# Seven Rules for Social Research

, by Firebaugh, Glenn**Note:**Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

- ISBN: 9780691135670 | 0691135673
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 1/3/2008

Seven Rules for Social Research teaches social scientists how to get the most out of their technical skills and tools, providing a resource that fully describes the strategies and concepts no researcher or student of human behavior can do without.

Glenn Firebaugh is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Demography at Pennsylvania State University

Preface | p. xi |

The First Rule: There Should Be the Possibility of Surprise in Social Research | p. 1 |

Selecting a Research Question | p. 2 |

Researchable Questions | p. 2 |

Interesting Questions | p. 4 |

Selecting a Sample | p. 18 |

Samples in Qualitative Studies | p. 23 |

Is Meaningful Social Research Possible? | p. 26 |

Summary | p. 29 |

Student Exercises on Rule 1 | p. 31 |

The Second Rule: Look for Differences That Make a Difference, and Report Them | p. 36 |

You Can't Explain a Variable with a Constant | p. 37 |

Maximizing Variance to Find the Effect of a Cause | p. 39 |

Size versus Statistical Significance | p. 41 |

Comparing Effects Where There Is a Common Metric | p. 42 |

Calibration: Converting Explanatory Variables to a Common Metric | p. 44 |

Substantive Profiling: The Use of Telling Comparisons | p. 46 |

Visual Presentation of Results | p. 51 |

Policy Importance | p. 53 |

Importance for Theory | p. 54 |

Conclusion | p. 56 |

Student Exercises on Rule 2 | p. 58 |

The Third Rule: Build Reality Checks into Your Research | p. 64 |

Internal Reality Checks | p. 65 |

Reality Checks on Data-Dubious Values and Incomplete Data | p. 65 |

Reality Checks on Measures-Aim for Consistency in Conceptualization and Measurement | p. 69 |

Reality Checks on Models-The Formal Equivalence Check | p. 71 |

External Reality Checks: Validation with Other Data and Methods | p. 76 |

Using Causal-Process Observations to Test Plausibility of Results | p. 77 |

Using Ethnographic Data to Help Interpret Survey Results | p. 79 |

Other Examples of Multiple-Method Research | p. 81 |

Concluding Remark | p. 82 |

Student Exercises on Rule 3 | p. 84 |

The Fourth Rule: Replicate Where Possible | p. 90 |

Sources of Uncertainty in Social Research | p. 91 |

Overview: From Population to Sample and Back to Population | p. 93 |

Measurement Error as a Source of Uncertainty | p. 100 |

Illustration: Two Methods for Estimating Global Poverty | p. 101 |

Toward a Solution: Identical Analyses of Parallel Data Sets | p. 105 |

Meta-analysis: Synthesizing Results Formally across Studies | p. 106 |

Summary: Your Confidence Intervals Are Too Narrow | p. 109 |

Student Exercises on Rule 4 | p. 111 |

The Fifth Rule: Compare Like with Like | p. 120 |

Correlation and Causality | p. 121 |

Types of Strategies for Comparing Like with Like | p. 129 |

Matching versus Looking for Differences | p. 130 |

The Standard Regression Method for Comparing Like with Like | p. 131 |

Critique of the Standard Linear Regression Strategy | p. 132 |

Comparing Like with Like Through Fixed-Effects Methods | p. 134 |

First-Difference Models: Subtracting Out the Effects of Confounding Variables | p. 134 |

Special Case: Growth-Rate Models | p. 138 |

Sibling Models | p. 140 |

Comparing Like with Like through Matching on Measured Variables | p. 146 |

Exact Matching | p. 146 |

Propensity-Score Method | p. 147 |

Matching as a Preprocessing Strategy for Reducing Model Dependence | p. 151 |

Comparing Like with Like through Naturally Occurring Random Assignment | p. 152 |

Instrumental Variables: Matching through Partial Random Assignment | p. 153 |

Matching Through Naturally Occurring Random Assignment to the Treatment Group | p. 158 |

Comparison of Strategies for Comparing Like with Like | p. 159 |

Conclusion | p. 162 |

Student Exercises on Rule 5 | p. 165 |

The Sixth Rule: Use Panel Data to Study Individual Change and Repeated Cross-section Data to Study Social Change | p. 172 |

Analytic Differences between Panel and Repeated Cross-section Data | p. 173 |

Three General Questions about Change | p. 175 |

Changing-Effect Models, Part 1: Two Points in Time | p. 176 |

Changing-Effect Models, Part 2: Multilevel Models with Time as the Context | p. 182 |

What We Want to Know | p. 183 |

The General Multilevel Model | p. 183 |

Convergence Models | p. 185 |

The Sign Test for Convergence: Comparing Your [phi]s and [delta]s | p. 186 |

Convergence Model versus Changing-Effect Model | p. 191 |

Bridging Individual and Social Change: Estimating Cohort Replacement Effects | p. 195 |

An Accounting Scheme for Social Change | p. 197 |

Linear Decomposition Method | p. 198 |

Summary | p. 201 |

Student Exercises on Rule 6 | p. 203 |

The Seventh Rule: Let Method Be the Servant, Not the Master | p. 207 |

Obsession with Regression | p. 209 |

Naturally Occurring Random Assignment, Again | p. 209 |

Decomposition Work in the Social Sciences | p. 218 |

Decomposition of Variance and Inequality | p. 220 |

Decomposition of Segregation Indexes | p. 222 |

The Effects of Social Context | p. 226 |

Context Effects as Objects of Study | p. 227 |

Context Effects as Nuisance | p. 230 |

Critical Tests in Social Research | p. 231 |

Conclusion | p. 235 |

Student Exercises on Rule 7 | p. 236 |

References | p. 241 |

Index | p. 253 |

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