Tag Archive | post-graduate

Research Methods – the useful material

Following on from my previous two posts, here is a list of very useful material I recommend for studying Social Research Methods including

  • research strategies and design,
  • literature review,
  • ethics and politics of research
  • sampling,
  • qualitative and quantitative methods,
  • as well as data analysis,
  • writing up social research and presentation of findings.

References:
BRYMAN, A. (3rd ed.) (2008) Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Resource centre including Flashcards, Multiple Choice Questions etc. as well as some hands-on Excel data analysis/tutorials. More useful links in relation to each chapter to external sites: weblinks by chapter. The book is also listed on Amazon, where you can search inside: Bryman’s Social Research Methods on Amazon.

DE VAUS, D. (5th ed.) (2002) Surveys in Social Research. Abingdon: Routledge.
de Vaus’s Surveys in Social Research on Amazon. This edition comes with a massive number of weblinks which de Vaus has listed on his site. Further de Vaus links, site set up by an OU student: who publishes under Ariadne and also some handy notes related to the OU’s DT840 study guide .

LEE, Carl et al. , Central Michigan University.
Tutorials and Movie Clips (based on SPSS 9.0 and 10.0) with transcripts

LEVESQUE, Raynald in Montreal, Canada SPSS tools

OPEN UNIVERSITY (OU)
OpenLearn SPSS is a step-by-step online tutorial which covers adding variables, obtaining descriptive statistics, correlation, independent t-tests, and paired samples t-tests.

ROWNTREE, D (1981) Statistics without Tears: An Introduction for Non-Mathematicians. London: Penguin Books.
a classic on Amazon, search inside.

SEALE, C. (ed.) (2004) Social Research Methods – A Reader. London: Routledge.

SOPER, Daniel offers a free calculator for multiple regression as well as a great overview of numerous concepts on his Free Statistics Calculators site which is an excellent online support source for last minute revision, pop-up windows will save you time.

TROCHIM, William M.K. Social Research Methods is another incredibly helpful site. Well structured and illustrated.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Los Angeles (UCLA)
SPSS Version 15.0 Learning Module includes T-tests, Chi-square tests, correlation, ANOVA (Analysis of Variance) as well as a detailed, well-structured discussion and explanation of Regression among their SPSS Webbooks.

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Research Methods – DT840 and beyond, review of course books

As announced in my earlier post on Research Methods and Skills
I am providing here a brief review of the books which present the set books in my current post-graduate course on research skills and statistics, i.e. the Open University post-graduate course DT840 (DTZY840). The assessment (5 assignments and an exam) is based on the following materials:

LE VOI, M., Sapsford, R., Potter, S., Green, A., Redman, P. and Yates S. (2008) DT840 Course and Study Guide. Milton Keynes: The Open University

POTTER, S (2nd ed.) (2006) Doing Postgraduate Research. London: Sage.
This set book by Stephen Potter – OU Professor, specialist in transport strategies, and course team members – is available on Amazon. There is also a companion which contains related links and chapter excerpts: Potter companion on Sage which, unfortunately, appears to be neglected: 3 listed links out of 4, supposed to connect to ethical frameworks, turn out to be broken. Some of the course assessment is based on the online sources which you will need to find elsewhere. I have listed ethical guidelines in a separate box on the right hand within this blog.

SAPSFORD, R. (2nd ed.) (2007) Survey Research. London: Sage.
Also this one is available on Amazon, interested readers can: search inside. The reviews on Amazon are throughout very negative and the reviewers have gone into great detail with their substantiated critique. It’s helpful to read them and keep in mind the following problems with the material:

  • Lack of a glossary
  • Minimalist link list and Index
  • Key concepts such as triangulation not mentioned
  • Discusses online research settings only very briefly, insufficient
  • References to chapters/figures/boxes/tables rather than to pages
  • 1st edition had attracted equally negative reviews
  • 16 pages contain substantial errors: in formulae, explanations of concepts, tables are wrongly labelled etc. Luckily the OU provides a list of corrections, but it’s not comprehensive and you will need to constantly check and correct.
  • Carelessly compiled bibliography: referencing appears to follow random systems and lacks consistency (the OU prefers Harvard referencing style also in this course).
  • Unclear structure with a wordy approach

[N.B. To make matters worse: NO previous exams available – as common for the majority of courses on OUSA site, yet 1 exam specimen paper is delivered by OU.]
Here is a site which lists Sapsford’s content without providing any evaluation: Sapsford content, overview by OU student.

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Statistics makes me cry – Andy Field makes statistics sexy

„Statistics makes me cry“ – how many times have I seen this over the past months? Too often, I decided Friday night, when I submitted the last piece of coursework for the Research Skills and Survey Methods Master’s course (DT840 / DTZY840 at the Open University which is a compulsory course for the MSc in Human Geography Research Methods, MSc in Management and Business Research Methods MSc in Psychological Research Methods, MSc in Research Methods for Educational Technology MSc in Social Research Methods, MSc in Technology Strategy Research).

With only the exam to go, in October, I felt it is time to write a brief review and summarise the sources I have been using in order to make this least of inspiring courses more useful. Good news first: the course contributed significantly to me growing up as an independent student who critically evaluates sources. I also learned to make hard choices: do I need to gain marks only or will I need to understand the concepts in depth? And hence, perhaps disagree with the course authors which may make me loose marks on the short term but gain on the long term, in future projects. Sadly, it seems, students still have to make such kind of choices, in my case that included discussing with the staff tutor a change of the allocated associate lecturer.

The bad news: at more than GBP1300 you expect a minimum of quality of teaching material – prepare yourself for disappointment, unless you spend a little more on secondary literature and some additional time on the internet. Make the most of it – and enjoy the inspiration that comes with leaving the tightly demarcated patch called „you won’t need to know this for the next paper, exam etc“. There is no rule that says you cannot grow more independent before having finished your PhD.

So, above, in a separate post I will publish a list of resources I have been using with comments and links, hoping you will find it useful or add whatever you think should be added.

And before I forget: my deepest thanks to Dr Andy Field who helped me see the usefulness of statistics, who made me laugh and who made me believe that also writing a statistics book can be real fun (according to all the photos he included and all the references to the 1970 and 1980s). No doubt, he’s heard that before. And he’s been officially rewarded for his teaching talent. I don’t take enthusiastic lecturers for granted, as you may have noticed…

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