Faculty of Architecture, Design & Planning Environment, Behaviour & Society Research Group

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Faculty of Architecture, Design & Planning

Environment, Behaviour & Society Research Group

Recommended Research Methods Books in Environment, Behaviour & Society

The following research methods books are recommended to newly admitted research students. They will provide a fundamental understanding of the nature of inquiry through research, the philosophy of scientific research and interpretive scholarship and a range of “modes of inquiry” employed in EBS research.

Modes of Inquiry

The range of modes of inquiry used in EBS research includes the following:

  • The field-based empirical, social scientific epistemology used heavily in architectural science, design cognition, environment-behaviour studies, urban planning and other field-based research, including experimental, quasi-experimental, survey, naturalistic, ethnographic and case study research. This is the predominant mode of inquiry in EBS.

  • The text-based, interpretive epistemology used heavily in architecture, the allied arts and other humanities disciplines, including archival, historical, theoretical, interpretative and other text based interpretive scholarship. This may be used to complement field-based empirical research.

  • The computationally based epistemology used heavily in design computing and other IT-based disciplines, including axiom  and conjecture based, simulation, virtual reality, prototyping and development research. This is not a primary mode of inquiry in EBS, but some hybrid research is now combining aspects of computational- or simulation-based methods with field-based methods.

  • The policy-oriented, communication-contingency and modelling epistemologies used heavily in urban and regional planning and other policy-based disciplines, including archival, strategic and evidence-based policy research, communications and morphological analyses and quantitative modelling. This is also not a primary mode of inquiry in EBS, but may be useful for those wishing for their work to have impacts on policy.

  • As well as interdisciplinary combinations, triangulations and mixed modes. Increasingly, mixed modes of inquiry that combine quantitative and qualitative or other combinations of methods are favoured in the field.

An important part of methods is quality assurance – how to judge the quality of research, both qualitative and quantitative, including how to judge the trustworthiness of data, logic and analysis, in reading research and scholarship, in formulating proposals, and in conducting and reporting research.

There are a number of related issues with which all new researchers need to become familiar, including but not limited to: literature searches and electronic bibliographic databases; qualitative and quantitative data analysis; research software packages including quantitative and qualitative data analysis packages; ethics including human ethics, plagiarism and intellectual property rights; how to write research grant proposals, publishable papers, reports, theses, CVs and business plans including presentation skills; and planning your research and professional development post-PhD.

Preparing a Research Proposal

There are a number of typical steps in preparing a research proposal, including the following:

  1. Preliminary & Revised Research Statements: Prepared and submitted as part of a research application. You may wish to update and revise your statement of research intentions in the first few weeks of candidacy. Critically important is the clear statement of researchable and answerable research questions.

  1. Data-Base Search & Annotated Bibliography: A report that is a summary of your data-base search to find out what has already been studied and what is known in your research area and about your research topic. Prepared as an annotated bibliography and including the following:  (1) tentative title for your research, (2) a one-paragraph synopsis or abstract, (3) revised research questions, (4) an annotated bibliographic summary of the most important papers and books reporting on prior research on your topic, and (5) a longer list of additional papers and books relevant to the topic and domain that you have found but not yet read.  Each annotated summary should be one paragraph in length and include (a) Purpose: the purpose of the research or the research question or claim being addressed, (b) Methods: brief summary of the mode of inquiry and specific methods used in the research, (c) Findings: most important findings from that research, and (d) Conclusions and Implications: conclusions from the research and implications for your research. Use a database for storing and organising your information, eg, EndNote, so you can change the style easily.  Include a reference citation for each publication in standard bibliographic format, using the standard bibliographic format used in EBS and the environmental social sciences: the Harvard/Royal Society/APA social science style – cf American Psychological Association (2001), Publication Manual (5th ed.), also available at http://www.apa.org > APA Style).

  1. Critical Literature Review Essay: An essay that comprehensively, systematically and critically reviews the most important previous research literature pertaining to your research topic and questions. Includes properly referenced research papers or books. Structure and organise the review around the research questions relevant to your research or around the subareas of relevant previous research. Identify the modes of inquiry and research methods used in each study reviewed, and comment critically on the strengths and limitations of those research methods (especially in terms of how they do or don’t deal with the four criteria of trustworthiness). Indicate the contributions of the previous research literature by describing the relevance of the literature to the field and to your topic. At the end of this essay, include your revised research questions (ie, revised in the light of the identification of gaps in current knowledge). Assessment criteria are the following: (a) systematic and comprehensive review of relevant literature in the research domain, (b) identification and critical commentary about the research methods and (c) clarity of revised research questions in the light of current knowledge.

  1. Outline of Research Methods: Following your latest restatement of research questions, a brief outline (text and/or dot points) of the mode of inquiry and most likely methods of research to be used to answer your research questions. Ensure your presentation makes clear how and why the methods proposed are suitable for answering the research questions, ie, there should be a clear mapping of research methods back to the questions they are intended to answer. The subcategories within research methods will depend on the type of questions you are asking and modus operendi of your discipline, but at a minimum should include: (a) fundamental mode or modes of inquiry, (b) specific information collection or testing methods most likely to be employed, (c) methods of information analysis or evaluation and (d) how you propose to assure quality, ie, trustworthiness. It is important not only to state what you propose to do, but also why, ie, to justify your proposed methods.

  1. Preliminary Research Proposal: A written research proposal (2500-3000 words, between 12 and 15 pages including title, abstract, body, figures, tables and references). A detailed template is available on request, but in general, your preliminary research proposal should include an abstract, objectives and importance, critical literature review, research questions/claims, research methods including research plan, research design, information collection methods, information analysis methods and quality assurance followed by a proposed time line. A detailed proforma with assessment criteria is also available on request and may be useful as you think about and write your preliminary research proposal.

Following a tradition begun at the University of Toronto in Canada, in assessing your submissions I will be looking for evidence of development in four areas: (1) your grasp of the subject matter, ie, what currently is known in your research area; (2) the organisation of your knowledge about modes of inquiry and research methods; (3) ability to critically evaluate methods used in prior studies; and (4) original thinking regarding appropriate modes of inquiry and research methodology for the research questions you seek to answer.

Research Seminars

The EBS Research Group has been holding regular Research Seminars for over ten years starting in 1997. All EBS research students, post-docs and visiting scholars are expected to attend and participate.

Environment, Behaviour & Society (EBS) Research Seminarsevery Friday, year round, 12:30 2:00 pm, Seminar Room 557, contact PhD candidate Chumporn Moorapun in Room 556 for information or see http://www.arch.usyd.edu.au/research/env_behaviour.shtml > Seminars.


Upon successfully completing your preliminary research proposal – and the full, formal proposal a few months later –, you should have an understanding of the range of modes of inquiry and a beginning understanding of some of the specific methods of research and scholarship used in the environmental social sciences. You should also be able to locate and analyse research literature, have a more critical attitude toward research, be able to formulate a preliminary but robust research proposal, and have a beginning understanding of how to prepare, present and publish papers resulting from research.

Required Books

A wide variety of books is available on research methods. The below are “required reading” and are available for purchase form the University Coop Bookshop. The Groat and Wang focuses on different modes of inquiry in architecture, design, urban planning and other environmental disciplines including EBS, while Leedey and Ormrod is a practical how-to research book that also has useful chapters on historical, interpretive and qualitative research.

** Groat, L., & Wang, D. (2002). Architectural Research Methods. New York: Wiley.

ISBN 0-471-33365-4 (cloth & pbk); NA20000.W36 2001; 720’.1-dc21

** Leedy, P.D., & Ormrod, J.E. (2005). Practical Research: Planning and Design (8th International ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

ISBN 0-13-110895-6 & 0-13-124720-4 (cloth & pbk); Q180.55.M4L43 2005; 001.4-dc22

Recommended Research Methods Books

A number of specialised books are available through the Denis Winston Architecture Library and the University Fisher Library. Those with an asterisk are in high demand and are usually placed on reserve.

You should also regularly keep up-to-date with the major journals in the field, and peruse them regularly to see what research is being reported, and now research methods are evolving.

Based on feedback from previous PhD, MPhil and Hons students, I would recommend you purchase some of the following as important methods reference books for your personal reference library:

* Alreck, P.L., & Settle, R.B. (1995). The Survey Research Handbook (2nd ed.). Chicago: Irwin.

Andranovich, G.D., & Riposa, G. (1993). Doing Urban Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Babbie, E.R. (1998). The Practice of Social Research (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

* Barzun, J., & Graff, H.F. (2004). The Modern Researcher (6th ed.). New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Bechtel, R.B., Marans, R.W., & Michelson, W. (Eds.) (1990). Methods in Environmental and Behavioral Research. Melbourne, FL: Krieger.

* Berkofer, R. (1995). Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Booth, W.C., Colomb, G.G., & Williams, J.M. (1996). The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bouma, G.D. (1996). The Research Process (3rd ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Browne, M.N., & Keeley, S.M. (1990). Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

* Campbell, D.T., & Stanley, J.C. (1973). Experimental and Quasi Experimental Designs for Research (rev. ed.). Chicago: Rand McNally.

* Cook, T.D., & Campbell, D.T. (1979). Quasi-Experimentation: Design and Analysis Issues for Field Settings. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.

Cook, T.D., & Reichardt, C.S. (Eds.) (1983). Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Evaluation Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Creswell, J.W. (1994). Research Design: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

* Creswell, J.W. (2002). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Cunningham, (1993). Action Research and Organizational Development. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Denzin, N.K., & Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds.) (2000). Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

* De Vaus, D.A. (2001). Research Design in Social Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage (incl. weblinks to detailed information of different aspects of field research design/methodology).

De Vaus, D.A. (2002). Surveys in Social Research (5th ed.). Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

* Devlin, A.S. (2006). Research Methods: Planning, Conducting and Presenting Research. Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth.

Flowerdew, R., & Martin, D. (Eds.) (1997). Methods in Human Geography. London: Addison-Wesley Longman.

* Glaser, B.G., & Strauss, A.L. (1999). Discovery of Grounded Theory: The Strategies for Qualitative Research. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.

Greenbaum, T.L. (1993). The Practical Handbook and Guide to Focus Group Research (rev. ed.). New York: Lexington Books.

Grimm, L.G., & Yarnold, P.R. (Eds.) (2000). Reading and Understanding More Multivariate Statistics. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

* Hart, C. (1998). Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Imagination. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Hay, I. (Ed.) (2000). Qualitative Research Methods in Geography. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

* Holstein, J.A., & Gubrium, J.F. (Eds.) (2001). Handbook of Interview Research: Context and Method. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Huberman, A.M., & Miles, M.B. (Eds.) (2002). The Qualitative Researcher’s Companion. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

* Huck, S.W., & Cormier, W.H. (2000). Reading Statistics and Research (3rd ed.). New York: Harper Collins.

Jenkins, K. (1995). On 'What is History?' London: Routledge.

Johnson, G.L. (1986). Research Methodology for Economists: Philosophy and Practice. New York: Macmillan.

* Jones, A., & Seelig, T. (2005). Understanding and Enhancing Research-Policy Linkages in Australian Housing. Melbourne: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

* Jordanova, L. (2006). History in Practice (2nd ed.). London: Hodder Education.

* Judd, C., Smith, E., & Kidder, L.H. (2002). Research Methods in Social Relations (7th ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. (Plus associated Instructor’s Manual.)

* A Kaplan (1964). The Conduct of Inquiry. San Francisco: Chandler.

* Kaplan, D. (Ed.) (2004). The Sage Handbook of Quantitative Methodology for the Social Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kline, R.B. (1998). Principles and Practices of Structural Equation Modeling. New York: Guildford.

* Lincoln, Y.S., & Guba, E.G. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Lubar, S., & Kingery, W.D. (Eds.) (1993). History and Things: Essays on Material Culture. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative Researching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Mertens, D. (1998). Research Methods for Education and Psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

* Miles, M., & Huberman, A.M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis: A Sourcebook of New Methods (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

* Mills, C.W. (1959). The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.

Minichiello, V., Aroni, R., Timewell, E., & Alexander, L. (1990). In-Depth Interviewing: Researching People. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire.

* Moore, G.T., & Marans, R.W. (Eds.) (1997). Advances in Environment, Behavior and Design. Vol 4: Toward the Integration of Theory, Methods, Research, and Utilization. New York: Plenum.

Moroney, M.J. (1956). Facts from Figures (3rd rev. ed.). Baltimore: Penguin.

Moser, C.A., & Kalton, G. (1971). Survey Methods in Social Investigation (2nd ed). New York: Heinemann.

Moursand, J.P. (1973). Evaluation: An Introduction to Research Design. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

* Pallant, J. (2005). SPSS Survival Manual: A Step by Step Guide to Data Analysis using SPSS. Boston: Allen & Unwin.

Patton, M.Q. (1990). Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Peil, M. (1982). Social Science Research Methods: An African Handbook. London & Sydney: Hodder and Stoughton.

* Phelan, P., & Reynolds, P. (1996). Argument and Evidence. London: Routledge.

* Popper, K. (1959). The Logic of Scientific Discovery. London: Hutchinson.

Preece, R. (1994). Starting Research. New York: Pinter.

Riggs, P.J. (1992). Whys and Ways of Science: Introducing Philosophical and Sociological Theories of Science. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Robson, C. (1993). Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner Researchers. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Rountree, D. (1981). Statistics Without Tears: A Primer for Non Mathematicians. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin.

* Salant, P., & Dillman, D.A. (1994). How to Conduct your Own Survey. New York: Wiley.

Sanoff, H. (1991). Visual Research Methods in Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Sapsford, R. (1999). Survey Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

* Schlereth, T.J. (Ed.) (1985). Material Culture: A Research Guide. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.

* Sheskin, D.J. (2003). Handbook of Parametric and Nonparametric Statistical Procedures (3rd ed.). London: Taylor & Francis.

* Simon, H.A. (1996). The Sciences of the Artificial (3rd ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Sommer, B., & Sommer, R. (1991). A Practical Guide to Behavioural Research: Tools and Techniques (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

* Strauss, A.L. (1990). Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

* Tabachnick, B.G., & Fidell, L.S. (1996). Using Multivariate Statistics (3rd ed). New York: Harper Collins.

* Tashakkori, A., & Teddlie, C. (Eds) (2003). Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Templeton, J. F. (1994). The Focus Group. (rev. ed.). Chicago, IL: Probus Publishing Company.

Trochim, W.M. (2000). The Research Methods Knowledge Base (2nd ed). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

* Watson, J.D. (2001). The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA (Rev ed.). New York: Touchstone.

* Yin, R.K. (2003). Case Study Research: Design and Methods (3rd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Yin, R.K. (2003). Applications of Case Study Research (rev ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

* Zeisel, J. (2006). Inquiry by Design: Environment/Behavior/Neuroscience in Architecture, Interiors, Landscape, and Planning (rev ed). New York: Norton.


As a research student, you are expected to know how to use the Winston and Fisher Libraries, Inter Library Loan, electronic catalogues and databases, etc. Our Winston Library provides tours and bibliographic instruction at the beginning of each semester; please contact Mr Michael Arndell or any of the librarians who will be able to assist you.

You are also expected to write succinctly in clear, grammatical prose with no jargon, and to reference according to a standard format. The University's Learning Centre at http://www.usyd.edu.au/lc/courses.html has a variety of short courses (2 to 9 hours) that former students – both international and domestic – have found very helpful for improving their writing. Some supervisors require students to take them; all are highly recommended.

There are also many excellent reference books on writing available in libraries and bookstores. The ones listed below are helpful for writing research proposals, dissertations and theses, and papers:

* American Psychological Association (2001). APA Publication Manual (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Also available at as APA 5th in EndNote, and at http://www.apa.org > APA Style or http://www.apastyle.org > For assistance, cf http://owl.english.purdue.edu/workshops/hypertext/apa/index.html or http://www.apastyle.org/stylehelper/ver5/ (all retrieved 5 March 2007).

Anderson, J., & Poole, M. (1994). Thesis and Assignment Writing (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.

* Association of Computing Machinery (2006). ACM SIG Proceedings Templates. Available at http://www.acm.org/sigs/pubs/proceed/template.html and http://www.acm.org/pubs/submissions/msword_style/ (retrieved 29 August 2006).

AusInfo (1994). Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers (5th ed.). Canberra: Department of Finance and Administration.

Becker, H.S. (1986). Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bordern, I., & Ruedi, K. (2000). The Dissertation: An Architecture Student’s Handbook, Oxford: Architectural Press.

Brause, R.S. (2000). Writing your Doctoral Dissertation: Invisible Rules for Success. London: Falmer.

Davis, L, & McKay, S. (1996). Structures and Strategies: An Introduction to Academic Writing. Melbourne: Macmillan.

Day, R.A., & Gastel, B. (2006). How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper (6th ed.) New York: Greenwood Press.

Evans, D. (1995). How to Write a Better Thesis or Report. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Evans, D., & Gruba, P. (2002). How to Write a Better Thesis (2nd ed.). Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

* Gibaldi, J. (1998). MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (2nd ed). New York: Modern Language Association.

Lewis, F. (1993). Writing a Thesis: A Guide to its Nature and Organisation. Canberra: Australian National University Tech.

Kliment, S.A. (1998). Writing for Design Professionals. New York: Norton.

Madsen, D. (1992). Successful Dissertations and Theses. Oxford: Jossey Bass.

Mauch, J.E., & Birch, J.W. (1989). Guide to the Successful Thesis and Dissertation. New York: Marcel Dekker.

Runeson, G., & Skitmore, M. (1999). Writing Research Reports: A Practical Guide for Students of the Built Environment. Geelong: Deakin University Press.

Samson, J., & Radloff, A. (1995). In Writing: A Guide to Writing Effectively at the Tertiary Level. Perth: Curtin University Paradigm Press.

Sharp, J.A., Peters, J., & Howard, K. (2002). The Management of a Student Research Project. Aldershot, England: Gower.

Stevens, K., & Asmar, C. (1999). Doing Post-Graduate Research in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

* Strunk, W., & White, E.B. (2005). The Elements of Style (new illus ed.). New York: Macmillan.

Thomas, R.M., & Brubaker, D.L. (2000). Theses and Dissertations: A Guide to Planning, Research and Writing. Wesport, Conn.: Bergin and Garvey.

* Turabian, K.L. (1987). A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (5th ed., rev., expanded by B.B. Honigsblum). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

* University of Chicago (2003). The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Also available at http://www.mla.org > MLA Style (retrieved 5 March 2007).

Wisker, G. (2001). The Postgraduate Research Handbook. New York: Palgrave.


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