Understanding Research Methods : A Guide for the Public and Nonprofit Manager book cover
1st Edition

Understanding Research Methods
A Guide for the Public and Nonprofit Manager

ISBN 9781574445855
Published October 28, 2008 by Routledge
306 Pages 92 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Managers and administrators in the public-policy and nonprofit sectors rely heavily on analytical skills to quickly pore through a massive amount of research. They dissect it and apply specific, useful data that can inform critical policy changes and help them improve their organization’s overall performance and financial position. To master this vital role, it is imperative that they and their staff learn to be more efficient at collecting, analyzing and evaluating research material, by discovering how to ask the right questions and quickly discern valuable information from useless data.

A Blueprint to Streamline Every Aspect of the Research Process

Focusing on the entire research process from start to finish, the compact but comprehensive Understanding Research Methods: A Guide for the Public and Nonprofit Manager explores the research designs and analytical tools that are the foundation for decision-making. Relying more on concepts and analysis than on mathematics, this text provides insight into the definition, process, importance, and capabilities of research – addressing the topic from the perspectives of both the producer of data and the consumer who evaluates its usefulness.

Broken down into three sections, the book:

  • Gives an overview of the research process, the construction of measures, and research ethics
  • Elaborates on planning a research method, presenting common research designs used by practitioners and the most useful, popular ways to collect data
  • Focuses on tools available to analyze and then communicate data – specifically univariate and bivariate analyses

This versatile text is intended for dual uses – as a textbook for graduate and undergraduate students in public and nonprofit administration and public policy, and as a practical guide for the average administrator. Both groups will learn how to develop proper research questions, define specific research purposes, and form hypotheses that avoid confusion in measurement and analysis. Imparting basic practical knowledge, it outlines effective approaches to gather accurate, relevant information and then effectively interpret and communicate it.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Research
Overview of Book

The Research Process
The Purpose of Research
Development of Research Focus

Variable Construction
Characteristics of Measurements
The Development of Variables

Research Ethics
Ethics in the Research Process
Protection of Human Subjects

Research Designs
Research Designs
Threats to Validity

Data Collection
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources

Some Definitions
Sample Selection
Sample Size
Reaching Respondents and Improving Response Rates

Questionnaire Construction
Question Wording
Question Structure
Response Formats for Closed Questions
Questionnaire Layout
Cover Letters
Final Stages

Coding and Managing Data
The Codebook
Database Management
Descriptive Data Analysis
Central Tendency: Finding the Most, Middle, or Average
Measures of Dispersion
Calculating Descriptive Statistics and Creating the Graphics

Bivariate Statistics
Testing for Relationships
Cross Tabulations
Difference of Means
Analysis of Variance

Communicating Research Results
The Components of a Research Paper
Presenting Tables and Graphics

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Donijo Robbins