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Reviewed by:
  • Single Subject Research Methodology in Behavioral Science
  • Jessica E. Frieder
Gast, D. L. (2010), Single Subject Research Methodology in Behavioral Science. New York: Routledge. $89.95.

The first edition of Single Subject Research Methodology in Behavioral Science was published in 2010. David L. Gast, overseeing author and professor of Special Education since 1975, has compiled a series of chapters with several guest authors on the topic of single subject design application that is both comprehensive and accessible for an array of professionals and students in applied fields. The text is roughly 450 pages in length and encompasses 14 chapters on a variety of topics.

Before the actual substantive text commences, Gast's preface serves as an excellent introduction into the creation and need for a book of this type in the field amongst other competing texts and resources. Gast writes, "my goal in writing this book was to present a thorough, technically sound, user friendly, and comprehensive discussion of single subject research methodology." (p. xiiv). Furthermore, he establishes whom the text is geared toward by stating,

the primary audiences...are graduate students, scientist practitioners, and faculty from a variety of disciplines including special and general education; school, child, and general psychology; speech, occupational, recreation, and physical therapy; social work.

(p. xiiv)

Gast establishes a rapport with the reader in the preface by suggesting how the text may be used, but leaves it open for interpretation and supplemental resources as deemed fit. In general, this section serves as a well thought out and pointed introduction to the text that follows.

Chapter 1 ("Applied Research in Education and Behavioral Sciences) is written by Gast himself and provides an overview of the scientific method and how that relates to evidence-based practice, guidelines for evaluating evidence, dissemination of evidence-based practice in education, and research approaches in behavioral sciences. In particular, this chapter provides a nice juxtaposition of varying types of research approaches (i.e., experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, group research approach, qualitative research approach, and single subject research approach) and the strengths and limitations these may offer to both the field of behavioral sciences and to a single individual. What becomes immediately evident in this first chapter, is the text's valiant effort to encompass a wide variety or resources (e.g., Association for Behavior Analysis International, The National [End Page 185] Research Council, Office of Special Education Programs) in presenting arguments and weighing evidence for the careful selection of the research design that will best lead to the advancement of behavioral science.

Chapter 2 ("Scientific Research Educational and Clinical Settings") continues the theme of chapter 1 by elaborating on the goal of science and how this goal meshes with those of education and clinical practice. An entire section is devoted to discussing how teachers and therapists are applied researchers and examines the similarities as well as differences between research and practice. This is an important topic of discussion in many courses for preparing students in higher education to become good research-practitioners. The authors of the chapter execute an initial discussion that would be certain to spur continued classroom discussion and serve as a poignant reminder to those already well established in the field on the role of balance between research and practice.

While ethics has long been a topic of importance in the field of behavioral science and is interwoven amongst a variety of texts, it is rare to find an entire chapter in a textbook of this kind dedicated to the topic of ethics. Thus, the inclusion of chapter 3 ("Ethical Principles and Practice") is one of the most notable features of the book. This chapter outlines a variety of ethical topics including common concerns, core values, ethics of conducting research, securing institutional as well as agency approval, and ethics related to publication and dissemination of results. A concentration is made to include ethical codes and guidelines from a variety of resources (e.g., Council for Exceptional Children, core ethical guidelines for BACB). While certainly not inclusive of all topics relating to ethics in behavioral science, this chapter serves as a good overview of many ethical topics that are relevant to conducting research. The examples the authors...