Reading Social Science Methods


Ann Reisner
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


research methods, social sciences, surveys, content analysis, experimental methods, critical thinking, evaluating research, research judgment


Science has great potential to benefit society, but this potential comes with risks as well. Directed at introductory level social science and humanities majors, this textbook teaches the rules and limits of social science methods. Reisner starts from the assumption that it is not necessary to be able to do research to read and judge the soundness of research publications. The chapters guide students through an explicit set of rules for reading research articles developed from three common research methods: content analysis, survey research, and experimental method.

Funding Statement

Work on this textbook was partially funded by the 2021 Faculty OER Incentive Program, funded by the University Library, Office of the Provost, and University of Illinois Student Government.


  • I. Getting Started
  • II. Survey Analysis
  • III. Content Analysis
  • IV. Experimental Analysis
  • V. Summary and Conclusions

Author Biography

Ann Reisner, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Ann Reisner is a emeritus professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. Her research and teaching focus on mass media and social movements, particularly those concerned with environmental and agricultural issues, and barefoot media policy, how to develop active public pressure to resolve media use issues. She has over 70 publications and reports, including publications in American Sociological Review, Rural Sociology, Journalism Quarterly and American Behavioral Scientist. Her monographs, include texts on using research to develop media policies and barefoot media policy. She is currently working on Watching the Environment: Inserting Film into the Web of Media Activism. Her teaching areas are media effects, environmental communications, and the sociology of the press.

Reading Social Science Methods


September 19, 2023

Details about the available publication format: Read Online

Read Online

ISBN-13 (15)


Date of first publication (11)


Details about the available publication format: PDF


ISBN-13 (15)


Date of first publication (11)