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Social Research Methods

Social Research Methods
Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches

Second Edition

March 2012 | 824 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
A companion website is available for this text

This book explains and demonstrates to students when to use and how to apply the quantitative and qualitative techniques that they'll need to do their own social research. Using actual examples from psychology, sociology, anthropology, health and education, the book provides readers with both a conceptual understanding of each technique as well as showing them how to use the technique.

Part I: Background to Research
Chapter 1. About Social Science
Chapter 2. The Foundations of Social Research
Chapter 3. Preparing for Research
Part II: Research Design
Chapter 4. Research Design: Experiments and Experimental Thinking
Chapter 5. Sampling: The Basics
Chapter 6. Sampling Theory
Chapter 7. Nonprobability Sampling
Part III: Data Collection
Chapter 8. Interviewing I: Unstructured and Semistructured
Chapter 9. Interviewing II: Questionnaires
Chapter 10. Interviewing III: Relational Data - Domains and Networks
Chapter 11. Scales and Scaling
Chapter 12: Participant Observation
Chapter 13. Field Notes and Database Management
Chapter 14: Direct and Indirect Observation
Part IV Data Analysis
Chapter 15: Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis
Chapter 16: Analyzing Cultural Domains and Proximity Matrices
Chapter 17. Analyzing Qualitative Data I: Applying Logic to Text
Chapter 18. Analyzing Qualitative Data II: Grammar Beyond the Sentence
Chapter 19. Analyzing Qualitative Data III: Grounded Theory and Content Analysis
Chapter 20. Univariate Analysis
Chapter 21. Bivariate Analysis: Testing Relations
Chapter 22. Multivariate Analysis
Appendix A: Table of Areas under a Normal Curve
Appendix B: Student’s t Distribution
Appendix C: Chi-Square Distribution Table
Appendix D: F Table for the .05 Level of Significance
Appendix E: Resources for Social Researchers

“The main strength of this text is coverage of both quantitative and qualitative methodology from a broad range of fields. The examples are often my students’ favorite thing to discuss in class.”

Erica B. Gibson
University of South Carolina

“Bernard does an excellent job of not only showing how to practice research, but also provides a detailed discussion of broader historical and philosophical contexts that are important for understanding research.”

Julian Kilker
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“The book includes a thorough presentation of quantitative and qualitative methods, including formulas and statistics for quantitative methods. Bernard is one of very few methods authors who includes and explains statistical methods, not just the methods used. Moreover, the book is very comprehensive and uses lots of examples to explain the material in depth.”

Monika Ardelt
University of Florida

“The depth of detailed descriptions (foundations of social research; interviewing, participant observation, field notes, and data analysis) go beyond other texts that I’m aware of, and the organization is superb. The text contains strong descriptions of positivist versus humanistic traditions and splits in social research. It also includes great detail on how to successfully operationalize research variables. The discussion on theory as a “mechanism” and how to choose problems is easily understood and effective. Moreover, the author’s emphasis on making personal interest a high priority in choosing a research topic is critical and primary.”

Benedict J. Colombi
University of Arizona

'There is considerable detail on the history and philosophical foundations of social and behavioural research, ranging from the ‘what’ to the ‘how-to’ of social research.


To make sure the message of each chapter is clearly communicated [Bernard] employs a wealth of examples and reading lists. He also provides the reader with a description of key concepts employed in each chapter.'

Maryam Nazari & G.E. Gorman
University of Tehran & Asia-New Zealand Informatics Associates
Online Information Review

Very good book.
Covers all aspects of research in great detail. Using for level 3, 4 & 5

Miss Tammy Milner
Social Science, East Riding College
February 6, 2020

Great sourcebook for social research methods

Dr Bahadir Namdar
Primary Education/ Science Education Program, Recep Tayyip Erdogan University
May 18, 2017

An excellent resource in every respect, covering all the areas required for students to have a detailed understanding of both qualitative and quantitative social research.
The text is easy to understand, and is in a logical and clear format; making it an ideal resource for all levels of study, from level three and upwards.
For A Levels, it is perfect for understanding the strengths and limitations of research methodologies, as well as providing students the an understanding of designing their own research project.
A highly recommended resource, with all the information needed for a detailed understanding of all aspects of social research.

Mr Gavin Hatton
Sociology , Merthyr Tydfil College
September 26, 2016

Excellent book . Students will benefit for further in depth knowledge on quantitative and qualitative methods

Dr Mustafa Rashid
Business School, University of Bolton
February 8, 2016

the book gives a clear explanation to research practice and also explains philosophies that underpin any research strategy

Mr Emmanuel Asante
Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Nottingham University
March 1, 2016
Key features


  • Boxed features emphasize important material, explain theory, expand on key points, or highlight challenges or ethical issues.
  • Numbered steps for each method make it easier for students to follow along.
  • A number of study aids in each chapter include new terms appearing in bold, a review of key concepts, research exercises, and recommendations for further reading.
  • Research stories—selected for their pedagogical value—illustrate major concepts and principles.



A password-protected instructor site at includes an instructor's manual, PowerPoint slides, and a test bank.

The Further Reading section at the end of each chapter is expanded and the result is that the bibliography is about 60% larger than in the last edition. People ask me why there are so many references to really, really old stuff. The reason is that I want students to know that the literature on research methods is very rich and I want them to know about many of the classics. Many examples have been updated, including new information about some of the classics.

The separate chapter on searching the literature is gone from this edition because students are universally aware of the databases. Chapter 3 retains the information about the databases that I think are most important for students to control and instructions on how to use the databases effectively.

Sampling takes up three chapters in this edition, up from one in the first edition. A lot of progress has been made in the development of nonprobability methods of sampling, for example, so these are treated in a separate chapter. In the first edition, I treated consensus analysis in the chapter on participant observation and on choosing informants. Consensus analysis has become much more widely used in the last 15 years. It is now described in greater detail in Chapter 16, on cultural domain analysis. Choosing both key informants and specialized informants, however, remains in the chapter on nonprobability methods of sampling.

Interviewing takes up three chapters in this edition, up from two in the first edition. In Chapter 8, on unstructured and semistructured interviewing, the sections on recording equipment and on voice recognition software (VRS) have been updated, and examples have been added or updated. Chapters 9 and 10 are on two very different kinds of structured interviewing. Chapter 9 focuses on questionnaires and surveys. I've updated the material on computer-based methods and on Internet-based surveys and added material on the list experiment. Chapter 10 introduces methods used in cognitive science, including free lists, pile sorts, triad tests, and paired comparisons. Methods for analyzing these data are in Chapter 16.

In Chapter 11, on scaling, I've updated material on the various instruments. In Chapter 12, on participant observation, I've updated several examples and added bibliography. In Chapter 13, on taking and managing field notes, I've updated or added examples and added information on using word processors as text managers. In Chapter 14, the bibliography has been updated.

Chapter 15 is unchanged from the first edition. Chapter 16 contains new material on analyzing data from the systematic ethnographic methods described in Chapter 10: free lists, pile sorts, and so on. The section on network analysis in Chapter 16 is new to this edition. Multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis are described in Chapter 16, as is cultural consensus analysis and cultural consonance analysis. Chapter 17 continues with methods in this cognitive science tradition of social science, including decision modeling and taxonomic analysis and it covers new methods for analytic induction.

The chapter on text analysis in the last edition is now two chapters. Chapters 18 and 19 owe much to my work with Gery Ryan (Bernard and Ryan 2010; Ryan and Bernard 2000, 2003). Chapter 18 focuses on methods for analyzing whole texts; Chapter 19 deals with methods that involve finding themes in texts and analyzing the distribution of themes.

Chapters 20, 21, and 22 are updated versions of Chapters 14, 15, and 16 in the first edition.

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

Chapter 3

H. Russell Bernard

H. Russell Bernard is Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus at the University of Florida. He served as editor of the American Anthropologist and Human Organization. He is co-founder (with Pertti Pelto and Stephen Borgatti) of the Cultural Anthropology Methods journal (1989), which became Field Methods in 1999. The five editions of his methods text Research Methods in Anthropology (AltaMira 2006) and his general research methods text Social Research Methods (Sage 2012), have been used by tens of thousands of students. Bernard co-founded (with Pelto) and co-directed (with Pelto and Borgatti) the National Science Foundation's Institute on... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781412978545