Political Research: An Introduction

Political Research: An Introduction

Political Research: An Introduction

Political Research: An Introduction


Political Research: An Introduction has been designed to provide an excellent starting point for those new to the area of Research Methods. It assumes no prior knowledge of the subject and sets out the key issues involved in doing research in Politics. It guides students through a complex and often daunting subject by exploring the many concepts associated with the field, as well as offering practical advice on research practices and information resources. Features and benefits of this textbook include: * boxed case studies in each chapter to illustrate and clarify key concepts, and highlight the practical use of different research methods * a useful glossary, giving easy access to definitions of key terms * a dedicated web-site containing sample material, extra case studies, important links, and essential resources for both teachers and students.


The remit of higher education in the twenty-first century requires of its students much more than detailed subject knowledge. We are firmly entrenched in a system which demands 'transferable' and 'key' skills. Unsurprisingly, in response to this, we have witnessed a diversification in academic courses which seek to answer not only the questions of 'who', 'where' and 'what', but also the 'how'. Research methods courses, in their various guises, are a central element of any Politics degree. As someone who teaches the subject, I am fully aware of how 'dry' research methods can appear and the challenge has been to write a text which students find informative and engaging.

This book seeks to provide a straightforward yet comprehensive examination of political research methods from the undergraduate perspective. It does not (and indeed cannot) make the research process 'easy', but rather raises the issues and considerations which confront any researchers undertaking their own research - be it quantitative or qualitative. Good research relies as much upon preparation and procedure as it does upon novel ideas, and this text contains many references to existing studies which should help you to comprehend the obstacles faced by those wishing to understand the world of political institutions and actors.

This text could not have been written without the efforts and encouragement of various people. In particular, I am indebted to Wolfgang Deicke and Jane Martin - both made substantive contributions to Chapters 6 and 8 respectively, and helpfully commented on other parts of the text. I should also like to thank Jocelyn Evans of the University of Salford for providing constructive and enthusiastic reviews of the book in its draft form. Needless to say, this text could never have been produced without the support of my colleagues in the Division of Sociology and Politics, University College Northampton, nor without the unflagging patience and perseverance of my husband Gary. Finally, I am grateful to Mark Kavanagh of Routledge, who has demonstrated great patience during the lengthy process of putting what seemed like a 'good idea' into print.

Lisa Harrison
University of the West of England

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