Principles and Methods of Social Research

Principles and Methods of Social Research

Principles and Methods of Social Research

Principles and Methods of Social Research

Synopsis

An extensive revision, this classic text presents the most recent advances in social research design and methodology. The authors thoroughly describe the research process using methods derived from basic principles of scientific inquiry and demonstrate how they apply to the study of human behavior. These applications make it an indispensable resource for all fields of human social research, particularly communication, psychology, public health, and marketing. With a heavy emphasis on reliability and validity, the book considers experimental, quasi-experimental, and survey research designs in light of these qualities. Principles and Methods of Social Research is noted for its: *emphasis on understanding the principles that govern the use of a method to facilitate the researcher's choice of the proper methodological approach; *use of the laboratory experiment as a point of reference for describing and evaluating field experiments, correlational designs, quasi-experiments, and survey designs; and *unique chapter on the ethics of social research including the power a researcher wields and tips on how to use it responsibly. Highlights of the thoroughly expanded and updated edition include: *new chapters on meta-analysis and social cognition methods; * the latest on experimental operations and procedures, such as implicit measures, simulations, and Internet experiments; * expanded coverage of conducting experiments outside of the lab, including conducting experiments on the Web and on applied evaluation research methods, including efficacy and effectiveness research. Intended as a text for upper-level and graduate courses in research methods in social psychology, the social sciences, communications, and public health research. No previous methods courses are required.

Excerpt

We wrote our first book on research methods fresh out of graduate school. Having both trained at Northwestern University under the watchful eye and, at times, thumb, of Donald Campbell, we were heavily invested in the experimental method, and the particular mindset that Campbell and Stanley (1966) had championed in their classic monograph, Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Research. It seemed to us then that the most certain avenue to advance in the social sciences was via the experimental road. In some ways, we still adhere to this proposition. Despite a host of worthy competitors, we believe the experiment remains the single most certain method to uncover causal relationships. Further, the experimental model provides a useful standard against which to evaluate the quality and utility of research findings based on non-experimental techniques. As a reference point, the experiment is useful even in settings that do not admit to the experimental method.

At the same time that we learned and absorbed the critical importance of experimental techniques, we were learning about the developing quasi-experimental approaches, which Cook and Campbell (1979) elaborated so elegantly, and which in no small measure helped establish the sub-field of evaluation research. In so doing, development of the quasi-experimental approaches also contributed to the developing recognition in the field that applications of our methods in socially relevant field settings was not an unworthy activity. In this book, we discuss the research emphases that have developed on the basis of hard thinking about experiments and their limits, their potential for social good, their application, and their misapplication.

That the experiment is not the only method available to social scientists is abundantly clear, perhaps more so today than yesterday. Similarly, the strict conditions that govern the appropriate use of the experiment are perhaps more obvious and accepted than in earlier times in the field. And yes, we recognize more clearly now than before that features inherent in the method itself can cause serious problems in inference, if not controlled. These issues have become increasingly central features of methodological disquiet over the years, and this ferment has been beneficial. The apprehension regarding the proper use of the experiment, its weaknesses as well as its strengths, reflects the developing . . .

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