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Thoroughly updated to reflect changes in both research and methods, this Third Edition of Remler and Van Ryzin’s innovative, standard-setting text is imbued with a deep commitment to making social and policy research methods accessible and meaningful. Research Methods in Practice: Strategies for Description and Causation motivates readers to examine the logic and limits of social science research from academic journals and government reports. A central theme of causation versus description runs through the text, emphasizing the idea that causal research is essential to understanding the origins of social problems and their potential solutions. Readers will find excitement in the research experience as the best hope for improving the world in which we live, while also acknowledging the trade-offs and uncertainties in real-world research.


Part I: Foundations
1. Research in the Real World
2. Theory, Models, and Research Questions
3. Qualitative Research
Part II: Strategies for Description
4. Measurement
5. Sampling
6. Secondary Data
7. Surveys and Other Primary Data
Part III: Statistical Tools and Their Interpretation
8. Making Sense of the Numbers
9. Making Sense of Inferential Statistics
10. Making Sense of Multivariate Statistics
Part IV: Strategies for Causation
11. Causation
12. Observational Studies
13. Using Regression to Estimate Causal Effects
14. Randomized Experiments
15. Natural and Quasi Experiments
Part V: Context and Communication
16. The Politics, Production, and Ethics of Research
17. How to Find, Review, and Present Research


Instructor Resource Site

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  • Test banks
  • Editable chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides
  • Instructor’s Manual with activities and suggested assignments
  • All tables and figures from the textbook 
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Student Study Site


The open-access Student Study Site makes it easy for students to maximize their study time, anywhere, anytime. It offers videos of key examples from the book.

Key features


  • Expanded coverage of Big Data includes an overview of how to use big data methods and a new focus on the crucial ethical challenges of obtaining and using big data.
  • A new focus on the variety and challenges of using public and research data includes data on COVID.
  • New and updated issues in Sampling, especially online sampling and nonresponse problems, provide students with the latest tools.
  • A thoroughly revised chapter on Theory, Models, and Research Questions uses community policing to demonstrate the value of revising logic models in light of research.
  • New examples and clarified explanations have been added to better teach one of the most important tools in causality in the chapter on Using Regression to Estimate Causal Effects.
  • Figures now maintain similar colors for independent variables, dependent variables, etc. across the book to help students identify these elements in each part of the research process.
  • The most current research in the field ensures the most up-to-date methods, including online surveys, recent research on when and how control variables studies with observational data can reproduce randomized experiment results, and the “Big Data" revolution.
  • New and updated examples apply research to a range of important social and policy issues.
  • Current methodological techniques used in interdisciplinary research are addressed throughout.
  • Many interesting, current examples of policy-relevant studies illustrate key research methods.
  • Strategies for both description and causal estimation are included and emphasize the distinction between the two.
  • Advanced methodological ideas and techniques are explained in a clear and accessible manner.

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ISBN: 9781544318424