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How to Critique Journal Articles in the Social Sciences

Research should be interesting, not intimidating! Have you ever wondered how to determine the quality of the research reported in journal articles? This brief, introductory guide walks you, step by step, through the basics of reading and understanding a research article. The author demonstrates the many strengths of social research, including its advantages over ordinary ways of knowing things, and, at the same time, points out that research is inevitably flawed. Rather than naively assuming that good research simply produces "The Truth" or cynically asserting that research is hopelessly biased and futile, this book helps you develop a critical perspective-one that appreciates the strengths and weaknesses of any piece of scholarship.
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Table of Contents

1. Social Research vs. Ordinary Ways of Knowing 2. What is a Journal Article? 3. Defining Key Terms 4. Literature Reviews 5. Measurement 6. Sampling 7. Analysis 8. Ethics 9. Politics 10. Why Read Journal Articles-And Think Critically about Them?

About the Author

Scott R. Harris (Ph.D., University of Oregon) is Professor of Sociology at Saint Louis University, where he teaches courses on Emotions, Family, Research Methods, Social Psychology, and Contemporary Theory. He is the author of two books on conceptualization and measurement: What Is Constructionism? (which received the Cooley Award from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction) and The Meanings of Marital Equality. He also co-edited Making Sense of Social Problems (with Joel Best) and co-authored Stargazing: Celebrity, Fame, and Social Interaction (with Kerry Ferris). He has reviewed articles for numerous journals and edited a special issue of the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Currently he serves as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Sociology Compass.


"The breezy tone and appropriate use of examples throughout the text make this an unusually accessible and useful text for students. I don't know of another resource that addresses this topic as well for LIS students." -- Chad Morgan "The one main theme that I liked as I read the book is how the author took a real-world approach to research and using evidenced-based sources while incorporating critical thinking skills and reflection." -- Brian Christenson "It is readable and comprehensive and helps students understand the main way researchers and academics write and think about knowledge and research." -- Kevin Borders "The author does a fantastic job of simplifying complex concepts and jargons so the lay person can understand them." -- Osabuohien Amienyi "[The book] provides an accessible introduction to thinking about the place of peer-reviewed research by scaffolding student's learning on to what they already know from personal opinion, newspapers and websites." -- Alex Bowers

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