IPT Book Reviews

Title: Handbook of Research Design and Social Measurement (Fifth Edition)   Positive Review Positive Review
Author: Delbert C. Miller
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc. © 1991

Sage Publications, Inc.
2455 Teller Rd.
Newbury Park, CA 91320
$85.00 (c) / $35.00 (p)


This massive (704 page) reference is a comprehensive resource for social research design.  It has survived five major revisions, dating back to its original edition published in 1964 (which cost $3.50 in paper).  The book is divided into seven parts which cover general descriptions of research design and sampling, basic research design, applied and evaluation research, guides to methods and techniques of data collection, guides to statistical analysis and computer resources, reviews of selected sociometric scales and indices, and a review of basic research proposal writing.  Each of the seven parts is divided into numerous sub-parts which focus on specific questions such as "The Validity of Research Methodology," "How Science is Built," and "Bogardus's Social Distance Scale."  The individual articles generally range from 1 to 2 pages in length, making the book more a reference work than an expository monograph.

The print is highly condensed which makes some portions, especially the lengthy notes at the end of each article, difficult to read.  The individual articles are carefully referenced and end noted.  The work is indexed by both subjects and names.


Miller's tome is part research methods text, part Mental Measurements Yearbook, and part "How to..." book.  While some college instructors have attempted to use this work as a text for undergraduate and graduate courses in research design, this work is better classified as a reference book primarily suited for the serious social investigator.  Miller is a sociologist, but the content of all seven parts of the book are useful to anyone interested in social research.

One problem with Miller's approach is that he doesn't fully explain the variability of his focus — why are some topics, such as research methodology, examined in such careful detail, but other subjects, such as personality measurement, surveyed so cursorily?  For example, while the guide to scales and indices includes careful reviews of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Authoritarian Personality (F) scales, these two measures can hardly be considered the alpha and omega of personality measurement.  His claim that "of all the personality measures available, social researchers will likely find these two scales to be the most useful for their purposes," (p.505) seems almost näive.

Overall, Miller's text is a must-have for any serious social investigator.  It is comprehensive enough to (at least lightly) touch on virtually any subject one might encounter.  In addition it contains such substantial references that it should be consulted as a guide before one engages in any further inquiry into most research topics.

Reviewed by Joseph A. Erickson, Assistant Professor and Co-chair, Augsburg College Education Department, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  e-mail address: erickson@augsburg.edu

Order this book: Hardcover

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