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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology by S Alexander Haslam, Craig McGarty (Sage Publications)The revised edition of a text formerly known as Doing Psychology takes the approach that students who understand the logic of research will be able to see more clearly exactly what they need statistics for, and will then be motivated to understand more clearly what statistics can do for them, as well as what they cannot do. New chapters provide an introduction to analysis of variance, chi-square and distribution-free procedures, qualitative measures, and the writing of research reports.

It seems like a long time ago that we wrote the forerunner to this book, Doing Psychology. At the time we were relatively new to our lecturing jobs and to the process of developing and teaching courses on research methodology and statistics. In the interim, much has happened in our lives, but we have still retained our enthusiasm for psychology and the desire to engage students in the process of conducting psychological research. Consequently, when approached by the publisher, we were keen to thoroughly revise and update Doing Psychology in order to enhance its original content – in particular, by taking heed of the very generous feedback that we had received from colleagues around the world For the most part this feedback encouraged us to write some new material that was pitched at the same level as the first volume (and retained its clarity and accessibility) but which tackled additional statistical, methodological and practical issues.

As a result, the present edition incorporates new chapters that provide introductions to (a) analysis of variance, (b) chi-square and distribution-free procedures, and (c) qualitative methods, as well as (d) an appendix on writing research reports. Each chapter now also includes practical exercises and discussion topics, as well as a checklist summarizing the key points that should inform relevant aspects of research practice. Partly as a reflection of the substantial nature of these changes, but also because we felt there was a need to disambiguate the original title, this second edition also goes by a more traditional name. The result of these changes, we hope, is a text that retains the freshness of the original volume (and which proves equally attractive to students and teachers), but which takes readers further down the road towards mastery of the many facets of research methods and statistics in psychology.

In Chapter 2 we consider why people are motivated to conduct psychological research in the first place and the broad goals they set themselves when they do. We also identify properties which are generally considered the hallmark of good research and that are therefore most prized by members of the research community. Not surprisingly, because these properties can be viewed as prescriptions for research practice (effectively telling researchers what they should and should not aim for), there is controversy about their appropriateness and utility. For example, although we strongly endorse the view that psychology is a science, this scientific status is neither unproblematic (what does it mean?) nor uncontested (is it really?). In this chapter we outline these and other controversies, and some of the major camps into which researchers fall.

In Chapter 3 we discuss the main strategies which researchers employ to address different types of research question. We start by looking at precisely what psychologists measure and observe in their research and at the basis and consequences of measurement decisions. We then look at the aims of measurement in experimental, quasi-experimental, survey and case-study research. We outline the key features of each of these four methods and the kinds of conclusion each allows researchers to draw. We consider the factors that determine when each method is used and discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.

In Chapter 4 we examine the experimental method in detail and explore how experiments are designed and conducted in psychology. In particular, we focus on the choices that using the experimental method involves, their consequences, and the factors to be considered when making them. These choices include decisions about who should participate in a study, what things should be controlled and what should be measured. Similar considerations are also central to Chapter 5 where we look at survey methodology and design. In both chapters we emphasize the types of inference which the various methods allow the researcher to make and consider how features of research design impact on our ability to make particular types of inference.

Chapters 6 to 9 introduce statistical concepts that are essential to almost all psychological research. These will form the backbone of the statistical knowledge that you will need to take from this book into more advanced courses or into a research setting. However, because our aim is to help you become a researcher rather than a mathematician, we generally downplay the algebraic and computational aspects of the statistics we introduce. It is our belief that the main obstacles to becoming a good researcher are conceptual not mathematical, so it is on overcoming these conceptual problems that we have chosen to expend most of our (and your) energy. For 99% of readers the mathematical (mainly algebraic) skills required to take you through this book will be ones that you acquired at high school (though your memory may need a bit of refreshing). We want to make it clear that statistics are not weapons of torture heralded from some alien world in order to confuse and deceive. Instead they are natural and sensible tools that are used in research (and other) contexts to make certain features of reality easier to grasp.

All the research methods discussed in Chapters 3 to 5 have one feature in common – they ultimately require the collection of research data. The first stage in handling almost all research data involves simply summarizing their most important features. In Chapter 6 we discuss the procedures most commonly used for describing data: those involved in representing typical data and the spread of data. This chapter thus includes our first attempt to make numerical statements about the properties of a given set of data. In other words, it introduces us to descriptive statistics.

Chapter 7 deals with a second class of statistics, those used to determine whether our inferences are sensible – that is, to make state­ments about what is going on in our research and about how our research findings relate to underlying reality. These inferences allow us to determine how likely it is that a given event has occurred by chance, and hence how `special' it is. Inferential statistics allow us to establish, for example, how unlikely it is that if you asked a class of students to take a multiple-choice exam their average score would be above 65% if they were responding randomly. If this event is extremely unlikely and if you find that the average class score is above 65%, then this tells you that their performance is, in some sense, remarkable.

In fact, though, researchers do not (or should not) just ask endless questions and get people to do different things on the off chance that something remarkable will crop up. Instead, these types of activity are usually carried out in the context of a specific research question or hypothesis (a statement of what the effect of one thing should be on another). For example, a researcher may have a hypothesis that a particular class will perform well on an exam – perhaps because they are very bright, or have studied very hard, or have been well taught.

Inferential statistics are normally used as part of a hypothesis-testing exercise, as they allow the researcher to make qualified judgements about the degree of support for a particular hypothesis. Chapter 8 discusses these procedures as they are applied by researchers who are interested in comparing two sets of data that have been obtained in different situations (e.g., comparing the test performance of two different classes of students, or the same class at different times). Chapter 9 extends this analysis to examine situations in which more than two data sets are compared. Chapter 10 then discusses these procedures as they are applied to examine the relationship between variables (where a variable is simply a dimension on which people may differ, like age, mood or intelligence). Finally, Chapter 11 looks at a range of inferential statistics that are used to deal with categorical, proportional and ranked data (e.g., where researchers are not compar­ing two classes test scores but the proportion of people in the two classes who passed).

Having focused in the previous chapters on the way in which researchers collect and analyse numerical data, Chapter 12 provides an alternative perspective on the research process by looking at a class of techniques in which research findings are non-numerical. Here the emphasis is not on quantitative examination of psychological process (e.g., in terms of scores, speed or accuracy), but rather on qualitative approaches which attempt to discover and communicate the rich texture of particular forms of behaviour (e.g., language, movement and inter-action). Approaches like these are particularly useful when the essence of a phenomenon or process is at risk of being lost or changed through quantification. For this reason they are often used by researchers who are critical of quantitative approaches or who want to check that a quan­titative approach does justice to the topic in which they are interested.

Chapter 13 steps back from the mechanics of conducting and analysing different forms of research to explore research ethics. Like the issues dealt with in Chapter 2, these are some of the most thorny in the research process. Leaving our consideration of these until the end of the book may appear to be inconsistent with the book's overall structure and the sharpening focus of the chapters. However, this chapter appears here not because it was an afterthought, but because we believe that it is necessary to have a full understanding of what the research process entails before one can reflect on its ethical implications and appropriateness.

Our concern in Chapter 13, as in all the others, is not so much to argue for one position over another (though we do express our opinions). Instead we set out the various considerations and positions with which researchers need to be familiar, and on which they need ultimately to take a stance themselves. This discussion also serves to take the book full circle, ending up by locating the research process within the world of people's values, perceptions and behaviour – the world that research sets out to understand and interpret. Sciences do not exist outside society but are a part of it, and scientific ethics express and reinforce the bond between science and society. This is especially apparent in psychology because the topics that it deals with are often quite sensitive and can sometimes be extremely controversial.

The concluding chapter attempts to bring together all the material discussed in the book in an integrated analysis of the research process as a whole. This analysis centres around the observation that when they conduct psychological research all researchers have to confront differ­ent forms of uncertainty. The chapter discusses what these forms are, and how each can best be dealt with.

A key point here is that it is generally impossible (and also undesir­able) to eliminate all uncertainty from the research process. None­theless, one hallmark of a good researcher is the ability to manage uncertainty appropriately. Accordingly, a major objective of this book is to help you acquire this ability.

Introduction to Behavioral Research Methods, Fourth Research Edition by Mark R. Leary (Pearson Allyn & Bacon) shows students how to conceptualize questions, measure variables, design studies, and analyze data.

The RESEARCH EDITION integrates the content of this popular text with Research Navigator, your first stop for completing research assignments and finding credible sources on the Internet. Research Navigator icons in the text guide you to the Research Navigator web site, providing you with access to three exclusive databases of credible and reliable source material:

  • EBSCO's ContentSelect Academic Journal Database
  • New York Times Search by Subject Archive
  • “Best of the Web” Link Library

Research Navigator will help you quickly and efficiently make the most of your research time.

Research Methodology is not an inherently interesting topic. This book counteracts the natural tendency to shy away from research with an understandable, palatable, useful, and interesting, and above all, readable attempt to explain research methods. Knowing proper research methodology comes from an understanding of basic statistical principles, research design, measurement, descriptive studies, and scientific writing. This book addresses each subject section by section to enhance conceptual learning rather than regurgitation of calculations. For anyone who needs to learn proper research methodology in psychology, social work, teaching, or public relations.

Excerpt: Regardless of how good a particular class is, the students' enthusiasm for the course material is rarely, if ever, as great as the professor's. No matter how inter­esting the material, how motivated the students, or how skillful the professor, those who take a course are seldom as enthralled with the content as those who teach it. We've all taken courses in which an animated, nearly zealous professor faced a classroom of only mildly interested students.

In departments founded on the principles of behavioral science—psychology, communication, human development, education, marketing, social work, and the like—this discrepancy in student and faculty interest is perhaps most pronounced in courses that deal with research design and analysis. On one hand, the faculty members who teach courses in research methods are usually quite enthused about research. Many have contributed to the research literature in their own areas of ex­pertise, and some are highly regarded researchers within their fields. On the other hand, despite these instructors' best efforts to bring the course alive, students often dread taking methods courses. They find these courses dry and difficult and won-der why such courses are required as part of their curriculum. Thus, the enthused, involved instructor is often confronted by a class of disinterested, even hostile stu­dents who begrudge the fact that they must study research methods at all.

These attitudes are understandable. After all, students who choose to study psychology, education, human development, and other areas that rely on behav­ioral research rarely do so because they are enamored with research. Rather, they either plan to enter a profession in which knowledge of behavior is relevant (such as professional psychology, social work, teaching, or public relations) or are intrin­sically interested in the subject matter. Although some students eventually come to appreciate the value of research to behavioral science, the helping professions, and society, others continue to regard it as an unnecessary curricular diversion imposed by misguided academicians. For many students, being required to take courses in methodology and statistics supplants other courses in which they are more interested.

In addition, the concepts, principles, analyses, and ways of thinking central to the study of research methods are new to most students and, thus, require extra effort to comprehend, learn, and retain. Add to that the fact that the topics covered in research methods courses are, on the whole, inherently less interesting than those covered in most other courses in psychology and related fields. If the in­structor and textbook authors do not make a special effort to make the material in­teresting and relevant, students are unlikely to derive much enjoyment from studying research methods.

I wrote Introduction to Behavioral Research Methods because, as a teacher and as a researcher, I wanted a book that would help counteract students' natural tenden­cies to dislike and shy away from research—a book that would make research

methodology as understandable, palatable, useful, and interesting for my students as it was for me. Thus, my primary goal was to write a book that is readable. Students should be able to understand most of the material in a book such as this without the course instructor having to serve as an interpreter. Enhancing comprehensi­bility can be achieved in two ways. The less preferred way is simply to dilute the material by omitting complex topics and by presenting material in a simplified, "dumbed-down" fashion. The alternative that I chose to pursue in this text is to present the material with sufficient elaboration, explanation, and examples to render it understandable. The feedback that I have received on the three previous edi­tions of the book make me optimistic that I have succeeded in my goal to create a rigorous yet readable book.

A second goal was to integrate the various topics covered in the book to a greater extent than is done in most methods texts, using the concept of variability as a unifying theme. From the development of a research idea, through measurement issues, to design and analysis, the entire research process is an attempt to un­derstand variability in behavior. Because the concept of variability is woven throughout the research process, I've used it as a framework to provide coherence to the various topics in the book. Having taught research methods courses centered around the theme of variability for over 20 years, I can attest that students find the unifying theme very useful.

Third, I tried to write a book that is interesting—that presents ideas in an en-gaging fashion and uses provocative examples of real and hypothetical research. This edition of the book has even more examples of real research, tidbits about the lives of famous researchers, and intriguing controversies that have arisen in be­havioral science. Far from being icing on the cake, these features help to enliven the research enterprise. Like most researchers, I am enthusiastic about the research process, and I hope that some of my fervor will be contagious.

Courses in research methods differ widely in the degree to which statistics are incorporated into the course. My personal view is that students' understanding of research methodology is enhanced by familiarity with basic statistical principles. Without an elementary grasp of statistical concepts, students will find it very difficult to understand the research articles they read. Although this book is decidedly focused on research methodology and design, I've sprinkled essential statistical topics throughout the book. My goal is to help students understand statistics conceptually without asking them to actually complete the calculations. With a better under-standing of what becomes of the data they collect, students should be able to design more thorough and reliable research studies. Knowing that instructors differ widely in the degree to which they incorporate statistics into their methods courses, I have made it easy for individual instructors to choose whether students will deal with the calculational aspects of the analyses that appear. For the most part, presentation of statistical calculations is confined to a few within-chapter boxes, Chapters 10 and 11, and Appendix B. These sections may easily be omitted if the instructor prefers.

This edition of Introduction to Behavioral Research Methods has benefited from the comments I have received from both students and instructors who have used it, as well as from reviewers who provided extensive feedback on every chapter.

Those who are familiar with the previous edition will find the organization of the book mostly unchanged. The changes in this edition involve adding new examples of real research, adding and updating references, and, most importantly, clarifying and elaborating sections that I thought could be improved. Importantly, the chapter on scientific writing has been revised in accordance with the fifth edition of the APA Publication Manual, which was released in 2001

The Psychologist as Detective: An Introduction to Conducting Research in Psychology, Third Edition by Randolph A. Smith, Stephen F. Davis (Prentice Hall) Margery Franklin (1990) quoted former Clark University professor and chair Heinz Werner's views on psychological research. Werner indicated:

I got rather apprehensive at finding that students were frequently taught that there was only one acceptable way of conduct in the laboratory-there has to be an hy­pothesis set up, or a set of hypotheses, and the main job of the experimenter is to prove or disprove the hypothesis. What is missed here is the function of the scien­tist as a discoverer and explorer of unknown lands.... Hypotheses ... are essen­tial elements of inquiry, but they are so, not as rigid propositions but as flexible parts of the process of searching; by the same token, conclusions drawn from the results are as much an end as a beginning.... Now . . . academic psychologists [are beginning] to see research not as a rigid exercise of rules of a game but as a problem-solving procedure, a probing into unknown lands with plans which are not fixed but modifiable, with progress and retreat, with branching out into various di­rections or concentration on one.

Clearly Werner's views are as applicable in the twenty-first century as they were during the heyday of behaviorism; they reflect perfectly the intent of this text.

From our vantage point, research in psychology is like a detective case; hence the title we have chosen, The Psychologist as Detective. A problem presents itself; we discover clues; we must evaluate bits of evidence that compete for our attention and accept or discard them; and finally, we prepare a report or summary of the case (research) for consideration by our peers.

When presented in this light, the research process in psychology will, we believe, be an interesting and stimulating endeavor for students. In short, our goal is to attract students to psychological research because of its inherent interest.

To accomplish this goal, we have incorporated several pedagogical features in this text:

  1. To provide a sense of relevance and continuity, the theme of "psychologist as detective" runs throughout the text.
  2. Interactive Style of Writing. Because we believe that the experimental psychology/re­search methods text should be lively and engaging, we employ an interactive, conver­sational style of writing that we hope will help draw students into the material.
  3. The Psychological Detective Feature. The questions or situations posed by these sec­tions that appear throughout each chapter will encourage students to engage in critical thinking exercises. These sections also serve as excellent stimulants for productive class discussions.
  4. Marginal Definitions. Key definitions appear in the margin, close to the introduction of the term in the text.
  5. Review Summaries. To help students master smaller chunks of material, each chapter contains one or more review summaries.
  6. Check Your Progress. A Check Your Progress feature follows each Review Summary. Students can use these sections to test their mastery of the material they have just com­pleted. These study breaks should be especially helpful to your students when they pre­pare for quizzes and examinations.


We hope that these special features will provide your students with a positive experience as they learn the fundamentals of research methodology in psychology.

Without hesitation, we're excited about the changes and new features of the third edition of The Psychologist as Detective. Here's a sampling of the changes we've made. We

  • Changed all of the student research examples throughout the entire book. To ensure that the Third Edition is as current as possible, these new research examples carry 2000 (or more recent) publication dates.
  • Added a section on a "new view of hypothesis testing."
  • Added new material on qualitative research methods.
  • Replaced the single chapter on nonexperimental research methods with two separate,
  • shorter chapters. This change will allow instructors to pick and choose more effectively
  • the material they wish to cover.
  • Added relevant Sherlock Holmes quotes throughout the book. Holmes's views are as
  • relevant to experimental psychology as they are to detective work.
  • Completely updated the chapter on APA format to include material from the fifth edi­
  • tion of the Publication Manual.
  • Included a new checklist so students can evaluate their adherence to APA format before submitting their reports.
  • Expanded the Instructor's Manual under the guidance of Steve Seidal.
  • Developed a Web site under the supervision of Brian Pope.

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