Behind the Scenes in Social Research
How Practical and Personal Matters Affect a Project
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Behind the Scenes in Social Research discusses the informal, adaptive, real-life process of doing social science research. It complements the material in standard methods texts that describe the basics - how to choose topics, ways of obtaining and analyzing data - but in doing so miss out on many of the obstacles and practicalities of doing research. Researchers may find themselves adrift when they start their research and discover that what confronts them doesn’t precisely match exactly what is described in the basic textbooks, such as the obstacles that frequently occur, the logistical matters that must be handled, and the improvisations in research design and data gathering techniques that successful projects require. This book covers this material, while also paying attention to the ways in which the personal characteristics of those doing the research affect how projects are designed and data gathered. In addition, it explores the manner in which doing research affects the researchers themselves, affecting self-images, altering political or social views or providing skills that extend beyond the research enterprise. Based on the author’s own experiences and interviews with senior researchers in a variety of social science fields, Behind the Scenes in Social Research explores the practical problems that arise in undertaking a research project while showing how these problems can be overcome through perseverance and improvisation. It will therefore appeal to scholars and students across the social science with interests in research methods and the practical issues that arise during any research project.
Table of Contents
1. Doing Research: Beyond What is Taught in the Methods Class 2. How Being a Researcher Affects You Personally 3. The Sources for Research Ideas 4. The Evolution and Modification of a Research Design 5. Enhancing Data Gathering Methods: Learning New Techniques and Modifying Standard Approaches 6. Combatting Obstacles: Finding Sites and Individuals and Handling Logistics 7. Other Obstacles Faced in Collecting Data 8. Tricks of the Trade
Herb Rubin is an urban sociologist, now retired. Most of his career was as a professor and researcher at Northern Illinois University. In addition he has conducted research at a government agency and consulted on overseas foreign aid projects. He is the author of Advocacy for Social Change: Coalitions and the Organizations That Lead Them and Renewing Hope within Neighborhoods of Despair: The Community-Based Development Model, and the co-author of Community Organizing and Development and Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data.