1st Edition

Understanding Research Methods A Guide for the Public and Nonprofit Manager

By Donijo Robbins Copyright 2009
    306 Pages 92 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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


    Donijo Robbins