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Doing Real Research (SAGE Publications)

SAGE bookcoverMany methods texts tell you what to do under ideal circumstances, but what about when conditions for social research are less than perfect? In such conditions, how can you achieve your research aims while maintaining validity, reliability and ethical research practice? Doing Real Social Research: A Guide to Overcoming the Challenges of Modern Research is co-authored with Dr. Eric Jensen and published by SAGE Publications, 2016. The book examines the challenging methodological questions that arise in real world situations where data collection and analysis are taking place outside of well-known and formal contexts. We view the ideal and the practical within social research as comprising a tension, which individual researchers must negotiate with creativity and rigour. The ideal is acknowledged to be just one factor in the decision-making process for real world research. This approach is above all realistic, offering readers frank, practical and empowering advice and suggestions. At times, the book will strike a more colloquial tone than is typical of this genre in order to make the serious subject matter more interesting and approachable. It will also be honest in its discussion of what is realistic within the constraints that researchers routinely face.

This book articulates a real-world approach through step-by-step discussion of the practical tasks and key principles involved in the research process, from design to dissemination. The book covers a range of decisions facing the intrepid researcher who ventures into uncharted research territory. Clear guidance is provided to help the reader navigate difficulties such as gaining and maintaining access to hard-to-reach, hidden or transitory populations, collecting data in chaotic or uncertain environments, using digital technology to gather and safeguard data, and maintaining ethical research practice when, for example, written consent forms are not a feasible option. The authors bring to bear a broad range of methodological experience and expertise from a wide range of challenging research contexts in both developed and developing countries. They provide detailed guidance about how to circumvent common problems, how to conduct and account for sub-optimal sampling and data collection, and how to manage the research relationship with participants.

This book is for social researchers who are taking on the unexpected, the unusual, the uncertain and the hard-to-reach elements of social life around the world. Specific practical examples from a wide range of multidisciplinary and international researchers’ experiences will show how particular recommended strategies and techniques can be employed in scenarios covering both developed and developing countries and a range of disciplines, including psychology, education, anthropology, health and social care, business, criminology, communication, sociology and political science. Sub-fields of other disciplines, such as behavioural economics and social linguistics, will also find relevant examples in the book.