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Understanding Research Methods: A Guide for the Public and Nonprofit Manager

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Overview

Managers and administrators in the public-policy and nonprofit sectors rely heavily on analytical skills to quickly pore through a massive amount of research. They dissect it and apply specific, useful data that can inform critical policy changes and help them improve their organization’s overall performance and financial position. To master this vital role, it is imperative that they and their staff learn to be more efficient at collecting, analyzing and evaluating research material, by discovering how to ask the right questions and quickly discern valuable information from useless data.

A Blueprint to Streamline Every Aspect of the Research Process

Focusing on the entire research process from start to finish, the compact but comprehensive Understanding Research Methods: A Guide for the Public and Nonprofit Manager explores the research designs and analytical tools that are the foundation for decision-making. Relying more on concepts and analysis than on mathematics, this text provides insight into the definition, process, importance, and capabilities of research – addressing the topic from the perspectives of both the producer of data and the consumer who evaluates its usefulness.

Broken down into three sections, the book:

  • Gives an overview of the research process, the construction of measures, and research ethics
  • Elaborates on planning a research method, presenting common research designs used by practitioners and the most useful, popular ways to collect data
  • Focuses on tools available to analyze and then communicate data – specifically univariate and bivariate analyses

This versatile text is intended for dual uses – as a textbook for graduate and undergraduate students in public and nonprofit administration and public policy, and as a practical guide for the average administrator. Both groups will learn how to develop proper research questions, define specific research purposes, and form hypotheses that avoid confusion in measurement and analysis. Imparting basic practical knowledge, it outlines effective approaches to gather accurate, relevant information and then effectively interpret and communicate it.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction to Research
Research
Overview of Book

The Research Process
The Purpose of Research
Development of Research Focus

Variable Construction
Characteristics of Measurements
The Development of Variables
Reliability
Validity

Research Ethics
Ethics in the Research Process
Protection of Human Subjects

Research Designs
Validity
Research Designs
Threats to Validity

Data Collection
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources

Sampling
Some Definitions
Sample Selection
Sample Size
Error
Reaching Respondents and Improving Response Rates
Appendices

Questionnaire Construction
Question Wording
Question Structure
Response Formats for Closed Questions
Questionnaire Layout
Cover Letters
Final Stages

Coding and Managing Data
The Codebook
Coding
Database Management
Descriptive Data Analysis
Central Tendency: Finding the Most, Middle, or Average
Measures of Dispersion
Graphics
Calculating Descriptive Statistics and Creating the Graphics

Bivariate Statistics
Testing for Relationships
Cross Tabulations
Difference of Means
Analysis of Variance
Correlation

Communicating Research Results
The Components of a Research Paper
Presenting Tables and Graphics

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