NEW TO THIS EDITION: Discussion of the philosophy of science as the underlying foundation of methodological thinking includes naturalism and constructionism. Expanded focus on research ethics and the importance of samples in social research helps researchers produce higher quality research that adheres to common standards. Explicit attention is given to both designing research and evaluating the research of others. KEY FEATURES: An interdisciplinary approach with examples in criminology/criminal justice, sociology, political science/international relations, and social work gives readers a range of ways to comprehend the material. A balanced account of theoretical perspectives provides students with an unbiased and informed presentation of the material. An emphasis on conveying the logic and general principles of social research design is reflected in minimal technical details for maximum clarity.


While social research requires data, which are traces of the physical world, much of what is of interest to researchers—social class, inequality, identity, deviance, crime, and so on—are concepts, which are abstractions that do not have a physical existence.

A central question in designing and evaluating social research of any type is, how do we move from the physical world, which is the source of data, to concepts, which are located in the nonphysical world of meaning? Put another way, how do we know that what we sense in the physical world has a particular meaning?

Social research of all kinds is about linking the physical and social worlds. For example, eyes can see a piece of cloth in particular colors (such as red, white, ...

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