Reviews

The essential guide to doing research

When a new book introducing readers to the research process is published, I ask myself why the need for another one and what is new about it. It certainly is a challenge for anyone writing on this subject in a market already saturated with textbooks aimed at helping students to do research.

This book aims to help students to think their way through the process of research and indeed, it provides sufficient insights to help researchers to be critical of the process and of the findings. It takes readers through many of the decisions they may have to make at different times during the research process, from preparing to do research to writing up the project. The author presents research as a creative process, full of stops and starts and of uncertainties. It encourages researchers to be reflexive and not to treat their work as a smooth, linear and unproblematic endeavour.

The first chapter, ‘Research as a Creative and Strategic Thinking Process’, sets the scene and the tone of what follows. From then on the author takes the reader through the preparatory phase leading up to the formulation of the research question. An interesting but often omitted aspect of research in most

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This book aims to help students to think their way through the process of research and indeed, it provides sufficient insights to help researchers to be critical of the process and of the findings. It takes readers through many of the decisions they may have to make at different times during the research process, from preparing to do research to writing up the project. The author presents research as a creative process, full of stops and starts and of uncertainties. It encourages researchers to be reflexive and not to treat their work as a smooth, linear and unproblematic endeavour.

The first chapter, ‘Research as a Creative and Strategic Thinking Process’, sets the scene and the tone of what follows. From then on the author takes the reader through the preparatory phase leading up to the formulation of the research question. An interesting but often omitted aspect of research in most textbooks is reference to, and discussion of, the politics involved in doing and using research. This book devotes a chapter to ‘Exploring Power and Ethics in Research’. There are also a number of chapters on designing the project, selecting samples and collecting and analysing data. The last chapter on the ‘Challenge of Writing-up’ is particularly welcome as it takes readers through the different styles of writing and presents this task in a realistic and helpful way.

The special features include boxed commentaries, examples and checklists. Although there are very few references to actual studies, the author creates scenarios as a focus for discussions. The book contains a number of interesting quotes from Bronowski to Einstein to liven the text, and each chapter has a summary of the main points.

Although it is written by a sociologist and seems to be aimed at social science students, it should be useful to nurses and other healthcare professionals contemplating or starting a research project. This book makes researchers think, question and reflect on research as an intellectual and as a learning exercise. This, in my view, is its added value.

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