Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner-Researchers / Edition 2

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This successful text on carrying out research in 'real world' situations has been thoroughly revised and updated in order to make it as useful as possible to teachers and students from a range of behavioral and social science disciplines.
  • Includes new examples from applied psychology, applied social science, health studies, social work and education.
  • Provides more coverage of qualitative methods.
  • Pedagogical material has been updated to include a glossary and detailed cross-referencing across chapters.
  • Bases the quantitative analysis section around version 10 of SPSS and the section on qualitative analysis around the NUD*IST software.
  • Situates material more clearly within theoretical conceptualizations of the nature of social science research, pointing to the advantages of a critical realist approach.

For sample chapters please visit

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Second editions, like movie sequels, rarely surpass the originals. Real World Research is a stunning exception. Robson has brilliantly expanded and revised what was already the best book on how to actually do research in applied settings." Joseph A. Maxwell, George Mason University

"Even the most anxious and resistant novice will surely feel they have a new insight (and hopefully, confidence) into the various approaches to social research. Robson manages to combine cool objectivity with both enthusiasm and passion. One can see why the first edition was successful." Anthony Gale, University of Portsmouth

"This handbook will be very useful as an overview of various strategies, methods and research designs in social research, combining quantitative and qualitative research in a critical realist paradigm ... Robson's great strengths are his writing style, overall breadth of coverage and organization—huge elements needed for any book to be judged a success. This is an expert who does not intimidate or pontificate to the reader." Maximilian C. Forte, Forum: Qualitative Sozialforschung, Volume 3, No. 4, November 2002

"Colin Robson's excellent first edition of Real World Research....succeeded because it spoke to the reader with a clear and authoritative voice that was never afraid of highlighting the problems and difficulties with conducting research in dynamic social situations ... The new edition has greatly expanded the content of the early book, but has largely managed to hold onto the clear voice and a direct relevance for the anthropological field worker ... One of the qualities of the book I find very appealing is the strength of Robson's voice thoroughout the text; the style is almost conversational talking rather than writing, and as a result is quite inspiring." Lindsey Poole, Performance and Innovation Unit, Cabinet Office, London, Anthropological Theory, 3 (3), 393-394.

Practitioners and professionals working with people (e.g. in education, health, and the social services, as well as in industry) are not infrequently called on to become involved in studies outside the laboratory, often in complex, messy, poorly controlled situations. The emphasis here is on achieving rigor and trustworthiness in such research through systematic procedures appropriate to the task, e.g. multi-method case study alongside field experimentation and the survey. Includes coverage of qualitative and quantitative approaches. Paper edition (17689-6), $24.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631213055
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Series: Regional Surveys of the World Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 624
  • Product dimensions: 9.61 (w) x 6.69 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Meet the Author

Colin Robson is a Professor in the Centres for Applied Childhood Studies and Evaluation Studies at Huddersfield University. He is chief consultant to an international project on special educational needs, statistics and indicators, at the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, OECD, Paris.
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Table of Contents

Preface to Second Edition.


Ways of Using the Book.

Carrying out an Enquiry.

Part I: Before You Start:.

Keeping a Research Diary.

1. Real World Enquiry.

Focusing on the Real World.

Fixed and Flexible Designs.

Can All This Be Safely Skipped?.

Evaluation, Action Research and Change.

The Audience for this Book.

Returning to the Real World.

Further Reading.

2. Approaches to Social Research.


Being Scientific.

Relativist Approaches.

Current Views of Social Research.

Realism and Real World Research.

A Pragmatic Approach.

Further Reading.

3. Developing a Proposal.


Deciding on the Focus.

Deciding on the Research Questions.

Developing the Research Questions.

The Place of Theory.

Ethical Considerations.

Further Reading.

Part II: Designing the Enquiry:.

4. General Design Issues.


A Framework for Research Design.

Getting a Feel for Design Issues.

Choosing a Research Strategy.

Establishing Trustworthiness.

Further Reading.

5. Fixed Designs.


General Features of Fixed Designs.

Establishing Trustworthiness in Fixed Design Research.

Experimental Fixed Designs.

Experiments and the Real World.

Field Experiments.

Randomized Controlled Trials and the 'Gold Standard'.

Realist Critique of Randomized Controlled Trials.

True Experiments.


Single-Case Experiments.

Non-Experimental Fixed Designs.

Relational Designs.

Comparative Designs.

Sample Size in Fixed Designs.

Further Reading.

6. Flexible Designs.

Research Traditions in Qualitative Research.

Establishing Trustworthiness in Flexible Design Research.

Case Studies.

Ethnographic Studies.

Grounded Theory Studies.

Other Traditions of Flexible Research Design.

Sample Size in Flexible Designs.

Further Reading.

7. Designs for Particular Purposes: Evaluation, Action & Change.

Evaluation Research.

Action Research.

Intervention and Change.

Researchers and Practitioners.

Further Reading.

Part III: Tactics - the Methods of Data Collection:.

Selecting the Method(s).

8. Surveys and Questionnaires.


Advantages and Disadvantages of the Survey.

Why a Survey?.

Approaches to Survey Data Collection.

Carrying Out a Sample Survey.


Sampling in Surveys - and Elsewhere.

Probability Samples.

Non-probability Samples.

Representative Sampling and the Real World.

Further Reading.

9. Interviews.


Types and Styles of Interviews.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Interviews.

General Advise for Interviewers.

Content of the Interview.

Carrying Out Different Types of Interview.

Informant Interviews.

Group Interviews.

Analysis of Interview Data.

Skills in Interviewing.

Further Reading.

10. Test and Scales.

Attitude Measurement.

Semantic Differential Scales.

Other Scaling Techniques.

Using Existing Tests and Scales.

Further Reading.

11. Observational Methods.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Observation.

Observation in Real World Research.

Approaches to Observation.

Participant Observation.

Getting Started.

Observational Biases.

Structured Observation.

Observer Effects.

Deciding on a Coding Scheme.

Coding Sequences of Behaviour.

Reliability and Structured Observation.

Further Reading.

12. Additional Methods of data Collection.

Unobtrusive Measures.

Using Documents.

Content Analysis.

Using Data Archives.

Brief Review of Additional Approaches.

Using Multiple Methods.

Further Reading.

Arranging the Practicalities.

Part IV: Dealing with the Data:.

Collecting the Data.

Analyzing and Interpreting the Data.

Preparing for Analysis.

13. The Analysis of Quantitative Data.


Creating a Data Set.

Starting Data Analysis.

Exploring the Data Set.

Analyzing Relationships between Two Variables.

Analyzing Relationships among Three or More Variables.

Analyzing Differences.

Quantitative Analysis and Different Fixed Design Research Strategies.

Further Reading.

14. The Analysis of Qualitative Data.


Types of Qualitative Analysis.

Using Computer Software for Qualitative Data Analysis.

An Overview of the NUD*IST Approach.

Approaches to Qualitative Data Analysis in Different Design Traditions.

Case Study Data Analysis.

Data Analysis in Ethnographic studies.

Data Analysis in Grounded Theory Studies.

Further Reading.

15. Reporting on the Enquiry.

Reporting What you Have Found.


Reporting Fixed Design Research.

The Scientific Journal Format.

Reporting Flexible Design Research.

Reporting on Case Studies.

Writing for Non-Academic Audiences - the Technical Report.

Alternative Forms of Presentation.

Writing Skills.

Further Reading.


Appendix A: Writing a Project Proposal.

Appendix B: The Roles of Practitioner-Researchers, Researchers and Consultants in Real World Research.


References and Author Index.

Subject Index.

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