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Methods of Family Research

Methods of Family Research

Third Edition

July 2012 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Proud sponsor of the 2019 SAGE Keith Roberts Teaching Innovations Award—enabling graduate students and early career faculty to attend the annual ASA pre-conference teaching and learning workshop.

In the 3rd edition of Methods of Family Research, authors Theodore N. Greenstein and Shannon N. Davis continue to help students better understand the research results they encounter in doing family research. Using real-life examples to illustrate important concepts that family researchers encounter regularly, the text covers traditional quantitative methods, qualitative methods, and the mixed-method approach. Written in a clear, concise style, this book differs from other research methods texts, which focus on teaching students how to produce research, by teaching them how to consume research in a sophisticated, effective manner. The book introduces the basic concepts of social science research methods without excessive technical details.

The Goal of This Text

What’s New in the Third Edition

To the Student

To the Instructor

Organization of This Text

1. Why Do Research on Families?
What Are the Stages of Social Research?

How Is Research on Families Different?

The Benefits of Well-Conducted Research

Study Questions

For Further Reading

2. Causal Inference in Family Research

Units of Analysis

Thinking Causally

Framing the Hypothesis

Causal Inference in Qualitative Research

Study Questions

For Further Reading

3. Searching and Reading the Literature
Reading a Journal Article

Where Do I Go From Here?

How Do Journal Articles Get Published?

Research Monographs

Edited Volumes

Other Types of Publications

Study Questions

For Further Reading

4. Sampling Issues
Defining the Population

Sampling Designs

How Large Does the Sample Need to Be?

How Do We Go About Choosing a Sampling Technique?

Study Questions

For Further Reading

5. How Do We Measure Concepts?
Characteristics of a Good Measurement Procedure

Levels of Measurement

What Are Reliability and Validity?

Some Thoughts on Reliability and Validity

Study Questions

For Further Reading

6. Working With Scales and Indices
Types of Scales and Indices

Using Existing Scales and Indices

How Do We Evaluate Scales and Indices?

How Do We Deal With Missing Data in Scales and Indices?

Study Questions

For Further Reading

7. Studying Families: Quantitative Methods
Studying Families Through Experiments

Studying Families Through Survey Methods

Studying Families Through Nonreactive Techniques

Types of Nonreactive Research

Secondary Analysis of Sample Surveys

Some Limitations of Quantitative Methods

Study Questions

For Further Reading

8. Studying Families: Qualitative Methods
Qualitative Research Compared to Quantitative Research

Types of Qualitative Strategies

Studying Families through Observation

Evaluating Qualitative Research

Study Questions

For Further Reading

9. Studying Families: Mixed Methods
Mixed-Method Approaches to Family Research

Mixed-Model Studies in Family Research

Some Closing Thoughts on Choosing a Research Strategy

Study Questions

For Further Reading

10. Using Other People’s Data
Advantages and Disadvantages of Secondary Analysis

What Are Some Sources of Data About Families?

Sources of Secondary Data Sets

Future Trends in Secondary Data Analysis

Study Questions

For Further Reading

11. Analyzing Data on Families
Descriptive Statistics

Interpreting Cross-classification Tables

Inferential Statistics

Commonly Reported Tests of Statistical Significance

Some Thoughts About Statistical Analysis

Study Questions

For Further Reading

12. Advanced Topics in Family Analysis
The Idea of Nested Entities

Analyzing Nested Data

Individual Change over Time

Final Thoughts on Nested Entities

Study Questions

For Further Reading

13. Evaluating Family Programs
Needs and Social Impact Assessment: What Is the Problem?

Outcome Assessment: Does It Work?

Process Research: How Does It Work?

Some Thoughts About Randomization in Evaluation Research

The Relationship Between Applied and Basic Research

Study Questions

For Further Reading

14. The Ethics and Politics of Family Research
Ethical Issues in Research on Families and Children

What Is the Role of the Institutional Review Board?

Political Concerns in Research on Families

Some Closing Thoughts

Study Questions

For Further Reading

Glossary and Index
About the Authors

Very logical approach to family research. It's practical and theoretical which is refreshing and ensures the book is not only of relevance to lecturers but becomes essential for students' research development and understanding.

Miss Maeve Dempsey
Institute of Technology Carlow, Institute of Technology Carlow
September 29, 2015

simply and easy to understand and yet quite informative for students just beginning to understand critical research methods.

Ms Tapo Chimbganda
Children, Young People and Families, Leeds Trinity University
January 21, 2015

Perfect voice, coverage and length to use as a supplement in my intro to family studies course. Excellent option!

Professor Carol Bruess
Communications Dept, University Of St Thomas
March 3, 2014

Will be reconsidered when LMFT PhD program starts in August, 2014. Text's focus more appropriated there than for a general counseling program.

Professor Jon Crook
School Of Education, Texas Wesleyan University
October 19, 2013

Great text for teaching senior family and consumer science students methods of family research.

Dr Cydne Perry
Bus Admin Family Cons Sci Dept, Shepherd University
August 27, 2013
Key features
  • A new chapter (12) on Advanced Topics in Family Research has been added providing the most cutting edge information on the topic
  • The text has been significantly updated throughout with a particular focus on updating empirical examples to those published in 2008 and later
  • New and increased discussions of such timely topics as identifying mechanisms and specifying context, cross-sectional vs. longitudinal designs, the use of online search systems and studying families through observation ensure that readers are exposed to the most current trends and information in the field
  • The ordering of the chapters has been changed to more accurately reflect the typical flow of the research process


  • "Study Questions" at the end of each chapter help students test their command of the material.
  • In-text callouts of new terms increase student comprehension by defining concepts in context.
  • A combined glossary/index helps students review and navigate the terminology of social science research methodology and guides them to where the term was introduced in the text.

Sample Materials & Chapters


ch 1

ch 3

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452285726

ISBN: 9781412992831

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