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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

 
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Author
 
Introduction
Why a Six-Step Formula?

 
Looking Ahead

 
 
PART ONE THE SIX STEPS
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Coding

 
Internal Versus External Coding

 
Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA) Software

 
Warnings

 
Review Questions

 
Summarizing the Six Steps

 
Notes

 
 
PART TWO COLLECTING AND ANALYZING DIFFERENT TYPES OF DATA
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Experiments About Stereotype Threat

 
Experiments About Discrimination

 
Rules for Experiments

 
Research Ethics

 
Review Questions

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Notes

 
 
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

 
Reflections

 
Summary of the Six Steps

 
Notes

 
 
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?

 
 
Glossary
 
Author Index
 
Subject Index

Supplements

Instructor Resource Site
Calling all instructors!
It’s easy to log on to SAGE’s password-protected Instructor Teaching Site for complete and protected access to all text-specific Instructor Resources. Simply provide your institutional information for verification and within 72 hours you’ll be able to use your login information for any SAGE title!

Password-protected 
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
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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