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Research Design & Method Selection

Research Design & Method Selection
Making Good Choices in the Social Sciences

Other Titles in:
Research Design | Research Project

September 2018 | 368 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Heavily grounded in helping students make the best choices for their projects, this book explores how to develop and work with theory, research questions, and method selection to build solid, logical proposals and move from research concepts to fully realized designs.

Rather than rushing initial planning stages or reverse engineering questions from preferred methods, it encourages students to challenge unconscious biases around method selection and analysis and provides step-by-step guidance on choosing a method that is in-line with the question being explored. Focused on the role of the researcher within research design, it stresses the need to consider the theoretical underpinnings of research and not just practical issues when designing a project.

It provides a sophisticated toolkit to understand:

- The critical issues associated with both qualitative and quantitative methods

- The approach that works best for specific research questions

- How design choices can affect practice.

Perfect for upper undergraduate and postgraduate students, this book will instil confidence and good decision making to ensure constructively informed design and practice.


Chapter 1: Introduction: the Basics of Social Science Research Designs
Deductive and inductive research

Explanatory and interpretative research designs

Deductive, explanatory research designs and their core components

Research design choices: x-centered and y-centered projects

Quality criteria for social science research

Chapter 2: Detecting Puzzles and Selecting Good Research Questions
Research questions’ essentials

How to find empirical puzzles and select a good explanatory research question


How to make choices: selecting good research questions

Chapter 3: Working with Theories
Why do we need theories for explanatory social science projects?

Selecting theories: how many and which ones do we need?

Working with theories: how to develop and select hypotheses?

Making choices: which and how many theories and hypotheses to use?

Chapter 4: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed-Method Projects—How to Make the Choice
Advantages and disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative projects

Mixed-method combinations: Advantages and challenges

Qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method projects – How to make a choice?

Chapter 5: How to Select Cases
What is a case?

Case selection: An essential task for comparative research

How many and which cases should be selected?

Making choices: How to select cases?

Chapter 6: Making Choices between Methods of Data Collection
The measurement of variables

Overview of data sources and methods of data collection

Databases and compendiums

Primary Sources: Documents


Surveys and questionnaires

Focus groups

Participant observation

The importance of triangulation

The importance of data management

Summary – Choices on data collection

Chapter 7: Making Choices between Qualitative Methods of Data Analysis
Types of Comparisons in Qualitative Case Studies


Summary: Choosing between methods of qualitative analysis

Chapter 8: Making Choices between Quantitative Methods of Data Analysis
Detecting variable types and describing variables

Choosing between linear and logistic regression analysis

Choosing between advanced methods of quantitative data analysis

Chapter 9: Making Choices in Writing and Sharing Research
Writing techniques

Disseminating research outputs


This text provides user friendly illustrations, exercises and practical research tips. It consolidates understanding by simplifying what can, at times, be deemed as complex methodological issues. 

Rachael Aplin
Criminology, Leeds Beckett University

This textbook provides graduate students with tools to make sound decisions while planning, conducting and analysing research.  It guides students in asking appropriate research questions, applying theory, choosing among quantitative or qualitative methods through the analysis and writing the manuscript.

GinaMarie Piane
Community Health, National University

This textbook is a detailed guide on how to set up a research project. It is an excellent tool for students studying social research methods as well as for practitioners working with research in the government, NGO, and corporations.

Mikhail Balaev
Sociology, Flinders University

An essential text to support graduate students and novice researchers think critically about the multiple decisions required in designing a rigorous research study.

Susan Jack
Nursing, McMaster University

Very helpful resource book that helps to clarify research methods that is written in easily understood language.

Kim Moore
Faculty of Health, Birmingham City University
June 12, 2019

Very useful for initial research method clarification, and students find it helpful in their early methodology selection.

Mr Eamonn Colbert
School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, Nottingham Trent University
January 30, 2019

Excellent book and it is insightful for my students.

Mr Rohit Sagoo
Health & Social Care (Cambridge), Anglia Ruskin University
October 31, 2019

Excellent resource for students to go deeper into the topic; well written and described issues

Dr Barbara Johanna Lill-Rastern
Social Work, Management Center Innsbruck
September 27, 2019

I found this book immensely readable. It does not oversimplify or terrify a new post-graduate researcher seeking to identify what they don't know and consolidate what they do know. An ideal book for a reading list for those starting their doctoral training or those teaching postgraduates about research and researching.

Mrs Sally Howard
Department of Education, Oxford Brookes University
October 1, 2018

Very clear introduction to social science research with good diagrams and clearly written content.

Dr Paul Demetriou-Crane
Education, Havering College of Further and Higher Education
October 14, 2018

Diana Panke

Since 2012 Diana Panke is Professor of Political Science and holds the Chair in ‘Multi-Level Governance’ at the University of Freiburg. Previously she worked at the University College Dublin, the Free University Berlin and the University of Heidelberg. She specialized in International Relations, Comparative Regionalism, and Social Science Research Methods. Her research interests include international negotiations, small states in international affairs, multilateral diplomacy, international norms, the design of international institutions, European Union politics as well as compliance and legalization. In these fields, she has published... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781526438638
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SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.