A Playbook for Research Methods

Key Information

A Playbook for Research Methods: Integrating Conceptual Frameworks and Project Management, By Patricia M. Shields & Nandhini Rangarajan

2013 [ISBN: 1-58107-247-3; 280 pages; 8 ½ x 11 inch; soft cover] Price $36.95


PRM1webCovSmInspired by student athletes, this Playbook for Research Methods uses football as a metaphor to examine aspects of empirical research often overlooked in typical research methods texts. Writing a large research paper often overwhelms students. This book introduces basic project management tools to the process of writing a paper. The components of a paper are broken into smaller parts (much like lifting weights and drills for a football player). In this way, students can build skills central to scholarly research. The role of theory is another source of confusion. By using the analogy of a football “play” this book introduces four conceptual frameworks (a kind of close to the data intermediate theory) that brings coherence to all aspects of the research process. But empirical inquiry is not like playing football it is also like coaching football and inventing plays. Scholars should see themselves like football coaches who develop or find these frameworks (plays) as they work through the literature and define their research question. This “student-focused” book uses three examples from award winning student papers to illustrate each of the frameworks. The student’s story begins with finding a topic and then moves to recognizing critical literature, refining the purpose, developing and operationalizing a conceptual framework, choosing a method, analyzing data and presenting findings

The Contents

Chapter 1. Overview: Playbooks, Thinking and Conceptual Frameworks
Chapter 2. Focus on Theory and Conceptual Frameworks
Chapter 3. Explanation and Formal Hypotheses
Chapter 4. Description – Categories
Chapter 5. Exploration – Working Hypotheses
Chapter 6. Gauging – Practical Ideal Type
Chapter 7. Reviewing the Literature and Managing the Project
Chapter 8. Creativity in the Research Process: Implications for the Student Scholar

The Authors

Patricia M. Shields is a Professor of Political Science at Texas State University. She has a Master of Economics(1975) and PhD (1977) in Public Administration from The Ohio State University. While at Ohio State she worked for the Center for Human Resource Research and completed a dissertation on the equity of the draft during the Vietnam era. She published her dissertation in Armed Forces & Society and has been the Editor-in-Chief of that journal since 2001. She has supervised over 350 masters level empirical research project. The student work has received many national and regional awards. She has received several teaching awards which, recognize the process she used to supervise research. She has three books dealing with research methods. Two highlight techniques she developed to work with students. They are Step-by-Step: Building a Research Project, A Playbook for Research Methods: Integrating Conceptual Frameworks and Project Management and The Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in Military Science.  Her research interests include pragmatism and public administration, peace and conflict resolution, research methods, women in public administration, and civil military relations. She has published over 60 articles and book chapters in journals such as Public Administration Review, Administration & Society, American Review of Public Administration, Armed Forces & Society, Journal of Public Affairs Education, Society, Journal of Graduate Teaching Assistant Development, Administrative Theory and Praxis, Public Administration Quarterly. She is currently working on applying the ideas of Jane Addams to Peace Studies. For more information, see her Wikipedia page.

Nandhini Rangarajan is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Texas State University. She earned a Ph.D. in Public Administration from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, State University of New York at Albany. Her research interests are in creativity and innovation, public management, human resources and organizational behavior. Her articles have appeared in prominent public administration journals such as the Review of Public Personnel Administration, Public Productivity and Management Review and the Journal of Public Affairs Education.  Her chapters have been published in recent books such as The State of Public Administration and Local Economic Development and the Environment: Finding Common Ground.

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