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1.2: A note to instructors

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    If you’ve made the effort to download and read this, I’m guessing I don’t need to persuade you of the value in resisting unnecessarily high costs of learning materials for our students. For-profit publishers play an important role in the academic knowledge ecosystem, but pricey textbooks don’t have to be the norm across all of our students’ courses.

    I’ve used this summary (and earlier versions of it) for well over a decade in several courses: undergraduate political science research methods, undergraduate and graduate program evaluation, and graduate applied research methods. In the undergraduate research methods course, this was the only textbook, which I heavily supplemented by articles, some lecture, and a lot of in-class exercises. In the other courses, this was a supplemental text or the basis of a self-guided review. When used alongside other texts, I’ve found it helpful to point out that methodologists don’t always use the same terms in exactly the same way (content validity and construct validity are good examples). I use this as an opportunity to talk about the social nature of research—nothing we do is in a social vacuum; research is always done in dialogue with others, and part of that is negotiating the language we use. Generally, I think this text gets the job done, and it works well for mostly or entirely “flipped” courses. My sense is that students actually read it, perhaps more often and with less coercion than the typical longer text. I usually encourage students to read the whole thing through once, and then again, more slowly, in preparation for working with the ideas in class. I’ve had particular delight in former students asking for a copy of this text so they could brush up on research methods for graduate school and professional assignments—that’s quite a nice reward for the work represented here.

    If you use this text in any way, whether as the primary text, a supplemental text, or a recommended resource, I ask only two small favors: (1) When you make it available to students, please always include a link back to the text’s download site, While you are free to download and distribute the text under the Creative Commons 4.0 license, my preference is that you point students to this website to download it themselves. Seeing the download numbers tick up is a treat, and I plan to add additional appendices over time, so the download file will be updated occasionally. (2) Please send me a quick email at letting me know you’re using it. I certainly welcome your feedback as well. Many of the improvements to this third version are based on feedback I’ve received from instructors and students around the globe, for which I am very grateful.

    Thank you, and best wishes for successful research methods instruction.


    July, 2020

    1.2: A note to instructors is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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