Designing your own study and writing your research proposal takes time, often more so than conducting the study. This practical, accessible guide walks you through the entire process.

You will learn to identify and narrow your research topic, develop your research question, design your study, and choose appropriate sampling and measurement strategies.

The figures, tables, and exhibits offer a wealth of relatable examples, and students can use the many activities and worksheets to explore and apply concepts, as individuals or in groups.

This book is part of APA's Concise Guides to Conducting Behavioral, Health, and Social Science Research series. Aimed at undergraduate students in research methods courses or others with a lab or research project, each book describes a key stage in the research process. Collectively, these books provide a solid grounding in research from start to finish.

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 for Collecting Data
  9. Establishing Validity for Quantitative Studies
  10. Establishing Validity for Qualitative Studies
  11. Conclusion


About the Authors

About the Series Editor

Author Bios

Jennifer Brown Urban, PhD, is a 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 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 Matheus 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 each 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.

Reviews & Awards

The chapters are organized around the choices students need to make, rather than the types of research and issues specific to each type — an important distinguishing feature that sets this book apart from other research methods text…. In the current environment of increasing interdisciplinarity, this text is very useful to students who find themselves coming to social science research from other disciplines, or to students in need of clear guidelines who do not have the time to complete another entire research methods course.

Urban and van Eeden-Moorefield take the often daunting topic of research methods and make it — dare I say — fun and engaging. Through personal stories and good humor, they demystify the research process and find ways to connect research to everyday life and experiences. This book should be a required supplementary text for every introductory research methods course.
—William M. Trochim, PhD
Professor, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

The authors use vivid and engaging examples and masterfully crafted exhibits to create an irresistible proposition to students: "You can do excellent research and enjoy doing it!" They creatively help readers understand and make the choices involved in exemplary research. This book is an invaluable asset for students in psychology and in the social and behavioral sciences more generally.
—Richard M. Lerner, PhD
Bergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science and Director, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University, Medford, MA

This book will help beginning researchers identify a meaningful and testable research question as well as deal with basic choices in designing their study. The accessible text and a host of tables guide readers through key issues in designing and proposing a research project.
—Melvin M. Mark, PhD
Professor and Head of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park