Sheila B Robinson on A Rad Resource for Game Theory or Geisteswissenschaften

Hello! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor with a great resource for evaluators and one of my perennial go-to guides for evaluation work.

Do you ever need to explain the central limit theorem, counterfactual, or construct validity and need a little help? Do you confuse mediating and moderating variables? Do you know when to use a Mann-Whitney U vs. a Wilcoxon? Perhaps you came across the term geisteswissenschaften and want to know what it means, just in case you need it for a research report, or  it’s ever the answer on final Jeopardy.

More likely perhaps is that you’re reading a journal article and are not familiar with the statistics or methodology used. You don’t want to head back to grad school or read an entire chapter on the topic, but just need a little boost to make better sense of what your’e reading.

Hot Tip: Sure, you could Google all of these. Sometimes, however, a well-written book you can just pull off your shelf will do the trick, and there’s no chance of being distracted by ads or irrelevant search results like the latest Justin Beiber scandal. The Dictionary of Statistics & Methodology: A Nontechnical Guide for the Social Sciences by W. Paul Vogt and R. Burke Johnson, features about 2800 brief and plain-English nontechnical definitions of terms cross-referenced so that you’ll never find a definition you can’t understand because it contains other technical terms. The book is up-to-date in its 4th edition, published in 2011.

Do you teach evaluation, research methods, or statistics, or need to teach some key concepts to evaluation stakeholders? Are you in grad school and just learning social science research methods? This handy guide is a great resource for instructors and students alike, as it offers both definitions and relevant, understandable examples. Are you a visual learner? The book also features dozens of easy-to-interpret charts, tables, graphs, and figures.

Cool Trick: Use this text when you need not only methodological and statistical terms defined and explained, but also some theoretical and philosophical terms (Ex. postmodernism, positivism, empiricism, realism, etc.). The authors’ rationale is that readers will likely come across these when reading research reports. If you’re anything like me, you’ve only a minimal number of brain cells available for definitions of words ending in -ism, so this nifty tool at your fingertips is a welcome respite from wracking your brain to remember them.

Hot Tip: The section Suggestions for Further Reading features an up-to-date organized list of recommended books on Elementary Methodology and Statistics, More Advanced Works on Methodology and Statistics, Dictionaries and Reference Works and lists of Some Useful Websites on Statistics and Methodology organized by subtopic. 

BONUS: AEA members receive discounts on many books through our publishing partners. Click here for details.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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