Understanding Research

W. Lawrence Neuman  
Total pages
August 2013
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Understanding Research
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Understanding Research is an accessible and visually-appealing introduction to research. Whether students become producers or consumers of research, this text shows them that the subject is both interesting and highly relevant for their lives and professional work.


  • Written to be non-threatening and highly accessible to students without a background in social-behavioral research. .
  • Makes frequent use of color, photos, diagrams, and hand-on activities to keep students from getting overwhelmed with technical explanations and terms.
  • Brings in examples and illustrations from many disciplines, and provides the fundamentals of doing research to students in a wide range of academic fields (sociology, psychology, political science) as well as the applied professions (education, business, criminal justice, nursing, urban planning).
  • Develops critical reading skills to enable students to evaluate and understand the significance of published studies.
  • Uses a variety of pedagogical features to help students master concepts and see the practical applications of research
Chapter opening cases-- Immediately engage students and illustrate utility of research in a variety of “real” settings.
' Making It Practical' boxes--Gives students a glimpse into the researcher’s “toolbox” so they can understand how practitioners use research methods in their work.
' Example Study' boxes--Use findings from real research studies to exemplify research concepts.
' Review Summary' boxes--Summarize preceding sections in outline form.
' Learning from History' boxes--Provides examples from famous studies to show students that research ideas are tied to established theories.
' Tips for the Wise Consumer'--List questions that students should consider when reading research studies.
' Applying What You Know' --Hands-on activities at the end of chapters give students opportunities to apply what they have just learned.
  • MyResearchKit--Understanding Research can be packaged with MyResearchKit, at no additional cost. MyResearchKit is an interactive, online teaching and learning environment that is perfect for online or web-assisted courses.
    • Included in MyResearchKit:
      • 2 extended research exercises (one quantitative, one qualitative) to be completed in stages over the course of the semester
      • “Research in the News” blog
      • Writing tutorial - covers documenting sources, avoiding plagiarism, and various kinds of writing assignments (literature reviews, abstracts, research proposals, etc.)
      • Research Navigator - a search engine for retrieving scholarly research articles
    • Every chapter includes:
      • 15 multiple choice practice test questions
      • Flashcards of Key Terms
      • 3 short research exercises

New to this Edition


Table of Contents








Chapter 1: Why Do Research?  

Chapter 2: Planning A Study

Chapter 3: Becoming An Ethical Researcher

Chapter 4: Sampling, How To Select A Few To Represent The Many 

Chapter 5: Measuring Social Life, How Many? How Much? What Type? 

Chapter 6: The Survey: Asking People Questions 

Chapter 7: The Experiment 

Chapter 8: Research With Non-Reactive Measures 

Chapter 9: Making Sense Of The Numbers 

Chapter 10: Observing People In Natural Settings 

Chapter 11: Looking At The Past And Across Cultures

Chapter 12: Writing A Research Report



Chapter 1:  Why do research?

On What Basis Do You Make Decisions?

How Do We Know What We Know?

What is Empirical Social Research?

Fit the Question You Want to Answer With a Type of Social Research

Steps in the Research Process

What have you learned?

Applying what you learned.


Chapter 2: Planning a Study

Picking a Study Topic

Conducting a Review Past Studies

Focusing on a Research Question

The Research Proposal


Chapter 3: Becoming an Ethical Researcher

The Ethical Imperative

Scientific Misconduct

Ethical Issues Involving Research Participants

Ethics and the Sponsors of Research

Politics of Research

Value-Free and Objective Research


Chapter 4: Sampling, How to select a few to represent the many

How and Why do Samples Work?

Focusing on at a specific group: four types of non-random samples

Coming to Conclusions about Large Populations

Three Specialized Sampling Techniques

Inferences from a Sample to a Population

What Have You Learned?


Chapter 5: Measuring Social Life, How Many? How Much? What Type?

Why Measure?

Making Aspects of the Social World Visible

Measuring with Numbers or Words

How to Create Good Measures: Reliability and Validity

A Guide to Quantitative Measures

How to create an Index

How to create a Scale

What have you Learned?


Chapter 6: The Survey: Asking People Questions

What is a Social Survey?

How to Conduct a Survey

Writing Good Survey Questions

Effective Questionnaire Design Tips

Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Survey Formats

Survey Interviewing


Chapter 7: The Experiment

Doing Experiments in Everyday Life

What Questions Can You Answer with the Experimental Method?

Why Assign People Randomly?

Do You Speak the Language of Experimental Design?

Experimental Validity Inside and Out

What You Can See In Experimental Results with Comparison

How to be Ethical in Experiments
What did you Learn?


Chapter 8: Research With Non-Reactive Measures

Analyzing Physical Evidence for Clues About Social Life

Revealing the Content Buried Within Communication Messages

Mining Existing Statistical Sources to Answer New Questions

Answering New Questions Using Survey Data Collected by Others

Conducting Ethical Non-Reactive Research


Chapter 9: Making Sense of the Numbers

What to do once you have the numbers

How to Describe Quantitative Results

Inferring from Statistics



Chapter 10: Observing People in Natural Settings

What is Field Research?

Studying People in