Reviews

Practical Research Methods

This book, like others in its series (for example, grief, divorce and sex life), aims to present its topic in a straightforward and reader-empowering way. It scrupulously pares back any material that is not strictly necessary. It ends up with a direct, bare-bones review of a research process, from conceptualising a question, through choosing research methods, proposal writing to reporting the findings. Down to earth would describe it well.

It is based on the author’s experience in teaching research methods to community groups and others who, judging from the author’s approach, have little time for theoretical complexities, and are more orientated to gathering evidence for, for example, the need for a playgroup.

This book tells you just enough, but no more. Those who want more can look into the bibliography of sometimes quite advanced titles at the end of each chapter. There are brief boxed examples often of how researchers, real or imagined, have learnt from their own blunders. This helps the book to maintain its unpretentious approach.

The author is aware that the reader might not really want to research at all, but has been instructed by their boss to do so, or is following the requirement to do imposed by an educational course. The reader is allowed to be constantly on the edge of losing motivation. This

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It is based on the author’s experience in teaching research methods to community groups and others who, judging from the author’s approach, have little time for theoretical complexities, and are more orientated to gathering evidence for, for example, the need for a playgroup.

This book tells you just enough, but no more. Those who want more can look into the bibliography of sometimes quite advanced titles at the end of each chapter. There are brief boxed examples often of how researchers, real or imagined, have learnt from their own blunders. This helps the book to maintain its unpretentious approach.

The author is aware that the reader might not really want to research at all, but has been instructed by their boss to do so, or is following the requirement to do imposed by an educational course. The reader is allowed to be constantly on the edge of losing motivation. This brings a kind of refreshing honesty.

The book raises the question of how much context can be removed from the presentation of a topic while still doing it justice and not selling the reader short. The editors of this text have not included much discussion of how, if it is change we are after (that new playgroup, for example), research on its own is unlikely to change anything, or even why we should bother to research at all, particularly now.

Would I recommend it to nurses? I’m not sure I would. Research methods is a crowded field and I think most would rise to a more challenging, less anonymous text and one that is more aimed at the healthcare environment. The research methods chapter is short on quantitative data collection – a limitation in a field where the experimental design has an increasing prominence. It is also weak on the conceptual process of moving from research question to variables to indicators to data collection method. Finally, there is no discussion of analysing findings in the light of any particular discipline’s important questions or theoretical perspectives.

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