You are here

Principles of Methodology

Principles of Methodology
Research Design in Social Science

Other Titles in:
Research Design

October 2011 | 336 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This book provides a comprehensive, accessible guide to social science methodology. In so doing, it establishes methodology as distinct from both methods and philosophy.

Most existing textbooks deal with methods, or sound ways of collecting and analysing data to generate findings. In contrast, this innovative book shows how an understanding of methodology allows us to design research so that findings can be used to answer interesting research questions and to build and test theories.

Most important things in social research (e.g., beliefs, institutions, interests, practices and social classes) cannot be observed directly. This book explains how empirical research can nevertheless be designed to make sound inferences about their nature, effects and significance.

The authors examine what counts as good description, explanation and interpretation, and how they can be achieved by striking intelligent trade-offs between competing design virtues.

Coverage includes:

• why methodology matters;

• what philosophical arguments show us about inference;

• competing virtues of good research design;

• purposes of theory, models and frameworks;

• forming researchable concepts and typologies;

• explaining and interpreting: inferring causation, meaning and significance; and

• combining explanation and interpretation.

The book is essential reading for new researchers faced with the practical challenge of designing research. Extensive examples and exercises are provided, based on the authors' long experience of teaching methodology to multi-disciplinary groups.

Perri 6 is Professor of Social Policy in the Graduate School in the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University.

Chris Bellamy is Emeritus Professor of Public Administration in the Graduate School, Nottingham Trent University.

Inference and Warrant in Designing Research
Methodology and Social Science Knowledge
Testing, Confirming and Falsifying
Perspectives on Findings from Social Research
Types of Research Design
Variable-Oriented Research Designs
Case-Based Research Designs
Comparative and Case-Oriented Research Designs
Concept Formation
Why Ideas about Explanation Matter for Methodology
Basic Forms of Explanation
Mechanisms, Contexts and Trajectories
Warranting Explanations
Between-Case and within-Case Strategies
Warranting Interpretations
Combining Research Designs
Trade-offs in Research Design

'This is not just another methods book – it is ground-breaking in its comprehensiveness about what methodology is and what it is not.'    

'I would recommend this book to any member of the SRA whether in academia, local government, central government or market research; in short anyone concerned with collecting data about the social world and trying to make sense of it.'

Justin Gutmann
head of research & insight, Citizens Advice
SRA Research Matters

A well written, helpful text for both undergraduates and postgraduates.

Miss Alyson Lewis
Newport School of Education, University of South Wales (Newport)
January 6, 2015

Clear explanation of the key principles of research methods in social science.

Professor Li Wei
Linguistics , Birkbeck College, University of London
January 20, 2014

University committee decided on a different text.

Ms Misty Fitch
Criminal Justice, Post University
August 20, 2013

This is a very useful text for masters and doctoral level students rather than degree level students. It is clearly structured and the narrative style of writing helps to engage the reader in the complexities of theoretical and methodological issues. It is a return to again and again kind of resource.

Mrs Sally Goldspink
Allied Health & Medicine, Anglia Ruskin University
August 20, 2013

Too advanced for course as currently offered. Would be excellent for research design course prior to dissertation.

Dr Nancy Sanders
Education, California State Polytechnic - Pomona
August 16, 2013

Not focused enough on the nature of qualitative small scale research in education.

Dr Andy Cramp
School of Education, Wolverhampton University
July 11, 2013

An insightful text that supports graduate researchers to gain a greater depth of understanding and application of the research methodologies discussed.

Mrs Monica Donlon
Education and Applied Social Sciences, Stockport College
July 5, 2013

A wonderful and inspirational guide to Social Science research design that never patronises or terrifies the beginning social scientist. Thank you!

Ms Therese Lewis
Faculty of Health, Social Work & Educ, Northumbria University
June 19, 2013

This is an excellent new book which engages with theoretical and methodological issues and provides a clear guide for research practitioners in ways that many such books fail to do. It is clear and accessible and does not shy away from dealing with complex issues in a practical manner. It will be of immense value to Masters students and doctoral students alike.

Professor Matt Henn
Graduate School, Nottingham Trent University
April 10, 2013

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

For instructors

Please select a format:

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9780857024749

ISBN: 9780857024732

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.

With SAGE Research Methods, researchers can explore their chosen method across the depth and breadth of content, expanding or refining their search as needed; read online, print, or email full-text content; utilize suggested related methods and links to related authors from SAGE Research Methods' robust library and unique features; and even share their own collections of content through Methods Lists. SAGE Research Methods contains content from over 720 books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks, the entire “Little Green Book,” and "Little Blue Book” series, two Major Works collating a selection of journal articles, and specially commissioned videos.