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Questioning the Politics of Numbers

How to Read and Critique Research

Karin Wilkins (The University of Texas at Austin)



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Oxford University Press Inc
30 November 2010
Questioning Numbers: How to Read and Critique Research is a critical companion for students in research methods courses in any of the social sciences. This book helps teach students how to read and critique research that employs numbers in the course of empirical argument. Author Karin Gwinn Wilkins provides a list of guidelines for reading research and also presents a critical approach to judging and using numbers in navigating and changing social worlds. Illuminating the agendas and politics that can inform how research is conducted and interpreted, this text shows readers how to read and critique research contexts, research design, sampling strategies, definitions, research implementation, data analysis, and interpretation. It also provides strong pedagogical support, including key terms, review exercises, and end-of-chapter reflection questions.

A flexible supplement to more comprehensive research texts, Questioning Numbers helps students to become more critical consumers and producers of quantitative research across the social sciences.
By:   Karin Wilkins (The University of Texas at Austin)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 207mm,  Width: 143mm,  Spine: 10mm
Weight:   184g
ISBN:   9780199747399
ISBN 10:   0199747393
Pages:   128
Publication Date:   30 November 2010
Audience:   College/higher education ,  A / AS level ,  Further / Higher Education
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Chapters 2-7 end with Key Terms, Review Questions, Reflection Questions, and an Exercise. PREFACE CHAPTER 1: HOW TO READ AND CRITIQUE RESEARCH Understanding Numbers -- Deductive and Inductive Processes -- Intrinsic Value The Political Context of Research -- Research Illustrations -- Numerical Literacy Key Terms Reflection Questions Exercise CHAPTER 2: WHY DO RESEARCH? QUESTIONING THE RESEARCH CONTEXT Who Produced the Research? -- Researchers' Home Institutions -- Funding Institutions -- Permission Granting Institutions What is the Purpose of the Research? What are the Research Questions? How is the Research Justified? Why the Research Context Matters CHAPTER 3: WHAT CAN WE KNOW? QUESTIONING THE RESEARCH DESIGN What is the Research Design? What are the Internal Validity Concerns? -- Experimental Design -- Quasi-Experimental Cross-Sectional Design -- Quasi-Experimental Longitudinal Design -- Case Study Design Questioning Research Designs Why Research Design Matters CHAPTER 4: WHO IS THE RESEARCH ABOUT? QUESTIONING SELECTION STRATEGIES Who or What is the Subject of the Research? -- Vulnerable Populations How are Subjects Selected? -- Probability Sampling -- Non-Probability Sampling What are the Limitations of the Sample? Why Selection Strategies Matter CHAPTER 5: WHAT IS THE RESEARCH ABOUT? QUESTIONING KEY TERMS How Are Key Concepts Defined? How Are Variables Operationalized from Concepts? What Do We Know About Key Variables? -- Measurement -- Assessment Why Definitions Matter CHAPTER 6: HOW WAS THE RESEARCH CONDUCTED? QUESTIONING RESEARCH IMPLEMENTATION How Are Data Gathered? How Do Researchers Gain Access to Data? -- Deception -- Voluntary Participation -- Informed Consent -- Public Space How Do Researchers Document their Observations? -- Recording Observations -- Confidentiality and Anonymity Why Research Implementation Matters CHAPTER 7: WHAT DO WE KNOW? QUESTIONING ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION What Do We Know about Patterns across Variables? -- Significance -- Strength -- Causality What Do We Still Need to Know? Why Analysis and Interpretation Matter CHAPTER 8: QUESTIONING RESEARCH Guideline of Questions Questioning the Research Context Questioning the Research Design Questioning the Selection Strategy Questioning Key Terms Questioning the Research Implementation Questioning Analysis and Interpretation Why the Political Context Matters GLOSSARY REFERENCES

Karin Gwinn Wilkins is a Professor in the Department of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas at Austin.

Reviews for Questioning the Politics of Numbers: How to Read and Critique Research

A handy-dandy methods supplement that really does a great job of helping students understand why scholars make the choices they do in research design and implementation. --David M. Rhea, Governors State University This book offers students a different lens to think about all scholarship, including questions about research design and power, who funds scholarship, who is privileged (and who is left out) of research, and who gets to approve and to deny the practice of scholarship. The book gives students the language necessary to ask fundamental questions about scholarly methods that are often assumed to be true or that are typically unquestioned. Students, like Americans in general, have grown up with the notion that science is objective and provides a superior form of understanding the world, when in fact the scientific method does create an argument, often around numbers, that should be examined with a critical eye. --Brant Short, Northern Arizona University The book does a good job of showing students how to read and critique research that uses numbers. After reading this book, students will understand how research context, selection, definition, implementation, analysis, and interpretation can impact data. And understanding this context is very useful to students. --Gonzalo R. Soruco, University of Miami A wonderful resource that will encourage students to critically examine the impact of numbers in their lives. Karin Gwinn Wilkins's examination of the social, political, and psychological ramifications of empirical conclusions will ensure that students never take research for granted again. --Andrea Lambert, Northern Kentucky University

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