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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: December 2009

Preface

Summary

This is a book about data collection methods for the social sciences. Our focus is on mixed method data collection. Our purpose is to provide detailed documentation of many of the most useful mixed method data collection approaches in the social sciences. We provide concrete operational examples so that those interested in using these methods have a clear starting point. We also identify several of the principles at the foundation of these methods. We hope this will stimulate the continued creation of new mixed method data collection approaches.

We do this within the context of research aimed at advancing the understanding of cause and consequence in the social world. Although data collection cannot itself resolve the questions of cause and consequence, we argue that the data collection methods described here are particularly powerful tools for advancing our understanding of cause and consequence. The methods we describe are also useful for social research that is not focused on causal questions. In fact, the mixed method approaches we describe are extremely useful for reducing measurement errors in social research no matter what the topic. We present them in the context of research on causal processes because we argue that they are particularly useful for that purpose.

This is not a book about survey methods, ethnographic methods, focus group methods, archival methods, quantitative methods, or qualitative methods. It is a book about data collection methods that combine elements of survey methods, unstructured interview methods, observational methods, focus group methods, and archival methods.