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The Research Experience

The Research Experience
Planning, Conducting, and Reporting Research

February 2017 | 504 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
The Research Experience: Planning, Conducting, and Reporting Research presents a process-oriented approach to research for students in the behavioral sciences. In-depth, practical advice for conducting each step of the research process includes coverage of the most common research methods and current technologies—including Qualtrics, Google Scholar, and Amazon Mechanical Turk—as well as techniques for finding participants and collecting data in a variety of settings. With robust pedagogy and six helpful appendices, this text will further readers’ ability to produce well-executed projects and critically evaluate information in both their personal and professional lives.
About the Author
Chapter 1 Research, Biases in Thinking, and the Role of Theories
Why Research Matters

The Research Process: Humans Make Predictions

Heuristics and the Work of Kahneman and Tversky

Other Problems in Thinking

Doing Science as Tradition and Innovation

Research and the Value of Common Sense

Flexibility in Thinking

Theories: What They Are and Why They Matter

Making a Connection Between a Theory and a Good Research Question


Chapter 2 Generating and Shaping Ideas: Tradition and Innovation

Ideas: Information Services, aka The Library

Ideas: Searching Effectively in the Library

Electronic Resources and Keywords

Keywords: The “Key” to Success


Other Databases and Indexes in the Social Sciences

The Web and Peer Review

Particular Kinds of Articles

How Journals Differ: Issues Related to Quality

Open Access and Predatory Publishers

Publication Practices of Journals

Journal Articles Versus Book Chapters

Physically Obtaining an Article: A Closer Look at Databases

Summary of the Article Locator Search Process

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Systems and World Catalog (WorldCat)

What to Do With Your Articles (Read More Than the Abstract!)

The Introduction

The Method Section

The Results Section

The Discussion Section: Conflicts and Gaps

Keeping Track: ILL, Mendeley, and RefWorks

Reasonable Questions and the Problem of Third Variables: Closing the Research Gap

Time Pressure and Timelines

Academic Fraud


Chapter 3 Research Design Approaches and Issues: An Overview

Research Quality Affects Research Answers

What Research Can Tell You: The Continuum of Certainty

Correlation Versus Causation

Why Conduct Correlational Research?

The Language of Correlation and Causation

Correlational Research Approaches: Correlational and Quasi-experimental

Hallmarks of True Experimental Approaches

Differentiation of Independent and Dependent Variables

Reframing a Research Idea

Type I Versus Type II Error

Type II Errors: Sample Size, Power, and Effect Size

Internal Validity

Behavior of the Experimenter and Demand Characteristics

Behavior of the Participant: Role Attitude

Single- and Double-Blind Approaches to Research

Cover Stories

Pilot Tests and Manipulation Checks

Summary of Additional Threats to Internal Validity

External Validity and Ecological Validity

Where Research Takes Place

Where Qualitative Research Takes Place


Chapter 4 Ethics and the Institutional Review Board (IRB) Process

What Is the IRB, and Why Does It Exist?

History of Ethical Oversight

The APA Code of Ethics

What Is Research? What Are Human Subjects?

IRB Membership and Duties

Levels of IRB Review

Components of the IRB Proposal

Informed Consent


Children as a Vulnerable Population: Implications for Research

Research With Children: Secondary Data Analysis

Deception and Its Alternatives

Ethics and Student Participation in Research: Alternatives to the Subject Pool

Offering Incentives in Research: Are Incentives Coercive?

Preparing an IRB Proposal

The IRB Training Modules


Chapter 5 Measures and Survey Research Tools

The Concept of Measurement: Ideal Versus Real

The Purpose of Measures

Measurement Scale Types

Sensitivity of a Scale and Anchor Values

The Process of Identifying Measures: The Literature

Databases of Tests (PsycTESTS and HaPI)

Books of Measures

Department Resources and Professors

Catalogs of Measures and Fees Charged

Qualities of Measures: Reliability and Validity

The Importance of Computing Your Own Cronbach’s Alpha

Qualities of Measures: Validity

Length and Difficulty of Measures

Instructions for Scoring

Names of Measures and Social Desirability Concerns

Qualifications for Use

Developing Your Own Instrument

Scale Types and Flexibility in Answering Research Questions

The Order of Questions in a Survey

Online Survey Software Tools

Features of Online Survey Software Programs

Program Features

Google Docs Forms

Downloading Online Surveys into SPSS

Survey Appearance


Chapter 6 Correlational and Qualitative Research

Correlational Research: General Characteristics

Questions Posed About the Sample

Drawbacks to Correlational Approaches

Correlational Design: Quasi-experimental Design (i.e., Questions About Groups)

Statistics Used in Correlational Designs

Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research and the Concept of Reflexivity

Acceptance of Qualitative Methodology in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

Qualitative Approaches to Research

How to Capture Behavior: Behavioral Categories

How Often and How Long to Observe

Calculation of Inter-rater Reliability (IRR)

Acceptable Values for Inter-rater Agreement

Participant and Nonparticipant Observation and Overt/Covert Observation

Ethnography: Extended Observation

Issues in Ethnography: Gaining Access

Initial Ethnographic Tours

Preserving Information

Grounded Theory


Focus Groups

Interviews: Degrees of Structure

Recording or Not

Case Studies and Case Histories

Where Qualitative Meets Quantitative: Content Analysis

Summary of Steps in a Content Analysis

Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS)

Qualitative Research and the Emotional Self: A Final Consideration


Chapter 7 Experimental Approaches: Between Subjects Designs

Between Subjects Designs: What Are They?

Characteristics of Between Subjects Designs: Advantages and Disadvantages

Sensitivity of IV

More on Power, Sample Size, and Power Calculations

Number of IVs and Interaction Effects

Evaluating an Interaction by Hand

Common Types of Between Subjects Design

Matched Groups Design

Multiple Comparisons

Handling Error Variance

Summary of Between Subjects Design Considerations

Finding and Creating IVs (Scenarios; Visual Images; Movie Clips; Auditory Clips)

Existing Literature: Method Section

Visual Images: Manipulating an Image

Multiple Dependent Variables (DVs) in a Research Design

Factor Analysis: An Overview


Chapter 8 Within, Mixed, Pre–Post Experimental, and Specialized Correlational Designs

Characteristics of Within Subjects Design: Advantages and Disadvantages

Types of Research Questions More Commonly Asked in Within Subjects Designs


Simple and Complex Within Subjects Designs

Adding Complexity to Within Subjects Designs

Mixed Designs

Pre–Post Designs: Characteristics

Types of Pre–Post Designs

Specialized Correlational Designs

Time-Series and Interrupted Time-Series Design

Strengths and Weaknesses of This Approach

When Is This Approach Used?

Real-World Challenges: Postoccupancy Evaluation (POE)

Longitudinal and Cross-Sectional Designs

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Longitudinal Approach

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Cross-Sectional Approach

Cohort-Sequential Design

Advantages of Using Multiple Methods


Chapter 9 Recruiting Participants

Who Participates in Research: An Overview

The Subject Pool: The Workhorse of Social Science Research

The Drawbacks to Subject Pools: Concerns About Internal Validity

Limits on the Number of Participants Available From Unpaid Subject Pools

Keeping Track of Participants: Online Participant Management Systems

Practical Issues in Communicating About Recruiting

Research on Sensitive Topics and the Role of the IRB

Recruiting Off Campus

Using Your Personal Connections

Using Your Institution’s Connections


Vulnerable Populations in the Community

Physical Security Issues in Conducting Research off Campus

Service Learning Courses and Recruiting Participants: Opportunities and Complications

Conflicts of Interest and Multiple Relationships

Dustin’s Dozen: Tips for Collecting Data in the Field

Identifying Information

Other Sources of Participants: The Online Approach

Online Use of Adverts (Advertisements) Versus Snowball Samples

Ethical Issues in Online Environments: The Facebook Emotional Contagion Study


Nonresponse Bias and Threats to Internal Validity

Nonresponse and Nonresponse Bias

Response Rates and Reporting Them

Incentives: Practical Issues

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTURK): The World Awaits

Questions of Validity in Using Amazon MTURK

Online Paid Panels


Chapter 10 Organizing Data and Analyzing Results

Paper and Online Surveys: An Overview

The Importance of Labeling

Labeling in a Data File and Deciding on a Coding System

Other Labeling Recommendations

Labeling Issues in Online Survey Software

Entering Individual Items Versus Item Totals

Backing Up Data

Dealing With Missing Data: Differing Points of View

Replacing Missing Data Through Single Value Imputation

Some Recommendations for Missing Data

Identifying Missing Data

Handling Out-of-Range Values

Handling Outliers

Going Fishing and Other Data Dredging Practices

Ethics, Cleaning Up, and Reporting Your Data: Final Comments

Preliminary Analyses

Significance Levels and p Values: What Are They?

Transforming and Selecting Data: Useful Commands in SPSS

Summary of Data Organization Steps

Evaluating Your Hypotheses: Where to Begin

Making Use of Free Response Items

Additional Aids: Online Calculators and Word Clouds

Other Statistical Software


Chapter 11 Writing and Presenting Your Research

Writing: One Section at a Time

Writing: Avoiding Plagiarism

The Writing Itself: Clear and Simple

The “Shape” of Your Paper

The Title of the Paper and Its Importance

The Abstract

The Introduction: Content

The Method Section

Writing About Results


Nonsignificant Results: What Can You Say?

Statistical Versus Practical Significance

General Formatting Issues: Mastering APA Style

Presenting Numbers: The Short Story

Common Grammatical Mistakes

Creating Conference Presentations


Highly Recommended Papers

Appendix A: Decision Tree for Statistical Analysis
Appendix B: Sample Informed Consent Document
Appendix C: Sample Debriefing Statement
Appendix D: Resource Guide to Commonly Used Measures
Appendix E: Commonly Used Analyze Functions in SPSS
Appendix F: Scale Types and Associated Statistical Analyses for Common Research Approaches
Name Index
Subject Index


Instructor Teaching Site

SAGE edge for Instructors supports teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students.

  • Microsoft® Word® test bank is available, containing multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions for each chapter. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for the course.
  • Discussion questions help launch classroom interaction by prompting students to engage with the material and by reinforcing important content.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter.
    Video and website links appeal to students with different learning styles.
Student Study Site

    SAGE edge offers a robust online environment featuring an impressive array of tools and resources for review, study, and further exploration, keeping both instructors and students on the cutting edge of teaching and learning. SAGE edge content is open access and available on demand. Learning and teaching has never been easier!

    SAGE edge for Students
     provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.

    • A customized online action plan includes tips and feedback on progress through the course and materials, which allows students to individualize their learning experience
    • Learning objectives reinforce the most important material
    • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material
    • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts
    • Video and website links which appeals to different learning styles
    • EXCLUSIVE! access to SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter to encourage students to think critically.

    “While most research methods textbooks use little citation which suggests that much of the content is the author’s original thought, this author uses, in a masterful way, a variety of sources to teach each characteristic of the research process,”

    Charles Baker
    Delaware County Community College

    “The text does a great job of touching upon all relevant areas of applied research while presenting the information in a manner that is understandable to students first exposed to the research process.” 

    Michael J. Rovito
    University of Central Florida

    “[Key strengths of the text are] many good examples, interesting questions interspersed in each chapter, helpful guides to successful writing, interesting ideas to ponder, and up-to-date content on online subject pools.”

    Mark W. Dewalt
    Winthrop University

    “The text walks students through the logistics of actually running a study or experiment. It also deals with technology and the advantages and disadvantages of the technologies that students most rely on.” 

    Pauline S. Sawyers
    Oakwood University

    Went with a different text.

    Dr Chase M. L. Smith
    Management, University Of Southern Indiana
    October 6, 2020

    Devlin's text is an immensely practical and incredibly thorough resource on doing research. The eleven chapters cover the range of stages of research - from conception to operationalization, and from analysis to presentation. In this structure, Devlin does not steer away from the complexity of research towards some more assumedly accessible (but arguably simplistic) model. Instead, her writing tackles this complexity head on, and complements how the editing and design of the book coordinates examples, templates, prompts, definitions, and all manner of supplementary material to contextualize this organization of information. The result is not a dense text, but a comprehensive one (or thoroughly representative one, at least): a resource that should be ready to hand for anyone in virtually any academic field, or at any stage of experience - from undergrad to doctoral supervisor.

    Professor Kris Erickson
    Interdiscipline, Ryerson University
    June 29, 2017

    Sample Materials & Chapters


    Chapter 1

    Chapter 5

    Chapter 9

    Ann Sloan Devlin

    Dr. Devlin is a published author with more than three decades of academic and research experience. During her more than 35 years as a faculty member at Connecticut College, she has taught courses in research methods, environmental psychology, cognitive psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, and a host of related seminars. She also established and frequently serves as chair or member of the Connecticut College Human Subjects Institutional Review Board (IRB). In those roles, she has reviewed more than 800 student research proposals as well as those of faculty and staff. With this experience, she is familiar with a wide range... More About Author

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    ISBN: 9781506325125

    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.