Do I and My Community Fit In?"

 
Conclusion and Coming Attractions

 
The Goose Story

 
Resources

 
Notes

 
 
2. The Goose Approach to Research
Have You Ever Felt Like an Interloper?

 
Participatory Approaches to Research

 
A Participatory Approach to Project-Based Research

 
Building Participatory Relationships: The Researcher Side

 
Building Participatory Relationships: The Community Side

 
Loose Gravel

 
Conclusion

 
Resources

 
Notes

 
 
3. Head and Hand Together: A Project-Based Research Model
The Head and Hand Split

 
From Head and Hand to Research and Action

 
Of Programs and Projects

 
The Project Model: Diagnose, Prescribe, Implement, Evaluate

 
The Project Model and Participatory Flexibility

 
Where Are You In the Project Cycle?

 
Loose Gravel

 
Conclusion

 
Resources

 
Notes

 
 
4. Diagnosing
How to Survive on a Deserted Island

 
The Impetus for Diagnosis

 
Structures for a Diagnostic Process: The Core Group

 
Strategies for a Diagnostic Process: Problems and Opportunities

 
The Problems Approach: Needs Assessment

 
The Opportunities Approach: Asset Mapping

 
Of Needs and Resources

 
Loose Gravel

 
Conclusion

 
Resources

 
Notes

 
 
5. Prescribing: Researching Options
Which Way Should You Go From Here?

 
Inward-Looking vs. Outward-Looking Social Change: Services and Policies

 
A Planning Approach

 
The Special Case of Policy Prescriptions

 
Loose Gravel

 
Conclusion

 
Resources

 
Notes

 
 
6. Implementing: When Research Is the Project
Making Who-ville Heard

 
Research as Action

 
Community Research

 
Target Research

 
Loose Gravel

 
Conclusion

 
Resources

 
Notes

 
 
7. Evaluation
Back to the Future, or Messing With the Space-Time Continuum

 
Choices in Evaluation

 
Participatory Evaluation From the Beginning

 
Participatory Evaluation as an Integrated Process

 
Loose Gravel

 
Conclusion

 
Resources

 
Notes

 
 
8. Beyond Information: Research as an Organizational Lifestyle
The Montessori, Goose Approach, Popular Education, Tennis Coach Model of Project-Based Research

 
The Project-Based Research Cycle Revisited

 
Role Models for Research as a Daily Practice

 
Behind the Fun: Information Management and Information Technology

 
Loose Gravel: Information Myths and Monsters

 
In Conclusion

 
Notes

 
 
Appendix A: Strategic Planning
 
Appendix B: Research Ethics
 
Appendix C: Writing Proposals
 
Appendix D: Data Resources
 
Index
 
About the Author

In this book, Randy Stoecker fills a void in the applied research methods literature. His discussion of participatory approaches to project-based research serves as an important reference work for academics and practitioners. The book appeals to a broad audience, focusing on the types of projects graduates of sociology, social work, public administration, and planning departments do in applied settings. The strategies outlined in the book can assist in expanding the role of stakeholders in the research process and enhancing the quality of research conducted by local government, community-based organizations, and other nonprofits.

Robert Silverman
SUNY Buffalo

This book presents, in very unintimidating terms, the overall process of research and suggests milestones as well as hazards to watch out for in the path ahead. In addition to a course text, it can act as an in-process handbook to be repeatedly consulted during the research process.

Christina von Mayrhauser
California State Northridge

Stoecker's highly readable book is a great leap forward in expanding the definition and practice of research and documentation through collaboration between academics and community activists. He makes project-based research accessible to readers through lively, real examples that involve creative and strategic use of sources and resources. Stoecker shows how good quality research can make meaningful differences in people's lives. The book is perfect for use in both classrooms and nonprofit organizations.

Kathleen Staudt
University of Texas at El Paso

Randy Stoecker uses a lively blend of real world experience, scholarly understanding, and activism to take readers on the bumpy but exhilarating road that is project-based community research. Written in plain English with humor and stories from the front lines, Research Methods for Community Change is a pure delight and a 'must read' for researchers, practitioners, community members, funders, and anyone committed to community based research that can make a difference.

Meredith Minkler
Professor, University of California at Berkeley and co-editor, Community Based Participatory Research for Health

Increasingly, academics and policy makers are drawn into complex activities which engage in community change and trust-building. Research Methods for Community Change is a theoretically rich, insightful, yet practical and carefully written toolbox of ideas and techniques that can be fruitfully read and used by academics, practitioners or public officials. Significantly, its lessons are also applicable internationally to any community where there is a concern for using research to underpin social and democratic renewal.

Larry Stillman
Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Community Networking Research, Monash University, Australia

At last! A concise, insightful and highly useful book on research methods for community action and social change.  Drawing on his own rich experiences as well as broader literature and examples, Stoecker demonstrates that valuable research is not the monopoly of professional researchers, but can be used by people anywhere as a tool for organizing and developing their communities.  Highly readable, grounded in analysis, and full of practical approaches, this book will be an important resource for activists, students, scholars, policy makers and community development practitioners who seek to use research for more effective and sustainable change.

John Gaventa
Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, U.K.

This clearly written and insightful book makes an important contribution to the field of community-based research. Randy Stoecker makes use of his rich background as a scholar, activist, and teacher to gives us what we desperately need -- a compelling vision and concrete strategies to enable diverse individuals and organizations to produce knowledge for social change.

Nick Cutforth
Associate Professor and Coordinator, Colorado Community-Based Research Network, College of Education, University of Denver

Drawing from his own experiences and case studies from across the nation, Stoecker offers an empowering and remarkably accessible discussion of how project-based research models build community and democracy by redistributing both power and responsibility. It is an informative and valuable text that makes a convincing case that research must become daily practice for all who are committed to working for effective social change.

Stephen L. Fisher
Director, Appalachian Center for Community Service, Emory & Henry College

At last, a book that demystifies research for both novice and experienced community workers who want to make a difference. Randy Stoecker presents a refreshingly innovative and accessible challenge to more conventional texts.

Linda Briskman
Associate Professor of Social Work, RMIT University, Australia

"The strengths of this well-organized book are that it provides an explicit framework and regularly point out the real-world difficulties in applying the model. The use of research methods in community practice is well described through the author's numerous experiences."

Steven Rose
Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books
Key features
  • This book shows how the research can be interwoven with the community change project itself.
  • The book uses many examples to show how different communities move through the project-based research model, and do research at each stage.
  • Those involved in community change projects can even use the book to better understand what stage of the project-based cycle they are in, so that they can make informed, strategic choices.

For instructors

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