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Research Design


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Table of Contents

I. The Nuts and Bolts of Research Design
1. Introduction to Social Research
2. Ethics in Social Research
3. Getting Started Designing a Project
II. Five Approaches to Research Design
4. Quantitative Research Design
5. Qualitative Research Design
6. Mixed Methods Research Design
7. Arts-Based Research Design
8. Community-Based Participatory Research Design

About the Author

Patricia Leavy, PhD, is an independent sociologist and former Chair of Sociology and Criminology and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. She is the author, coauthor, or editor of over 30 books, and the creator and editor of seven book series. Known for her commitment to public scholarship, she is frequently contacted by the U.S. national news media and has blogged for The Huffington Post, The Creativity Post, and We Are the Real Deal. She is also co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the journal Art/Research International. Dr. Leavy has received numerous awards for her work in the field of research methods, including the Distinguished Service Outside the Profession Award from the National Art Education Association, the New England Sociologist of the Year Award from the New England Sociological Association, the Special Achievement Award from the American Creativity Association, the Egon Guba Memorial Keynote Lecture Award from the American Educational Research Association Qualitative Special Interest Group, and the Special Career Award from the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. In 2016, Mogul, a global women's empowerment platform, named her an "Influencer." The School of Fine and Performing Arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz has established the Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice in her honor. Dr. Leavy delivers invited lectures and keynote addresses at universities and conferences. Her website is www.patricialeavy.com.


"An excellent introductory text for an undergraduate- or master's-level research methods class. The book provides a thorough introduction to five approaches to research commonly used in the social and behavioral sciences, offering detailed guidance on how to write a proposal in each genre. The writing style is very readable, with clear explanations of concepts and vocabulary and examples from many different fields. Ethics in research is emphasized throughout. Other strengths include a comprehensive discussion of how to write surveys. This is a very accessible book."--Barbara B. Levin, PhD, Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

"The most accessible, comprehensive, and up-to-date introduction and guide to social and behavioral science research methods. Among the book's many virtues is its jargon-free, engaging style, which models how the writing and overall presentation of research influences its impact. As an advocate for simplifying the panoply of social science research categories, I applaud the emphasis on five fluid frameworks distinguished by empirical modes of operation. The streamlined approach enhances depth, rigor, and imagination, while reinforcing the concept of research as a shared discipline whose methods are designed to address questions and present discoveries in the most convincing way. This is a book for both beginners and experts--and one that will create a more complete and exciting community of inquiry."--Shaun McNiff, PhD, University Professor, Lesley University

"In my decades of teaching social science methods to undergrads and graduate students, it was always a challenge to assemble the right combination of texts and supplementary materials. Leavy's text solves this problem. It's a whole course in itself, up to date on arts-based research and more without sacrificing basics on philosophy, quantitative methods, hypothesis formation, and so on. Faculty will love this book for its critical genius and comprehensive coverage, and students will love the exceptionally clear writing and real-world examples. Leavy's 'Review Stops' outshine anything personal notetakers can do on their own. For its transferable values on critical thinking, let alone basic research design, it ought to be required reading throughout the disciplines. For a moment or two as I progressed through the text, I thought about going back to teaching just so I could use it."--Ivan Brady, PhD, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, State University of New York at Oswego

"Leavy has clearly given extensive thought to how to help readers understand and use each approach. Each chapter contains sufficient information for designing a research study using the approach at hand, and includes a schema for the development of a written research proposal. The book demonstrates Leavy's methods expertise. It also examines the way that a social justice perspective influences our choices about study topics and subjects, as well as the purpose and intended audience for our research, and discusses researcher-community relationships. Undergraduate and graduate students engaging in their first research projects, as well as professionals interested in broadening their research repertoire, will benefit from this well-written text."--Maureen C. McHugh, PhD, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

"Leavy has written an exemplary introduction to research design. Targeted to beginning researchers as well as more seasoned ones looking to try a new technique, the book unpacks and demystifies the research process. The engaging writing ensures this text is highly accessible. I will be adopting this book in my methods courses."--Jessica Smartt Gullion, PhD, Interim Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Texas Woman's University

"I have never seen a book that explains research methodology in the social sciences as clearly and expansively as this one. It is perfect for multidisciplinary courses in the human sciences. The author brings a nuanced understanding to the several divergent approaches to social research that she covers. Clearly written and argued, the text makes complex methodological issues understandable."--George S. Howard, PhD, Professor of Psychology, University of Notre Dame

"I applaud the author for the breadth of research approaches this book encompasses compared to other texts, including arts-based and community-based research. I like how the book is structured, with the first few chapters providing a general introduction to research design and subsequent chapters taking a closer look at each of the respective approaches."--Larry Maucieri, PhD, ABPP-CN, Division of Psychology and Counseling, Governors State University

"This is a great book on a much-needed topic, and is perfect for class use! The writing style is clear and easy to follow. I especially like the examples of contemporary social justice concerns--this is a tremendous strength of the text. I would definitely consider adopting it into our introductory research series in lieu of the text we have been using." --Amanda Byron, EdD, Graduate Program in Conflict Resolution, Portland State University

"This book is the perfect resource guide for social and behavioral sciences undergraduate and graduate students looking to understand the basics of the different types of research design that are currently being used in the field of academia and research. Leavy is successful at breaking down each type of design to an elementary level that is easy to understand....Leavy not only summarizes the basics of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods formats of researching, but she also goes beyond these basic types and expands on the arts-based and community-based participatory research methods, which is unique to this book. Another outstanding feature of this book is that Leavy intertwines ethics and social justice into every chapter....I recommend this book to any student interested in conducting research or simply learning about the different methodologies and the ethics and social justice issues considerations for these five research methods explored in the text."--The Qualitative Report

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