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Approaches to Social Research

Fifth Edition

Royce A. Singleton, Jr. and Bruce C. Straits

Publication Date - August 2009

ISBN: 9780195372984

672 pages
6 1/8 X 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $115.95

Revised and updated in its fifth edition, this rigorous yet clear and engaging introduction provides balanced and comprehensive coverage of social research methods for upper-level courses, with a unique chapter on multiple methods


Revised and updated in its fifth edition, Approaches to Social Research is a rigorous yet clear and engaging introduction to research methods. Covering all of the fundamentals in a straightforward, student-friendly manner, it is ideal for undergraduate- and graduate-level courses across the social sciences and also serves as an indispensable guide for researchers. Striking a balance between specific techniques and the underlying logic of scientific inquiry, this book provides a lucid treatment of the four major approaches to research: experimentation, survey research, field research, and the use of available data. Richly developed examples of empirical research and an emphasis on the research process enable students to better understand the real-world application of research methods. The authors also offer a unique chapter (13) advocating a multiple-methods strategy.

New to this Edition

  • Many updated examples that are current and relevant to students' daily lives
  • New examples from an array of disciplines, including the use of experimental design in political science and economics
  • A revised chapter on ethics, which now appears earlier in the book (Chapter 3)
  • Extensively revised and updated chapters on survey research (9-10) and writing research reports (17) that incorporate new developments in methodology and technology
  • A new series of more than 100 key points, set off throughout the text
  • A more visually appealing interior design featuring tables, large text boxes, figures, and charts
  • New exercises in every chapter
  • Companion Website (maintained by the authors) offering a glossary and the following material for each chapter: answers to selected text exercises, true/false and matching quizzes, suggested readings, and web resources http://college.holycross.edu/projects/approaches5/

Previous Publication Date(s)

August 2004
September 1998
March 1993

Table of Contents

    Chapters 2-17 end with a Summary.
    Chapter 1. Introduction
    Why Study Research Methods?
    Consuming Research Evidence
    Producing Research Evidence
    Methodological Approaches to the Social World
    Some Preliminary Research Questions
    An Experimental Answer
    An Answer from Survey Research
    An Answer from Field Research
    An Answer from Available Data
    An Overview of the Book
    Chapter 2. The Nature of Science
    The Aim of Science
    Science as Product
    Scientific versus Nonscientific Questions
    Knowledge as Description
    Knowledge as Explanation and Prediction
    Knowledge as Understanding
    Tentative Knowledge
    Science as Process
    Durkheim's Study of Suicide
    Logical Reasoning
    Science: Ideal versus Reality
    Chapter 3. Research Ethics
    Data Collection and Analysis
    Treatment of Human Subjects
    Informed Consent
    Making Ethical Decisions
    The Uses of Research: Science and Society
    The Issue of Value Neutrality
    The Application of Research Findings
    Chapter 4. Elements of Research Design
    Origins of Research Topics
    Units of Analysis
    Aggregate Data
    Ecological Fallacy
    Types of Variables
    Relationships among Qualitative Variables
    Relationships among Quantitative Variables
    Relationships between a Qualitative and a Quantitative Variable
    Statistically Significant Relationships
    The Nature of Causal Relationships
    Formulating Questions and Hypotheses
    Research Purposes and Research Design
    Stages of Social Research
    Stage 1: Formulation of the Research Question
    Stage 2: Preparation of the Research Design
    Stage 3: Measurement
    Stage 4: Sampling
    Stage 5: Data Collection
    Stage 6: Data Processing
    Stage 7: Data Analysis and Interpretation
    Chapter 5. Measurement
    The Measurement Process
    Operational Definitions in Social Research
    Verbal Reports
    Archival Records
    Selection of Operational Definitions
    Operational Definitions in Social Research
    Verbal Reports
    Archival Records
    Selection of Operational Definitions
    Levels of Measurement
    Nominal Measurement
    Ordinal Measurement
    Interval Measurement
    Ratio Measurement
    Reliability and Validity
    Sources of Error
    Reliability Assessment
    Test-Retest Reliability
    Split-Half and Internal Consistency Reliability
    Intercoder Reliability
    Improving Reliability
    Validity Assessment
    Subjective Validation
    Criterion-Related Validation
    Construct Validation
    A Final Note on Reliability and Validity
    Chapter 6. Sampling
    Why Sample?
    Population Definition
    Sampling Designs
    Probability Sampling
    Random Selection
    Simple Random Sampling
    Stratified Random Sampling
    Cluster Sampling
    Systematic Sampling
    Nonprobability Sampling
    Convenience Sampling
    Purposive Sampling
    Quota Sampling
    Other Sampling Designs
    Combined Probability and Nonprobability Sampling
    Referral Sampling
    Factors Affecting Choice of Sampling Design
    Stage of Research and Data Use
    Available Resources
    Method of Data Collection
    Factors Determining Sample Size
    Population Heterogeneity
    Desired Precision
    Sampling Design
    Available Resources
    Number of Breakdowns Planned
    Final Notes on Sampling Errors and Generalizability
    Chapter 7. Experimentation
    The Logic of Experimentation
    Testing Causal Relationships
    Matching and Random Assignment
    Internal and External Validity
    Sampling in Experiments
    Staging Experiments
    An Example: Who Will Intervene?
    Subject Recruitment and Acquisition of Informed Consent
    Introduction to the Experiment
    The Experimental Manipulation
    Manipulation Checks
    Measurement of the Dependent Variable
    Experimental and Mundane Realism
    The Experiment as a Social Occasion
    Demand Characteristics
    Evaluation Apprehension
    Other Motives of Experimental Subjects
    Experimenter Effects
    Minimizing Bias Due to the Social Nature of Experimentation
    Experimentation Outside the Laboratory
    Field Experiments
    Experimental Designs in Survey Research
    Units of Analysis Other than Individuals
    Chapter 8. Experimental Designs
    Threats to Internal Validity
    Pre-experimental Designs
    Design 1: The One-Shot Case Study
    Design 2: The One-Group Pretest-Posttest Design
    Design 3: The Static-Group Comparison
    True Experimental Designs
    Design 4: The Pretest-Posttest Control Group Design
    Design 5: The Posttest-Only Control Group Design
    Design 6: The Solomon Four-Group Design
    Within-Subjects Designs
    Overview of True Experimental Designs
    Factorial Experimental Designs
    Interaction Effects
    Quasi-experimental Designs
    Example 1: Interracial Attitudes and Behavior at a Summer Camp
    Example 2: The Connecticut Crackdown on Speeding
    Chapter 9. Survey Research
    General Features of Survey Research
    Large-Scale Probability Sampling
    Systematic Procedures: Interviews and Questionnaires
    Quantitative Data Analysis
    Secondary Analysis of Surveys
    The Uses and Limitations of Surveys
    Survey Research Designs
    Cross-Sectional Designs
    Longitudinal Designs
    Steps in Survey Research: Planning
    Face-to-Face and Telephone Interviewing
    Face-to-Face Interviewing
    Telephone Interviewing
    Paper-and-Pencil Questionnaires
    Computer-Assisted Self-Interviews
    Mixed-Mode Surveys
    Field Administration
    Interviewer Selection
    Interviewer Training
    Gaining Access
    Supervision and Quality Control
    Follow-Up Efforts
    Chapter 10. Survey Instrumentation
    The Survey as a Social Occasion
    Materials Available to the Survey Designer
    Open-Ended and Closed-Ended Questions
    Direct and Indirect Questions
    Response Formats
    Visual and Media Aids
    Existing Questions
    "Sketches" or Preliminaries
    The Opening
    The Placement of Sensitive and Routine Questions
    Order, Flow, and Transition
    Filling in the Sketch: Writing the Items
    Using Language Effectively
    The "Frame of Reference" Problem
    Reason Analysis
    Memory Problems
    Response Bias Problems
    Format Considerations
    Mixed-Mode Instrument Designs
    Cognitive Laboratory Interviews
    Field Pretesting
    Chapter 11. Field Research
    The Potentials and Limitations of Field Research
    Research Design and Sampling
    Sampling in Field Research
    Field Observation
    Nonparticipant Observation
    Participant Observation
    Field Interviewing
    Stages of Field Research
    A Field Study of the Homeless
    Selecting a Research Setting
    Gaining Access
    Presenting Oneself
    Gathering Information
    Analyzing the Data
    Chapter 12. Research Using Available Data
    Sources of Available Data
    Public Documents and Official Records
    Private Documents
    Mass Media
    Physical, Nonverbal Evidence
    Social Science Data Archives
    Advantages of Research Using Available Data
    Nonreactive Measurement
    Analyzing Social Structure
    Studying and Understanding the Past
    Understanding Social Change
    Studying Problems Cross-Culturally
    Improving Knowledge through Replication and Increased Sample Size
    Savings on Research Costs
    General Methodological Issues in Available-Data Research
    Searching for and Procuring Available Data
    Measurement of Key Concepts
    Evaluation and Adjustment of Data
    Assessment of Data Completeness
    Historical Analysis
    Descriptive and Analytical History
    Handling Documentary Evidence
    Historical Interpretation
    Content Analysis
    Selecting and Defining Content Categories
    Defining the Unit of Analysis
    Deciding on a System of Enumeration
    Carrying Out the Analysis
    Chapter 13. Multiple Methods
    Multiple Measures of Concepts within the Same Study
    Composite Measures: Indexes and Scales
    Structural Equation Modeling
    Multiple Tests of Hypotheses across Different Studies
    Replications Using the Same Research Strategy: Social Exclusion and Helping
    Replications Using Different Research Strategies
    A Comparison of the Four Basic Approaches to Social Research
    Problem Formulation
    Data Collection
    Data Evaluation
    Analysis and Interpretation
    Public Presentation
    Chapter 14. Evaluation Research
    Framework and Sample Studies
    Example 1: Feeding the Homeless
    Example 2: Aid to Released Prisoners
    Example 3: Curbing Drunk Driving
    Types of Evaluation Research
    Problem Identification: Conceptualization and Diagnosis
    Policy Planning: Needs and Social Impact Assessments
    Program Development: Formative Evaluation
    Program Implementation: Program Monitoring
    Program Evaluation: Effect and Efficiency Assessment
    Methodological Issues in Evaluation Research
    Theory as a Guide to Research
    Research Design and Internal Validity
    Measurement Validity
    External Validity
    The Social and Political Context of Evaluation Research
    Chapter 15. Data Processing and Elementary Data Analysis
    Preview of Analysis Steps
    Data Processing
    Entering the Data
    Data Matrices and Documentation
    The Functions of Statistics in Social Research
    Inspecting and Modifying the Data
    Nominal- and Ordinal-Scale Variables
    Interval- and Ratio-Scale Variables
    Preliminary Hypothesis Testing
    Nominal- and Ordinal-Scale Variables
    Interval- and Ratio-Scale Variables
    Chapter 16. Multivariate Analysis
    Modeling Relationships
    Arrow Diagrams
    Stochastic and Systematic Components
    The Process of Modeling
    Elaboration: Tables and Beyond
    Multiple-Regression Analysis
    Example 1: The Moral Integration of American Cities
    Example 2: Interscholastic Sports and Academic Achievement
    Example 3: Textile Workers and Union Sentiment
    Other Modeling Techniques
    Chapter 17. Writing Research Reports
    Searching the Literature
    Using the Internet
    Using the Library
    Outlining and Preparing to Write
    Major Headings
    The Abstract
    Literature Review
    Other Considerations
    The Writing-Reading Interface
    Avoiding Plagiarism
    Name Index
    Subject Index