Description: This is a succinct and practical handbook designed to provide information on critical aspects of research methodology. It encompasses a wide range of methodological topics such as recruiting subjects, appropriate measurement, interpretive approaches, and meta-analysis.
Purpose: This book is intended to provide a practical guide for those carrying out research in clinical and health psychology. To this end, the authors provide an abundance of practical considerations from simple advice on communicating with potential sampling sources to discussions of appropriate statistical analyses for particular research designs. The authors are well versed in this area and offer sound advice for new researchers.
Audience: Although the title leads readers to believe that this book is geared towards clinical and health psychology, it addresses universal issues that are relevant for any graduate or medical student who will be involved in research requiring subject participation. In addition, junior researchers will find this a good review of methodology as they embark on their own projects.
Features: The practical and hands-on nature of this book is its strength. It covers a wide variety of topics that are relevant to setting up research, carrying out studies, and analyzing data, including information about specific statistical approaches. Figures, tables, and summary charts visually illustrate key points. Some of the later chapters include valuable research examples and use variations of these examples to convey the information in an applied manner. An additional strength of this book is its concise layout, which makes it is easy to reference. In some cases, however, it is too concise. Readers should not expect to find more than a cursory treatment of any particular topic and the brief coverage can be misleading. For example, the section on cortisol collection suggests that it is easy and convenient to carry out and provides a few references. It does not, however, address the logistical details that make studying cortisol quite difficult. To give a few examples, 1) special assays are required, 2) samples have to be shipped on dry ice to the nearest lab, 3) the cost of assays can run as much as $13 per sample x10 samples per subject, 4) subjects must refrain from eating or drinking for two hours before sample collection, 5) subjects cannot have had recent dental work, 6) subjects cannot be using steroids, even topical creams, and 7) menstrual cycles influence cortisol, which adds a confounding variable to the collection in female subjects. None of these issues is even acknowledged. There are other areas in the book where cursory information is presented as if it's full and complete.
Assessment: Research methodology can be a tedious subject for many. Thus, this practical, easy-to-read book is an appreciated addition to the multitude of uninspired texts in this field. Although this book will not suffice as the primary text in a methodology course, it can be a great adjunct to provide practical advice through research examples. Readers with some background in research methodology will find this a valuable resource for planning new research; those looking for a more complete introduction to basic methodological concepts would likely do better with a book such as Research Methods in Psychology, 7th edition, Shaughnessy et al. (McGraw-Hill, 2005).