3rd Edition

Research Methods for Public Administrators Third Edition

By Gail Johnson Copyright 2014
    350 Pages
    by Routledge

    350 Pages
    by Routledge

    As in previous editions, this highly practical book is written with beginning MPA students and practitioners in mind. It focuses on the interpretation and use of research findings, not just number crunching. It covers the entire research process, from initial questions to final report, in clear, jargon-free language, and includes numerous easy-to-understand examples and exercises that provide opportunities for concrete applications of the concepts. It is solidly grounded in public administration and recognizes both the promise and limitations of research within a political environment.

    Key features of the book:

    --It is highly practical and written to accommodate a mix of readers: those who want to become analysts, managers who will oversee research contracts, and citizens who need to know whether to believe the facts and data they read in today's news;

    --It minimizes the use of jargon and explains difficult concepts in clear language. Plentiful end-of-chapter exercises provide opportunities for concrete application of the concepts;

    --Key points are highlighted as "takeaway lessons" so readers are reminded about what really matters. The tough questions to ask are suggested in every chapter;

    --Examples and applications are used throughout the book to illustrate concepts and add topical interest;

    --It covers the entire research process, from initial questions to the final report.

    This book demystifies and makes practical the research every public administrator and policy analyst needs to do the job well. Online instructor's materials, including a Test Bank, PowerPoint slides, and a Survey and Documental Analysis (SDA) guide, are also available to adopters.

    List of Illustrations
    Preface and Acknowledgments

    1. Introduction: Research Methods for Public Administrators
    Overview Goals: Research as a Critical Thinking Tool Research in the Public Sector What Is Research? Types of Research Ethics and Principles of Good Research
    Overview of This Book
    2. Basic Research Concepts
    The Secret Language of Social Science Theory Hypothesis in Its Many Forms Variables Values Levels of Measurement Determining Causality Independent and Dependent Variables Control Variables Direction of Relationships Program Evaluation: Research in the Public Sector
    Using Models for a Holistic View of Relationships
    The Logic Model
    Applying the Logic Model
    3. What Is the Question?
    Determining the Research Question
    Learning from Others
    Engaging the Stakeholders
    Working Together
    Types of Questions Descriptive Questions Normative Questions Relationship Questions Conclusion
    4. Identifying Measures and Measurement Strategy
    Defining Key Terms Conceptual Definitions Operational Definitions Setting Boundaries
    Valid and Reliable Measures Validity Reliability Why Measurement Matters
    5. Designs for Research: The Xs and Os Framework
    Designing an Experiment
    Applying the Design Elements: The Xs and Os Framework Nonexperimental Design Quasi-Experimental Design Classic Experimental Design Design Variations Using Statistical Controls to Create Comparison Groups Longitudinal Studies Internal Validity
    Why Validity Matters
    External Validity

    6. Other Research Approaches
    Secondary Analysis of Data
    Evaluation Synthesis (Meta-Analysis)
    Content Analysis
    Survey Research
    Case Studies
    Cost-Benefit Analysis

    7. Data Collection I: Available Data and Observation
    Data Collection: The Degree of Structure
    Available Data
    Data Collection Instruments
    Obtrusive and Unobtrusive Data Collection
    The Design Matrix

    8. Data Collection II: Interviews and Focus Groups
    General Guidelines About Choosing the Appropriate Method
    Encouraging Participation
    In-Person Interviews
    Focus Groups
    Other Group Data Collection: Expert Panels, Public Hearings

    9. Data Collection III: Surveys
    Basic Methods
    Response Rates
    Telephone Surveys
    Mail Surveys
    Cyber-Research: E-mail and Web-Based Surveys
    Developing Closed-Ended Questions
    Using One-Way and Two-Way Intensity Scales
    Ranking Questions
    Demographic Questions
    10. Sampling Demystified
    Sampling Jargon
    Random and Nonrandom Samples Random Samples Nonrandom Samples Random Samples: The Options Simple Random Sample Systematic Random Sample Stratified Random Sample Proportional Stratified Sample Disproportionate Stratified Sample Cluster Sample Nonrandom Samples: The Options
    Determining Sample Size
    Nonsampling Errors

    11. Qualitative Data Analysis
    Analyzing Qualitative Data
    Identifying Themes and Quotes
    Working with Qualitative Data
    12. Data Analysis for Description
    Simple Descriptive Statistics in Public Administration
    Commonly Used Descriptive Statistics Counts Percents Rates Ratios Rates of Change Distributions Measures of Central Tendency Which Measure to Use? Comparison of Means Measures of Dispersion

    13. Analyzing Survey Scales
    Handling Exits and the Middle of a Five-Point Scale
    Setting Benchmarks and Extreme Analysis
    Handling the Middle Category in One-Way Intensity Scales
    Should Means Be Used with Nominal and Ordinal Scales?
    The Analytical Tool: Cross Tabulations

    14. Data Analysis: Exploring Relationships
    Using Crosstabs to Examine Relationships
    Controlling for a Third Variable
    Exploring Relationships: Comparison of Means and Medians
    Measures of Association
    Frequently Used Measures of Association
    Working with Interval or Ratio Data
    15. Data Analysis: Regression
    Bivariate Regression: Key Elements
    Using Bivariate Regression Analysis: Sunshine and Tourism
    Multiple Regression Beta Weights: Relative Predictive Strength Regression in the News
    Why Did the Violent Crime Rate Drop After 1991?
    16. Data Analysis Using Inferential Statistics
    Statistical Significance: Basic Concepts
    The Logic of Statistical Significance Testing
    Errors in Tests for Statistical Significance
    Common Tests for Statistical Significance Chi-Square t-Tests: Analyzing Difference in Means Analysis of Variance Tests for Statistical Significance in Regression Analysis
    Reporting Results of Statistical Significance
    Population Estimates and Confidence Intervals

    17. Communicating Research Results
    Effectively Reporting Results
    Reporting Data
    General Guide for Communicating Research Results
    Guide for Writing an Executive Summary
    Guide for Writing a Formal Report
    Guide for Using Charts and Tables
    Guide for Oral Presentations
    Presenting Unwelcome Information
    Making Sense of Research Results
    18. Conclusion: Research at the Intersection of Politics and Administration
    The Research Process Revisited Planning Doing Reporting Ethics and Social Justice
    Managing Research Projects
    Assessing Credibility
    The Limitations of Science
    The Intersection of Research, Politics, and Administration
    Closing Observations

    Appendix A. Mathematical Formulas for Selected Statistics
    Appendix B. Statistics as a Second Language
    Appendix C. Bibliography
    Appendix D. Logic Model Template
    Appendix E. The Generic Design Matrix

    About the Author


    Gail Johnson has worked in several public agencies, including the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Her work with GAO included reports about management of federal agencies, transforming the civil service, and drug use among youth. She has taught in MPA programs for more than fifteen years, worked as consultant with several local governments, and helped design several research workshops for The World Bank. She recently published Trailblazing Governors: Six Remarkable Women, which tells the stories of six of the first generation of women governors. She maintains a blog, Research Demystified, which explores social science research in the context of politics, policy, public administration, program evaluation, and measuring for results and advocacy. 

    "Research Methods for Public Administrators is presented in a clear and comprehensible fashion which enhances the ability of even those with limited knowledge of research methods to understand the topic. The book is well structured, covers the topic with a minimum of jargon, and is designed to develop the critical thinking skills of students. Many examples of research concepts that are relevant to public administrators make the book extremely useful for students and practitioners alike." -- William Leavitt, Old Dominion University

    "Research Methods for Public Administrators is extremely remarkable as it treats both qualitative and quantitative research methods in a comprehensive manner without compromising clarity and readability. The rare combination of broad coverage and reader-friendliness really makes this book an excellent resource for students learning basic research tools." -- Chih-Wei Hsieh, University of New Mexico

    "Finally we have an approachable methods book. Gail Johnson's practitioner background helps her to discuss a very complex topic, research methods, in an understandable and practical manner. While covering the basics of research design and statistics, she also gives attention to the important topic of communicating research findings. Additionally, Johnson ties research methods to its uses in the public sector. This book is well suited for a variety of public administration programs, but it is particularly useful for those with many in-service students." -- Jami Taylor, University of Toledo

    "This is the consummate methods survey text for public administration and policy study, somehow improved in the new edition over already superlative previous ones. In the new edition, conceptual frames continue to be covered with even greater nuance and depth--topics such as policy and program complexity, complex causation, logic modeling, the inter-relation of normative and descriptive/empirical questions in public sector research, research ethics, and the refinement of research questions in these contexts, for instance translating research questions into hypotheses. Most highly recommended!" -- Mario Rivera, University of New Mexico

    "This textbook offers a comprehensive yet understandable overview of the process of research and its use in the field of public administration. The author's focus on how to use and interpret research findings is a welcome addition to the topic and the real-world exercises provide students with practical application of research skills essential for public managers. A great textbook for MPA students!" -- Pamela T. Dunning, Troy University