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Research Methods

Research Methods

A Practical Guide for the Social Sciences

Bob Matthews, Liz Ross

Jun 2010, Paperback, 520 pages
ISBN13: 9781405858502
ISBN10: 1405858508
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Research Methods: A Practical Guide for the Social Sciences is an essential resource for the social researcher. It offers a comprehensive introduction for first time researchers right through to thorough and practical advice for those undertaking more advanced work. The book draws on real life experiences from a wide variety of disciplines to show how theory translates into practice, and offers a rigorous analysis of why researchers choose the methods they use. Think about it boxes throughout the text offer questions and ideas to help the researcher to focus on core issues and practical considerations, whilst your research summaries present questions, activities and checklists to help the researcher to develop their ideas.

The book is supported by a fantastic companion website that contains learning materials, interactive exercises, videos, questionnaires, datasets and much more. The website can be found at:

Written to reflect the breadth of the social sciences, Research Methods is essential for anyone conducting research in sociology, health policy, social work, criminology, social policy, cultural studies, political studies, public policy and related fields.


PART A: Thinking About Research

A1: What is Research?

A2: Knowledge, Theories, Paradigms and Perspectives

A3: The Nature of Data

A4: Research Questions, Hypotheses and Operational Definitions

A5: Research as an Ethical and Cultural Issue

PART B: Preparing for Research

B1: Planning a Research Project

B2: Reviewing the Literature

B3: Research Design

B4: Choosing Methods

B5: Sampling

B6: Research Proposals

PART C: Data Collection

C1: Collecting Data

C2: Data Collection Skills

C3: Questionnaires

C4: Semi-structured Interviews

C5: Focus Groups

C6: Observation

C7: Narrative Data

C8: Documents

C9: Secondary Sources of Data

C10: Collecting Data Using Computer Mediated Communication (CMC)

PART D: Data Analysis

D1: Beginning to Analyse

D2: Working With Data

D3: Statistical Analysis

D4: Thematic Analysis

D5: Analysing Narrative

D6: Discourse Analysis

D7: Content Analysis

D8: Grounded Theory

D9: Using Computers in Data Analysis

D10: So What? Drawing Conclusions

PART E: Data Presentation and Reports

E1: The Importance of Audience

E2: Writing for Research: Reports and Dissertations

E3: Data Presentation

E4: Dissemination and Further Research


  • Examples drawn from real life show you how theory translates into practice.
  • Real research from a wide variety of disciplines lets you see your project in context.
  • Think about it boxes offer questions and ideas to help you focus on core issues and practical considerations.
  • Your research summaries present questions, activities and checklists to help you develop your ideas.
  • What is…? boxes provide definitions and explanations of key terms.