Exploring Research

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9780130983527: Exploring Research

The fifth edition of Exploring Research provides an introduction to research methods in a friendly, approachable writing style. The book explores the use of electronic sources as means to enhance research skills, includes discussions about scientific methods, and the most common types of research in the social and behavioral sciences. Coverage of the research process, problem selection, sampling and generalizability, and the measurement process provides an exhaustive resource for readers seeking to further their research skills. The book also describes how to collect and analyze data, and provides thorough instruction on how to prepare and write a research proposal and manuscript. Principles of data analysis are exemplified using the SR latest version of SPSS. The volume addresses the role and importance of research, the research process, sampling and generalizability, measurement, reliability, and validity, methods of measuring behavior, data collection and descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, nonexperimental research methods, quasi-experimental research methods and writing a research proposal and manuscript. For individuals in business, social work, political science, education and psychology fields that require research.

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From the Publisher:

This text provides students with a basic introduction to research methods in the social and behavioral sciences that is easy to read, understand and use.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The author of a book writes a preface for a new edition to inform the reader about what's new in this edition, how the field has changed, and other particulars that might help the reader use the book more effectively.

Well, things have surely changed, but the best part of my job is still working with students and helping them explore their ideas and reach their goals as new and excited researchers. For the past 30 years, I have been lucky enough to be part of this activity in my teaching of research methods courses at the University of Kansas. In this latest edition, I share even more of those experiences with you.

This book is intended for upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students in their first research methods course in the social, behavioral, and medical sciences. These students are the primary audience. As of late, with the last two editions, students in government, journalism and other related fields have been using it as well.

Exploring Research is intended to provide an introduction to the important topics in the general area of research methods and to do so in a nonintimidating and informative way. The existence of a fifth edition of Exploring Research means that the audience for presenting this material in a way that is straightforward and unassuming still exists, and I believe that audience is growing.

What's New in This Edition?

The major changes you will see in this edition of Exploring Research have to do with the revision of old materials as well the addition of new. Many of the changes are the result of suggestions from students and faculty.

  • By far, the biggest change in this edition is the inclusion of a new chapter on Qualitative Methods (Chapter 10), which was most ably drafted by Doug Frye. The inclusion of this chapter acknowledges the importance of this methodology in answering questions about behavior from a different perspective than that which was included in previous editions. Interestingly, the second edition of Exploring Research did include a chapter on related topics.
  • The material on the use of the Internet for research is completely rewritten and updated. Even in the few years since the previous edition, the Internet has changed and so have the tools you need to navigate through it and find what you need. Once again I am assuming that most students who are using this book have basic computer skills and have access to an Internet connection either at home or at school. I also assume they know about e-mail and how to use it, so information on that topic has been edited to allow room for other new material such as coverage of new search engines and newsgroups.
  • Listings of new readings and additional exercises are offered at the end of each chapter.
  • There is a new and spectacular Web site to accompany this book that can be found at www.prenhall.com/salkind. There you'll find an introduction to SPSS (more about that in a moment), links to other sites dealing with the research trade, and much more.
  • What used to be Appendix A, which covered of the basic features of SPSS, can now be found on Exploring Research's Internet site at www.prenhall.com/salkind. This appendix serves as an introduction to the basic features of SPSS (version 11.x) including entering and analyzing data.
  • Finally, the typos and such that appeared in the last edition have all been corrected. I apologize for any inconvenience they might have caused.

How This Book Is Organized

Exploring Research is organized into 14 chapters and two appendices. Chapter 1, "The Role and Importance of Research," covers the basics about the scientific method and includes a brief description of the different types of research that are most commonly used in the social and behavioral sciences.

Chapter 2, "The Research Process," focuses on some of the basic terms and concepts in research methods, including variables, samples, populations, hypotheses, and the concept of significance. It also includes a section on ethical concerns and ethical practices.

The first step for any researcher is the selection of a problem, which is what Chapter 3, "Selecting a Problem and Reviewing the Research," is all about. Here you will learn how to use the library and its vast resources to help you focus your interests and actually turn them into something you want to know more about! You will also be introduced to the use of electronic sources of reference material, such as online searches, and how using the Internet can considerably enhance your research skills.

The content of Chapter 4, "Sampling and Generalizability," is critical to understanding the research process. How you select the group of participants and how and when the results of an experiment can be generalized from this group to others are a fundamental premises of all scientific research. In this chapter you will read all about this process.

What is research without measuring outcomes? Not much, I'm afraid. Chapter 5, "Measurement, Reliability, and Validity," introduces you to the measurement process and the important concepts of reliability and validity. Not only do you need to understand the principles of measurement, but the methods used to measure behavior also need to be understood. That is what you will learn about in Chapter 6, "Methods of Measuring Behavior," which discusses different types of tests and their importance.

Once you understand what you want to study and the importance of measuring it, the only thing left to do is to go out and collect data! Chapter 7, "Data Collection and Descriptive Statistics," takes you through the process step-by-step and includes a summary of important descriptive statistics and how they can be used.

One of the reasons data are collected is to make inferences from a smaller group of people to a larger one. In Chapter 8, "Introducing Inferential Statistics," you will find an introduction to the discipline of the same name and how results based on small groups are inferred to larger ones.

Chapter 9, "Nonexperimental Research: Descriptive and Correlational Methods," is the first of four chapters that deal with different types of research methods. In this chapter, you will learn about descriptive and correlational methods.

Chapter 10, "Nonexperimental Research: Qualitative Methods," is brand spanking new to Exploring Research. Here, I provide the reader with an introduction to various qualitative tools, including case studies, historical methods, and ethnographies and talk a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of each. I hope that you find this new chapter helpful and that it gives you another set of tools to answer important and interesting questions.

Chapters 11, "Pre- and True Experimental Research Methods," and Chapter 12, "Quasi-Experimental Research," continue the overview of research methods by introducing you to the different types of research designs that explore the area of cause and effect.

Chapter 13, "Writing a Research Proposal," reviews the steps involved in planning and writing a proposal and includes an extensive yet of questions that can be used to evaluate your proposal. If your research methods course does not include the preparation of a proposal as a requirement, this chapter can be used as a stand-alone instructional tool.

Exploring Research ends with Chapter 14, "Writing a Research Manuscript," a step-by-step discussion of how to prepare a manuscript for submission to a journal for publication using the format prescribed by the 5th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Appendix A, located on Prentice Hall's Internet site at www.prenhall.com/Salkind, is an introduction to SPSS. Appendix B contains a sample data set that is used in certain examples throughout the book and this data set is also contained on the Internet site. Appendix C contains answers to the end of chapter questions.

What's Special About This Book?

I have included several features in each of these 14 chapters and appendices that I hope will help make this book more useful and the learning of the material more interesting. These features have not changed since the second edition because the feedback from both faculty and students has been so positive.

  • What You Will Learn About in This Chapter is a listing of the major points that will be covered in the chapter. This listing acts not only as a set of advanced organizers but also as a summary of the primary topics covered in the chapter.
  • You will find marginal notes that highlight important points contained in the text. These can be used for review purposes and help to emphasize especially important points. There's also room for your own notes in the margins.
  • At the end of each chapter, you will also find exercises that help reinforce the content of the chapter. Some of these have answers, but many are designed to stimulate thinking, discussion, and further investigation of a particular topic or point covered in the chapter.
  • Each chapter ends with Want to Know More? This is your chance to read through a summary of resources that include more information about the content of the chapter. These annotated listings are organized into two groups. First, Further Readings deal directly with the chapter material. This section includes summaries of well-known articles or books that can give you a more advanced picture of what you have just read about. Second, Readings of Other Interest include readings that might be related to the topic but are of a more informal nature, such as works of fiction, and resources that you might not think would be found in a book like this one and, resources available on the Internet are listed as well.
  • Last, but not least...

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