Research Methods in the Social Sciences

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"This book provides an excellent balance between theory and practical application in social research. The book works well to develop students' understanding of particular methods of inquiry, embedding them within "real world" settings. I envisage that it will help students to understand the nuances of particular approaches, the complimentarity of certain methods, and the areas of conflict/contention within social research in a way that overcomes the sometimes abstract nature of these discussions" - Dr Jon Tan, School of Education and Professional Training, Leeds Metropolitan University

"This book unlocks all of the important areas of social science research in an easily digestible and stimulating style. Both students and supervisors in a range of disciplines will find this an excellent resource" - Fazal Rizvi, Professor in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Rather than being written by one or two `generalists', this innovative book is written by a large number of active researchers about their specialisms in methods/methodologies.

The book introduces all the key qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and methods and seeks to draw readers into a community of researchers engaged in reflection on the research process. Included are narrative accounts of carrying out a research study that explore the way in which the research design and methods are shaped by the methodology, discussing problematic issues, and reflecting on the way in which knowledge and understanding develop. Aimed at researchers and postgraduate students, it will also be invaluable for students at masters level.

Click on the companion website logo above to access additional resources and links to accompany each chapter in the book.

"Research Methods in the Social Sciences is a valuable pedagogical tool. It is organized as a dialogue between theory and key concepts, and practice - stories from the field allowing novices and scholars alike to see how critical interpretive research is actually conducted" - Norman K Denzin, University of Illinois

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About the author

Bridget Somekh is based at Manchester Metropolitan University as well as University of Canterbury New Zealand.

Cathy Lewin is based at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Additional Information

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Published on
Nov 18, 2004
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Social Science / Research
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This content is DRM protected.
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While heated arguments between practitioners of qualitative and quantitative research have begun to test the very integrity of the social sciences, Gary King, Robert Keohane, and Sidney Verba have produced a farsighted and timely book that promises to sharpen and strengthen a wide range of research performed in this field. These leading scholars, each representing diverse academic traditions, have developed a unified approach to valid descriptive and causal inference in qualitative research, where numerical measurement is either impossible or undesirable. Their book demonstrates that the same logic of inference underlies both good quantitative and good qualitative research designs, and their approach applies equally to each.

Providing precepts intended to stimulate and discipline thought, the authors explore issues related to framing research questions, measuring the accuracy of data and uncertainty of empirical inferences, discovering causal effects, and generally improving qualitative research. Among the specific topics they address are interpretation and inference, comparative case studies, constructing causal theories, dependent and explanatory variables, the limits of random selection, selection bias, and errors in measurement. Mathematical notation is occasionally used to clarify concepts, but no prior knowledge of mathematics or statistics is assumed. The unified logic of inference that this book explicates will be enormously useful to qualitative researchers of all traditions and substantive fields.

This handbook presents and critiques predominant and emergent traditions of Educational Action Research internationally. Now a prominent methodology, Educational Action Research is well suited to exploring, developing and sustaining change processes both in classrooms and whole organisations such as schools, Departments of Education, and many segments of universities.

The handbook contains theoretical and practical based chapters by highly respected scholars whose work has been seminal in building knowledge and expertise in the field. It also contains chapters exemplifying the work of prominent practitioner and community groups working outside universities.

The Editors provide an introduction and conclusion, as well as an opening chapter which charts the historical development of action research and provides an analysis of its underlying theories. The handbook is organized into four sections, each beginning with a short introduction:

- Action research methodology: diversity of rationales and practices

- Professional: Knowledge production, staff development, and the status of educators

- Personal: Self-awareness, development and identity

- Political: Popular knowledge, difference, and frameworks for change

This is a key resource for scholars and graduate students at doctors and masters levels, as well as school leaders and administrators.

Susan Noffke is Associate Professor of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign and co-editor with R.B. Stevenson of Educational Action Research (Teachers College Press, 1995). She taught at the primary school level for a decade, and has led masters and doctoral level courses in action research for the past 20 years. She continues to work with many collaborative projects with schools and school districts.

Bridget Somekh is Professor of Educational Research at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. She is a founder editor of the Educational Action Research journal and has been a co-ordinator of the Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN) for many years. She is co-editor of Research Methods in the Social Sciences (SAGE: 2005) and author of Action Research: a Methodology for Change and Development (Open University Press: 2006).

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