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Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills provides a practical and relevant guide to the research process for students. It equips readers with the knowledge and skills needed to evaluate research findings and successfully carry out independent study and research. Taking a helpful step-by-step approach, the chapters guide the reader through the process of asking and answering research questions and the different methods used in political research, providing practical advice on how to be critical and rigorous in both evaluating and conducting research. Topics include research design, surveys, interviewing and focus groups, ethnography and participant observation, textual analysis, quantitative analysis, bivariate analysis, and multivariate analysis. With an emphasis throughout on how research can impact important political questions and policy issues, the book equips readers with the skills to formulate significant questions and develop meaningful and persuasive answers.


This chapter discusses the principles of bivariate analysis as a tool for helping researchers get to know their data and identify patterns of association between two variables. Bivariate analysis offers a way of establishing whether or not there is a relationship between two variables, a dependent variable and an independent variable. With bivariate analysis, theoretical expectations can be compared against evidence from the real world to see if the theory is supported by what is observed. The chapter examines the pattern of association between dependent and independent variables, with particular emphasis on hypothesis testing and significance tests. It discusses ordinary least squares (OLS) regression and cross-tabulation, two of the most widely used statistical analysis techniques in political research. Finally, it explains how to state the null hypothesis, calculate the chi square, and establishing the correlation between the dependent and independent variables.