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Research Methods in the Social and Health Sciences

Research Methods in the Social and Health Sciences
Making Research Decisions

February 2021 | 752 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Research Methods in the Social and Health Sciences: Research Decisions, by Ted Palys and Chris Atchison, gives students a thorough, thoughtful, and highly readable introduction to the entire research process from start to finish. From its underlying premise that your research questions and objectives, rather than any specific method, should guide your research, this book discusses each step of the research process, from limiting the scope of a literature review to navigating ethical considerations to deciding which methods are best suited for finding answers to specific research questions to how to analyze data and present findings. Readers are encouraged to think deeply about each step of the research process. The book promotes this deliberation by discussing the strengths and limitations of different methods and. Throughout the process, the authors provide many examples from their own and student research, sharing insights for research decisions arising from that experience. Readers will develop the skills to create solid research questions, perform literature reviews, identify appropriate data sources and methods, conduct research, analyze and interpret data and translate the resulting knowledge generated from the research process to a wider audience– all core parts of the research process –by developing their knowledge and creating confidence in their own decision-making skills.

After explaining the unique and often complementary strengths of qualitative and quantitative methods, students focus on what methods are best suited for finding answers to the research questions that interest them. Major types of research including experiments, case studies, surveys, quasi-experiments, ethnographies, focus groups, participatory action research, and archival studies all receive significant coverage. The text illustrates how these methods are enhanced by integrating them with 21st century technologies and combining them in mixed methods projects. Chapters on constructing a research proposal and disseminating research bookend the process with concrete steps in between to support students designing their own original research projects. Study questions at the end of each chapter encourage students to think critically about the research process and how the choices a researcher makes will broaden or constrain what they can find. By the end of the text, social and health science students will feel confident in undertaking ethical and thoughtful research.

Read a review of the book in the Journal of Criminal Justice Education

Chapter 1: Perspectives on Research
Chapter 2: Getting Started: Developing Research Ideas
Chapter 3: Getting Specific: What's the Plan?
Chapter 4: Ethics in Social and Health Research
Chapter 5: Sampling and Recruitment
Chapter 6: Eliminating Rival Plausible Explanations: The Experiment
Chapter 7: From Manipulative to Analytic Control: Quasi-Experimentation
Chapter 8: Case Study Approaches
Chapter 9: Surveys and Questionnaires
Chapter 10: Interviews
Chapter 11: Observation, Ethnography & Participatory Action Research
Chapter 12: Archival Sources
Chapter 13: Analyzing Non-Numerical Data
Chapter 14: Analyzing Numerical Data
Chapter 15: Disseminating Your Research
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C


A good textbook covering quite a wide range of issues in the area of research methods. There are a few chapters that I will recommend to my students at Master's level.

Dr Agata Wezyk
Psychology, Bournemouth University
October 5, 2021

I did not like the book, I believe that is is hard for students to comprehend,

Dr John Fisher
Criminology, Univ Of Texas-Permian Basin
May 13, 2021
Key features
  • Thorough coverage of qualitative and quantitative research methods to focus students on the method that is most appropriate for research;
  • In-depth coverage provides students with the logic of each step of the research project so they can make decisions on their own;
  • Study questions encourage students to see themselves as researchers and examine the kinds of decisions they would make and why;
  • Additional coverage on literature reviews and proposals provides students with guidance on this often-confusing part of research;
  • Ending chapter on research dissemination covers reports and presentations applicable to both practitioners and academics; and
  • Technology coverage throughout, from survey tools to statistical software to qualitative data analysis software offers students guidance on modern practices of research.

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781544357690

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