Designing a study and writing up a research proposal takes time — often more time than actually conducting the study!

This practical guide will save you time and frustration by walking you through every step of the process. For starters, it will help you hone in on a research topic — a huge (and hugely important) first step. Then it will guide you in developing the research question, designing the study, and choosing the best strategies for sampling and measurement.

The figures, tables, and exhibits offer a wealth of examples and tools, including activities and worksheets to practice alone or in a study group.

While many research design books focus on either qualitative or quantitative studies, this book presents a balanced discussion of the relative strengths and limitations of each, as well as differences in how validity is handled for each.

No research study can be perfect or provide all the answers. In fact, the best studies result in more questions than answers.

This book will deepen your understanding of study limitations and ways to build upon them in future research.

Table of Contents

Series Foreword

  1. Introduction
  2. Choosing Your Research Question and Hypotheses
  3. Choosing Your Study's Purpose
  4. Choosing Whether to Use a Qualitative, Quantitative, or Mixed-Methods Approach
  5. Understanding Terms for Quantitative Studies: Concepts, Constructs, and Variables
  6. Choosing Your Design
  7. Choosing Your Sample
  8. Planning Your Measurement Strategy Techniques for Collecting Data
  9. Establishing Validity for Quantitative Studies
  10. Establishing Validity for Qualitative Studies
  11. Conclusion


About the Authors

Author Bios

Jennifer Brown Urban, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Family Science and Human Development at Montclair State University, where she also directs the Research on Evaluation and Developmental Systems Science (REDSS) lab.

She is trained as a developmental scientist with specific expertise in youth development and program evaluation. Her scholarship is encapsulated under the umbrella of systems science, including both theoretical approaches and methodologies.

Dr. Urban's most recent research focuses on character development and innovative approaches to program evaluation and planning. She is currently principal investigator on several grant-funded projects. The goals of this work are to build the capacity of youth program practitioners and evaluators to engage in high-quality evaluation of character development programs, to determine the key features of character development programs that promote positive youth development, and to advance the application of character science in multiple contexts to enhance human flourishing across the lifespan.

She uses mixed-method approaches in her own research and has mentored many undergraduate and graduate students in designing and executing applied research projects.

Bradley van Eeden-Moorefield, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Family Science and Human Development at Montclair State University and director of the PhD program.

His research includes a strong social justice commitment to understanding and strengthening marginalized families, with his most recent work focused on stepfamilies headed by same-sex couples. Much of this research focuses on identifying how factors in the social world (e.g., stigma, stereotypes, policy) influence everyday family life and how both influence various indicators of individual (e.g., depression, happiness) and family well-being (stability).

Dr. van Eeden-Moorefield uses various qualitative and quantitative methodologies and has particular expertise in Internet-based methodologies.

He has provided training to various family and childcare practitioners and uses his previous clinical experiences to translate research into practice and practice into research.