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Doing Research in the Real World

Doing Research in the Real World

Fifth Edition
Additional resources:

November 2021 | 896 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

From first planning to writing up your research, this complete guide will help you push your project forward. 

Walking you through every step you need to take, it helps you build your knowledge of theory and methods and offers straightforward guidance to empower you to make good research decisions and learn best practice.

This fifth edition:

  • Draws on over 70 case studies of research in action to demonstrate potential pitfalls – and how to avoid them.
  • Adds a new chapter on data management, providing how-to guidance on storing your research data.
  • Provides more than 150 activities to help you develop your understanding of key concepts and advance your research methods knowledge.
  • Illustrates how research methods skills transfer to the workplace, helping you boost your employability.

Accompanied by online resources including videos, case studies and further reading that bring methods to life, this accessible book is still the definitive research companion for any student doing a research project. 

Chapter 1: Introduction
Part A: Principles and Planning for Research
Chapter 2: Theoretical Perspectives and Research Methodologies
Chapter 3: Selecting and Planning Research Proposals and Projects
Chapter 4: Research Ethics
Chapter 5: Searching, Critically Reviewing and Using the Literature
Part B: Research Methodology
Chapter 6: Quantitative Research Design
Chapter 7: Qualitative Research Design
Chapter 8: Mixed Methods Research Design
Chapter 9: Sampling Strategies
Chapter 10: Designing Descriptive and Analytical Surveys
Chapter 11: Designing Case Studies
Chapter 12: Designing Evaluations
Chapter 13: Action Research and Change
Part C: Data Collection Methods
Chapter 14: Questionnaires and Surveys
Chapter 15: Interviewing
Chapter 16: Non-Participant Observation
Chapter 17: Ethnography and Participant Observation
Chapter 18: Focus Groups
Chapter 19: Unobtrusive Measures
Chapter 20: Visual Research Methods
Chapter 21: Digital Research Methods
Chapter 22: Secondary Data and Research
Part D: Analysis and Report Writing
Chapter 23: Data Management
Chapter 24: Getting Started Using SPSS
Chapter 25: Analysing and Presenting Quantitative Data
Chapter 26: Getting Started Using NVivo
Chapter 27: Analysing and Presenting Qualitative Data
Chapter 28: Writing Up the Research
Chapter 29: Preparing for Presentations and Vivas


Click for Online Resources

Student Resources (Free to access)

The David Gray Online Library contains a wealth of handpicked tools and resources for every chapter:

  • Journal articles and SAGE book chapters to help you delve deeper and support your assignments
  • Weblinks to online articles and blog posts to expand your understanding of each topic
  • Case studies of real research give you a deeper insight into practice and theory
  • Author videos from David Gray introducing each chapter, providing valuable top tips and showcasing best practice
  • Weblinks to online videos from YouTube and SAGE Research Methods to improve your understanding of key concepts
  • Weblinks that help you develop your employability skills
  • Datasets that give you hands-on experience with data analysis
  • Templates and checklists to help you keep your project on track

Instructor Resources (Log-in needed)

  •  A test bank of multiple choice questions, for directed learning or assessment purposes
  • PowerPoint slides, featuring figures and tables from the book
  • A free resource pack allowing you to upload all the lecturer and student resources into your institution’s virtual learning environment (i.e. Blackboard or Moodle), and customise the content to suit your teaching needs

This has to be one of my most often borrowed textbooks that rarely lingers on my shelves! Colleagues, doctoral students and masters students alike will find something of interest here - whether it be used as a reminder of terminology, or a quick introduction to a new field.

Fiona Harris
Associate Professor, University of Stirling

This stand-alone research handbook covers the basics, and beyond, of social science research in a detailed and student-friendly manner. Straightforward and sequentially structured, it contains step-by-step explanations of the essentials students need to know about qualitative and quantitative research methods and techniques to help them complete projects from start to finish. Very useful handbook for getting undergrads started and helping postgrads stay on track!

Sharon du Plessis-Schneider
Lecturer, University of Applied Sciences

This book is a very user-friendly and theoretically robust guide that will prove invaluable to researchers and students alike. I particularly like the breadth and depth with which all dimensions of the research process are addressed and explained. 

Thomas Garavan
Edinburgh Napier Business School

This textbook is unequivocally one of the best resources any student can own if they are required to do a research project or dissertation. This textbook is accessible to all and each chapter is written in a language that is plain, accurate and challenging in just the right quantities. Every element of the research process is clearly documented and discussed; many different types of research is included.

Chelle Davison
Education, Coventry University

One of the best books about research design and methods - comprehensive and easy-to-comprehend.

Marcin Grabowski
Political Science, Jagiellonian University

Excellent coverage of research topics, engaging and comprehensive book that is very handy to develop any research activity.

Mr J Jain
Accounting and Finance, De Montfort University
May 20, 2023

This book will be a useful addition to the reading list for Level 7 students writing a research proposal and Level 8 (PhD) students planning their research.

Dr Leslie Gelling
Faculty of Health & Social Sciences(Nursing), Bournemouth University
January 29, 2023

This is a comprehensive guide to research which will be an excellent reference source for students completing final year dissertations and and for students at more advanced levels of research

Dr Mary Fletcher
School of Business & Enterprise (Paisley), University of the West of Scotland
June 22, 2023

An in depth appreciation of the research field - which provides plenty of help for prospective researchers/writers. I found this to be rich in detail but also clearly set out - often texts in this type of field follow a very straightforward layout and content but this hits the core of the issue and more. Excellent support content online that is also detailed and is particularly helpful for Instructors. The activities in each chapter are generally strong and would be useful for highlighting/testing progress in general research projects. Some content is not required for our course as this is pitched higher than needed, but generally I will be suggesting this as a resource/title for our Academic Skills course on research projects in 2023.

Dr Simon Ladds
Engineering and Technology, Manchester Metropolitan University
March 30, 2022

Really clear book covering the essentials for carrying out educational research. Have updated reading to this version from pervious versions.

Miss Sam Mackey
Education, University Centre Peterborough
March 16, 2022

David E Gray

David Gray was Professor of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at the University of Greenwich. His research interests, and publication record, included research methods, management learning (particularly coaching and mentoring), professional identity, action learning, reflective learning, management learning in SMEs and the factors that contribute to SME success. He published books and articles on research methods, organizational learning, and coaching and mentoring. David led a number of EU-funded research programmes including one examining the impact of coaching on the resilience of unemployed managers in their job-searching... More About Author

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