The philosophical, sociological, and psychological dimensions of research

Table of contents

List of Tables and Illustrations
I. Preview
Why You Should Read This Book
Chapter Summaries
II. The Context of Your Quest
1. Perception and Misperception in Life and Scholarship
2. Social Science and History
3. Scholarship as Social Process and as Politics
4. Progress in Social Science—Real and Imaginary
5. Dimensions of Social Science
III. Your Quest: Weighing Intellectual Choices
6. Building Faculty Relationships and Preparing for Your Doctoral Exams
7. Choosing Research Problems: Personal Values and Disciplinary Agendas
8. Concept Formation—The Heart of Analytical Thought
9. Hypotheses, Theories, and Research Designs
10. Case Studies and Comparative Methods
11. The Logics of Explanation
IV. Your Quest: From Planning to Finishing
12. Planning the Project and Writing Your Prospectus
13. Mapping Research Resources and Gathering Evidence
14. Producing a Draft
15. Through the Jungle: Guiding Your Reader (and Yourself)
16. Getting to Go: Revising and Defending
17. Your Choices and Your Futures
“On the Meaning of Education”
Information on the Supplementary Website


Becoming a Social Science Researcher is designed to help aspiring social scientists, including credentialed scholars, understand the formidable complexities of the research process. Instead of explaining specific research techniques, it concentrates on the philosophical, sociological, and psychological dimensions of social research. These dimensions have received little coverage in guides written for social science researchers, but they are arguably even more important than particular analytical techniques. Truly sophisticated social science scholarship requires that researchers understand the intellectual and social contexts in which they collect and interpret information. While social science training in US graduate schools has become more systematic over the past two decades, graduate training and published guidance still fall short in addressing this fundamental need.

Bruce Parrott is Professor Emeritus of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Becoming a Social Science Researcher makes the dual contribution of being profound about philosophical matters and being a great how-to manual for helping graduate students launch their careers.”

—George Breslauer, University of California, Berkeley

- George Breslauer

“A terrific addition to literature aimed at assisting doctoral students! Professor Parrott lays out the many existential issues faced by developing scholars in lively, understandable, and erudite ways. Reflecting on these issues and associated debates will help students feel more confident about the choices they must make during their journey.”
—Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, University of Utah

- Peregrine Schwartz-Shea

"Explores the philosophical, sociological, and psychological dimensions of social research, promoting the larger social value of modern scholarship’s endeavors to understand the complexities of the human condition."

- Journal of Economic Literature

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