Book Review: Methods in Psychological Research

By | 21st April 2015

Methods in Psychological Research (3rd Edition)

Annabel Ness Evans & Bryan J. Rooney. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2014

415 pages, $101.95

ISBN 978-1-4522-6104-1

Annabel Evans and Bryan Rooney, both professors at Concordia University College of Alberta, Department of Psychology, present an introduction to the foundational concepts of research methods in psychology.  In this introductory textbook, the authors have written a user-friendly and engaging account of core research concepts.  Topics are elucidated via a relaxed conversational style, and the reader is encouraged to apply ideas by linking them to common every-day scenarios.  The authors promote applicability by incorporating examples of specific research projects from not only professionals in the field of psychology, but also student research projects.  Thus, they see students as not only learners of research, but as active and resourceful participants in the research process itself.  In this way, the often intimidating world of research methods is transformed into a more accessible framework.

As the primary goal of this textbook is promoting an engaged understanding of the research process, the authors have cogently organized the topics to build upon each other.  Encompassing fourteen chapters in total, the first four explicate the fundamental tenets of research, including a general introduction, the literature review, ethics, and hypothesis formulation.  Chapters five through eleven focus on the specifics of methodology, such as the use of psychometric tests to operationalize and measure variables (including a discussion on reliability and validity), sample selection, different types of experimental designs, nonexperimental approaches, and data collection methods.  Finally, the textbook concludes with three chapters delineating the practical application of research methodology in the discipline of psychology.  These topics include program evaluation, archival research, meta-analytic designs, devising and implementing research projects, and written communication.

In addition to the flow of topic organization, each chapter follows a similar format.  Chapters begin with an outline of objectives, and these are subsequently reviewed in ordered detail.  Each chapter is also peppered with a variety of conceptual exercises to promote proactive learning, and the authors provide answers to these at the end of the chapters, allowing students to check their ideas relative to the authors’ ideas.  In line with the collaborative spirit of the book, they advise that differing conclusions do not necessarily indicate misunderstanding of the material.  Additionally, each chapter has practical features that are not always found in textbooks.  Perhaps most distinctly, FAQ sections are included where the reader will find common questions that the authors have been asked, and these are answered as they would have been in a classroom setting.  Finally, chapters conclude with a list of additional exercises (this time without answers so that professors may use them as assignments), potential student projects, and ancillary online learning resources related to the chapter topic.

Overall, Evans and Rooney have compiled an accessible yet thorough addition to the area of research methodology education.  It is a practical option for those interested in attaining an introduction to research methods, and I readily recommend it to both students and educators alike.

Review by: Rosita Sabzevari, Concordia University College of Alberta