Making Sense of Statistical Methods in Social Research is a critical introduction to the use of statistical methods in social research. It provides a unique approach to statistics that concentrates on helping social researchers think about the conceptual basis for the statistical methods they're using.
Whereas other statistical methods books instruct students in how to get through the statistics-based elements of their chosen course with as little mathematical knowledge as possible, this book aims to improve students' statistical literacy, with the ultimate goal of turning them into competent researchers.
Making Sense of Statistical Methods in Social Research contains careful discussion of the conceptual foundation of statistical methods, specifying what questions they can, or cannot, answer. The logic of each statistical method or procedure is explained, drawing on the historical development of the method, existing publications that apply the method, and methodological discussions. Statistical techniques and procedures are presented not for the purpose of showing how to produce statistics with certain software packages, but as a way of illuminating the underlying logic behind the symbols.
The limited statistical knowledge that students gain from straight forward ‘how-to’ books makes it very hard for students to move beyond introductory statistics courses to postgraduate study and research. This book should help to bridge this gap.
The Status of Statistics in the Social Sciences
The history of social sciences after the Second World War can easily lead people to believe that statistical methods have enjoyed not only legitimacy but popularity (Raftery 2001). First of all, some social scientists have made significant contributions by employing and developing statistical methods, for example, Paul Lazarfeld, Hubert Blalock, Otis Dudley Duncan, Leo Goodman, to name only a few of the most influential. For the past few decades, statistical methods have become so popular that, for some, it is the only tool in their research toolbox. In addition, some leading academic journals regularly publish papers based on sophisticated statistical methods. Institutionally, ...