Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: Research Methods by Nicolas Walliman

Research Methods The Basics by Nicholas Walliman packs a lot of information into a 190 page little book. The information is easy to understand and provides a strong theoretical understanding of the different types of research available and its methods. Research is a term that helps to describe any type of investigation that is intended to uncover facts. The quality of the results often determines the quality of the research itself. Research methods are tools that are used to help better analyze and separate the facts from confounded fiction. 

Within the book you will find information on research theory and practice and the main research methods. The book will provide some information on the basics and then move into ethics, structure, literature, data, analysis of secondary data, quantitative and qualitative methods, and writing the following proposal. It is a strong book for those who desire to understand a basic overview before moving into specifics. 

The scientific method is considered the hypothetico-deductive reasoning method that is a process of:

-identification or clarification of a problem.
-developing a hypothesis or testable theory inductively from the observations
-charting their implications by deduction
-Practical or theoretical testing of the hypothesis
-rejecting or refining it in the light of the results.

The overall processes are one where a problem is defined and then explored to determine a theory. That theory is then tested to ensure that it consistently explains the problem. Over time validity is gained through multiple observations from multiple people. The end result is that the overall theory has been viewed by a number of people over a number of different lenses and becomes the winning theory over the alternatives. 

The scientific method also has a number of underlining assumptions:

-Order: The universe is an ordered system that can be investigated.
-External Reality: We all share a similar sense of physical reality that can be tested. This may not apply to subjective reality.
-Reliability:  We use our senses and reasoning to reliably determine facts.
-Parsimony: The simpler the explanation...the better.
-Generality: Rules found can be applied to similar situations regardless of time and space. 

All science deals with the concept of order vs. chaos, the nature of reality, sensing and reasoning, explanation, and time and space. The book doesn’t go deeply into this concept but if you think back to the original philosophers of this world modern scientific thought is based upon their philosophical understandings. It is the nature of scientists to discuss reality, causation, time-space, and philosophy to create mental lenses by which they see the world and empirically test its validity. 

Walliman, N. (2011). Research Methods The Basics. Routledge; NY. ISBN: 978-0-415-48991-1

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