Doing Quantitative Research – Workbook resources

The following four quantitative workbooks were developed by Liam Foster and Tom Clark at the University of Sheffield in response to their own undergraduates’ concerns that many introductory statistics books took too much for granted in terms of mathematical ability and understanding. They’ve tried to take nothing for granted and attempt to explain the ideas they present in terms of ‘real-life’ sociological research. They draw heavily on research projects developed from the material available from the UK Data Service. Many of the projects included were originally developed and carried out by their own students as part of their assessment for the module.

What do the workbooks cover?

Taken as a whole, the workbooks aim to equip the reader with the skills necessary to:

  • plan and undertake small scale quantitative research projects
  • build coherent rationales for conducting research
  • locate or construct critically informed survey-based questions and datasets that are appropriate to the subject under investigation
  • analyse the properties of quantitative data using appropriate descriptive techniques
  • utilise and employ basic inferential techniques to answer research questions
  • report the results of their investigations accurately and with due regard to the relative importance of different findings and their limitations

Who should use the workbooks?

So, if you are student who is grappling with the basics of quantitative social research, a lecturer in need of some basic material, or a working professional looking to explore the area for the first time, click on the links to find out more about each workbook.

  1. Developing your research interests into quantitative projects
  2. Introducing variables and understanding their levels of measurement
  3. Describing and summarising data
  4. Chi-square: Introducing the ‘goodness of fit’ rest and the ‘test of association’

Who wrote the workbooks?

The workbooks were developed and written by Liam Foster and Tom Clark. They both lecture in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield and have much experience of teaching practical quantitative research methods to undergraduates who can ‘add up’, but do not consider themselves confident enough to use statistical techniques for research. Liam has just co-authored the new edition of Beginning Statistics: An Introduction for Social Scientists with Ian Diamond and Julie Jeffries, whilst Tom has much experience in designing and delivering research methods teaching in a variety of contexts. He is currently seconded to the Sheffield Methods Institute and is helping them to co-ordinate a new degree programme in Applied Social Sciences.

Who funded these workbooks?

The original development of this project was funded through a unique collaboration at the University of Sheffield called CILASS (the Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences). The subsequent re-design and delivery of these workbooks and this website has been facilitated with the helpful assistance of the Higher Education Academy through their ‘Teaching Research Methods in the Social Sciences‘ 2014 funding programme.

Who designed the workbooks?

The workbooks were designed by Laura Ashton, a freelance graphic designer based in Sheffield. You can see more examples of her work at her website