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Paperback 456 pp.
46 figures; 26 tables; 40 photos; 34 screen grabs, 8" x 10"



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Imprint: OUP Canada

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Social Research Methods

Canadian Edition, Fourth Edition

Alan Bryman and Edward Bell

Now in its fourth Canadian edition, Social Research Methods remains the go-to research guide for undergraduates in the social sciences. Offering practical, step-by-step advice, the authors take readers through all stages of the processes involved in both quantitative and qualitative research, from formulating questions, choosing methods, and recruiting participants to analyzing the data and writing up the results.

Readership : This is a core text for research methods courses at universities and colleges that are offered out of sociology departments and all other social science programs. These courses are offered at the second-, third-, and fourth-year levels.


  • "This is the best text I have found in the area. . . .[W]hile it allows for a deep philosophical basis for key notions of research and the ethics of research, it also allows students to quickly and effectively work through real examples of methodologies in action."
    --Philip Savage, McMaster University

  • "I really like the Canadian content and examples that are very relevant to today's students. . . . The book has broad coverage appropriate for an introductory research course involving both quantitative and qualitative approaches."
    --Jennifer Jarman, Lakehead University

Note: Each chapter includes:
- Chapter overview
- Introduction
- Key points
- Review questions
- Interactive classroom activities
- Relevant websites
Part I
1. General Research Orientations
Theory and Research
Deductive and Inductive Approaches
Epistemological Considerations
Critical Approaches to Social Sciences
Ontological Considerations
General Orientations: Quantitative and Qualitative Research
Influences on the Conduct of Social Research
2. Research Designs
Criteria for Evaluating Social Research
Research Designs
Bringing Research Orientation and Design Together
3. Research Ethics
General Ethical Principles
Part II
4. The Nature of Quantitative Research
The Main Steps in Quantitative Research
Concepts and Their Measurement
Reliability and Measurement Validity
Reflections on Reliability and Validity
The Main Goals of Quantitative Researchers
Critiques of Quantitative Research
5. Survey Research: Structured Interviewing and Questionnaires
The Structured Interview
Reducing Error Due to Interviewer Variability
Accuracy and Ease of Data Processing
Dealing with Interviewer Effects
Interview Contexts
Conducting Interviews
Respondent Problems
The Feminist Critique
6. Asking Questions
Open or Closed Questions?
Types of Questions
Rules for Designing Questions
Designing the Questionnaire
Vignette Questions
Pilot Studies and Pre-testing Questions
Using Existing Questions
7. Structured Observation
Problems with Survey Research
So Why Not Just Observe Behaviour Directly?
The Observation Schedule
Strategies for Observing Behaviour
Issues of Reliability and Validity
Field Experiments as a Form of Structured Observation
Criticisms of Structured Observation
8. Other Sources of Data
Personal Documents
Government Documents
Official Documents from Private Sources
Mass Media Outputs
Virtual Outputs and the Internet as Objects of Analysis
Introduction to Secondary Analysis
Official Statistics
Official Statistics as an Unobtrusive Measure
Part III
9. The Nature of Qualitative Research
Theory and Concepts in Qualitative Research
Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research
The Main Goals of Qualitative Researchers
Critiques of Qualitative Research
Some Contrasts Between Quantitative and Qualitative Research
10. Ethnography and Participant Observation
Roles for Ethnographers
Field Notes
The Rise of Visual Ethnography
The End
Can There Be a Feminist Ethnography?
11. Interviewing in Qualitative Research
Differences between Structured and Qualitative Research Interviews
Unstructured and Semi-structured Interviewing
Focus Groups: An Introduction
Conducting Focus Groups
Size of Groups and Selecting Participants
Asking Questions and Level of Moderator Involvement
Group Interaction in Focus Group Sessions
Limitations of Focus Groups
Online Interviews and Focus Groups
Qualitative Interviewing (Without Immersion in a Social Setting) Versus Ethnography
Part IV
12. Sampling
Sampling Error
Types of Probability Sample
The Qualities of a Probability Sample
Sample Size
Types of Non-probability Sampling
Limits to Generalization
Qualitative Sampling
Content Analysis Sampling
Reducing Non-response
13. Quantitative Data Analysis
A Small Research Project
More Univariate Analysis
Comparing Means and Eta
Amount of Explained Variance
14. Qualitative Data Analysis
General Strategies of Qualitative Data Analysis
Part V
15. Breaking Down the Quantitative/Qualitative Divide
Quantitative Research and Constructionism
Research Methods and Epistemological and Ontological Considerations
Problems with the Quantitative/Qualitative Contrast
Mutual Analysis
Quantification in Qualitative Research
Multi-strategy Research
Two Positions in the Debate Over Quantitative and Qualitative Research
Approaches to Multi-strategy Research
Reflections on Multi-strategy Research
16. Content Analysis
What Things Need to Be Counted?
Qualitative Content Analysis
Readers and Audience - Active or Passive?
Two Approaches to the Study of Language
Advantages of Content Analysis
17. Writing up Social Research
Writing up Quantitative Research: An Example
Postmodernism and its Implications for Writing
Writing up Ethnography
18. Conducting a Research Project
Know What is Expected by Your Institution
Using a Supervisor
Managing Time and Resources: Start Thinking Early about the Research Area
Searching the Existing Literature
Preparing for Research
Writing up Research
Appendix A: Using IBM SPSS Statistics and NVivo Software
Appendix B: The Ideal Stages of Research

Instructor's Manual:
For each chapter:
- Chapter overview/summary
- 5-10 learning objectives
- 3-5 suggested class activities
- 5-8 suggested assignments
- 5-8 suggested teaching aids
- Sample course outline/syllabus
- Image Bank with all the figures, tables, and photos from the book
Test Generator:
For each chapter:
- 30-50 multiple choice questions
- 30-50 true-or-false questions
- 15-20 short answer questions
- Includes answers and page references
PowerPoint Slides:
For each chapter:
- 30-35 lecture outline slides per chapter with figures/tables/photos from the text
Student Study Guide:
For each chapter:
- Chapter summary
- 5-10 learning objectives
- 5-10 key terms and concepts
Self-assessment quizzes with 15-20 multiple choice questions and 15-20 true-or-false questions
- Annotated further readings and Websites
- 5-10 suggested media resources each with 3-5 questions for reflection
E-Book (ISBN 9780199009794)

Alan Bryman is a professor emeritus of organizational and social research at the University of Leicester in the UK.

Edward Bell is a professor in the division of sociology and family studies at Brescia University College at Western University, where he teaches research methods, quantitative research, and statistics for sociology. He has published journal articles on topics as wide-ranging as personality, religion, and politics. In addition to his work as the Canadian adaptor on three editions of Social Research Methods, he has also published Social Classes and Social Credit in Alberta, (McGill-Queen's University Press).

The Research Process - Gary D. Bouma, Rod Ling and Lori Wilkinson
Qualitative Research in Action - Deborah K. van den Hoonaard
SPSS Virtual Teaching Assistant - Hannah Scott
Approaches to Social Research - Royce A. Singleton and Bruce C. Straits
The Methods Coach - Lance W. Roberts, Karen Kampen and Tracey Peter
Making Sense in the Social Sciences - Margot Northey, Lorne Tepperman and Patrizia Albanese
Understanding Social Statistics - Lance W. Roberts, Jason Edgerton, Tracey Peter and Lori Wilkinson
The Statistics Coach - Lance W. Roberts, Tracey Peter and Karen Kampen
Simple Statistics - Terance D. Miethe and Jane Florence Gauthier

Special Features

  • Seamlessly integrates qualitative and quantitative methods while also demonstrating the benefits of combining these two approaches.
  • Makes social research relevant to Canadian students by including the rules and guidelines governing research ethics, government agencies, and current datasets and statistics.
  • Covers all aspects of the research process including formulating objectives, choosing research methods, building surveys, securing research participants, and conducting interviews.
  • Student-friendly boxes offer step-by-step advice, practical tips, and handy checklists of issues for students to keep in mind when working on their own research projects.
  • Methods in Motion: Applications to Canadian Society boxes showcase recent Canadian research projects that illustrate how the methods discussed in the chapter have been used by researchers in the field.
  • A wide range of real-world examples are found throughout the text and within chapter-opening vignettes that describe how others have carried out their research and what they have learned in the process.
  • Clear explanations of common statistics used in the social sciences make complex material easy to understand.
  • Chapter on writing up research helps students prepare well-written quantitative and qualitative research reports. (Ch. 17)
  • Using IBM SPSS Statistics and NVivo Software appendix offers updated software guidelines to help students analyze their quantitative and qualitative data using the latest versions of IBM SPSS and NVivo.
  • The Ideal Stages of Research appendix discusses how research is an evolving process of inquiry rather than a checklist of procedures, thus encouraging students to think critically about the various stages involved in social research.
New to this Edition
  • New interactive classroom activities offer students abundant opportunities to practice what they have learned in each chapter.
  • New coverage of critical approaches to social research - including participatory action research, critical discourse analysis, and institutional ethnography - helps students realize the power social research has to address complex social problems and contribute to social changes. (Ch. 1)
  • Numerous new boxed examples on such topics as participatory action research methods (Ch. 1), how ADHD affects friendships among children (Ch. 4), and diabetes among First Nations people in Canada (Ch. 9) provide students with relevant examples of professionally conducted research and what was learned in the process.
  • Newly reorganized - with the ethics chapter appearing earlier in the text (Ch. 3) - makes this edition more in-line with how topics are commonly taught.