Social Science Research Handbook

Social Science Research Handbook

Social Science Research Handbook

Social Science Research Handbook

Excerpt

Perhaps the most important quality a researcher can possess when seeking facts, sifting data, and drawing conclusions is an inquiring attitude. It soon becomes evident, however, that the desire to undertake effective research in any discipline must be accompanied by a knowledge of research materials and procedures. Highly motivated students, particularly, soon become frustrated when their attempts at independent study are thwarted by a lack of knowledge of research procedures, which too often is a neglected aspect of a college education.

Purpose of This Book. Researchers with little prior knowledge of a subject must develop certain habits of thought and action in order to determine which sources of the many that may be available to them are most appropriate to consult for required information. The following questions describe typical situations in which researchers must determine what types of sources must be consulted: 1) Lacking a table giving complete titles of periodicals in a bibliography where citations are abbreviated, are there logical sources to consult? 2) Is it necessary to examine journal articles or books to determine quickly the essence of their contents? 3) Assuming that five years ago several studies were published by authorities on a topic of concern, is it possible to determine if any studies have been published since on the same topic? The answer to all of these questions is, of course, yes; all that is required is the conviction that others have encountered similar problems in the past, resulting, more than likely, in a method to alleviate the problem. The 1,500-odd selected reference works described in this book are proof that the expressed needs of social scientists have resulted in the production of many reference sources. Therefore, research strategy (i.e., procedures for obtaining information) should include knowledge of the types and functions of reference works, along with some understanding of the principles on which they are usually organized.

The aim of this book is to provide students and others doing research in the social sciences with an integrated and analytical guide to sources of information available in most academic libraries. No attempt has been made to list all materials in any particu-

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