Understanding Multivariate Research: A Primer for Beginning Social Scientists

Understanding Multivariate Research: A Primer for Beginning Social Scientists

Understanding Multivariate Research: A Primer for Beginning Social Scientists

Understanding Multivariate Research: A Primer for Beginning Social Scientists

Synopsis

Providing a concise introduction to regression analysis & other multivariate techniques, this text is designed to give graduate students a grasp of multivariate analysis sufficient to understand the essential elements of research.

Excerpt

If social science departments wanted to structure their graduate programs to allow students to make the best use of their training in research methodology, they would probably devote their students'first semester of course work to methods training, using applications from the literature as illustrations but delaying substantive courses until students had completed a department's core methods courses. Of course, very few programs are structured in this fashion. Indeed, such a course schedule would likely leave students frustrated with having to delay beginning the study of human affairs until the second semester.

In most graduate programs the core methods sequence is stretched over two or three semesters. A typical three-semester version includes philosophy of science and research design in the first semester, introductory statistics in the second, and multivariate analysis -- emphasizing regression -- in the third. So in practice, exposure to regression analysis and other multivariate techniques often does not come until well into a student's second or third semester in graduate school. However, before this exposure, students are taking substantive courses and reading literature that relies on regression and other, similar techniques. In effect, we have been teaching students to evaluate quantitative social science research much like parents who teach their young children to swim by throwing them into the middle of a pool without any prior instruction. Our students may learn to "swim" -- to survive -- but they certainly won't have any fun doing so.

As teachers, we ought to do better. Yet virtually all textbooks covering multivariate methods -- even those intended for intro-

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