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|Ch. 1||The Role and Importance of Research||1|
|Ch. 2||The Research Process||21|
|Ch. 3||Selecting a Problem and Reviewing the Research||51|
|Ch. 4||Sampling and Generalizability||95|
|Ch. 5||Measuring Behavior||111|
|Ch. 6||Methods of Measuring Behavior||133|
|Ch. 7||Data Collection and Descriptive Statistics||159|
|Ch. 8||Introducing Inferential Statistics||183|
|Ch. 9||Nonexperimental Research Methods||203|
|Ch. 10||Experimental Research||233|
|Ch. 11||Quasi-Experimental Research: A Close Cousin to Experimental Research||249|
|Ch. 12||Writing a Research Proposal||259|
|Ch. 13||Writing a Research Manuscript||275|
|Appendix A||An Introduction to SPSS for Windows||317|
|Appendix B||Sample Data||339|
|Appendix C||Answers to Exercises||345|
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
I have tried to write this book so that it is (you guessed it) user-friendly. Basically, what I think this means is that you can pick it up, understand what it says, and do what it suggests. One reviewer and user of an earlier edition was put off at first by the easy-going way in which the book is written. My philosophy is that important and interesting ideas and concepts need not be written about in an obtuse and convoluted fashion. Simple is best. You see, your mother was right.
Whether you are using this book as the main resource in a research methods course or as a supplemental text, here are some hints on how to go about using the book to make the most out of the experience.