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Investigating the Social World

Investigating the Social World
The Process and Practice of Research

Ninth Edition
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February 2018 | 728 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 Ninth Edition of his leading social research text, Russell K. Schutt, an award-winning researcher and teacher, continues to make the field come alive with current, compelling examples of high quality research and the latest innovations in research methodology, along with a clear and comprehensive introduction to the logic and techniques of social science research. Through numerous hands-on exercises that promote learning by doing, Investigating the Social World helps students to understand research methods as an integrated whole. Using examples from research on contemporary social issues, the text underscores the value of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and the need to make ethical research decisions. Investigating the Social World develops the critical skills necessary to evaluate published research, and to carry out one’s own original research.


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About the Author
Section I. Foundations for Social Research
1. Science, Society, and Social Research
Learning About the Social World  
Avoiding Errors in Reasoning About the Social World  
Science and Social Science  
Strengths and Limitations of Social Research  
Alternative Research Orientations  
2. The Process and Problems of Social Research
Social Research Questions  
Social Theories  
Social Research Foundations  
Social Research Strategies  
Social Research Organizations  
Social Research Standards  
3. Research Ethics and Research Proposals
Historical Background  
Ethical Principles  
The Institutional Review Board  
Social Research Proposals  
Section II. Fundamentals of Social Research
4. Conceptualization and Measurement
From Concepts to Indicators  
From Observations to Concepts  
Levels of Measurement  
Evaluating Measures  
5. Sampling and Generalizability
Sample Planning  
Sampling Methods  
Sampling Distributions  
6. Research Design and Causation
Research Design Alternatives  
Criteria and Cautions for Nomothetic Causal Explanations  
Comparing Research Designs  
Section III. Basic Social Research Design
7. Experiments
History of Experimentation  
True Experiments  
Validity in Experiments  
Ethical Issues in Experimental  
8. Survey Research
Survey Research in the Social Sciences  
Writing Survey Questions  
Combining Questions in Indexes  
Designing Questionnaires  
Organizing Surveys  
Ethical Issues in Survey Research  
9. Quantitative Data Analysis
Introducing Statistics  
Preparing for Data Analysis  
Displaying Univariate Distributions  
Summarizing Univariate Distributions  
Analyzing Data Ethically: How Not to Lie With Statistics  
Cross-Tabulating Variables  
Regression Analysis  
Performing Meta-Analyses  
Analyzing Data Ethically: How Not to Lie About Relationships  
10. Qualitative Methods
Fundamentals of Qualitative Methods  
Participant Observation  
Intensive Interviewing  
Interviewing Online  
Focus Groups  
Generalizability in Qualitative Research  
Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research  
11. Qualitative Data Analysis
Features of Qualitative Data Analysis  
Techniques of Qualitative Data Analysis  
Alternatives in Qualitative Data  
Visual Sociology  
Systematic Observation  
Participatory Action Research  
Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis  
Ethics in Qualitative Data Analysis  
Section IV. Complex Social Research Designs
12. Mixed Methods
History of Mixed Methods  
Types of Mixed Methods  
Strengths and Limitations of Mixed Methods  
Ethics and Mixed Methods  
13. Evaluation and Policy Research
History of Evaluation Research  
Evaluation Basics  
Questions for Evaluation Research  
Design Decisions  
Policy Research  
Ethics in Evaluation  
14. Research Using Secondary Data and “Big” Data
Secondary Data Sources  
Challenges for Secondary Data Analyses  
Big Data  
Ethical Issues in Secondary Data Analysis and Big Data  
15. Research Using Historical and Comparative Data and Content Analysis
Overview of Historical and Comparative Research Methods  
Historical Social Science Methods  
Comparative Social Science Methods  
Demographic Analysis  
Content Analysis  
Ethical Issues in Historical and Comparative Research and Content Analysis  
16. Summarizing and Reporting Research
Writing Research  
Displaying Research  
Reporting Research  
Ethics, Politics, and Research Reports  
Appendix A: Questions to Ask About a Research Article
Appendix B: How to Read a Research Article
Appendix C: Table of Random Numbers


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Excellent book, the new sections in the 9th edition reflect important new information.

William Holland
Sociology Dept, Georgia State University
May 6, 2019

Have used Schutt before and find his work thorough and readable.
Students liked the glossary, key terms and diagrams.

Dr Sarah Busse Spencer
Business Administration, Augustana University
February 28, 2019

comprehensive, well organized, well suited to urban planning students.

Mr Gwen Urey
Urban/Regional Planning Dept, Cal State Polytechnic-Pomona
September 10, 2018
Key features

  • The latest advances in research methods are woven into the text from over 90 new research articles and books.
  • The rapidly increasing role of the Internet in both social relations and social research is reflected in new sections on systematic literature reviews (and the online Campbell Collaboration archive), advances in online survey methods, geodata, digital ethnography, web experiments, online qualitative research, and new sources of big data.
  • Students are introduced to new perspectives and current debates such as:
    • Guidelines for writing research questions
    • Distinguishing conceptual frameworks
    • Technique of video ethnography
    • Abductive analysis
    • The value of systematic literature reviews and new human subjects rules
    • Concerns about replicability and publication bias
    • The rise of predatory journals
  • Current examples from pressing social issues such as inequality, healthcare, and police behavior, offer students a look at how social research contributes to understanding issues that are in the news and shaping their world.
  • Part IV has been renamed “Complex Research Designs” and reorganized to draw increased attention to mixed methods.
  • The section on meta-analysis has been moved to Ch. 9, where it complements other topics in quantitative data analysis.
  • Ch. 1 has been streamlined, with some material on alternative research philosophies moving to Ch. 10.

  • Written so that the "doing" of social research is closely and consistently linked to important social issues by using real social data, demonstrating not only the value of research, but also how technique and substance are intimately related.
  • Offers a thorough introduction to the methods most commonly used by social researchers, as well as some cutting edge and emerging methods.
  • Balanced coverage with chapters on qualitative methods and analysis offers comprehensive analysis.
  • Discussions of research fundamentals are carefully paired with current research examples from SAGE journals to offer real-life illustrations.
  • Every chapter begins with a summary of a recent research article that illustrates methods to be covered in that chapter.
  • Coverage of research ethics is extensive, with an entire chapter (Ch.3) on the topic and additional coverage of ethics in every other chapter.
  • Includes a number of assignable features, based on reading and analyzing examples of published research, to encourage motivated, active learning.
  • Links to exceptional teaching resources from ASA’s TRAILS (Teaching Resources and Innovation Library for Sociology) in SAGE coursepacks chosen specifically for this text.
  • Assignable SAGE Premium Video (available via the interactive eBook version, linked through SAGE coursepacks), curated and produced exclusively for this text, brings concepts to life and appeals to diverse learners.

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