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Bryman's Social Research Methods

Sixth Edition

Tom Clark, Liam Foster, Luke Sloan, and Alan Bryman

09 August 2021

ISBN: 9780198796053

704 pages

In Stock

Price: £47.99

The bestselling introduction to research methods, offering unrivalled coverage of both quantitative and qualitative methods to support students through the whole research process.


Clear, comprehensive, and trusted, Bryman's Social Research Methods has guided over a quarter of a million students through their research methods course and student research project. The thoroughly updated sixth edition offers unrivalled coverage of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods with renewed focus and a fresh, modern feel.

  • Exceptionally comprehensive but practical and student-friendly, offering clear and complete coverage of all the key areas of social research methods.
  • Provides lasting value by supporting social science students twice over: initially, as an essential companion for a research methods module, and later as an invaluable source of information and tips when conducting independent research.
  • Clear theoretical explanations in the main text are enhanced by 'Key concept' boxes, which summarize important terms and processes, and 'Thinking deeply' boxes, which encourage students to go further in considering an issue or debate.
  • Numerous examples of published research, in 'Research in focus' boxes, help bridge the gap between theory and practice. Spanning cultures, geographies, and academic disciplines, these studies reflect the breadth of issues explored in social science: they cover a huge range of topics, from political protests, veganism, and climate change, to online dating, emojis, and Instagram selfies.
  • Students seeking practical guidance for conducting their own research can hone in on punchy 'Tips and skills' boxes, end-of-chapter 'Checklists', and new 'Learn from experience' boxes in which recent graduates share insights from their research into a variety of fascinating topics - including social media attitudes towards the LGBT+ community, and the experiences of Pakistani Muslim single mothers.
  • Extensive digital resources help students grasp key concepts and develop practical research skills. They include multiple choice questions, templates and examples, a 'research process in practice' simulation, videos from the 'Learn from experience' graduates, and screencast tutorials for the main data analysis software programmes (SPSS, Nvivo, R, and Stata).
  • Also available as an e-book enhanced with self-assessment activities and multi-media content to offer a fully immersive experience and extra learning support.

New to this edition

  • Thoroughly but sensitively updated by three new authors. Dr Tom Clark, Dr Liam Foster, and Dr Luke Sloan bring specialist expertise and have worked closely with students and lecturers to build on Alan Bryman's impressive legacy.
  • Extensively streamlined to provide even more focused coverage of the key aspects of social research, with adjustments made throughout to improve clarity and aid navigation.
  • A more straightforward writing style makes the content easier for all students to follow, particularly those for whom English is not a first language. Vocabulary is simpler, jargon and idiomatic phrases have been removed, and complex discussions have been broken into manageable parts.
  • A clean, attractive new design makes the material easier than ever to read and use.
  • Coverage - including citations and real research examples - has been broadened to better reflect the concerns and contexts of the book's geographically diverse, multi-disciplinary readership. Discussions of feminist perspectives have also been updated to highlight wider issues relating to marginalised groups and power dynamics in research, and inclusive, ethical practices are consistently endorsed.
  • New material on recent developments within social research, including social media research and big data, has been embedded throughout and the numerous examples of real research have been thoroughly updated.
  • In new 'Learn from experience' boxes, recent social science graduates from across the UK and Europe share their experiences of conducting a student research project. These candid accounts will inspire readers and help them to avoid common pitfalls and emulate successful approaches.
  • Expanded digital resources now include a 'research process in practice' simulation, answers to the end-of-chapter questions, videos from the new 'Learn from experience' graduate panel, and screencast tutorials covering the data analysis software packages SPSS, Nvivo, R, and Stata.

About the Author(s)

Tom Clark, Lecturer in Research Methods, The University of Sheffield, Liam Foster, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy & Social Work, The University of Sheffield, Luke Sloan, Reader at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, and Alan Bryman, Former Professor of Organizational and Social Research, The University of Leicester

Dr Tom Clark is a Lecturer in Research Methods at the University of Sheffield, UK. He is interested in all aspects of methods and methodology, particularly with respect to learning and teaching. His other interests have variously focussed on the sociology of evil, student experiences of higher education, and football fandom. Tom's work has been published in a wide variety of journals, including Sociology, Qualitative Research, Social Policy and Administration, Teaching in Higher Education, the Journal of Education and Work, and Qualitative Social Work.

Dr Liam Foster is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Sheffield, UK, who specializes in pensions and theories of ageing. Liam also has a longstanding interest in methods and has published widely in this area, including Beginning Statistics for Social Scientists (with Sir Ian Diamond and Dr Julie Jefferies). He has been an invited speaker at the Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions, the European Parliament in Brussels, the House of Lords, and the UN in New York, as a world leading expert on ageing. Liam is a member of the UK Social Policy Association Executive Committee. He is also the Managing Editor of Social Policy and Society.

Dr Luke Sloan is a Reader, Deputy Director of the Social Data Science Lab, and Co-Director of Cardiff Q-Step at the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, UK. Luke's internationally recognised work focuses on exploring how social media data, specifically from Twitter, can be used for social scientific research. He is co-editor of the SAGE Handbook of Social Media Research Methods and has published widely on how Twitter can help us understand social phenomena and the ethics of using this data for research. His work has appeared in journals including Sociology, Social Media + Society, the British Journal of Criminology, Electoral Studies, PLoS ONE, and the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics.

Alan Bryman was Professor of Organizational and Social Research at the University of Leicester from 2005 to 2017. Prior to this he was Professor of Social Research at Loughborough University for 31 years. His main research interests were in leadership, especially in higher education, research methods (particularly mixed methods research), and the 'Disneyization' and 'McDonaldization' of modern society. Alan also co-authored Business Research Methods (Oxford University Press, 2018), helped conceive of How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation (Oxford University Press, 2019), and contributed to a range of leading journals: he was an extraordinarily well-cited and internationally renowned social scientist.

Table of Contents

    Part 1: The research process
    1:The nature and process of social research
    2:Social research strategies: quantitative research and qualitative research
    3:Research designs
    4:Planning a research project and formulating research questions
    5:Reviewing the literature
    6:Ethics and politics in social research
    Part 2: Quantitative research
    7:The nature of quantitative research
    8:Sampling in quantitative research
    9: Structured interviewing
    10:Self-completion questionnaires
    11:Asking questions
    12:Structured observation
    13:Content analysis
    14:Using existing data
    15:Quantitative data analysis
    Part 3: Qualitative research
    16:The nature of qualitative research
    17:Sampling in qualitative research
    18:Ethnography and participant observation
    19:Interviewing in qualitative research
    20:Focus groups
    21:Language in qualitative research
    22:Documents as sources of data
    23:Qualitative data analysis
    Part 4: Mixed methods research and writing up
    24:Mixed methods research
    25:Writing up social research


"The importance of evidence to inform decisions on social phenomena has never been greater; or more widely accepted. This book, which I have loved throughout its successive editions, remains a model of clarity and of balance in choice of research method and strategy to undertake the research. The authors deserve huge credit for modernising this excellent book while losing none of its insight." - Professor Sir Ian Diamond, UK National Statistician, formerly Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of Aberdeen, and Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council

Additional Resources

Digital formats and resources

Bryman's Social Research Methods is available for students and institutions to purchase in a variety of formats, and is supported by extensive online resources.

The e-book offers a mobile experience and convenient access, with learning resources embedded and hyperlinked throughout to offer self-assessment activities and extra support: www.oxfordtextbooks.co.uk/ebooks

The student resources, accessible both online and via the e-book, include:

- Over 300 multiple choice questions
- A 'Research process in practice' simulation
- Student researcher's toolkit
- Answers to the end-of-chapter questions, including audio commentary from the authors
- A flashcard glossary
- Data analysis software tutorials covering SPSS, NVivo, R, and Stata
- Guidance on using Excel in data analysis
- 'Learn from experience' videos, expanding on the graduate insights provided in the book
- Regularly-updated video reflections from the authors on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on social research

The book's teaching resources, accessible online to adopting lecturers, include:

- PowerPoint slides for every chapter
- 250 test bank questions
- 25 seminar outlines
- 75 exam- or coursework-based questions
- Figures and tables from the book