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research questions, hypotheses and variancesliterature reviewresearch methodology and study designsinstrumentation and measurementsamplyingethics and data collectionquantitative data analysisqualitative data analysisthe research paperputting it all together
1. Research Questions, Hypotheses, and Variables
2. Literature Review
3. Methodology and Study Designs
4. Instrumentation and Measurement
6. Ethics and Data Collection
7. Quantitative Data Collection
8. Qualitative Data Collection
9. The Research Paper
10. Putting It All Together: The Research Process Checklist
Finally, a research methods book written directly to students instead of being aimed mostly towards those
of us who research different ways of collecting and analysing data in today’s specialized world. This book
is problem focused, taking students through the complete research process from identifying a useful
research project to writing a research paper that presents results in a coherent way.
A fundamental premise of this book is that useful social science research can be accomplished in many
different ways. It may be quantitative or qualitative, applied or basic, and use different approaches to
measurement. It describes both probability and non-probability methods for selecting respondents. These
possibilities are systematically described, with illustrations, definition boxes, and examples appearing on
nearly every page. In contrast to many books, this book is not an attempt to sell a particular method for
doing social science research, but rather aims to help students and other users of social science research
methods to understand alternative approaches to data collection and the potential that each has for
contributing to knowledge and practice.
The writing is straightforward and clear, without being simplistic. The careful reader of this book will come
away with sufficient detail to understand the various levels of measurement (nominal, ordinal, interval and
ratio) and types of validity, and the manner in which those concepts are used by scholars throughout the
world. The content and organization of this book provides the building blocks essential for understanding
the nature of high quality research. Students who use the concepts methodically introduced here to carryout
research projects, should find themselves nicely prepared for understanding and mastering advanced
treatments of specific research methods.
Nuts and Bolts is organized so that it can be read in a linear fashion from first to last steps of conducting
a research project with a research report as the final product. But, it can also be used as a reference source
where the need is to find details on how to accomplish specific research tasks. Carefully captioned and
illustrated sections define and describe detailed steps of planning and executing research projects which
make it possible to search for and immediately find details on each step of a research undertaking, such as
defining and developing hypotheses and formulating respondent questions, to developing measurement
scales, and sampling methods. The book also conveys when and how to use inferential statistics and
various analytical methods. Students who are closely attuned to how to ask questions on the world-wide
web and quickly obtain answers, will find the book organized in a fashion that parallels that process.
Both graduate and undergraduate students who are learning how to undertake meaningful research will
find this book useful. The book’s ‘Nuts and Bolts…’ conveys the importance of selecting parts of the research
process that are designed to fit together, rather than simply providing an assortment of possibilities.
Doing that makes this book especially useful. Meaningful social science research is not a task that can be
accomplished by haphazardly choosing an assortment of possibilities, a point made by both the content
and organization of this carefully crafted book. Consequently, students from many different disciplines
will find this book useful.
Don A. Dillman
Regents Professor of Sociology
Washington State University, Pullman Washington
Nuts and Bolts of Research Methodology: From Conceptualization to Write-Up is designed to make
research accessible to everyone. It breaks down complex research processes into easily understood,
user-friendly steps, and provides a hands-on approach that allows any academic (e.g., social scientists)
or practitioner (e.g., evaluators), whether novice or experienced, the opportunity to translate research
techniques and skills into real world applications with the end goal of a formal research paper or a credible
Other research methodology books tend to focus on just one area of research methodology, cater mainly
for experienced researchers through more complex presentations of material, and/or rely on other books
to provide explanations and background knowledge of a research methodology area. Our book is different!
From the united perspectives of veteran educators, Nuts and Bolts is written to allay the general fears
of understanding, conducting, and presenting research, through creative and innovative narratives and
examples, that enable the reader to move seamlessly from conceptualization to write-up. This approach
makes the learning process easy, smooth, user friendly, and practical, while it simultaneously provides
A number of considerations guided our vision for this book. First and foremost, we wanted to produce a
book that could be used as a stand-alone resource since students frequently complain about the cost of
textbooks and question why so many different books are required for one subject. Second, we needed to
demystify the research process and make it sufficiently simple, so that students and practitioners will be
motivated to conduct research. As such, our writing deliberately avoids abstract and theoretical narratives,
since these often turn off the novice researcher. Third, we sought to ensure that our book provided a
systematic progression to enable the researcher to successfully move from conceptualization of a research
idea, to application in practice, and finally to write-up. Finally, we aimed to make our book user-friendly
since research methodology can be intimidating for many persons.
In designing our book, we used several strategies to ensure user-friendliness. First, the list of the topics to
be discussed in each chapter is provided at the start of the chapter, so that the reader can see exactly what
will be discussed. Second, each new chapter topic is defined and highlighted via a specially designed call out
box. Each topic also ends with an important tip. Third, topics are broken into different subheadings. Both
students and practitioners complain that they have to read pages of text to find information pertaining
to a specific issue that they are unclear about. In comparison, our subheadings allow readers to navigate
immediately to information that they need to review. For example, one of the topics discussed in chapter
2 is Plagiarism. The discussion for this topic is presented under three subheadings: What Constitutes
Plagiarism?, Types of Plagiarism, and Strategies to Avoid Plagiarism. By breaking up the discussion on
plagiarism, we highlight and draw attention to critical issues that the reader may not be aware of and may
probably miss if the narrative was continuous. We believe that these headings will encourage readers to
cover the topic in its entirety because the reader may then think, ‘I never knew that there are strategies
for me to use to avoid plagiarism. I must read this section.’ Fourth, numerous examples are incorporated
throughout the narrative to highlight best practices, which are clearly visible in uniform callout boxes.
Fifth, tables, figures, and graphical images are embedded throughout the narrative. This use of artwork
serves several purposes – to clarify the text, to highlight important information, and to provide another
mode of learning for readers.
In closing, we hope that our book will inspire you to want to conduct research since it can be truly exciting.
We believe that you will enjoy using this book and that you will actually be able to move from start to finish
in the research process on your own and produce an impressive research paper or professional evaluation
Finally, we wish to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to Dr. Don Dillman (Regent’s
Professor, Washington State University) for his endorsement of our book, our families for their support,
and most importantly our students and practitioners for causing us to recognize the vital need for a user-friendly,
start-to-finish, research methodology book that caters to a broad-based audience of academics,
practitioners and educators.