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Quantitative Psychological Research - Research Methods for Clinical and Health Psychology. First edition - Introduction to Research Methods and Data Analysis in Psychology. First edition - Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology. First edition
November 26, 2004

Quantitative Psychological Research is aimed at first and second-year undergraduates. This edition excludes sections on qualitative methods and, the author stresses, it does not attempt to be a “manual on how to do analyses”, this being done better, he believes, in books about computer software such as the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).

The book deserves its subtitle of “handbook”. The main text runs to nearly 400 pages, and some 200 pages of appendices follow. Students will find the emphasis on doing research (not just on data analysis) stimulating and helpful, and there are welcome sections on methods popular with students, such as interviews, surveys and observation. Relatively unusual topics include content analysis, calculating effect size and power, and meta-analysis.

I was a little puzzled to find the appendices went into some detail about statistical procedures. However, they are concisely presented, and it is welcome to see deep explanation of the methods; I just wonder how many students would take the time to work through them. This is a well-written book, worth considering by those who want just one text for students that will carry them pretty well right through - and one that you could easily use to structure all undergraduate methods teaching in your department.

Research Methods for Clinical and Health Psychology is an edited collection of chapters introducing research methods in applied psychology. Qualitative methods figure prominently, as do other methods relevant to those working with health-service users. One is tempted to see such a collection of chapters as superficial, but the book gives a detailed treatment of a range of important methods. It will strike a chord with applied psychologists in particular - but will also be of interest to healthcare professionals generally.

I was particularly pleased to see the final two chapters. One is devoted to the design and analysis of intervention studies, a topic of fundamental concern to many applied psychologists rarely touched on in undergraduate courses. The other deals with synthesising evidence from literature reviews - an area that can be glossed over in our training of undergraduates but is crucial to the appraisal of healthcare intervention research. If you are teaching postgraduate research methods courses, including those aimed at a mixture of psychologists and other health professionals, this book is worth considering as a core text.

Introduction to Research Methods and Data Analysis in Psychology claims to “provide students with the only research methods textbook they will need from the start of their studies
on to their second and possibly even third year”. As such, the book trespasses on well-published territory. But it is modern in approach in focusing less on statistical analysis and more
on research methods, and it deals with qualitative methods
at length.

Part one introduces research methods generally and covers the fundamentals of the scientific method. Parts two and three describe important quantitative and qualitative methods, while part four discusses ethics and the reporting of research. There is little to object to in this coverage - unless one were to argue that it is unexceptional, given other available texts. But there is an impressive range of supplementary website material, including PowerPoint presentations, interactive tests, weblinks and downloadable text and data files, which should be popular with course designers and tutors.

The book is also quite practical in approach, with detailed guidance on using the SPSS software to enter and manipulate data, on transcribing, coding and organising textual data, and on using computers in qualitative research. But it is not a cheap book at £25 in paperback, though it is worth looking at if you organise research-methods teaching across an undergraduate course: where you want to emphasise the practicalities of research; where qualitative, as well as quantitative, methods receive solid coverage; and where supplementary resources would be helpful.

Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology is a revision of Doing Psychology: An Introduction to Research Methodology and Statistics (1998). Chapters have been added in response to international feedback. While one may query (as indeed the authors did in the preface to the first edition) whether we need yet another undergraduate book on research methods, this volume is intended to be readable, and not simply an instruction manual.

The content is similar to that of other texts. The reader is introduced to the principles of research in psychology, and two chapters discuss experimental design and survey design. The next six look at data analysis methods, from descriptive statistics through to analysis of variance, simple non-parametric tests and qualitative approaches. Final chapters cover research ethics and managing uncertainty in research. Appendices give a step-by-step guide to working out t-tests and simple analysis of variance, how to write a research report, basic statistical tables and answers to exercises. Throughout, coverage is adequate and readable. I liked the frequent inclusion of self-test, multiple-choice questions, each followed by an explanation of the correct answer.

An unusual feature is the key concepts, which are set in bold when first mentioned and then explained fully in text panels. A website gives support material for lecturers and students, including PowerPoint lecture slides, sample exam questions and statistical spreadsheets.

The strength of this book is in the determined approach it takes to helping the reader learn the subject matter by the inclusion of explanations of key terms and exercises. If coupled with tutorial support, this will encourage students to work harder at the subject matter - always a challenge in what many students perceive as the least accessible and interesting part of psychology. It is well worth considering as a core-methods text for undergraduates or for masters students new to psychology.

John Hegarty is head of psychology, Keele University.

Quantitative Psychological Research: A Student’s Handbook. Second edition

Author - David Clark-Carter
Publisher - Psychology Press
Pages - 649
Price - £54.95 and £24.95
ISBN - 1 84169 520 3 and 225 5

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