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Phenomenological Research Methods | Clark Moustakas

The cover of Moustakas' Phenomenological Research MethodsPhenomenology is a philosophical perspective which has been co-opted by diverse professionals to serve as a qualitative research method. Clark Moustakas details, in his concise book, how to develop and execute a phenomenological research project.

Following Cresswell and Poth‘s recommendation, I chose this book along with van Manen’s Phenomenology of Practice as two key texts to further my understanding of phenomenological research methods. Unlike van Manen, Moustakas focuses more on research methodology than the philosophy itself. In fact, the chapters which situate method in philosophy are dense and challenging to understand without deeper philosophical background. (I was fortunate to have read van Manen’s book first.)

The strength of Moustakas’ book is his detailed yet straight-forward description of the actual process of phenomenological research. Moustakas centres almost exclusively on the original transcendental phenomenological vision of Edmund Husserl and describes how to apply his vision to modern research questions. This involves the epoche and reduction along with imaginative variation which prepares the researcher to create a synthesis of textural and structural descriptions of the phenomenon.

This book, along with van Manen’s Phenomenology of Practice, should be in the toolbox of every phenomenological researcher.


Moustakas, Clark. Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1994.

Designing Religious Research Studies | C. Jeff Woods

The cover of Woods' Designing Religious Research StudiesResearch begins with passion and ends, hopefully, with a thoroughly explored answer to an important question. At the beginning of the research design process, the focus is broad and diverse. Then, with each decision the researcher makes, that breadth is narrowed. Like water through a funnel picks up speed, the research project gathers momentum and the once unmanageable idea transforms into a legitimate project.

In Designing Religious Research Studies, Woods gives the prospective researcher an overview of all the steps required to transform that initial passion into a doable project. He draws on his classroom experience teaching research to provide a simple overview of the process.

This introductory-level volume is void of technical jargon and could be read by anyone interested in how studies are designed. In a sense, this 125 page volume is like the abstract of a research paper: it offers a high-level overview of the topic at hand: research design.


Woods, Jeff C. Designing Religious Research Studies: From Passion to Procedures. Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2016.

Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design | John Creswell & Cheryl Poth

The cover of Creswell & Poth's Qualitative Inquiry and Research DesignI am in the awkward situation of learning sociological method after having spent my entire higher education studying theology. Starting from scratch is overwhelming, to say the least! Creswell and Poth’s text makes the journey easier.

Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design describes five overarching ways to do research:

  1. Narrative Research studies individuals and their stories.
  2. Phenomenological Research studies a several people who share the same experience.
  3. Grounded Theory Research studies a process, action, or interaction with a view to develop a theory.
  4. Ethnographic Research studies a group that shares the same culture.
  5. Case Study Research studies a specific event, program, or activity.

Each approach digs into the subject in a different way, providing a different perspective. Creswell and Poth bring the unique features of each approach to light brilliantly in the final chapter by taking a case study and reframing it in each of the other four approaches.

Creswell and Poth’s text hits the sweet spot where understandability and depth of insight meet. It brings clarity the the research methods required to do effective sociological work.


Creswell, John W. and Cheryl N. Poth. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. 4th Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2018.

Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts | Hazel Smith and Roger T. Dean, eds.

The cover of Smith and Dean's Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative ArtsCreative practice and critical research appear to be unlikely bedfellows! Creative practice is viewed as intuitive and open ended while critical research is more rigorously methodological and outcome oriented. However, for the last number of decades, creative practice has made its mark in the university as a form of research in itself: practice-led research.

Smith and Dean’s volume explores how creative practice can lead to the generation of new knowledge, which is the typical definition of research. They have collected essays from various realms—dance, new media, and creative writing to name a few—that demonstrate how practice and research can form generative partnerships which can find a home in the university.

The systems and structures of the university were not created with a view to practice-led or practice-based research, so the essays also tackle the sort of issues that arise when these two worlds collide. Most important, perhaps, is the need for funding bodies to understand what practice-led research is in order to promote this growing type of research.

This highly specialized volume will help practice-led researchers to understand their methodology while at the same time appraising them of the type of issues they will encounter in the university.


Smith, Hazel and Roger T. Dean, eds. Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.

The Christian Writer’s Market Guide 2012 | Jerry B. Jenkins

This book is pure motivation. Every time I flip through the pages, I think of something new to write about.

Here’s how this 500+ page book breaks down:

  • A list of Book Publishers. This section is organized by category, so you can figure out at a glance which publishers may be interested in your book.
  • A list of Magazine Publishers. This is my favourite section. You have no idea how many Christian magazines exist until you start browsing through this list. You will find a place for everything from your essay on apologetics to a two line joke.
  • Specialty Markets. This is a quirky section. If you’re interested in writing for greeting cards, video games, or DVD markets, this will help you along.
  • Helps for Writers. Here you’ll find listings for Christian Agents, contact information for writers conferences and clubs, and even lists of various writing contests.

This book carries much of the same information as Writer’s Market, expanded and focused toward the Christian market. Whether you’re just starting to consider selling your writing, or are an established author looking to expand your influence, this book is an essential resource.

Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided for free by Tyndale Publishing House.

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