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Understanding Political Science Research Methods The Challenge of Inference

ISBN-10: 0415895200
ISBN-13: 9780415895200
Edition: 2014
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Description: This text starts by explaining the fundamental goal of good political science research-the ability to answer interesting and important questions by generating valid inferences about political phenomena. Before the text even discusses the process of  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2014
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group
Publication date: 12/16/2013
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 250
Size: 8.00" wide x 10.00" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 1.232
Language: English

This text starts by explaining the fundamental goal of good political science research-the ability to answer interesting and important questions by generating valid inferences about political phenomena. Before the text even discusses the process of developing a research question, the authors introduce the reader to what it means to make an inference and the different challenges that social scientists face when confronting this task. Only with this ultimate goal in mind will students be able to ask appropriate questions, conduct fruitful literature reviews, select and execute the proper research design, and critically evaluate the work of others. The authors' primary goal is to teach students to critically evaluate their own research designs and others' and analyze the extent to which they overcome the classic challenges to making inference: internal and external validity concerns, omitted variable bias, endogeneity, measurement, sampling, and case selection errors, and poor research questions or theory. As such, students will not only be better able to conduct political science research, but they will also be more savvy consumers of the constant flow of causal assertions that they confront in scholarship, in the media, and in conversations with others. Three themes run through Barakso, Sabet, and Schaffner's text: minimizing classic research problems to making valid inferences, effective presentation of research results, and the nonlinear nature of the research process. Throughout their academic years and later in their professional careers, students will need to effectively convey various bits of information. Presentation skills gleaned from this text will benefit students for a lifetime, whether they continue in academia or in a professional career. Several distinctive features make this book noteworthy: A common set of examples threaded throughout the text give students a common ground across chapters and expose them to a broad range of subfields in the discipline. "When Things Go Wrong" boxes illustrate the nonlinear, "non-textbook" reality of research "Inferences in the Media" boxes demonstrate the often false inferences and poor social science in the way the popular press covers politics; "Ethics of Conduct" boxes encourage students to think about ethical issues at various stages of the research process. Robust end-of-chapter exercises A companion website that gives students additional opportunities to fine tune their understanding of the book's material

Brian F. Schaffner is an associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He received his PhD from Indiana University; and his research on political parties, voting behavior, and the media has been published in the AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW, the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, POLITICAL RESEARCH QUARTERLY, PUBLIC OPINION QUARTERLY, LEGISLATIVE STUDIES QUARTERLY, and POLITICAL COMMUNICATION.

Where Social Science Research Often Goes Wrong: The Challenge of Inference
Asking a Question and Proposing an Answer
The Making of a Good Research Question
How Good Theory Means Good Research
A Menu of Approaches
Experiments
Small N Observational Studies
Large N Observational Studies
Conclusion

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